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>Interview >Robert Gfrerer, CEO of build!: We have to put all our forces together

Robert Gfrerer, CEO of build!: We have to put all our forces together

In September 2018 became Robert Gfrerer, who studied biomedicine and electrotechnology, the CEO of build! Gründerzentrum Kärnten accompany founders from the idea to their own company. The entrepreneurs of the region are expecting from the build! CEO to brand Carinthia as a location for innovative companies abroad. In this interview Robert Gfrerer speaks, that the brain drain has been stopped and the region is currently highly attractive to top-qualified people from all over the world. On PODIM they will actively look for co-operation possibilities with other startups, business angels and venture enterprises.

What is the role of build! in the Carinthian startup ecosystem and what is the main focus of your activities nowadays?

“Build!” is the competence, support, and development hub for technology-oriented and knowledge-based start-up projects – “high-end” start-ups including those based on social innovations, based on scalable business models and the potential to develop regional value added with a strong connection to the regional scientific competence base and the corporate landscape. Build! is also scale-up facilitator for projects of young companies in the first five years after their founding, who belong to the Young Entrepreneurs Group. And third, build! is the project development agency of regional opportunities with high potential for technology-oriented and knowledge-based start-ups or scale-up processes with regional added value.
Our main focus of our activities is to enable the partnering process for startups of our region on this fantastic international platform PODIM offered by Start:up Slovenia. We will actively go and look for co-operation possibilities with other startups, business angels and venture enterprises.”

What achievements stand out from your portfolio?

“The most outstanding achievements of build! in recent years were new companies like Bitmovin, Sensolligent, Hex, Symvaro, Harmony & Care and many others demonstrating the smart specialization focus of Carinthia – electronic based systems with all it’s implications in different businesses. The most recent achievement of build! can be seen as building the bridge between the industry in the field of Silicon Alps – the most powerful electronic industry in the south of Austria and the startups and young entrepreneurs in our region.”

The most outstanding achievements of build! in recent years were new companies like Bitmovin, Sensolligent, Hex, Symvaro, Harmony & Care and many others demonstrating the smart specialization focus of Carinthia.

How the entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem in the Carinthia region and the town of Klagenfurt has evolved through time, also thanks to build!? In what scale does talent activation, specially driven by innovation, impact quality of life in the region? 

“At least one new person hired per day in the electronic business – this is happening in Carinthia since over a year, when Infineon announced it’s growth plans in Villach to the world. The UIG development program by the Carinthian Business Development KWF and executed by the two Academic leading Institutions Alpen-Adria University and Fachhochschule Kärnten in co-operation with build! attracts a dozen new funders per year. Carinthia leaves the past behind, the brain drain has been stopped and the region is currently highly attractive to top-qualified people from all over the world. The Carinthian innovation award organized by KWF gets more and more applicants each year. Since we are one of the most attractive areas with extremely high quality of life in Austria, the decision to move to this region is very easy.”

How strong is the collaboration between established companies and startups in your region and what are the incentives of build! to promote corporate-startups collaboration and joint innovation? 

“It has all started with the new establishment of the Silicon Alps Cluster in 2016, which includes the two most powerful electronic industry regions of Austria – Carinthia and Styria – build! started its industry cooperation in 2018. All build startups get the cluster membership automatically when accepted at the build! incubator program. They open doors to all relevant regional and global players, the open innovation path has been drawn.”

“Co-operation, co-branding and doing business together is the requirement for our visibility on the globe,” Robert Gfrerer is convinced.

PODIM Conference has proven to be the most influential startup event in the region. What are the prospects for partnerships like the one between build! and PODIM to make even bigger impact in the region? 

“To be visible at our location to others in the world – from Shenzen to Silicon Valley – we have to put all our forces together in the Alpe Adria Region. This enables us to be highly visible on the maps of investors and other industry partners. Co-operation, co-branding and doing business together is the requirement for our visibility on the globe. PODIM Conference is an extremely powerful instrument for all of us – thanks so much to the organizers.”

Is there any other message you would like to pass on to the PODIM crowd? 

“Work here, pitch here, startup you business here and live here – otherwise you will miss a lot of business opportunities, fun and quality of live.”

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