The canton of Neuchâtel is recognized around the world for its expertise in the fields of micro/nanotechnologies and microfabrication. Steeped in three centuries of industrial history, the region's proficiency in these fields generates exceptional dynamism all along the innovation value chain.
From teaching to industrial processing, and from fundamental and applied research to development and production phases, the skills of all those involved combine to drive the emergence of innovative technologies and concepts.
In addition, the density and responsiveness of the local industrial fabric allow new ideas to be converted into products in record time.
Neuchâtel’s remarkable performance is due, first and foremost, to its watchmaking industry, but also to its activities in precision instruments and electronics.
Chemical and pharmaceutical products also contribute to the canton's added value, as shown by export statistics.
Finally, knowledge-intensive services, which provide essential support to high-tech industries, are also present in Neuchâtel, just as they are in other medium-sized Swiss cities.
Neuchâtel’s system of innovation stems from three centuries of industrial tradition related to watchmaking and its demands in terms of precision, miniaturization, innovation and skilled labor, but also from the economic downturns it has withstood. The crisis of the 1970s, in particular, saw politicians and industrial visionaries join forces to find a way out of the doldrums.
Neuchâtel has thus been a pioneer in economic development, industrial diversification, and the rise of microtechnology and microelectronics.
The region's key skills, recognized on an international level, have therefore been forged over several decades, or even several centuries. These include:
Most of Neuchâtel’s innovation key payers are linked to the canton’s industrial development. They have strong links and know each other particularly well. Institutions (the CSEM, FSRM, NEODE, UniNE, EPFL, HE-Arc, Micronarc, Platinn, Finergence) work closely with industry figures, including watchmakers, sub-contractors and machinery suppliers, as well as the electronics and medical-device firms that developed in response to the watchmaking crisis in the 1970s. Neuchâtel has also managed to attract many industrial businesses and research centers, such as Swath Group R&D (Asulab), Philip Morris, Celgene, J&J, Mikron, Glenmark, PX Group, Tag Heuer, Autodesk, Nivarox, Komax, and Melexis. Around 40 startups have also been created in innovative technologies over the last 15 years.
Together, these entities cover the entire innovation cycle, from initial concept to marketing, by way of feasibility studies, prototyping and the manufacturing process.
The scientific excellence behind Neuchâtel’s economic vitality is widely acknowledged in the following areas:
There is a strong desire from both the canton of Neuchâtel and institutions such as CSEM and EPFL to consolidate scientific excellence, thus developing existing key skills and addressing priority research areas at European and international level, by focusing on two areas of technology: smart systems and advanced manufacturing.