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Austria features a strong ecosystem for startups

13. May 2024

Austria is strengthening its position as a leading innovation location in Europe by offering targeted support measures for startups focusing on future-oriented sectors such as deep tech, green tech and life sciences as well as on social and ecological objectives. The public sector alone provided funding to startups, scaleups and spin-offs in 2023 via the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG which surpassed the threshold of € 100 million for the first time.  

Austria’s startup landscape is a lively one and is continuously expanding. The strong business and research infrastructure supports the positive development as well as reforms such as the introduction of the “Flexible Company” (Flexible Kapitalgesellschaft, or FlexCo), an uncomplicated and efficient legal form of business for startups which facilitates the process of establishing companies. 

Environment, Social, Governance (ESG) moves the Austrian startup scene 

One important aspect of the Austrian ecosystem is the pronounced support given to startups concentrating on social and ecological impact issues, as well as funding provided to companies founded by women. Compared to the previous report, the current Austrian Startup Monitor shows that the share of startups pursuing social and/or ecological objectives has further increased. At present, more than half of all startups in the country belong to the category of green or social impact startups. 

Furthermore, 33% of Austrian startups boast female founders or co-founders, the highest figure among all EU member states. This underlines the country’s commitment to a diverse and inclusive corporate culture.  

Ms. Tara Więckowska-Merrigan, CEO and Co-Founder of Proofcheck, an AI tool to correct texts, outlines the advantages of Austria as a startup location in this video:  

Extensive public funding

Austria also offers extensive public sector support via a variety of institutions and programmes. They range from the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft – FFG) to specialised venture capital funds such as the aws Founders Fund. These initiatives not only provide financial support but also important networking opportunities and practical assistance in establishing companies.  

The € 103 million in FFG funding for startups, scaleups and spin-offs in the year 2023 comprise a new all-time high. Similar to previous years, the focus was on the fields of deep tech, green tech and life sciences. About 52% of all startups make use of public sector funding, especially in the pre-seed and seed phases, to help finance their business operations.   

The latest news: the aws First Incubator programme now offers two new tenders providing aspiring entrepreneurs with an excellent opportunity to receive funding as the basis for setting up their first own companies. These open calls comprise an invitation to creative minds to contribute their innovative ideas and benefit from a network of specialists and resources. Multilingual applications for Call #1 are still possible until 27 June 2024.  

Events and platforms for interaction and networking 

A key component of the dynamic startup environment are the numerous events and platforms which give startups the chance to present themselves and press ahead with their ongoing development. Examples include the ViennaUP or the 4GAMECHANGERS Festival. These events are important meeting points for founders, investors and all players in the ecosystem, and promote the exchange of views and information as well as networking on a national and international level.  

On balance, Austria offers an attractive combination of an innovative legal framework, such as the FlexCo, committed private investors, a strong funding landscape and a lively community, which together make Austria an ideal location for startups.   

Read more about startups in Austria 

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