Swiss Center Samara — Making Russia accessible for Swiss and European SMEs

Created with the support of the Canton of Neuchatel, Swiss Center Samara opens its new office in Samara, a highly industrialized economy in the Volga Region. First of the kind, this Swiss presence outside of Moscow manifests a new phase in the development of relations between Switzerland and Russia and unlocks new business prospects for companies from both countries.

Swiss Center Samara (Russia) was officially inaugurated in the presence of political officials from the Swiss Canton of Neuchatel and the Samara Region. More than one hundred guests from the business community of Russia and Switzerland participated in the event that was highlighted by signing of several agreements for joint projects between the organizations of the Canton of Neuchatel and the Samara Region. This is the first Swiss business center in the Volga Region. It focuses on the facilitation and streamlining of projects of Russian companies in Switzerland and Swiss companies in Russia in the spheres of trade, industry, and science.

With a new office space of 350 square meters located in the downtown Samara, Swiss Center Samara is expanding the range of its services and reaches out to the Russian business. Specifically, its services focus on supporting Swiss and Russian companies in the development of export operations, searching for new suppliers, development of assembly and production projects, creation of joint ventures, making use of distribution networks, or development of new technologies with universities and scientific institutions of both countries. While the Russian economy is getting back to the stage of growth, some companies that often do not know who they can address now have a reliable partner.

Swiss Center Samara: an Entry Point for Swiss Companies to the Russian Market and Vice Versa

“In the nearest decades Russian will become one of the most dynamic markets of the world, and those foreign partners who will be the first to secure their presence here will have the greatest economic benefit”.

says Vladimir Gutenev, member of the Duma and First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Industry.

The First Deputy of the Minister of Economic Development, Investment and Trade of the Samara Region, Dimitry Gorbunov, appreciated the commercial, industrial and scientific potential that the region is opening to Swiss partners. Large companies such as Bosch, Renault-Nissan and Nestlé are already present in the region. Samara has a federal aerospace university and advanced competences in IT medicine. The Samar Region provides administrative and operational support to the Swiss Center Samara within the framework of its partnership with the Canton of Neuchatel.

inaguration Swiss Center Samara

The young and multicultural team of Swiss Center Samara uses the support of experienced partners, operates its active working connections to maintain projects in Switzerland and Russia which relate to entering the markets, registration of companies, investment and business intelligence. Several projects have been successfully executed so far and this strengthens the optimism of Nicolas Waefler, Director of Swiss Center Samara:

“At the outset of the project we encountered several challenges which we have fortunately overcome. We have amassed the experience and the competences from a dozen of commercial, industrial and scientific projects which makes us confident in our capability of providing highly professional transparent services to both Swiss and Russian companies”.

Pioneer Spirit is in the Nature of Canton of Neuchatel

The Director of Office for Economic Promotion of the Canton of Neuchatel Mr. Alain BARBAL had warmly welcomed the guests and reminded everybody that since 1980 the Canton of Neuchatel has been recognized in Switzerland as the pathfinder on the international arena, in the sphere of economic promotion and policy of diversification of its industrial structure. In 2015 the Parliament of the Canton passed the law on assistance to small and medium businesses in their entering foreign markets being absolutely sure that it is such businesses that require support abroad. Following Mr. Barbal,

“About fifteen regions worldwide give small and medium companies from Neuchatel long-term perspective opportunities in cooperation and development. Among them, the Samara Region is one of Top 5 in the resources and viability of its economy and industry. Now it has become possible to focus this potential through a reliable local partner”.

