Swiss perspectives in 10 languages

These Swiss inventions have become iconic

The Swiss are often perceived as cautious and meticulous, but they also have a creative spirit that has produced many inventions used all over the world. Some have become design icons.

The former rural society has become innovative. According to the Global Innovation Index, Switzerland was the world innovation champion in 2012. Nowhere else in Europe are there as many patents registered by individuals and per inhabitant as in Switzerland. By way of comparison, 955 patents were filed per million inhabitants in Switzerland in 2018, 332 in Germany and 132 in the United States. The list of Swiss inventions is long and the stories behind them are fascinating.

Switzerland has a strong pharmaceutical industry, so it is not surprising that important achievements have been made in that sector. These include the artificial production of vitamin C, the anti-inflammatory cortisone, sedatives such as valium and the controversial drug LSD.

Popular Swiss innovations that make life easier include velcro, cellophane, the pen knife, wristwatch, folding clothes horse, garlic press and many others.

Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity or Charles E. L. Brown’s first transmission of electrical energy by three-phase high-voltage current really changed the world, giving rise to high-voltage lines.

(Sources: European Patent Office, Historical Dictionary of Switzerland)

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here . Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR