Gabriele Tatzberger, Head of Start-up Services at Vienna Business Agency, this year’s PODIM Partner, speaks about the importance of supporting companies, about the entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem and its development through time. In 2018 alone, a record 221 international companies moved to Vienna. That means that a total of over 230 million euros were invested in the city, and nearly 1,800 new jobs were created.
For more than 30 years Vienna Business Agency has been supporting companies and their innovative force. How has the entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem evolved through time, including with the help from Vienna Business Agency?
“Vienna and its start-up ecosystem have undergone some extreme and rapid changes in the past few years. For example, in the past 10 years, 51 % of all Austrian start-ups were founded in Vienna. There are currently 37 co-working spaces and 24 incubators and accelerators in the city. Vienna is now part of the top echelon of start-up metropolises: a current study on Global Talent Competitiveness also shows that Vienna has become one of the top four most competitive and start-up friendly cities in the world. Start-ups in the fields of fin-tech and life sciences have enjoyed especially favorable growth in the past few years, and Vienna’s social entrepreneurship scene has also expanded considerably, both in size and in global reach. Vienna Business Agency supports start-ups with 360-degree service – from funding and consulting to workshops and additional coaching for founders, it connects start-ups with traditional companies and positions Vienna as an international ‘start-up city’ with a diverse range of soft-landing programs and alliances.”
At what scale does talent activation, especially driven by innovation, impact quality of life in the city?
“One of our goals is to encourage more and more young entrepreneurs and innovators to choose Vienna as the starting point for their success, because they bring new ideas and innovative approaches to Vienna’s economy, and this innovation creates the foundation for long-term economic success. Vienna Business Agency uses many different strategies and offers to position Vienna as an attractive business location: special Founders Labs and various workshops help entrepreneurs hit the ground running in Vienna.
Since 2014, the Vienna Start-up Package has provided international start-ups the opportunity to explore the local market: participating start-ups are invited for a free, month-long taste of life and business in Vienna. The number of applications received for the Vienna Start-up Package over the past few years shows just how attractive Vienna is for international start-ups. 290 start-ups have applied for just 20 open spots.
Newly created start-up labs in the Vienna Biocenter will open for start-ups in the life sciences sector this autumn: over 1,000 m² large, it offers 72 flexible work stations and 32 office spaces for young scientists and researchers.
And furthermore, with 200,000 students, Vienna is the largest German-speaking university city, with 30 % of students coming from international backgrounds. This September, the renowned Central European University will open courses in Vienna. This access to young talent makes Vienna a multicultural and highly innovative metropolis, where entrepreneurs have their pick from a pool of highly-educated professionals. All this in a city that’s not only a great place to work, but also a great place to live, as evidenced by the fact that Vienna has been ranked the most livable city in the world for the 10th time in a row.”
Young companies are the originators of new ideas and innovation processes
What is the role of start-ups and scale-ups today, and how it has changed through decades?
“Start-ups and young companies are an important driver for the city of Vienna and they are shaping the workplaces of the future. On average, a start-up in Vienna creates 9.4 jobs. These young companies are the originators of new ideas and innovation processes. We deliberately encourage exchange and cooperation between traditional Viennese companies, young start-ups, and global players. They forge networks, and together they develop innovative strategies concerning Vienna as a business location as well as the future of work.”
“In the past 10 years, 51 % of all Austrian start-ups were founded in Vienna. There are currently
37 co-working spaces and 24 incubators and accelerators in the city,” explaines Gabriele Tatzberger.
Photo: © FemaleFounders_MarcellaRiuz Cruz
How would you describe Vienna’s role as a city in the Alps-Adriatic and Western Balkans region?
“Vienna is an international economic centre in Central and Eastern Europe, and a hub connecting Western and Eastern Europe. For Eastern European countries, Vienna is the ideal point of access to the German-Austria-Switzerland region. It is a city with significant economic power, a highly-educated professional workforce, and excellent infrastructure, security, and stability. Vienna’s high quality of life, sustainability, and innovation are also selling points. Together, these factors make this city the ideal starting point for launching a company onto the European market. Vienna’s appeal can also be seen in the number of companies moving here: in 2018, a record 221 international companies moved to Vienna. That means that a total of over 230 million euros were invested in the city, and nearly 1,800 new jobs were created.”
Strengthened collaborations between metropolises and regions is very important to strengthen the European economy
The PODIM Conference also has similarly long heritage, through which it has proven to be the most influential startup event in the region. So, what is the motive behind Vienna Business Agency’s partnership with PODIM and what are the prospects for partnerships like this one to make even bigger impact in the region?
“Strengthened collaborations between metropolises and regions are very important to strengthen the European economy as a whole. The goal for companies/start-ups as well cities must be to connect, benefit from each other, and live out the idea of an European or global market. Since the end of 2017, for example, Vienna has been a member of the Start Alliance global startup city network, which allows start-ups to make international connections and gain access to the most important global markets.”
Is there any other message you would like to pass on to the PODIM crowd?
“For anyone interested in Vienna as a start-up city: you can find all information, tips, and frequently asked questions – and most importantly – all competitions and calls for entry on our website, startupcityvienna.at. Take a look, it’s worth it!”