For the Gründen in Wien (founding in Vienna) program June 12th sektor5 hosted a morning event with an introduction to Gründen in Wien by Gabriele Tatzberger (Vienna Business Agency), a talk by and Q&A with US Ambassador to Austria Alexa L. Wesner and Dr. Harald Mahrer, Secretary of State at the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economics. And all that moderated by Christopher Kronenberg.
The first question was regarding the bigger picture of entrepreneurship and its relevance in driving the economy. Harald Mahrer’s answered: “We (Europe, North America, red.) cannot compete on labour costs. Cheap production in Asia, especially China is unmatched. However, the picture slowly changes, as even China invests heavily in R&D. The key competence in western economies are still in the areas of R&D and innovation. Startups are key drivers of innovations. Therefore, Europe, USA should support the creation of new ventures.”
Alexa Wesner on the growing importance of hub Vienna to European Startups: “Vienna is at the heart of Europe, a hub to Central and Eastern Europe. Success factors for Vienna to become a hub for entrepreneurship are selecting and promoting the one or a few key players (already successful companies) we have, improve infrastructure, mentorship, co-working spaces, incubators, strong university support and involvement and access to (risk) capital. Vienna has most of these factors, however connection between those players could be strengthened.” Harald Mahrer then mentioned that there might be a new TU incubator in the making to increase the rate of commercialization of R&D. He also mentioned the new crowd-funding law, which we can expect in autumn. Harald Mahrer: “The dialogue with the government is open.”
Plus, Wesner added: “The biggest advantage as opposed to Silicon Valley is the high level of living and cheap startup costs.”
Big thanks to the US Embassy in Austria that helped us set up the event, and Julius Meinl providing us with coffee.