Micro-nanotechnologies and precision engineering

Micro-nanotechnologies and precision engineering have played a critical role in the development of the Swiss economy in recent years.

In addition to the vital contributions that these sectors have made in the development of new handling and production technologies, the industry has thrived through its advances in the field of high-precision instrumentation and process technologies.

Switzerland has established itself as a worldwide leader in successfully developing new applications, products and manufacturing techniques using micro-nanotechnologies and precision engineering. In addition, nanotechnologies represent an enormous source of technological advancement for numerous industry sectors, including medical technologies, biotechnologies, chemistry, environmental protection, semiconductors, high precision optics and information and communication technologies.

A large pool of Swiss and international companies active in micro-nanotechnologies and precision engineering benefits from the highly advanced infrastructure, the skilled and productive workforce and outstanding working conditions in Switzerland. These companies are also supported by numerous Swiss research institutions, which enjoy an excellent international reputation and which contribute to the substantial achievements in the area of micro-nanotechnologies and precision engineering.

Swiss research in the field covers the full spectrum, from materials science and handling and production technologies to research and development of components and systems. In order to exploit the latest advances in micro-nanotechnologies, close cooperation takes place between the industrial sector and academic institutions. Overall, Switzerland combines internationally successful high tech companies, world class research and a renowned financial market to create a stimulating environment for these industries.

The Canton of Vaud has a long tradition of precision mechanics and miniaturisation, inherited from watchmaking industry over a hundred years old and particularly active in the Joux Valley.

This expertise in microtechnology has encouraged the development of various industries and centres of research and education in precision technologies (micromechnics, microelectronics, microsystems). These days, such skills are employed widely in telecommunications, computers, aeronautics, aerospace, medical equipment, precision machinery, the automotive industry and, last but not least, deluxe watches.

More than 150 microtechnology firms are based in the canton of Vaud, employing more than 7,300 people and generating an annual turnover of three billion euros, more than half of which comes from exports.

Academic research and education are also very well developed in the field of micro/nanotechnology. Notable institutions in this field include the Microengineering department at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL), the Institute of Micro and Nano Techniques at Vaud School of Business and Engineering (HEIG-VD) and the Swiss Foundation for Research in Microtechnology (FSRM).

On a regional level, the full set of microtechnology skills is pooled in what is known as the Micronarc cluster. The purpose of this innovation platform is to promote western Switzerland, its enterprises and universities, as a fully fledged competence centre in the field of microtechnology.

A few examples of companies