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Basel’s Tech Cluster: a half empty glass full of opportunities

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Compared to Zurich and the rest of Switzerland, Basel has not been overwhelmingly successful in attracting digital companies and talents in the recent 10 to 20 years. At least according to the statistics: Only 2 percent of the workforce in Basel work in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Industry. In Switzerland it is just under 4 percent and in Zurich it is 6 percent. Also the added value of the ICT sector in Basel has been flat. In Zurich this figure has more than doubled since 1995 amounting to almost CHF 10 Billion in 2018. Most people employed in the digital industries in Basel work in the service sector, with less than five percent actually developing a product, as compared to the 12 percent average in the whole of Switzerland.

Numbers as these could easily lead to despair, never the less they present their own flaws. For a starter, "embedded ICT", referring to people working in a digital role in a non-ICT-Company (for instance in Big Pharma), are not taken into account. Secondly, the numbers date back to 2020. Since then perception has changed. Not only have new national players, such as TI&M, opened an office in Basel. Also the government has taken action, acknowledging that a strong ICT ecosystem attracting sufficient digital talents is rapidly becoming a critical success and competitive factor for all industries in the Basel region.

The initiative BaselTech has been launched to strengthen the field. And the numbers are quite impressive. In a first draft, more than 320 actors were identified in the Basel Region. Among these are 129 startups, over 70 research projects and innovation programs, as well as over 50 digital service, technology and software companies - all to be found on the platform BaselTech.org. So fair to say: The glass may be half empty but it is full of opportunities.



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