- The international city of Knowledge

The Innovation Circle

— Presentation

The Innovation Circle is right in the heart of Greater Geneva !

The Innovation Circle is part of the Greater Geneva urban area project, as well as several Franco-Swiss studies and partnerships rolled out since 1993, such as :

  • The Franco-Genevan Regional Committee white paper (1993) and its development charter (1997),
  • The Geneva International airport and the cross-border region master plan (1997-2002),
  • The Golden Rectangle multidisciplinary studies (2002-2007), scope of city mixed development zones (PACA region)

Covering 35k sq. m, the Innovation Circle is located to the north of Greater Geneva. It combines the major economic advantages of a metropolitan area (the airport and its international facilities, the CERN, the international organisations in Geneva, Meyrin-Satigny industrial estate, etc.) with new focal points (Porte de France, Ferney Grand Saconnex and Tête GVA strategic development projects, etc.).

The Innovation Circle offers an economic and spatial strategy with focal points linked by a bus service, and eventually by a tramway.

The strategy aiming to support the Innovation Circle and make the project operational is based on a series of recent studies examining the urban area’s economic situation. However, it is also based on research looking into the development of major European metropolitan areas in the context of globalisation.

The area covered by the Innovation Circle
The area covered by the Innovation Circle



The Innovation Circle’s facilities

  • The international district (36 international organisations including the UN and the WTO, 250 non-governmental organisations including the ICRC, the international air transport association and some of the 165 national representatives in Geneva. These organisations employ 40,000 international diplomats and officials and 2,400 NGO employees.
  • Geneva-Cointrin international airport with over 13 million passengers per year. The airport is in the middle of a business park including convention centres, exhibition centres, hotels and services as well as the majority of the 600 multinationals and subsidiaries of multinationals operating in Geneva. 9,500 people are employed directly by the airport and the number of indirect jobs created is estimated at 44,000.
  • The CERN, the European organisation for nuclear research, located in Switzerland and in Pays de Gex, is one of the biggest fundamental research laboratories in the world. It employs 2,300 permanent staff, 980 contractors and hosts 10,000 researchers each year. Around 4,000 external service providers work on the site.
  • ZIMEYSA (Meyrin Satigny industrial estate): Geneva’s main business park with 560 businesses.
  • St Genis Pouilly Technopark : 40 hectares, 104 businesses and 1,100 jobs
Geneva International Airport
Geneva International Airport



Economic strategy and planning

An economic strategy for the Innovation Circle is currently being drawn up. Several basic principles have been agreed :

  • Priority should be given to endogenous development in industries with strong potential : international trade, the knowledge economy, chemistry-pharmaceutics and biotechnologies, microtechnologies, etc.
  • Cross-border pooling of business hosting services.
  • Regional relations which extend both sides of the border
  • Smart city : Innovation and creativity, including in services, better mobility rights, paperless communications
  • A host area for economic activity
Atlas - CERN
Atlas – CERN



 6 programming objectives

Various programming objectives have been identified in order to determine what action needs taking to secure the Innovation Circle’s economic strategy.

  1. Improving the hosting facilities for businesses, visitors, tourists but also students, given the latter will “portray the image and lead projects of the future”.
  2. Pooling, improving and clarifying services supporting the endogenous development of small, innovative businesses: funding, human resources, support for exporting and innovation, regional promotion, support for property, etc. These should all progressively become cross-border services.
  3. Facilitating access to services, particularly through the international dimension. But also improve them where required.
  4. Building on industries which are gathering momentum to secure a “creative intelligence region”: “Clustering”, in other words bringing together businesses in the same sector and making links to R&D and higher education, schooling, culture, relations with regional and European networks, etc.
  5. Increasing all types of paperless communications for activities such as trade and finance, multiplying the “gateways” for paperless flows, driving communications security
  6. Increasing environmental innovations in regional planning


3 strategic development foci

  • High-tech industries, which are already expanding, based on advanced training and innovation development processes, but also what the CERN can help to generate
  • The knowledge economy, facilitated through the presence of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the International Exhibition of Inventions
  • International trade of raw materials, an area in which Geneva is one of the world leaders, taking advantage of the presence of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Geneva Trading & Shipping Association (GTSA)