The canton of Valais - High technology and innovation in the heart of the Alps

The canton of Valais is generally well known for its grand landscapes, exceptional climate, living traditions and many local products. But it is also a centre of excellence in the areas of technology, applied research and innovation.

Situated at the heart of Europe, at a crossroads between communication routes, the canton of Valais is an interface between cultures and languages, and has an avant-garde technology park that specialises in life sciences, information and communication sciences and engineering.

Key information:
Population: 321,732 (31 December 2012)
Surface area: 5,224.6 km²
Official languages: French and German
Capital: Sion (31,207 inhabitants)
Other main towns: Monthey (16,880 inhabitants), Sierre (15,945 inhabitants), Martigny (16,897 inhabitants).

Main clusters in the canton of Valais

Information and communication technologies (ICT)

Information and communication technologies (ICT) are ubiquitous and are used by most technology processes today. This field is growing continuously and there is a huge potential for innovation. Although it is difficult to measure the true impact of ICT on all of the companies making up the fabric of the Valais economy, this area of activity, even when viewed in the strictest sense, offers a value added of approximately CHF90 million per year.

The ICTs in Valais*:
Number of companies: 186
Number of direct jobs: 669

Biotechnologies/Pharma/Chemicals

There is a historic link between this field and the industry of the canton of Valais, with production sites in Monthey and Viège. This field includes chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech companies. This business activity is very important for the economy of the canton of Valais. Indeed, according to the latest statistics available, 6.7% of jobs in the canton relate to the life sciences and generate 14.6% of the total value added.

Biotechnologies/Pharma/Chemicals in Valais*:
Number of companies: 39
Number of employees: 5776

Cosmetics industry

This is a subfield related to chemical and biotechnological production, fields that have a historic link with the industry based in the canton of Valais, with production sites in Monthey and Viège. This field is growing continuously and there is a huge potential for innovation.

The cosmetics industry in Valais*:
Number of companies: 4
Number of direct jobs: 93

Medical technologies

This field shows a huge potential for development and innovation in Valais thanks to the 'Industrial Systems' and 'Life Technologies' Institutes of HES-SO, which combine their expertise in the development and creation of new medical equipment and the improvement of existing equipment.

Medical technologies in Valais*:
Number of companies: 54
Number of direct jobs: 301

Micro and nanotechnologies and precision engineering

Engineering sciences are used across a wide range of sectors. They might relate, for example, to the production of electricity, the treatment and distribution of water, the manufacture of electrical appliances or machines, and also metalwork. These different activities apply collectively to over 400 industrial companies, account for 7.1% of jobs in the canton and generate almost 11% of the total value added.

Micro and nanotechnologies and precision engineering in Valais*:
Number of companies: 75
Number of jobs: 2083

Agri-food industry (phyto and nutraceuticals)

The canton of Valais devotes part of its resources to the development of new agri-food, cosmetic and phytotherapeutic products in response to growing consumer demands in terms of quality, safety and authenticity. It is also turning its attention to the area of functional foods, sports and medical nutrition. The actions taken in this area aim to make use of local resources such as alpine plants, fruit and vegetables.

The agri-food industry in Valais*:
Number of companies: 156
Number of direct jobs: 1686

Engineering sciences

Engineering sciences are used across a wide range of sectors. They might relate, for example, to the production of electricity, the treatment and distribution of water, the manufacture of electrical appliances or machines, and also metalwork. These different activities apply collectively to over 400 industrial companies, account for 7.1% of jobs in the canton and generate almost 11% of the total value added.

Engineering sciences in Valais*:
Number of companies: 416
Number of jobs: 10,109

* Source, Federal Office of Statistics, Company Survey 2008.

Contact Details


The canton of Valais
Email: info@business-valais.ch

The famous Matterhorn mountain.
Project of facial recognition developed in IDIAP (www.idiap.ch).
Details of fibre bundles used for water filtration developed by Membratec (www.membratec.ch).
Aerial photo of the Lonza plant in Visp, covering 90ha.
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