Lausanne, February 7, 2017 – For the Greater Geneva Bern area – Western Switzerland’s investment promotion agency bringing together the cantons of Bern, Fribourg, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Geneva and Valais – 2016 was marked by a consolidation of the number of established companies. While this number slightly declined to approximately 40 companies, the number of assessment visits in the member cantons remained stable. Last year, the GGBa identified and treated 226 new projects in its prospecting efforts, and organized nearly 200 company visits. Despite the uncertain international environment, the GGBa’s pipeline includes many high-potential projects. It is important to note that a number of companies postponed their investment decisions due to global uncertainties. In terms of governance, the GGBa now has a new, open-ended partnership agreement. In 2016, the GGBa developed new communication tools and a new visual identity.


Unfailing interest in Western Switzerland

Last year, 123 companies made 194 assessment visits in the member cantons. The 42 newly established businesses supported by the GGBa are expected to create about 160 jobs within one year and over 500 jobs within three years. According to Thomas Bohn, Executive Director of the GGBa, “nearly 800 active projects are currently in the pipeline, which allows us to remain reasonably optimistic for the coming years”. Since its creation in 2010, the GGBa has generated over 1,500 assessment visits made by 900 companies. Over this seven-year period, 380 companies established a presence in the region thanks to the support of the GGBa.

Need for clarity

Among the projects handled over the past two years, many have great potential. However, a number of investment decisions have been postponed due to developments in Switzerland and on the international scene. Brexit, political changes in the U.S., the implementation of the initiative against mass immigration, the strong Swiss franc, as well as the investors’ expectations with regard to the Corporate Tax Reform (CTR III) in Switzerland are the main factors that have adversely affected the intense prospecting activities conducted by the GGBa. “Uncertainty weighs heavily on the evaluations of companies when they make their investment choices”, adds Thomas Bohn.

Strategic business intelligence and thematic refocusing

The GGBa has intensified its efforts on targeted sectors based on the assets of the region and of the single cantons, such as life sciences, nutrition, industry 4.0 and micro-nanotechnologies. The network of representatives (12 in total) in the different countries has remained unchanged. Last year, the representatives met over 700 companies, to which they presented the advantages of choosing Western Switzerland as their business location. In connection with this prospecting strategy, the GGBa intensified last year its international business intelligence efforts. The companies that made evaluation visits and established a presence in the region in 2016 come from around 15 countries. They are active in the main key sectors in which the GGBa conducts prospecting activities. Though different in size, they all have as common denominator their innovativeness and their capacity to strengthen the local economy.

Outlook for 2017

In 2017, the GGBa will continue its differentiated approach on the markets. Following the Brexit, the agency will work on its positioning in relation to players in the UK. In the U.S., the GGBa will strengthen its visibility through a presence at the swissnex sites in New York, Boston and San Francisco. “Even if competition becomes stronger, our region has extraordinary assets and has developed a robust strategy to enhance them. The decision of the member cantons to perpetuate their collaboration by signing a new open-ended partnership agreement is a clear sign of their confidence in the GGBa”, says its current president Jean-Nathanaël Karakash, Minister of Economy and Welfare of the canton of Neuchâtel. “We remain optimistic with regard to the attractiveness of Switzerland as a place to do business”, he continues. “Switzerland is always among the top-ranking countries in terms of capacity to innovate and attract talent, quality of education and infrastructures, and competitiveness”, concludes Thomas Bohn.


Founded on January 1st, 2010, the Greater Geneva Bern area (GGBa) regroups the cantons of Bern, Fribourg, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Geneva and Valais. The GGBa’s mission is to attract foreign companies which will sustainably strengthen the priority expertise poles of Western Switzerland and create high value-added jobs. More specifically, the GGBa originates projects through its business development activities in foreign countries and transmits them to its member cantons, which are in charge of implementing them.  


Further information and contacts

  • Jean-Nathanaël Karakash, GGBa President, Minister of Economy and Welfare of the canton of Neuchâtel ; tel. : +41 (0)32 889 48 00
  • Thomas Bohn, GGBa Executive Director ; tel. : +41 (0)21 644 00 90