Get ready to discover excellence at every turn. It’s in our infrastructure, our education system, our multilingual, highly qualified workforce and our business-friendly tax environment. Our location in the heart of Switzerland and Europe means we are ideally placed to access international markets. Bern is also Switzerland’s capital city, so close contact with government bodies, politicians and authorities is guaranteed.
The Canton of Bern has been one of Switzerland’s key industrial and high-tech hubs for many years – as evidenced by the many innovative companies who have set up, expanded and implemented projects here. Bern is home to highly-specialised SMEs operating as suppliers all over the world.
Advantages of the Canton of Bern at a glance
In the heart of Europe, the Canton of Bern is ideally placed for interactions with both European and Swiss markets.
Two official languages (German/French), with widespread use of further languages such as English and Italian
A business-friendly climate, political stability, and peaceful employment relations
Capital city of Bern, the political centre of Switzerland
Longstanding and extensive know-how in precision working, and business clusters in the following areas: precision industry, ICT, medtech, energy and environmental technology, design and services
Corporate tax below Swiss and international average
Renowned education establishments with R&D institutions
High quality of life and security
Wide range of leisure and cultural activities
BEDA – Bern Economy Development Agency
If you are a start-up or an established company looking to locate to the Canton of Bern and grow your business, the Bern Economic Development Agency (BEDA) is your one-stop shop. To get your business or project off to a good start, we can provide you with all the important information you need. This includes comprehensive initial advice and expert support in your search for the ideal premises – all completely free of charge. We can put you in touch with the right departments and provide you with many useful contacts. We will help you to take your business to the next level.
We offer personalised support and assistance, free of charge:
- Conducting individual evaluation visits
- Granting tax holidays and other financial benefits
- Support in finding your new business location (real estate and/or land)
- Support and help in establishing useful contacts, for instance with notaries and fiduciaries
- Support in relation to work and residence permits, social security, building approvals, etc.
- A dedicated approach to making your project successful
At the Bern Economic Development Agency we work closely with our partners Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) and the Greater Geneva Bern area (GGBa).
Companies and Sectors
SMEs are the backbone of the Bernese economy: small and medium-sized companies with up to 250 employees account for around two-thirds of all our jobs. Swiss SMEs are known the world over for their ability to act quickly, their customer focus and their high-quality standards. In the Canton of Bern, they have been exceptionally successful.
Many world-famous multinational companies are also located here. They cover a diverse range of industries, such as watchmaking, healthcare, food, telecommunication and the precision industry.
Key sectors include:
We have approx. 280 medical technology companies operating in our region, primarily as manufacturers and suppliers, with a total workforce of around 7,000. Companies such as Medtronic, Haag-Streit, Ypsomed, Straumann and Ziemer Group are specialised in high-tech products. Many other companies, including Stryker, Synthes and Mathys, are located close by.
Pharmaceutical companies and suppliers, such as CSL Behring, Paxvax, GlaxoSmithKline, Amerisource Bergen and Galenica, are also based in the region. CSL Behring is a global leader specialising in the manufacture of plasma products, with a workforce of more than 1,400 in Bern. They are currently constructing a second production site in the Bern area: CSL Behring Recombinant Facility AG in Lengnau will be fully operational in 2020. The plant will manufacture the company's recombinant products and employ over 300 people.
The “Inselspital” in Bern is the most important university hospital in Switzerland and plays a key role in the health sector. The worldwide unique ARTORG-Centre at the University of Bern brings together several core competences in the field of medical technology: interdisciplinary R&D and teaching focused specifically on supporting diseased or damaged organs.
Leading Swiss telecom company Swisscom, German company T-Systems, Chinese company Huawei Technologies and American company eBay International, all have their Swiss headquarters in Bern. It is easy for them to find multilingual and well-educated personnel here. Numerous companies operate their customer service centres in the Canton of Bern for that same reason.
We have a large number of key clients for ICT services. They include government administrations, authorities and semi-public companies, such as The Swiss Federal Railroads SBB, Swiss Post and PostFinance. The e-Government Innovation Centre is also located in Bern. ICT companies are primarily engaged in network operation, software and hardware development or computer centres. Over 25 per cent of all call centre employees in Switzerland work in the canton of Bern.
The Swiss precision industry includes mechanical and electrical engineering (MEM industries), as well as the watchmaking industry. MEM industries constitute the strongest industrial sector in the canton of Bern. Companies such as Tornos, Feintool International Holding AG, Festo Microtechnology, Harting, GF Georg Fischer, Faulhaber Group and Schneider Electric all have a presence in the region.
