Silicon Alps Region, a Startup Springboard

South Austria, connecting Carinthia and Styria, also known as the Silicon Alps region, is getting more and more attractive for startups as it offers more opportunities and benefits to them thanks to the active role of The Silicon Alps Cluster.

We have talked to Gernot Eder, Business Development & Innovation Manager of Silicon Alps Cluster, who revealed more details about the region’s benefits and opportunities for startups.

The Silicon Alps Cluster is a public-private partnership that brings together players from industry, research, academia and public authorities to develop and position the Austrian electronics and microelectronics sector internationally with a regional focus on the renowned Silicon Alps region. It connects startups with leading industry players from the Austrian electronics and microelectronics sector, drives the growth of their solutions, makes their innovations visible, and enables them to appear at industry-relevant events and fairs.

Why should startups come to the region? Gernot Eder says: “In 1971, the term ‘Silicon Valley’ was first used to refer to the large number of electronics and semiconductor companies that use silicon as a raw material. Other hallmarks of this region: outstanding educational and research institutions, strongly developed culture of cooperation, highly innovative startup scene. If you look for these characteristics in Europe, there is one region you cannot avoid: In the south of Austria – surrounded by the Alps – STEIERMARK and KÄRNTEN are hotspots for electronics/microelectronics and electronics-based systems (EBS).”

Focus on SMEs and startups support

The Silicon Alps Cluster’s services are especially geared toward SMEs, business founders and cooperation project developments. The goal is to integrate the industry, research and public authorities for cooperation, information, network and communication.

The Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (bmk), and the federal provinces Carinthia and Styria are providing startup financing in the amount of 750,000 euros each (250,000 euros per year in the first three years). The participating industrial enterprises each contribute 25,000 euros per year. This secures financing for three years with approx. 1 million euros a year.

The region also offers many great programs and opportunities for startups. As Gernot Eder says: “Next to our Partners and Programmes that are dedicated to Startups (e.g. or Incubators: build! Gründerzentrum, Sciencepark Graz or ZAT Leoben), we want to emphasize our industry partner’s programmes regarding startups. Especially the AVL’s »CREATORS EXPEDITION«, Infineon’s »global startup co-innovation program« and Intel’s »Intel Ignite« Program. Such programmes show the importance of collaboration between big industries and startups.”

From this supportive environment also come many startup success stories. One recent success story is Leftshift One, developing an open-AI application for big corporates.

And as Gernot Eder said, they are always looking for new startups, especially within the EBS (Electronic Based Systems) industry.

Benefits for startups

The Silicon Alps Cluster’s partner network consists of more than one hundred cooperation partners and more are constantly being added. Their partner platform offers the ideal opportunity for cooperation partners to present themselves and network with each other and have access to enterprises in different fields.

Additionally, startups profit from the experience and know-how of the employees in the cluster and in the cluster network as well as easier access to markets.

Gernot Eder adds that they are supporting startups mainly “by creating new business and cooperation opportunities and increasing their national and international visibility, the chances of the domestic startup scene in the EBS environment are to be increased. The integration of young high-tech companies into the Silicon Alps network also increases the attractiveness, cooperation potential and innovative strength of the entire region.”

A message for Podim attendees

“Use every networking opportunity. We all know being a startup is a lot of work and hustle. But a well-kept network can make up for a lot. The golden rule in networking is simple: don’t count!” says Gernot Eder.

If you want to learn more about the opportunities The Silicon Alps Cluster offers, we have good news for you. They will be at Podim, where you will have a great opportunity to meet with them in person.

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