Basic research or specialised advanced schools: the allotted budget to consolidate the position of excellence of Swiss universities is considerable. Thus, Switzerland spends 880.20 US$ per inhabitant in research and development, or 2.57% of its GDP, ranking second after the United States. This long-term policy maintains innovation and enables enterprises active in life sciences or high-tech technologies to remain competitive.
Three priority directives of economic development containing numerous possibilities of collaboration between the institutes and enterprises have been defined for the region. They are about :
- Life sciences. This sector has three university hospitals (CHUV, HUG, Inselspital) and three major research institutes (ISREC, Institut Ludwig and SIB). An important part of the actors (universities and industries) in this sector are grouped together under the BioAlps label.
- Information and communication technologies with the presence of CERN in Geneva.
- Micro- and nanotechnologies, with, notably, the presence of the Swiss Centre of Electronics and Micro-technology (CSEM), as well as the Institute of Micro-technology (IMT), as well as the Swiss Foundation for Research in Micro-technology (FSRM) in Neuchâtel.
For the many programmes conducted in these different institutions, the collaboration is international, be it for fundamental or applied research. This situation allows even very small enterprises that are active in Western Switzerland to have access to the latest developments that their ambitions require.