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Austria, the other country of AI?

In the European tech ecosystem, Austria is increasingly attracting entrepreneurs and talents in the field of artificial intelligence. Among its strengths are over 50 research institutions and universities. But that's not all!

With more than 50 universities and research institutions, nearly 300 companies operating in the field of artificial intelligence - a 10% growth this year -, the presence of about 30 international AI players, international events like ViennaUP', and a public program "AI Mission Austria": many signs indicate that Austria is rapidly developing a thriving AI ecosystem.

Particularly noteworthy is that this Austrian AI ecosystem is developing especially around Industry 4.0 (predictive maintenance, industrial robotics, etc.), with a focus on AI applications in the areas of design, production, and manufacturing. But many other aspects of the artificial intelligence market are also represented among the startups in Vienna and its region.

A talent pool conducive to startups

"Thanks to its high standard of living, low cost of living, and talent pool, Austria has become popular among international entrepreneurs and talents," notes Clemens Wasner, founder of the startup enliteAI and co-founder of the think tank AI Austria. "Compared to some large American cities, the Austrian AI ecosystem is relatively small, but it relies on a very strong community, well connected with Europe and the United States," explains Ben James, CEO of the startup Atlas, which develops generative 3D AI technology for game development.

But that's not all: the country has many other advantages. "Austria offers a solid financial and tax ecosystem for startups, with public grants, reduced corporate tax, and simplified business creation processes," adds Clemens Wasner.

Support and public grants

Among the measures available to international entrepreneurs are a recently introduced "Startup Package" to allow startups to explore the Viennese tech ecosystem, as well as the status of "FlexCo," which facilitates the distribution of stock options to employees.

For international entrepreneurs, the ABA (Austrian Business Agency), through its offering of support and free services, serves as an entry point to the Austrian market, which can also serve as a stepping stone to establish a presence in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland).

These are all compelling arguments for entrepreneurs. "When founding the company, we considered other solutions in the United States, but we felt that the support for R&D offered here - especially the grants - would allow us to more easily develop a more innovative technology than venture capital-based models," says Ben James, for example.

At the heart of European dynamics

"As we grew, we found that the central and well-connected dimension of this ecosystem was a great advantage for our expansion in Europe, the United States, and Asia," adds the founder of Atlas.

Even if his startup cannot compete with the salary levels of its American competitors, it manages to attract talents from around the world due to a better quality of life. "We also found that there are many talents (often overlooked) in Eastern Europe, which helped us recruit a very diverse team."

The Austrian ecosystem is fully integrated into a European dynamic, as explained by Chloé Plédel from Hub France IA: "Austria is a key partner. Hub France IA works closely with AI Austria and ABA to create opportunities for French AI actors looking to expand their market to another EU country."

The ABA and Hub France IA are also organizing a joint webinar in January 2024, in which Verena Gruber, the contact person for French entrepreneurs at the agency, is participating.

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