Economic Prosperity

The canton of Vaud stands out most markedly in the field of innovation and the high added-value sectors, such as life sciences, digital technologies, nutrition, and precision industries.

And it is not the sole focus of the canton – indeed, businesses from all sectors can flourish here thanks to the solid yet diversified economic fabric.

Handbook for investors

Economic Framework

Economic prosperity is one of Switzerland’s calling cards. The GDP per capita stands at around 82,000 USD, while the unemployment rate is down at 3.6%. The pharmaceutical industry, banks, and the food industry are the heavyweights of the country’s economy, but while multinationals such as Novartis, UBS, and Nestlé are ambassadors for the Swiss brand of excellence, small and medium-sized businesses should not be overlooked – after all, they represent over 90% of the country’s companies and provide two jobs out of three.

International Competitiveness Ranking 2020

1. Singapore
2. Denmark
3. Switzerland

4. The Netherlands
5. Hong Kong
6. Sweden
7. Norway
8. Canada
9. United Arab Emirates
10. USA

« Small and medium-sized businesses represent over 90% of the country’s companies and provide two jobs out of three »

The canton of Vaud is a true microcosm of Swiss economic prosperity, having seen the world No.1 in the food industry, Nestlé, emerge on the shores of Lake Geneva, as well as the likes of Bobst and Logitech. Then there are the numerous prestigious watch brands such as Audemars Piguet and Jaeger-LeCoultre, which despite being based in small villages, have gone on to conquer the world. The canton has managed to attract multinationals such as Merck, Medtronic, Parker, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Edwards Lifesciences, Becton Dickinson, Honeywell, Cisco, Sunstar and Chiquita. Some of them have set up their international or European headquarters in Vaud, while others have established their research and development or production activities.

Encouraging innovative businesses

Around 60,000 businesses, the vast majority of which are small and medium-sized, drive the Vaud economy. Many of these companies are active in leading high-tech industries such as life sciences (pharma, biotech, and medtech), cyber security and drones.

To respond to demand and further diversify the economic fabric, a number of technology parks and incubators dedicated to innovation, life sciences, aerospace and aeronautics, and design have sprung up and are now to be found across the region. Their objective is to foster innovative technologies, entrepreneurs, and talents from the prestigious research centers and universities in the canton, such as the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and the School of Management and Engineering Vaud (HEIG-VD) in Yverdon-les-bains, to name only two.

Finally, the economic and financial health of the canton of Vaud should not be overlooked. Indeed, it has obtained a AAA rating from Standard & Poor’s for eight years in a row, testimony to its healthy public finances. Despite COVID-19, the canton has managed to close 2020 with a budget surplus, without resorting to either tax hikes or spending cuts. The canton is therefore in a position to finance important investments in education, research, public health, and the development of infrastructure.