The Swiss Institute for Business Cycle Research (KOF) at ETH Zurich conducts a Swiss Innovation Survey every two years. Innosuisse takes part in the survey to learn more about the innovation behaviour of its own funding clients. The results of the current study from 2021 show that innovation activities at companies supported by Innosuisse have increased in the last two years. Market innovations accounted for a significantly higher proportion of sales in 2020 than for companies that had not applied for funding. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on companies’ innovation behaviour. Digitalisation received a boost. Around half of the funding clients make a potentially big contribution to at least one of the global sustainability goals through their innovations.
As part of the Swiss Innovation Survey, the KOF Swiss Economic Institute at ETH Zurich surveys Swiss companies every two years on their innovation behaviour. KOF also conducts in-depth surveys and evaluations of its own funding clients on behalf of Innosuisse.
The 2019 survey focused on comparing innovative companies that received funding from Innosuisse with companies that did not submit an application or did not receive funding.
The current Innovation Survey 2021 focuses on the innovation behaviour of companies. A total of over 3,500 companies that submitted applications for innovation projects and/or innovation cheques to Innosuisse between 2016 and 2020 were surveyed. 1056 companies took part in the survey, which corresponds to a response rate of around 30% of the companies surveyed.. The results do not focus directly on the impact of funding. However, they do provide information about the nature of innovation activities.
On average, the share of sales with product innovations among innovative companies that have not applied for funding is 30%, of which 6% are market innovations and 24% are company innovations. These proportions are significantly higher among companies with Innosuisse project funding: the share of sales with product innovations is almost 52%, of which 22% are market innovations and 30% are company innovations.
In the case of companies funded by Innosuisse, the share of sales with product innovations that are market innovations is 22%. For innovative companies that have not applied for funding from Innosuisse since 2016, the share of sales with market innovations is 6%.
However, this increase was less pronounced than in the previous 2016 - 2018 period. The slightly more positive expectations at the time have not been fully met. Nevertheless, companies foresee somewhat stronger growth in innovation activities over the next three years. Start-ups and companies with approved innovation projects are more likely to expect a significant increase in innovation activities.
For 56% of Innosuisse’s funding clients, innovation activities increased in the last three years. In the next three years, 61% see growth, 19% of them even strong growth.
27% of the companies surveyed were strongly or very strongly affected by the pandemic, while 49% perceived only a weak or no impact. Start-ups recorded a stronger impact compared with the rest of the companies.
The Covid pandemic has once again given digitalisation a strong boost. Social innovations also gained greater importance. The strategic importance of innovations has increased.
The pandemic has tended to slow collaborations with companies. Investments in innovations were also negatively impacted.
For 60% of funding clients, digitalisation gained importance during the pandemic, and for 38%, social innovation became more important.
42% of the companies reported high or very high risks in the market launch, whereas 32% reported high risks in the feasibility of the innovation projects. Start-ups and SMEs generally have higher innovation risks. No clear differences can be identified between funded and unfunded projects.
14% of companies see only minor market risks in their innovation projects, compared with 21% of companies that foresee technical or feasibility risks.
This goes beyond purely economic benefits. One in four companies even reports a very high benefit.
Compared with the last survey in 2019 (78%), the benefit was estimated to be slightly lower. Innovation cheques and innovation projects are considered equally useful. For start-ups, the benefits are somewhat higher.
71% of the companies see a high or very high benefit in Innosuisse’s innovation support.
Foreign companies are important collaboration partners for over half of the funding clients, and foreign research partners are important for four out of ten companies surveyed. Only one in five companies say that international cooperation is not important at all. The main reasons for international innovation collaborations are product innovations for the international market, entry into foreign markets and strategic business relationships. For startups, international collaboration is of greater importance than for established companies.
For Swiss companies, Europe (93%) and especially the border countries (Germany 75%, France 25% and Austria 17%) as well as the USA (38%) and China (13%) are of interest.
For 51% of the companies, international partnership with companies is important. 40% see international partnership with research partners as important.
37% of the companies surveyed rate their innovations as radical or very radical overall. The share of companies with predominantly or entirely incremental innovations is also considerable at 25%. Start-ups, SMEs and companies with international innovation projects rate the radical nature of their innovations at a higher level. There are no differences between innovation projects and innovation cheques.
29% of the companies’ innovations pursued are judged to be disruptive to markets.
37% of the innovations pursued by the funding client are radical, whereas 25% are mainly or entirely incremental.
Around half of the funding clients rate the potential contribution of their innovations to at least one of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as high. 20% of the companies make no or only a small contribution according to their assessment. In the case of approved projects, start-ups and large companies, the effects in terms of SDGs are more pronounced. 40% of companies include the SDGs in their innovation strategy. The most important contributions can be seen in the three goals “Industry, innovation and infrastructure”, “Health and well-being” and “Climate protection measures”.
51% of Innosuisse’s funding clients make a big contribution to at least one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals with their innovations.
Last modification 09.03.2023