Bern is one of the most important watchmaking cantons. The industry is represented right across the value-added chain: R&D, design, production (manufacturers and suppliers) and retail. The Swatch Group has its corporate head office in our region, and its Longines, Omega, Rado and Swatch brands are manufactured here as well. ETA SA, one of the biggest watch movement manufacturers in the world, also has a number of production sites here.
Research in this field is primarily undertaken by the University of Bern, the Bern University of Applied Sciences, the Arc St-Imier University of Applied Sciences, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) in Thun and the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Micro technology (CSEM) in Neuchâtel. The Federal Institute of Metrology and the official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute have their head offices in the canton of Bern. The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry has its head office in Biel/Bienne and the Swissmechanic Federation (uniting SME employers, professionals and specialists) has representative sections in Biel/Bienne and Bern.
The Canton of Bern has a long-standing tradition of innovation. Our innovation promotion services help businesses boost performance and competitiveness and increase added value. They focus primarily on the growth markets of cleantech, precision engineering, medical technology, ICT, and energy and environmental technology – fields in which we boast outstanding competences. We actively promote knowledge and technology transfer (KTT) between the worlds of education, research and business. There are also numerous knowledge and technology transfer platforms:
The Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne (SIP) supports and encourages businesses and innovation teams. It provides infrastructure (space and laboratories), research services and services for SMEs and start-ups, helping them to develop and create marketable products. SIP carries out application-oriented research and innovation in the areas of Industry 4.0, 3D production technologies, energy, mobility and medtech.
Swiss Smart Factory (SSF) is one of the competence centres based in the Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne and the first model factory for Industry 4.0 in Switzerland. In the SSF, innovative applications and business models for tomorrow’s digitised factory are developed, tested and illustrated. Its main focus is on innovations contributing to the maintenance and extension of competitiveness of Swiss industries.
Sitem-insel – the Swiss Institute for Translational and Entrepreneurial Medicine in Bern was created to establish, operate and develop a National Centre of Excellence for Translational medicine. Translational medicine is a new, process-oriented discipline that aims to translate new findings and products resulting from private-sector development and basic research into clinical applications.
Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology), an interdisciplinary research institute of the ETH Domain, conducts cutting-edge materials and technology research. Empa’s R&D activities focus on meeting the requirements of industry and the needs of society, and thus link application-oriented research to the practical implementation of new ideas. As a result, Empa can provide its partners with customised solutions that not only enhance their innovative edge and competitiveness, but also help to improve the quality of life for the public at large.
Education and Research
Top-class talent and recruitment potential: The Canton of Bern is the only Swiss canton with a university, an associated university hospital and two universities of applied sciences spread across four campuses. It is also home to a Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) research centre, a Switzerland Innovation Park campus and an Haute Ecole Arc campus. There are seven other universities within an hour’s reach.
The University of Bern is a world-class research centre of major social and scientific significance. It is an ideal environment for high-level inter-, trans- and multidisciplinary research in areas such as health and medicine.
Living in Bern
You are literally living and working in a holiday destination. The quality of living is outstanding. Here you’ll find safe, clean workplaces standing side by side with internationally renowned education and training facilities, coupled with a bilingual culture and unspoilt nature - right on your doorstep.
Many embassies and consulates are located in the City of Bern. Expatriates find access to well-functioning social networks.
Leading the field in productivity and labour force participation: Switzerland has one of the most productive workforces in the world and its labour force participation rate (83%) is among the highest in Europe. Good language skills are another key feature of the workforce here in the Canton of Bern, which is the largest bilingual canton in Switzerland.
Involving much less red tape than in many EU member states, our liberal labour laws make for a dynamic labour market, with businesses, government bodies and social partners working together to ensure fair working conditions. The standard working week in Switzerland is between 40 and 45 hours, with many employers offering flexible working hours within set bandwidths. The high levels of pay in Switzerland attract many well-educated and highly-qualified workers, with almost 40% of our workforce educated to tertiary level.
With 3.6 million inhabitants, 1.2 million workers and 114,000 students at nine universities within an hour’s reach by road or rail, we are at the heart of Switzerland and Europe in general.
Switzerland’s biggest international airports – Zurich (180 destinations), Basel (90) and Geneva (110) – are just an hour and a half away from Bern by road or rail. Bern Airport has regular flights to major European airports and Bern is at the intersection of major north-south and east-west transport routes. Our motorways and roads are modern and efficient, and our public transport system offers a high degree of mobility and flexibility.