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Western Switzerland’s RIS-SO network: driving innovation across multiple sectors

Why Switzerland

RIS-SO’s comprehensive network not only supports SMEs and start-ups but also positions Western Switzerland as a leading center of excellence in multiple high-tech and sustainable industries. RIS-SO’s comprehensive network not only supports SMEs and start-ups but also positions Western Switzerland as a leading center of excellence in multiple high-tech and sustainable industries. | © ARI-SO

The Western Switzerland Regional Innovation System (RIS-SO) is a comprehensive network that supports SMEs, start-ups, and higher education institutions through innovation and collaboration across various sectors.

The Système Régional d’Innovation de Suisse occidentale (RIS-SO, or Western Switzerland Regional Innovation System in English) is an economic network that benefits small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), start-ups, and higher education institutions in Western Switzerland. This network fosters innovation by connecting companies, academic institutions, and public authorities through a coordinated system that leverages the collective strengths of these sectors. The RIS-SO facilitates inter-company and inter-sector collaborations via three main intervention axes: local services as entry points (PoE), coaching for product and process innovations, and intercompany platforms such as clusters and networking events.

Structure and purpose of RIS-SO

RIS-SO’s mission is to enhance the coordination of existing innovation promotion offers for SMEs and fully exploit regional innovation potential. This system collaborates with external actors like GGBa, SIP, S-GE, Innosuisse, other RIS networks, and inter-cantonal programs. Financially supported by participating cantons and the Swiss Confederation, RIS-SO aims to create an ecosystem where innovation can thrive.

The network includes four sector-specific platforms designed to profile and enhance Western Switzerland as a center of excellence in life sciences (BioAlps), information and digital technologies (Alp ICT), micro-nanotechnologies (Micronarc), and clean technologies (CleantechAlps). Each platform works to encourage knowledge transfer, collaborative innovation, and synergies between regional, national, and international actors.

BioAlps: fostering life sciences innovation

BioAlps, the life sciences cluster of Western Switzerland, offers a dynamic network that includes research institutions, academic entities, start-ups, and large multinationals. This platform promotes Western Switzerland as a world-class center for life sciences innovations by fostering growth through synergies among academia, entrepreneurs, investors, authorities, and new businesses. BioAlps supports a wide range of networking opportunities through regional, national, and international events, aiming to create a fertile ecosystem for life sciences.

Alp ICT: promoting digital transformation

Alp ICT is the platform for information and digital technologies. Supported by the cantons of Western Switzerland and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Alp ICT focuses on fostering synergies in the ICT sector. It serves as a liaison between companies, research and development (R&D) entities, institutional actors, and financial stakeholders. By promoting a sustainable and responsible digital ecosystem, Alp ICT strengthens the innovation capacity of SMEs and supports their digital transformation.

Micronarc: advancing micro and nanotechnologies

Micronarc promotes and networks Western Switzerland’s scientific, technical, and economic landscape in micro and nanotechnologies. The platform facilitates connections between education, R&D, technology transfer, and business entities. Micronarc’s mission includes promoting regional activities through event participation, networking opportunities, and information dissemination. It aims to keep stakeholders informed and connected within the micro-nanotechnology sector.

CleantechAlps: championing sustainable technologies

CleantechAlps focuses on sustainability and clean technologies, aiming to position Western Switzerland as a hub of excellence in these fields. Supported by SECO, CleantechAlps connects stakeholders within the economic fabric to create value and promote expertise in clean technologies. The platform’s activities are centered on increasing networking opportunities, supporting regional innovation recognition, and promoting sustainable technological solutions globally. CleantechAlps aims to strengthen the competitiveness and reputation of regional businesses while supporting sustainable development goals and climate-related solutions.

RIS-SO and its sector platforms—BioAlps, Alp ICT, Micronarc, and CleantechAlps—play a crucial role in fostering innovation and economic growth in Western Switzerland. By providing a structured and coordinated approach to innovation promotion, RIS-SO lowers the barriers for non-experts, enhances the capabilities of experienced professionals, and accelerates research and development across various fields.