ABA Newsletter (13 Jul 2016)

Date: 15 Jul 2016

Startup measures strengthen Austria’s position as a land of founders

The Austrian Federal Government has just passed a comprehensive new startup program, to cover a period of three years and involve around EUR 185 million. “We want to more strongly support people with courage, innovative strength and an entrepreneurial spirit. This package of measures provides added impetus to the country’s startup scene”, said Reinhold Mitterlehner, Federal Minister of Science, Research and Economy, and State Secretary Harald Mahrer, commenting on the aims of their initiative.

Its measures include:

  • Helping startups out of the gates. Startups are to be relieved of the burden of having to pay auxiliary wage costs for the first three employees of innovative startups during a period of three years.
  • Increasing seed financing of Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws) by EUR 20 million in order to strengthen knowledge-oriented and technology-oriented startups in building up their companies.
  • Making new funding sources available to the aws Business Angel Fund. Together with funds provided by private investors and the EU, an additional EUR 20 million will be put at the disposal of startups.
  • New risk capital premium for investors, a measure designed to encourage investors to acquire equity stakes in innovative startups. Accumulated investments of up to EUR 250,000 per year are supported, in which case a maximum of 20% of the investment amount is reimbursed.
  • Formation of a new legal entity i.e. the “Mittelstandsfinanzierungsgesellschaft (MiFiG)“ (financing company for SMEs), the aim of which is to stimulate investors into providing risk capital for small and medium-sized companies. Tax exemptions will apply for up to EUR 15,000 in dividends for investors in a MiFiG.
  • Digital one-stop-shop for founders: the founding process will become quicker and less expensive. Company founders can enter the required data online via the Unternehmensserviceportal (USP – Corporate Service Portal). The linking of public authorities and registers cuts a large amount of red tape.
  • Founding fellowships for academic spin-offs. Along the lines of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH), scientists and students with innovative ideas are to be supported in their efforts to establish their own companies. These fellowships will finance salary costs and access to academic infrastructure and will be granted following a competition via the knowledge transfer centers. This measure is funded to the amount of EUR 5 million per year and some 50 founders and their teams will be supported until 2018.
  • New startup visa within the framework of the Red-White-Red Card: the existing rules for self-employed key workers will be extended to startups. Accordingly, the applicant is given a residence and work permit for self-employed work in Austria for a period of one year, with the option of extending it for an additional year. A further extension will be linked to a specified annual revenue for the funding and creation of jobs.
  • Secure specialized staff: the additional need for programmers will be shown in the list of understaffed professions in different business areas.
  • 24 hour quick check for funding application requests of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG and aws

Innovation to Company: a Startup Challenge

"Innovation to Company” a choice, in fact, of seven challenges, has been organized by the Vienna Chamber of Commerce in an effort to bring startups into closer cooperation with established businesses. The winners of any of the seven challenges, who provide innovative solutions to old problems, are to carry out their ideas in collaboration with some of the best-known companies in Austria, in the process securing contracts worth EUR 1 million.

For more information, please click here.

BMW: Ten millionth engine leaves the assembly lines in Steyr

The BMW Group plant in Steyr has broken a production record. No engine plant has ever produced so many diesel engines. “If all these engines were strung together, it would cover the distance between Steyr and Los Angeles! This is a resounding success, which would have not been possible without the huge commitment of all our employees”, stated Plant Manager Gerald Wölfel.

With very few exceptions, all of BMW’s engines come from Steyr. The plant also manufactures three, four and six-cylinder gas engines and their share of total annual production amounted to 28% in 2015. On balance, the BMW factory in Steyr produced 1.2 million engines, one of the best results in the company’s history.

To date, BMW has invested close to EUR 3.5 billion in its Upper Austrian site and a total of EUR 300 million in investments was budgeted for the latest expansion of diesel engine capacities.

Biotech firm AFFiRiS AG successfully raises EUR 10m in equity financing

AFFiRiS AG has successfully completed its capital increase, raising an additional EUR 10 million from existing investors and FCPB Affi GmbH. The new shares have equally been distributed by the major investors of the company, Santo Holding – the family office of the Strüngmann family – as well as the MIG Funds advised by MIG Verwaltungs AG and the new investor FCPG Affi GmbH.

The company focuses on the development, both preclinical and clinical, of vaccines in hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis prevention and expects data from this study in Q1 2017.

AFFiRiS has been able to attract funding of approx. EUR 130m to date, half of which comes from license income and government grants. AFFiRiS currently employs 60 highly qualified staff at the Campus Vienna Biocenter in Vienna, Austria.

70 new jobs at Loacker in Tyrol

The production hall of waffle producer, Loacker, was recently opened with great ceremony. The South Tyrol-based company invested a total of EUR 70 million, creating 70 new jobs.

Work on the new production hall lasted two and a half years. The two ovens, which will produce 6,000 tons of waffles each year, have been in operation since April 2016. By 2017, two additional ovens will be put into operation, by which stage 12,000 tons of waffles will be manufactured annually at the plant in East Tyrol in three shifts.

The new plant has created 70 new jobs in the region. The local employees show a willingness to work hard, and the good water and climate were the decisive factors in the decision to locate in Austria, said Loacker President, Ulrich Zuenelli.

More than Lippizzaner horses and Sacher cakes: Austria increasingly known as a research location

Austria is increasingly gaining a reputation as a research location. This was the conclusion of an image analysis of Austria as a location for corporate research and development contracted by ABA-Invest in Austria.

On behalf of ABA, the consulting company Kreutzer, Fischer & Partner asked 120 decision makers from companies with 150 to 2,000 employees about their perceptions of Austria as a research location. The surveyed CEOs, CFOs, research and marketing managers of were from German, Italian, American and Japanese firms in the automotive, life sciences, ICT and environment technology sectors.

In an initial survey, ABA also had an identical image analysis carried out in 2007 on the basis of a representative sample of 120 decision makers. That year marked the first phase of the international marketing initiative “Research Location Austria”, which ABA implemented on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy.

The current results show a significantly enhanced association of Austria as a location for corporate research and development compared to the initial survey. Today 26% of the interviewed decision makers spontaneously name Austria as a location for corporate research and development after Germany, Switzerland and Great Britain, but ahead of Sweden, Italy, Ireland, Finland and France. This represents a rise of 12 percentage points. 56% of the managers surveyed have a specific idea when it comes to the research fields in which Austria boasts a high level of competence. They particularly associate Austria with high research competence in the automotive sector (60%) and in the fields of environmental technology (47%) and life sciences (41%).

Challenge: “Research Location Austria” goes international

For their 2017 “Research Location Austria” Campaign, ABA – Invest in Austria is looking for an ingenious advertising strategy to encourage companies internationally to found their businesses in Austria.

How could we raise awareness of Austria’s suitability as a research location? ABA – Invest in Austria wants your ideas on the matter.

For detailed information regarding the challenge and how to participate, please click here.

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