Why Baselland? Thomas Kuebler on How Switzerland’s Business Region Attracts Investors and Talent

Basel region is – next to the Greater Zurich Area  – Switzerland’s economic powerhouse, well known internationally especially for Life Sciences and Biotech. But what makes Baselland attractive as location to do business in? To find out, TPBO caught up with Thomas Kuebler, Director for Economic Development.

The interview is part of our series of paid features aimed at presenting cities and regions as potential places to live and do business in – and to introduce you to the person in charge. If you’d like to introduce your location, please contact us.

Thomas, as Baselland’s Director for Economic Development (“Standortförderung”), what makes the region attractive as location to invest and work?

It’s really the combination of several factors which are key to attracting business and talent nowadays. First of all, our location in the heart of Europe means that Baselland can be easily reached by train, air or car and even ship from close by France and Germany, as well as many important hubs like Paris, London, Hamburg or Berlin. Baselland ist part  of a vibrant and relaxed region, which not only attracts highly motivated and skilled workers but also enterprises and investments – including in the education sector.

And although Baselland is already known and established as a leading economic hub especially in pharmaceuticals and life sciences, we are also proud of our inspirational mix of down-to-earth, rural spirit and at the same time our international focus and open mindedness. Also important from a fdi point of view is that we still have space to grow and to develop new enterprises – for instance in precision technology and logistics – which benefit from our excellent infrastructure. You’ll find details on the 14 success factors which speak for Baselland as location here.

How does your organization help the region to attract investors and talent?

With Basel Area Business & Innovation we have a specialized promotion agency which actively approaches companies abroad and is at the same time available to companies looking to expand to a new location.

We connect those companies with other actors within the Baselland economic cluster (including companies and educational institutions), help them find suitable sites and real estate and facilitate contact with the authorities (work permit, settlement permit, operating permit, etc.). That’s what we focus on. We have little direct contact with potential employees or incoming talent, as there are highly qualified organizations which help these people in their search for a place to live, a school for their kids or support for any other vital issues.

Which would you consider the main challenges or pitfalls to avoid, when promoting a city region such as Baselland to potential foreign investors or skilled workers?

One main challenge is certainly to show to interested companies access to an environment which they will find interesting. They should see that the location is suitable for successfully implementing the company’s activities.

Moreover, highly qualified employees expect excellent housing options, good schooling opportunities for their kids and, overall, a high-quality living environment with culture and leisure opportunities.

Which are some of the most recent developments in the Baselland region, which make it stand out from competing regions or business areas in Europe?

We currently have some extremely exciting site developments. A new R + D mile for BioTech and Life Sciences is being created in the BaseLink area. The world’s best companies in the Life Sciences Cluster can already be found there. With the new development, the entire region of Northwestern Switzerland, which is one of the top 5 BioTech and Life Sciences locations in the world, will be further strengthened.

In addition, an Industry 4.0 environment is also being created. It will be ideally located in the immediate vicinity of companies that are already renowned worldwide.

And finally, with GETECPARK.Swiss, we have a modern chemical environment, which offers unique opportunities for research, development and production in the heart of Europe and with easy connection to transport routes on the road, the Rhine river, the rail and in the air.

Which trends do you observe currently, likely to impact the ability of city regions in Europe to attract talent or investors?

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed just how important proximity is – to suppliers and clients, which might lead to an adjustment to the currently often very globalized supply chains. But also, well-functioning regulations and infrastructure are something we expect investors to pay closer attention to as they seek to mitigate potential risks. Switzerland as a whole, and Baselland in particular, have a competitive advantage in this new scenario.

Apart from the difficulties which we are experiencing due to the coronavirus pandemic, in terms of being able to attract talent and investors: has the current situation also benefited the region in some ways – for example in that it forced innovative solutions, or produced new business opportunities?

The crisis has certainly showed us how much is possible when smartly using modern IT and communications strategies and tools. We see that companies have made a big step forward now, in terms of digitalization.

We recently published a white paper on the climate emergency and its implications for place branding. In it, leading place brand specialists highlight the urgent need for place branders to account for climate mitigation and resilience in economic development and place positioning strategies. To your mind, how important is a location’s climate resilience nowadays, for its ability to attract investors and talent?

This is indeed a key topic. Just this last summer we discussed the potential consequences of climate change as part of our monitoring of economic competitiveness. We are also seeing new projects in cleantech being launched by private actors now.

How do you collaborate with other institutions and businesses in the region, to make sure their actions and stories are “on brand” and align with your portrayal of Baselland as business and investment location?

Together with our neighbouring cantons (states) of Basel-Stadt and Jura we jointly operate the BaselArea Business & Innovation initiative, as well as the Switzerland Innovation Park Basel Area. We also collaborate closely with chambers of commerce, companies and universities: our arms are wide open to anyone that shares our purpose to strengthen and promote Baselland as attractive location for investors and businesses.

Thank you, Thomas.

Connect with Thomas Kuebler on LinkedIn. Check out how the Baselland region attracts talent and investment on their website.

Our interview with Thomas Kuebler on Baselland as business location is part of our series of (paid) portraits and interviews aimed at introducing cities and regions as potential places to live and invest in. If you’d like to introduce your location, please contact us.

Photo credit: Guido Schärli

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