NLP Landscape: Switzerland

Natural Language Processing has seen some major breakthroughs in the past years; with the rise of Artificial Intelligence, the attempt at teaching machines to master human language is becoming an increasingly popular field in academia and industry all over the world. Switzerland is no exception: with its unique linguistique diversity, its central location within Europe and as host to some of the world’s best universities and top AI companies, the country offers an ideal environment for the field to thrive.




Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH)

According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, ETH has been ranked as the best university in Continental Europe. While ETH does not have a Linguistics department, its Data Analytics Lab, lead by Thomas Hofmann, focuses on topics in machine learning, natural language processing and understanding, data mining and information retrieval.


École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

EPFL, located in the French speaking, western part of Switzerland, has been ranked as the world’s 11th best school for Engineering and Technology. Several labs have natural language processing and understanding as research areas such as Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, lead Boi Faltings, the Data Science Lab lead by Robert West and the Machine Learning and Optimization Laboratory, lead by Martin Jaggi.


University of Zurich (UZH)

UZH is one of the leading research universities in Europe and the largest university in Switzerland. It’s Institute of Computational Linguistics, which includes the Phonetics Laboratory, lead by Martin Volk and Volker Dellwo, as well as the URPP Language and Space perform research in NLP topics, such as machine translation, sentiment analysis, speech recognition and dialect detection.


Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW)

ZHAW, located in Winterthur in the canton of Zurich, is host of the ZHAW Datalab, an organization which fosters interdisciplinary collaboration and exchange of ideas between members and associates. Research foci include Big Data technology, data mining, machine learning, information retrieval and NLP.


University of St. Gallen

The University of St. Gallen’s Institute of Information Management focuses its research at the interface between business and IT, including topics in Machine Learning, AI, and Text Analysis.


Haute Ecole Arc Ingénierie (HE-Arc)

The Data Analytics Team lead by Hatem Ghorbel focuses his research on discovering and extracting knowledge from unstructured data taken from the internet and digital documents, applying classification techniques and linguistic models.


Haute Ecole d’Ingénierie et de Gestion du Canton de Vaud (HEIG-VD)

The Institute for Information and Communication Technologies at HEIG-VD is a research institute with a focus in all IT and telecoms fields, including work in Big Data and Data Analysis.


University of Geneva

The University of Geneva, with its Department of Translation Technology, Linguistic Department and Computer Science Department, has a strong multilingual focus on communication and language technologies. The Computational Learning and Computational Linguistics research group focuses on interdisciplinary research combining linguistic modelling with machine learning techniques, Semantic role parsing, including topics such as multilingual processing, Syntactic dependency parsing, Cross-lingual annotation transfer, and spoken dialogue systems.


University of Neuchâtel

The Department of Computational Linguistics at the University of Neuchâtel does research in NLP, particularly focusing on big data and text analysis.


Research Centers


IDIAP (Martigny)


IDIAP (Istituto Dalle Molle di Intelligenza Artificiale Percettiva) is affiliated with the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). Its activities encompass basic research, training (graduate and post-graduate level), and technology transfer activities in the area of Artificial Intelligence, including research in natural language processing and understanding, social media, multimodal information interfaces, applied artificial intelligence (AI) and large-scale machine learning.


IDSIA (Lugano)


IDSIA (Istituto Dalle Molle di Studi sull’Intelligenza Artificiale) is affiliated with both the Faculty of Informatics of the Università della Svizzera Italiana and the Department of Innovative Technologies of SUPSI, the University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland. Their research focuses on machine learning (deep neural networks, reinforcement learning), operations research, data mining, and robotics, including work with big data


IBM Research (Zurich)


IBM is an American, multinational technology company. One of theIt’s research team in Zurich has been focusing its efforts in the advancement of Artificial Intelligence solutions, including research in the fields of Speech Recognition and various other NLP / NLU tasks.


Swiss Re Research (Zurich)


Swiss Re is a leading wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance and other insurance-based forms of risk transfer. It’s Machine Intelligence team focuses on topics such as Document Intelligence, NLP, Information Extraction and Knowledge Engineering.




Large International Companies with hubs in Switzerland



With it’s 2000 employees, Google’s office in Zurich is the largest in mainland Europe. Google Zurich employs specialists in fields such as NLP, Linguistics, machine learning and AI.


UBS / CreditSuisse

UBS and CreditSuisse are leading Swiss international banks with headquarters in Zurich, employing data scientists and AI specialists.



Swisscom, a telephony company, employs a team of AI specialists focusing on tasks such as Swiss German dialect detection and voice recognition, as well as a team of data scientists.




Swiss Re

The Swiss Re Group is one of the world’s leading providers of reinsurance, insurance and other forms of insurance-based risk transfer. Its headquarter in Zurich uses machine learning, natural language processing and cognitive computing in their business analytics division.


Other healthcare companies in Switzerland, which employ Data Scientists, NLP and Machine learning experts include Sanitas and Swiss Life and Roche,


News / Media Monitoring:


Media companies employing NLP specialists and Computational Linguists include Tamedia, ARGUS, Eurospider.





SpinningBytes is spin-off of ETH and ZHAW, offering services in Text Analytics, Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning.



Textshuttle is a spin-off of the University of Zurich, offering solutions in Language Technology, with a multilingual focus and expertise in Machine Translation and Opinion Mining.



Based at the EPFL Innovation Park at Lausanne, Iprova is using advanced data mining and natural language processing techniques to create commercially relevant inventions at high speed and with great diversity.



Legartis is a legal tech startup developing a contract intelligence software.



Spitch is a Swiss provider of solutions based on Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Voice User Interfaces (VUI), and natural language voice data analytics.



Interprefy provides a cloud-based software platform for remote simultaneous interpreting for meetings, conferences and events



Recapp aims to become one of the leading providers for automatic multilingual speech and speaker recognition.

advAIsor creates enterprise software using AI and natural language processing, with the goal to become the leading supplier of scalable corporate tools for neglected topics such as corporate wellbeing, team morale and productivity.


NLPPeople is a global NLP-dedicated career & consultancy portal covering positions both in industry and academia. NLP  jobs in Switzerland are covered quite extensively there

Conferences & Events


Swiss Text Conference

Swiss Conference on Data Science

Zurich Machine Learning Meetup and Data Science Meetup

Zurich Machine Translation Meetup

Zurich NLP Meetup

Zürich Women in Machine Learning and Data Science


About the Authors


Michaela Benk completed her Bachelor degree in International Communication in Chicago, before moving to Zurich, where she decided to pursue her passion for language and technology and began a Master’s degree in Multilingual Text Analysis, a specialized program in the Computational Linguistics department at the University of Zurich. She is currently working on her Master thesis, which focuses on multilingual data augmentation in deep learning for hate speech detection. Her research interests lie in the areas of NLP, Machine Learning and Computational Social Sciences.


Diego Antognini is a second year Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). He works in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (LIA) under the supervision of professor Boi Faltings. His research interests are in the areas of natural language processing, machine learning and game theory.


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