The Greater Geneva Bern area - interview with Carmen Fankhauser, Deputy Director

Q: Which part of Switzerland does your agency represent? 
The Greater Geneva Bern area is a government-sponsored association representing the economic development interests of the six cantons that comprise Western Switzerland, namely Bern, Fribourg, Vaud, Neuchatel, Geneva, and Valais. Our region covers almost 50% of the Swiss territory. We provide support to non-Swiss enterprises who are interested in the exploration and implementation of opportunities in Switzerland, from an academic, research or commercial perspective. With French and German as the two official languages in the region, companies here benefit from access to the two largest linguistic and cultural communities in Europe. English is widely spoken in business and everyday life.


Q: What is the region known for? 
Western Switzerland is known for its pro-business framework that creates ideal conditions for large and small companies to thrive. Entrepreneurs from the world over appreciate our flexible labor laws, competitive tax rates, stable political system and strong social stability. From a technological perspective, our region boasts unique know-how in all things precision. The Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) is specialized in developing microtechnologies and transferring that know-how to industry. The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology in Lausanne is among the world’s top 10 Engineering and Technology institutions and Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university. But there is so much more that makes our region unique… I would  recommend a visit!

Photo 5.jpg

Q: What business opportunities are there for Finnish companies in Western Switzerland? 
Centrally located in Europe, Western Switzerland provides privileged access to the European market and its 500 million consumers. With its multicultural and multilingual population and their high expectations for quality, the region is also an ideal test market. It is frequently used by companies prior to entering the wider European economic arena. Finnish companies will find strong competencies and technological expertise in sectors such as life sciences, IT, micro- and nanotechnology and cleantech. The Swiss Made label also represents an interesting opportunity and clear competitive advantage for manufacturers and service providers: it facilitates the acquisition of clients and justifies price premiums. Thanks to bilateral free trade agreements with countries such as China and Japan, Switzerland is the ideal stepping stone for any company with international ambitions.


Q: What kind of support does the GGBa provide to companies interested in investing in Western Switzerland? 
Since each project is unique, the GGBa offers tailor-made assistance exclusive to each investor. We provide advice on the business environment in Switzerland, the tax system and the financial incentives available. We act as a door opener and facilitate contacts with public and private sector partners, as well as academic and R&D institutions. We also assist with all administrative procedures linked to company creation and employee relocation. Our services are 100% confidential and free of charge.

Photo 1.jpg

Q: Switzerland is a popular holiday destination for Finns. What are the tourist attractions and holiday resorts in your region? 
Our region is well-known for its natural beauty: it boasts magnificent mountains and breathtaking lakes, perfect for any summer or winter sport. Western Switzerland is also the proud home of the Matterhorn, the most famous and most photographed mountain in the world. Our region’s historic cities are renowned for their culture and charm. The federal capital, Bern, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as are the stunning region of Lavaux with its terraced vineyards, and the watchmaking cities of Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds. With prestigious events regularly taking place in the region, such as the Montreux Jazz Festival and the Menuhin Festival Gstaad, music lovers will also find their fair share of delight and entertainment.

Photo 4.jpg

Greater Geneva Bern area
The Greater Geneva Bern area (GGBa) is the investment promotion agency for Western Switzerland, bringing together the cantons of Bern, Fribourg, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Geneva and Valais. Its mission is to provide support to foreign companies allowing them to get established quickly and develop their activities in Western Switzerland. Since its creation in 2010, the GGBa, in cooperation with the cantonal economic promotion agencies, has guided hundreds of companies from around the world in launching successful business operations in the region.

Carmen Fankhauser, Deputy Director, Greater Geneva Bern area
Carmen has 20 years of experience in communication, marketing and business development across several industries and disciplines, including air navigation services, automotive, IT, banking, sustainable development, interior architecture, and local politics. A proud Swiss citizen, she now harnesses her combined experience to enhance Western Switzerland’s attractiveness as a location for inward investment in her capacity as Deputy Director of the Greater Geneva Bern area.

Questions: Anne Hatanpää, Liaison Manager, Finland Chamber of Commerce