"The cyberattack cost us hundreds of thousands of francs"

They can be raw materials and personnel: shortages are among the keywords of the year, as the shortcomings generated by the logistical difficulties resulting from the pandemic are felt. On Thursday, three companies testified on the big stage of Forward, the innovation forum for SMEs, organized by EPFL, PME Magazine et Timein front of 500 participants.

“For components, we have delivery times of 18 months, compared to the usual three,” said Benoît Dagon. The boss of Imina Technologies, a Vaud-based company specializing in microtechnics, even said that companies had to resolve to buy finished products in order to disassemble them to recover parts that had become too scarce. In particular, Imina has chosen to buy different components, even to redevelop some of its products, while reducing its margins in the face of rising prices generated by so many rarities.

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The SME is also struggling to recruit staff, as is Mobbot, a Freiburg-based provider of digital solutions for the concrete industry. “In the software business, we recruit all the same talent, which has become very expensive,” regrets its director Agnès Petit. For a computer cloud engineer, you have to have a salary of 300,000 to 400,000 francs, which is impossible for us. ” Mobbot has had to outsource some of its services to Eastern countries while increasing the salaries of its employees by 20 to 25 percent, according to its employer.

Mutualize forces

Neuchâtel electronics manufacturer Hybrid, for its part, has partnered with its major customers since the beginning of the pandemic to find common purchasing solutions, often well in advance. Mutualize forces to shop together? An approach in this direction could be implemented with state aid, according to Benoît Dagon, because it is difficult to negotiate good prices when orders are on low volumes, which is often the case when they come from SMEs. Suppliers prefer large orders in times of crisis.

Also read: Cacophony and rising prices for SME deliveries

“The most important thing is the business strategy, which must be simple and can be said in one sentence,” said Etienne Jornod, Galenica’s historic president and NZZ media group, today. today at the head of the pharmaceutical company OM Pharma. “It is in a well-managed crisis that we create the most value if we remain lucid,” he said.

A survey of Forward participants found that the ability to innovate is one of the biggest challenges for SMEs at the moment. Vaud State Councilor Philippe Leuba, also present, praised Switzerland’s innovation capabilities, which dominate the rankings for patent applications.

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