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Why Switzerland for Food and Nutrition

What makes Switzerland a burgeoning agrifood hub?

Traditionally strong in the food, agriculture and nutrition sectors, Switzerland aims to drive foodtech innovation by leveraging its world-class research institutes, solid technological know-how, highly qualified workforce, change-minded consumers and leading players across the ecosystem.

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10 key advantages of the region


Deeply rooted in agricultural tradition

Renowned for the quality of its cheese and chocolate, Switzerland was always destined to play a major role in the global agrifood sector. Relying on its prolific agricultural tradition, the country now looks set to become one of the leaders in worldwide efforts to develop new solutions, tools, products and services that support sustainable, more resilient food systems.


Leading corporates driving innovation

Switzerland is home to a large number of international companies in the food and nutrition space, such as Nestlé, General Mills, Chiquita, Givaudan, Tetra Laval and DSM-Firmenich. It also hosts 26 corporate R&D centers dedicated to food technologies, including 10 from Nestlé alone. The country is a hotbed of research and innovation, as is reflected by its consistent top performance in the Global Innovation Index. In 2021, Swiss companies once again filed the most patent applications per million inhabitants (969), with foodtech as the 2nd most patented domain after pharma. Switzerland is also among the highest spenders on R&D in relation to its GDP.


Top farm-to-fork startups

There are over 160 foodtech startup and scaleup companies in Switzerland, according to a report compiled by Accenture and the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley. They are mainly active in Agritech (33%), Food Products & Coaching (15%), Food Waste (12%), Food Delivery (12%), Food Supply Chain & Retail (12%), Food Science (8%), and Food Services (8%). 18 of them made it into the latest edition of the FoodTech 500, the definitive list of global entrepreneurial talent at the intersection between food, technology and sustainability. Among them are EcoRobotix, Farmer Connect, Vivent, KITRO, SwissDeCode and Embion Technologies, based in Western Switzerland. Swiss startups, many of them spun off from local universities, have a higher survival rate after five years compared to their European counterparts. Working closely with government bodies, academia and corporates, they benefit from seamless access to qualified personnel, industry know-how, and financial resources.


Access to the brightest minds

From renowned academic institutions like the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), to smaller but highly specialized competence centers, R&D efforts in Western Switzerland span the entire agrifood value chain. The EPFL Integrative Food and Nutrition Center focuses on three verticals: Sustainable Packaging, Precision Nutrition, and Food System Digitalization. At the Bern University of Applied Sciences (HEBe/BFH-HAFL)
, researchers are working on Consumer-focused Food Production, Nutrition and Dietetics, and Sustainable Food Production. The HES-SO Institute of Life Technologies hosts two research groups directly involved in agrifood innovation: on Peptide and protein technologies, and on Food and Natural Products. The latter, headed by Dr. Michael Beyrer, is actively working on developing meat replacements through alternative proteins and novel extraction technologies. The Grangeneuve Agricultural Institute offers education and consulting services in the areas of agriculture, food, and dairy, with a focus on milk production and processing. The School of Management and Engineering Vaud (HEIG-VD) is also involved in agrifood research, particularly through its Institute of Mechanical Design, Materials Science and Packaging Technologies (COMATEC). The Swiss Center for Electronics & Microtechnology (CSEM) has entered into a strategic collaboration with Agroscope, the Swiss federal government’s agriculture, food, and environmental research organization, to develop tools for the monitoring of fields and livestock, and for the optimization of all the processes of the food supply chain. The aim of the Food Ecosystem Institute of the Fribourg School of Management is to assist the agrifood system with the transition to the Industry 4.0 era. Switzerland is also home to some of the world’s leading institutions in hospitality management education, such as EHL, with its Institute of Nutrition R&D. This comprehensive higher education ecosystem attracts and nurtures talent, jump-starts new research, and fosters entrepreneurship.


Environmentally conscious, future-oriented consumers

Switzerland is an excellent test market for businesses looking at introducing new products into Europe. The country’s 8.5 million multilingual, affluent consumers and their high expectations for quality, create the ideal conditions for gauging the potential of new products and services. In the past, global fast food giants McDonald’s and Starbucks have used Switzerland as a test bed for their planned overseas expansion. When it comes to dietary choices, Switzerland is a country of flexitarians: according to Coop’s Plant-Based Food Report 2021, 58% of the population skip animal products several times a month, citing health or environmental reasons. About 40% would like to eat plant-based alternatives more often in the next five years.


