Anyone who writes about a successful company has to ask what makes that company different – or better – than its competitors. Sensirion, a high-tech enterprise from Stäfa, Switzerland, that specializes in sensors, is clearly successful. The facts speak for themselves: Originally an ETH Zurich startup, the company has become a global leader in the production of humidity and temperature sensors, and maintains production sites in four countries. Sensirion develops and produces sensor solutions for nearly every aspect of our lives, including medical technology, industrial applications, consumer electronics, and the automotive industry. The company has always invested a great deal in research and development, and its current growth is primarily in the environmental sector, where its sensors are used for such things as measuring indoor air quality.
Marc von Waldkirch
So what are the reasons for Sensirion’s success? CEO Marc von Waldkirch attributes it mainly to the company’s corporate culture: “Employees are our most important asset; in a healthy culture, with the right people, innovation takes place almost automatically.” An interdisciplinary approach is needed in the production of sensors. At Sensirion, engineers from a variety of fields work alongside specialists, including physicists, software developers, and polymechanics. Simply working well together is not enough, however. A clear focus on performance is also an important feature of Sensirion. “We want to be in the Champions League of sensor technology and compete successfully in the international arena,” says Marc von Waldkirch. “That means constantly reinventing ourselves.”
To encourage the best skilled workers to join Sensirion, the company works closely with ETH Zurich and other universities. The aim is to increase Sensirion’s visibility among students. As the CEO points out, there is a great deal of competition from other companies in the Zurich region: “We are in a constant battle to attract talented workers.»
Another factor in Sensirion’s success is its openness to new ideas. The company promotes an approach that focuses attention first on opportunities, and only then considers possible risks, Marc von Waldkirch says. “We regularly review our processes, and we’re willing to depart from the beaten track and break new ground.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sensirion did everything in its power to meet a steep rise in demand for the sensors used in ventilators. Within just a few weeks, it was able to increase production of these sensors by a factor of ten. “Projects like this demonstrate our ability to respond quickly to the needs of the market,” CEO von Waldkirch explains.
Number of employees: approximately 1,100 (two-thirds of them in Switzerland)
Founded in: 1998
Headquarters: Stäfa (Canton of Zurich; production sites in Stäfa, Shanghai, Debrecen, and Seoul)
Scope of activities: Leading manufacturer of high-quality sensors