Visit to Swiss Center Shanghai

On June 4th, 2013, the Swiss Center Shanghai (SCS) kindly invited Mélanie, Isabel and Lennart to their site in Xinzhuang Urban Industrial Park in Minhang, South Shanghai. After the team meeting, Aline Ballaman (Operation Manager at SCS) gave us a very informative presentation about the work that SCS, a non-profit organization, does in China.

SCS was founded in 2000 with the support of its members and sponsors such as several Swiss cantons, the SECO and had established a Joint Venture with the local Chinese Government of Xinzhuang Industrial Park. In 2003, SCS was officially opened with the presence of the former Federal Councilor Pascal Couchepin. Working together with a pool of professional partners and Chinese entrepreneurs, SCS’s mission is to support Swiss small and medium enterprises (SMEs) during their early-stage establishment on the Chinese market. Among numerous other services, SCS provides Swiss SMEs with the necessary network to professionals and government officials, essential market knowledge and industry sector expertise, and different facilities such as workshops and instant offices to rent. SCS has currently 66 members and sponsors and, over the last 12 years, has served more than 200 Swiss SMEs in entering the Chinese market with a success rate of ca. 95%.

Three points in Aline’s presentation and following discussion about her personal experience struck us as particularly interesting:

  • Swiss companies have to understand Chinese market and adapt their product according to the local consumer needs in order to successfully establish themselves in China.
  • China is not a market for everyone: One has to operate in a niche market segment and/or offer a service or product with a high added value. Otherwise, the non-locally produced product is simply too expensive compared to the Chinese competitors.
  • Among its new member companies, SCS has noticed a trend away from machinery and tool production to more promising sectors such as IT and clean-tech, which also reflects a macro development in Chinas economy.

Among its new member companies, besides advanced machinery and tools, SCS has noticed a trend towards promising sectors such as IT and clean-tech, which also reflects the macro development in Chinas economy. One of the many success stories of SCS’s work with Swiss SMEs is the producer of high quality glass and steel doors and windows, Jansen. Based in Oberriet, SG, in Switzerland, Jansen has had a competence center in Xinzhuang Urban Industrial Park for more than 10 years. During this time, Jansen has completed more than 160 projects, which include the Hong Kong Pavilion at the 2010 Expo Shanghai and the Beijing National Stadium, commonly known as “Bird’s Nest”.

We would like to thank Sharon Ren, Executive Manager at Jansen, Aline Ballaman and the whole SCS team for this special visit and the delicious lunch.


Reported by Mélanie Boillat and Lennart Bolliger