Barbal inauguration SCS

Counter-cyclic Solution with Positive Outcomes in the Crisis Period

Swiss Center Samara was created against the background of multiple crisis phenomena. In the period of 2014 to 2016 Russia faced the drop in oil prices, volatility of the Ruble and the recession in the economy, plus the Ukrainian conflict and the policy of sanctions. Despite the fact that Switzerland does not impose official sanctions against Russia, the volumes of turnover of goods have decreased significantly. Despite the challenging circumstances, several projects were successfully executed, e.g. the project of SAV–IOL of the Canton of Neuchatel, a specialist in the design, manufacture and selling intraocular lenses of highest quality — Swiss made — for the treatment of cataract. Max Boysset, CEO of SAV–IOL, states: «We have tried to enter the Russian market by ourselves. Tough luck! Yet in under three months Swiss Center Samara introduced a dozen potential distributors to us, organized a stand and several meetings during a professional healthcare exhibition in Moscow. We were leaving it and carrying with us a signed distributor contract; we are currently in the final stage of the product registration process.” The SAV–IOL lenses have passed successful trials on twenty patients in Russia and by the end of the year will be available on all the territory of the Russian market. «Thanks to the excellent reactivity of Swiss Center Samara we had access to the Russian market in a very tight time-frame», concluded Mr. Boysset. IMA Medtech specializes in design and manufacture of complex manufacturing equipment for the medicine and pharmaceutical industry and also applied for the services of Swiss Center Samara. «During my visit to Samara in 2016 I could make a detailed appraisal of the commercial and industrial potential of the region and of the country on the whole», says Mr. Rene Ronchetti, CEO of the company from La Chaux De Fonds. Following his request, Swiss Center Samara performed a complex market analysis in the sectors of pharmacy and medicine in Russia and of the opportunities for IMA Medtech.

rene rochetti

René Ronchetti

CEO at IMA Medtech

” During my visit to Samara in 2016 I could make a detailed appraisal of the commercial and industrial potential of the region and of the country on the whole.”

Max Bosset, CEO at SAV-IOL SA

Max Bosset


” We have tried to enter the Russian market by ourselvesTough luck! Yet in under three months Swiss Center Samara introduced a dozen potential distributors to usorganized a stand and several meetings during a professional healthcare exhibition in MoscowWe were leaving it and carrying with us a signed distributor contract; we are currently in the final stage of the product registration process.”

In partnership with the Office for Economic Promotion of the Canton of Neuchatel, Swiss Center Samara organized an economic mission of 20 representatives of the Canton. The delegation was headed by the President of the Republic Jean-Nathaniel Karakash. Olivier Kubli, Director of the Neuchatel Higher School of Management readily became a member of the Swiss Center Samara. «We have been developing cooperation with Russia for many years. To have a permanent Swiss presence on the Volga is a great advantage for us», says Mr. Kubli. The School cooperates with Swiss Center Samara to develop an educational project in Switzerland with a dual approach combining theory and practice in companies.

Best is yet to Come

Following the first success and watching the Russian economy rising, Swiss Center Samara is full of hopes for the future. «Currently our portfolio includes ten projects. On October 6 in Neuchatel we will be holding a large conference on import replacement with some high-level speakers «, comments Mr. Nicolas Waefler.

Together with the Moscow-based Swiss Business Hub, the team of Swiss Center Samara has been working for several months organizing a trade mission for Swiss companies to Moscow and Samara. The mission will be for the cooperation in the aerospace sphere of Russia. ” Aside from that industry, we have identified a number of other areas of development in 2018. Following the headcount reductions in 2015 and 2016 the Russian automotive industry, as well as other sectors of economy, is inviting dozens of manufacturers for cooperation. Swiss companies working in this sphere have good perspectives», comments the Director of Swiss Center Samara.

The Ufa representative of the Center, Mr. Dmitry Pogorelsky, is organizing a marketing session to ensure importers and distributors of Swiss cheeses enter premium segment stores of the Republic of Bashkortostan.

How Swiss Center Samara Operates

Swiss Center Samara offers their customers to work either with a legal entity in Neuchatel or its division in Samara, with representatives in Moscow or Ufa, work in Swiss francs or Rubles under Russian or Swiss laws and negotiate in French, English or Russian. «We see strong differences in the quality and cost of services from various intermediaries. Working with the right partners from the start allows saving precious time» , says Nicolas Waefler.

Why Samara, not Moscow?

Compared to Moscow, Russian regions are in the initial stage of their development. Some products or services are lacking or are present in their infancy. Competition is milder in the regions; the cost of business development is lower, the administrations are open for dialogue and there are vacant market niches. For Swiss companies these regions may become key partners not only in trade projects but also in R&D, assembly and manufacturing for future supplies to the markets of the Eurasian Union. Regions are little known for their possibilities in providing raw materials, components, specialists and unique infrastructure. Samara is an example of wide opportunities that the Volga Region may offer: a perfect test market before entering the whole of the Russian territory, and the modern infrastructure makes the region a promising production hub for the Eurasian market.