Swiss Atlas of Digitization

EconSight introduces the Digitization Atlas on the state of advanced digitization in Switzerland. The digitization atlas shows the patent activities of companies in advanced digitization technologies in Switzerland – by company location and regionalized down to the postcode level. This makes Switzerland’s technology landscape visible in detail. Advanced digitisation consists of the technologies that will most likely drive digital transformation in all sectors and technologies in the future: artificial intelligence, cloud computing, big data, virtual/augmented reality and encryption technologies. It becomes clear where the most important companies are located and which local technology clusters have formed. For the first time, by far the most comprehensive collection of regional patent data in Switzerland was used for the digitisation atlas.

In Switzerland, the Zurich region is the digital centre. Around one third of all patents in advanced digitisation come from companies in the canton (around 700 patents). In second place is the canton of Vaud with around 460 patents, followed by Basel-Stadt with around 200 patents and the canton of Aargau with around 150 patents. Switzerland’s technological expertise is concentrated in the major cities.

While Zurich is well positioned in all five technologies, the other regions have individual technological focuses. The canton of Vaud has a strong focus on encryption technologies, and around half of the patents can be attributed to these technologies. The same applies to the canton of Geneva. In Basel-Stadt, 75% of advanced digitisation patents are attributable to artificial intelligence. Companies in the canton of Aargau are also primarily active in artificial intelligence (60%), while Schaffhausen has two focal points with artificial intelligence and big data. In the canton of Zug, around 45% of patents in advanced digitisation technologies are attributable to artificial intelligence, followed by Big Data with around 30%.

Among the companies, Kudelski leads with 213 patents ahead of ABB (196 patents), Roche (149 patents), Alphabet (131 patents) and IBM with 125 patents. These five companies are responsible for about one third of all Swiss patents in advanced digitalization. Accordingly, these companies are dominant in the cantons where they are headquartered. Kudelski is responsible for almost half of the advanced digitisation patents in the canton of Vaud. Roche holds two thirds of the patents in the canton of Basel-Stadt and ABB two thirds in the canton of Aargau. The canton of Zurich has a broader base with Alphabet and IBM, among other things.

Individual advanced digitisation technologies are strongly dominated by a few companies.  In artificial intelligence, Roche (115) and ABB (108) lead by a wide margin ahead of Alphabet (40), Nestle (39) and EPFL (39). Kudelski dominates in encryption technologies with 187 patents and thus holds as many patents as the following five companies combined. In Big Data and Cloud Computing, competencies are more widely distributed.

Switzerland’s universities are also active in advanced digitisation technologies. EPFL leads with 59 patents (39 in artificial intelligence, 11 in encryption) ahead of ETH Zurich with 17 patents (10 in artificial intelligence, 3 in encryption) and the University of Zurich with 14 patents (11 in artificial intelligence).

The digitalization atlas with interactive images and rankings can be found here

Advanced digitisation by canton

The results at a glance