Access to capital is one of the essential parameters for the sustainability of any innovation-oriented ecosystem. With a significant increase in the flow of funds over the past five years, the canton of Vaud is now one of the regions with strong potential.

The health of an ecosystem results from a significant number of factors contributing to a good overall dynamic. Among the latter, access to capital is of the utmost importance. There can obviously be no single driving force in the development of an innovation ecosystem; however, like those related to the availability of talent, funding issues play a key role.

A growing Vaud ecosystem

Vaud start-ups are attracting more and more capital. Over the past five years, a total of more than CHF 1 billion has been invested in these structures. Fundraising is thus becoming more and more frequent, with an average growth in number that has exceeded 10% per year since 2015.

Start-ups in the canton are attracting more and more funds


The increase in large fundraising events - above CHF 10 million - also demonstrates the attractiveness of the region's projects. Above all, this money makes it possible to accelerate the development of societies, which usually leads to the creation of new jobs. The size of these projects and fundraising is increasing significantly.

«Vaud start-ups are attracting more and more capital»

Vaud and Zurich, different dynamics...

Only two regions in Switzerland are so attractive to investors: the cantons of Vaud and Zurich, where the two Federal Institutes of Technology are located.

Start-ups in the canton of Vaud are the ones that have raised the most funds in Switzerland since 2012


While Zurich has seen more financing rounds since 2012, Vaud is in first place in terms of cumulative amounts over the period. The growth rate is nevertheless to the advantage of the Zurich centre, which ranks among the most dynamic regions in international comparison.

In terms of number of rounds, growth is in favour of the Zurich division


There are several reasons for the difference between these two regions, starting with their economic importance.

... and specific profiles

The business sectors also provide part of the answer. Over the last decade, the Lake Geneva region has developed strongly in the life sciences in the broad sense, namely medical technologies, biotechnologies and, more recently, health informatics.

The financing rounds of Vaud start-ups are larger and with a high concentration in life sciences

Zurich, for its part, has a strong focus on information and communication technologies (ICT), particularly in the software sector. This evolution has certainly been supported by the presence of the research centres of two global giants in the field, IBM and Google.

Life sciences require more fundraising than IT. This explains the slight advance of the canton of Vaud in terms of amounts. And as there are fewer projects, the total amounts are more variable from one year to the next. The reason is that they are strongly influenced by a few large companies, as seen with ADC Therapeutics (clinical studies on cancer), which raised 197 million francs in 2017 and 100 million in 2019. As a result, even if innovation in Vaud has an increasingly strong IT component, with companies such as Bestmile (transport network mobility management) or Gamaya (agricultural management system or "agritech"), its financing dynamics remain dominated by the more fluctuating characteristics of projects in the life sciences.

«Over the last decade, the Lake Geneva region has developed strongly in the life sciences in the broad sense»

Obvious signs of maturity and overall attractiveness

In the area of financial support for start-ups, the succession of venture capital companies is as crucial as the seed capital invested by the first investors. Among the companies financing the second phase of start-up growth, there is the growing presence of world-class investors in the various fundraising events. These financiers are attracted by the quality of the projects and entrepreneurs in the region.

The majority of the capital used to finance the canton's projects is ordered by non-European investors

A significant proportion of the financial resources made available for projects in the region are thus of foreign origin, which makes it possible to open doors beyond the borders of the canton or country, both in terms of networks and markets. This strong presence of foreign investors, however positive it may be for the attractiveness of the region, also presents the risk of some of the economic benefits moving outside Switzerland. But at this stage, analysis of company takeovers over the past 10 years shows that the presence of global investors in the region has had a beneficial impact.

«A significant proportion of the financial ressources made available for projects in the region are thus of foreign origin»

Still a long way to go

The rise in the financing of its projects and start-ups, although very positive, is in no way specific to the canton of Vaud. It currently ranks it in the low average of innovation-based ecosystems, alongside others that are much more advanced and logically growing at a more modest rate.

The level of activity of private investors, an indicator of the maturity of an ecosystem, is increasing, but it is also lagging behind what is observed in Zurich, for example.

If the canton of Vaud, with its particularities, has found its place on the innovation map and has benefited from very positive developments over the past few years, it still has some way to go.