In the past few years Carinthia has managed to undergo massive development. Jernej Dvoršak, M.A., International Investment Promotion at BABEG Carinthian Agency for Investment Promotion and Public Shareholding speaks about how has Carinthia developed entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem through time and became internationally recognised business location providing young entrepreneurs with the ideal infrastructure for their ventures and holding a unique position in Europe with regard to drones, robotics, network technologies or self-organizing networked systems as well as being a hotspot for microelectronics, sensor technology and semiconductors.
BABEG is supporting companies from around the world and their innovative force in Carinthia, Austria. What is BABEG’s main mission?
“BABEG has central tasks to fulfil for Carinthia as a business location: we support international business settlements & investors, we manage strategic investment, offer location management of industrial and commercial sites, plus RTI management for lighthouse projects in the Province. Our goal is to establish Carinthia as an innovative location for technology-oriented companies in the heart of Europe.”
How has the entrepreneurial and start-up ecosystem evolved through time, not least with the help from BABEG?
“Carinthia has undergone massive development over the past few years – we have made the enormous step forwards from a popular tourist region to an internationally recognised business location. Carinthia provides young entrepreneurs with the ideal infrastructure for their ventures.
We have the Lakeside Science & Technology Park in Klagenfurt, for example. It serves as a campus for some 70 high-tech companies, 1,200 employees, our build! Gründerservice business incubator and three extramural research institutes. Business, education, training and research share this place to engage in interdisciplinary cooperation.
Or take the developments in Villach: Infineon’s € 1.6 billion investment and the expansion of the High Tech Campus with Silicon Austria Labs. Villach has developed into a hotspot for microelectronics, sensor technology and semiconductors that is unrivalled in Europe.
We are convinced that every innovative business idea falls on fertile ground in Carinthia and finds its place here, regardless at which stage the company formation is.”
To what extent does talent activation, especially when driven by innovation, impact the quality of life in the region?
“The Austrian school system provides practical instructions and various company internships from the age of 14 in secondary schools. The linking of education and business with regard to research and development is a fixed item on the agenda of Carinthia. Companies benefit from this scheme because it gives them the opportunity to acquire skilled labour at an early stage.
Carinthia is also working on getting the employees of tomorrow interested in the MINT subjects at an early stage through measures such as the “educational lab” at the Lakeside Science & Technology Park. Carinthia promotes entrepreneurial thinking with numerous competitions at schools to create interest and also generate real enthusiasm for entrepreneurship.”
How do you see today’s role of start-ups and scale-ups in the region?
“Carinthia, with its linguistic diversity and its location in the heart of Europe, is a very good starting point for start-up companies and scale-ups. From here they can conquer new markets, especially in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the D-A-CH regions as they are called.
With the build! Gründerzentrum incubator and assistance from the Carinthian Business Development Fund KWF, Carinthia holds attractive support programmes in store for young entrepreneurs who pursue innovative start-up projects and focus on technology-oriented industries.
The Lakeside Science & Technology Park is the perfect breeding ground for innovative start-up ideas. This campus of business, education and research is a place where ideas can flourish and enables creative thinking and the use of synergies in every respect.”
“Numerous collaboration schemes have already been established with start-ups and scale-ups from all over Europe that appreciate Carinthian research expertise,” says Jernej Dvoršak.
How would you describe the role of Carinthia within the Alpine-Adriatic and Western Balkans regions regarding start-ups and scale-ups?
“Carinthia is open to all industries, but thanks to the facilities of the Lakeside Science & Technology Park, we hold a unique position in Europe with regard to drones, robotics, network technologies or self-organizing networked systems. Institutions such as the Joanneum Research Robotics Institute, Lakeside Labs, Alpen-Adria University Klagenfurt and the University of Applied Sciences Carinthia are specific points of contact for researching and testing ideas.
They are open for any kind of cooperation with start-ups and scale-ups and between themselves for the development of technologies and products of the future. This provision and the scope of cooperation possibilities is now about to be expanded further with the 5G Playground Carinthia.
With Silicon Austria Labs, Villach offers a centre focusing on sensor technology, power electronics and electronic-based systems. In the near future, up to 160 researchers will be available to companies for any kind of cooperation.
Numerous collaboration schemes have already been established with start-ups and scale-ups from all over Europe that appreciate Carinthian research expertise. With Silicon Austria Labs, Carinthia will establish itself as a Europe-wide centre of competence in the field of microelectronics on the international stage.
Start-ups and scale-ups in the microelectronics industry that are based in Carinthia can also profit from the network of the Silicon Alps Cluster. The Cluster makes it possible for them to learn and benefit from the big players in the industry that are represented in the network. The Silicon Alps Cluster already has more than 130 members and access to a Europe-wide network in the microelectronics sector. It also offers its own support programs for start-ups and scale-ups.”
Is there any other message you would like to pass on to the PODIM crowd?
“BABEG is Carinthia’s first and official point of contact for all companies, start-ups and scale-ups from other countries that are interested in setting up business in Carinthia or using the south of Austria as the launch platform for their expansion plans in the D-A-CH regions.
Our service is free of charge and we accompany the companies step by step from the initial inquiry to the establishment of the company, and in doing so we can count on the support of all partners in the economic area of Carinthia.
We also see it as our task to network the start-ups and scale-ups with our ecosystem in cooperation with the build! Gründerzentrum business incubator.”