By Reik Leiterer, Exolabs
How has Switzerland managed to top the Global Innovation Index rankings for years? State and cantonal funding agencies and regional think tanks play a decisive role. But what is an innovation anyway and how is the degree of innovation measured? What is the difference between an idea, an invention, and an innovation? And what entrepreneurial prerequisites does “real” innovation need?
These and other questions were discussed during the Lunch & Lecture series at the Paulus Academy in Zurich on 1st of February. Gundula Heinatz Bürki, the managing director of the data innovation alliance, took the participants on a journey through the history of innovation in Switzerland and showed how ideas, inventions and innovation are connected. Using the example of various global innovation rankings, she explained the multitude of criteria that go into such rankings and why Switzerland benefits from the innovative large enterprises with a high rate of patent applications.
It became clear that there is still room for improvement related to innovation promotion at SME and start-up level and how the federal government, cantons and regional associations have been active in this area in recent years. The possibilities of the Innosuisse programs such as the Flagship Initiative or Innovation Booster were presented, cantonal initiatives in Zurich, Vaud, and Grisons analysed and the ideas behind the regional research clusters driven by Switzerland Innovation discussed. Bottom line: Interested participants, exciting discussions and the conclusion that Switzerland has an enormously high innovation potential, but that it still needs programs and initiatives such as the Databooster in order to keep top positions in the rankings in the future. Because there is one thing that does not exist in the innovation process: stagnation.