Life and work
High-altitude high tech.
Graubünden’s natural beauty is certainly no secret – but not many people are aware of the fact that the region is also home to world-leading companies in the field of high-tech products. Eugen Arpagaus, Head of the Office for Economy and Tourism, explains how the two worlds fit together.
Graubünden. The first pictures that come to mind are of sitting in a cosy mountain cabin eating barley soup while outside two ibexes are prancing through the snow in the picturesque snow-capped Alpine scenery ... Eugen Arpagaus taps his index finger on the table for emphasis: “What many people don’t realise is that Graubünden has a Mediterranean climate! If you want proof, just try one of the fantastic wines made from the Pinot noir grapes that grow here!” Eugen is the Head of the Graubünden Office for Economy and Tourism – and his mission is to show people the other side of Graubünden. The canton isn’t just about mountain scenery, Capuns and skiing – it also boasts a high-tech industry that can compete with the best in the world.
Swiss quality costs less?
A growing number of companies from the key sectors of medtech, plastics, chemicals, mechanical engineering, toolmaking, electronics, sensor technology and life sciences are moving to the Rhine Valley and Prättigau. They include a number of international corporations, such as Hamilton, TRUMPF and INTEGRA Biosciences, that have relocated their headquarters to the dynamic Alpine canton, while local companies in these industries are also rapidly developing into global players in their niches. The highly specialised technologies from Chur, Grüsch, Domat/Ems, Bonaduz and Landquart are sold all over the world. And, incredibly, Swiss quality often costs less: “Production costs per unit are often lower in Switzerland because the rejection rate is so much lower. The companies that have production sites in other countries can give us really clear comparisons,” says Eugen.
"The six largest companies in the region are looking for 160 new engineers every year."
How is this possible? “The employees are highly trained, motivated and loyal.” Hamilton’s experience shows that employees are drawn to the Graubünden Rhine Valley. A leading medtech company, Hamilton recently filled 360 positions in a single year. They received over 6,500 applications. The demand for engineers is particularly high, with the six largest companies in the region alone already looking for 160 new engineers every year – and that number is rising. Experienced specialists and talented graduates from various disciplines come to the region from all over the world.
Good for the balance sheet, good for the soul.
The export industry in the Graubünden Rhine Valley is growing steadily. Costs are significantly lower than in the metropolitan areas of Switzerland for things like land and wages. Graubünden is an attractive residential location with a comparatively low cost of living, thanks to lower housing costs, lower insurance premiums and moderate tax rates. Disposable income is therefore higher than in other areas of Switzerland. This is good news for both companies and employees.
And the employees are also happier and healthier than their counterparts in most other cantons – another important argument for employers to move their headquarters to the Graubünden Rhine Valley. Eugen shares some more convincing arguments: “The availability of 300,000 square metres of prime industrial real estate in attractive locations is of course a huge plus, and the political decision-making processes are short, which is appreciated by many business owners,” he says. Graubünden also has generous depreciation rules and tax breaks at cantonal and (as part of the regional policy) federal level.
Companies that are interested in the region and visit Graubünden as part of a fact-finding mission quickly realise the potential the area offers. “But that’s not always the way it works,” says Eugen, before explaining that some company owners decide to establish their headquarters in the canton after spending their holiday here. Often, he concludes, the most important thing is to “work where you love to live.”