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Austria promotes innovative companies

According to Harald Mahrer, State Secretary for Economic Affairs, who wants to stimulate the domestic founder scene, Austria should not only be a “land of mountains” but also a “land of entrepreneurs”. In a report put together by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, 40 measures were listed to promote the entrepreneurial spirit in Austria. This included crowdfunding, which should be established as an alternative source of financing. A draft crowdfunding law is currently being reviewed. In particular, newly established startups hope to attract capital. Critics warn that small, inexperienced investors could lose money in this way.

"After the initial founding phase, the growth and expansion phase is also important. Here is where private equity and venture capital can get involved”, said Jürgen Marchart of Avco, the Austrian private equity and venture capital organization. At present a lot of money is being pumped into startups, but there is still a need to catch up in Austria when it comes to further financing.

Andreas Tschas, event organizer of the Pioneers Festival, sees the existence of hype when it comes to startups. Only 28 people attended the festival in 2009, whereas now more than 3,000 are present. A real community has developed in Vienna.

There is no lack of risk capital at the present time. The risk capital fund Speedinvest recently secured EUR 58 million from investors, and this amount could rise by another EUR 15-20 million by the fall of this year, according to Speedinvest CEO Daniel Keiper-Knorr. By the summer the first EUR 2 million from the newly acquired funds is expected to be invested in four startups. With the first fund of EUR 10 million, Speedinvest financed 21 young companies and business ideas in recent years. Four of them were sold for an average of five times the initial investments, 15 of them are still in the portfolio and only two of the startups turned out to be loss-making enterprises up until now.  

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