Supportive institutions

The Swiss federal and cantonal authorities actively encourage innovative agrifood projects. “Swiss Food Ecosystems” is one of the topics supported by Switzerland’s innovation promotion agency Innosuisse through its NTN Innovation Booster mechanism. As part of its agrifood strategy, the canton of Fribourg has recently launched three flagship initiatives: the “Food & Farm Living Lab”promotes a systemic, multi-stakeholder approach to agrifood challenges; “Biomass Valorization” focuses on the reuse of biomass from agricultural and agrifood production; “Agriculture & Industry 4.0” supports the optimization of current agricultural and agrifood processes using data science, as well as the creation of virtual platforms offering better operability and transparency to the parties involved.


A booming ecosystem

With more than 300 players already identified in the food and agriculture ecosystem, Switzerland is still a relatively hidden, but highly competitive, foodtech hub, providing great opportunities for growth in the market. The Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley is a nationwide initiative to develop, strengthen and promote food innovation in Switzerland and beyond. It brings together a diverse group of stakeholders to drive concrete change in five key areas: Precision Nutrition, Sustainable Proteins, Food Systems 4.0, Future Farming, Sustainable Packaging. The Food & Nutrition Cluster is a networking and facilitation platform with a mission to foster the collaboration between the various players of the agrifood ecosystem and to support them in their innovation endeavors.


Dedicated infrastructures

Agrifood companies looking for a stimulating environment to grow and experiment with big ideas can set up shop in one of the dedicated technology parks in Western Switzerland. AgriCo, the Swiss Campus for Agri and Food Innovation, focuses on value creation in the areas of agriculture, nutrition and biomass. It encompasses large industrial parcels suitable for construction, offices and laboratories available for rent, as well as one million square meters of agricultural land for full-scale field trials. Agropôle offers a flexible space, tailored equipment and full support at every stage of development to startups, service providers and manufacturers in the agrifood sector. Specializing in natural ingredients, PhytoArk welcomes companies active in the cosmetics, food and health-nutrition sectors. It provides them with appropriate services, expertise and facilities to ease their transition towards industrial production and commercialization in Europe.


Financing options for every taste

In terms of venture capital, Switzerland is one of the most attractive countries in the world. In 2021, the Swiss startup scene celebrated reaching a record CHF 3.1 billion in venture capital investments. As many as 26 homegrown VC outfits invest heavily in foodtech startups and are fueling the industry’s growth. These include Quadia, Swiss Food Group, and ACE & Company, just to name a few. In addition, corporate funds such as Givaudan’s, or accelerators such as MassChallenge and Nestlé R+D Accelerator, can provide startups with financial support and guidance. Companies interested in raising capital through crowdfunding can rely on Yes We Farm, a platform dedicated to food and agriculture projects.


Events to inspire and connect

The Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley hosts Members Quarterly Meet-ups to bring members together and facilitate knowledge sharing, as well as bimonthly virtual Meet The Valley events for anyone interested in the Swiss foodtech ecosystem. The Food & Nutrition Cluster co-organizes workshops and training sessions to inform and reflect on the latest trends and best practices in the agrifood sector. FoodHack, a Swiss-based global community for food entrepreneurs and innovators, hosts regular meet-ups and demo days, both online and around the world. The next edition of its flagship event, the FoodHack Summit, will be held on 11-12 May 2023 in Switzerland. Vitafoods Europe, the world’s nutraceutical event attracting over 25,000 industry experts, takes place every year in Geneva.


As people have focused more heavily on their gut health over the past couple of years, we have seen an increase in interest from international customers and started to examine potential new locations abroad.

Switzerland, a known hub for both food and biotechnology, emerged as the perfect place to launch our international expansion. In Fribourg, we have found the ideal partner in the Swiss Integrative Center for Human Health (SICHH), which has the competence to drive our international growth. We appreciated the SICHH team’s creativity when developing a plan for our needs and their excitement for our gut health tests to enter the region.

Sunny Jain
CEO & Founder, Floré by Sun Genomics

As a startup, in Western Switzerland we can easily find the right help or advice for our specific needs.

Paul Charmillot
Founder and CEO,

Switzerland is home to a unique innovation ecosystem for food and nutrition.

Together, we can more effectively address global challenges such as delicious, nutritious and affordable food for all, sustainable packaging, and climate change mitigation.

Stefan Palzer
CTO, Nestlé

Contact us for advice

GGBa has a global network of representatives who will support and guide you to ensure the success of your establishment in Switzerland. Our services are tailor-made, free and confidential.