There are two places in Austria that have the beginnings of a high-tech start up culture. The Margareten section in the 5th district of Vienna has the highest density of start ups in Austria, so that’s one place noted for start ups. And, the town of Hagenberg, near Linz also has many start ups. Hagenberg has the University of Applied Sciences Hagenberg and also the Softwarepark Hagenberg sited near the University. These two institutions foster some part of a start up culture.
Austria does not seem to have a perfect start up culture located in any one spot. Ideally, there are a combination of financial, educational, and technical resources all located in close proximity to one another and interacting to support start up culture. When these three resources are working well together they foster: successful serial entrepreneurs as role models; clusters of potential acquirers in high-tech and high-innovation clusters; top universities with efficient transfer offices; experienced full-time angel investors; successful early-stage VCs and a critical mass of managers and entrepreneurs.
Vienna may develop all of these resources, but for now most start ups with international ambitions pick up their businesses and leave for Berlin, Zurich or Silicon Valley.
The Digital Profile
There are over eight million people in Austria and about eighty-one percent of them are internet users. Average broadband download speeds in Austria are 24.94 MB/second, which is a modest speed. The most competitive part of Austria’s digital marketplace is the mobile market. There are three network operators and a variety of resellers. 3G networks continue to grow rapidly and are expanding eastward into neighboring Eastern European countries.
E-commerce has established a healthy presence in Austria and online airline and travel tickets are sold by many sites. Austria has a large tourist industry, so people from all over Europe and the world regularly use digital airline ticket purchases as well as online hotel reservations.
Discovering Austria Through Blogs
If you intend to visit Austria or have an interest in doing business there, you’ll need to know as much about the culture, politics and countryside as possible. Where can you start? Well, of course, you can use Google to search for information about Austria. That’s a simple, fast place to begin, but I also like to consult with blogs. Blog writers who already know what you, or I, are looking for are often very helpful. Here are a few I found as I looked into Austrian culture.
For information about Austria’s foreign policy I came across blog writers from the magazine Foreign Policy. There are several Austrian ex-patriots who occasionally write about Austria’s political and foreign policy issues. I found these two posts, from several years ago, the most interesting. They lay down a background that helps sort out what’s going on today.
First, here is a post from 2012 that discusses Austria’s politics from an ex-patriots perspective. He discusses how tame and predictable Austria has become in it post-World War Two resurgence. And here’s a post by a different writer who discusses the Hapsburg Empire’s animating political philosophy which is still Austria’s most significant legacy. His descriptions supply a sketch of how Austrian’s used to view the outside world with a combination of cosmopolitanism, tolerance and reactionary repression. It’s a world that fell apart after 1914, but continues to haunt. Faced with the new economic and political stresses in Europe of the last few years these old posts provide insight on Austria’s internal cultural challenges.
Not only are their the potential rightward moving political forces in many European countries, but there are also continued financial problems that started soon after the 2008 global financial collapse. One of the financial problems that happens in these countries, and which is occurring in Austria right now, are debt guarantees for legacy bank debt and how that debt should be handled when banks are bought. I came across a Forbes article from June 2014 that goes into details about how this works.
If you are planning a vacation to Austria these background posts are helpful but not the stuff of lighthearted entertainment. I found a blog post about finding unique shops in Vienna, which is closer to tourist fun and excitement. The blog, viennalife, has tabs about politics, football, history, Vienna life and more. Check out this post about how to explore the streets and read the signs in order to find the best shopping.