ABA Newsletter (17 Aug 2016)

Date: 17 Aug 2016

Half-Year Results: Close to Half a Billion in Investments by Foreign Companies

164 new foreign investment projects in the first half of 2016, a rise of 8% from the previous year – 1,046 new jobs – Total investments more than tripled.

Our current half-year results show an ongoing upward trend in the number of international business location projects and the related investment volume. The number of investment projects in cooperation with the regional investment promotion agencies climbed to 164 from the prior-year level of 152. Total investment volume of EUR 489.6 million was more than three times the amount of EUR 139.7 million in the previous year. This increase can be attributed to the conclusion of several large projects entailing higher investments. The number of new jobs created in Austria totaled 1,046, one-third lower than the prior-year figure of 1,656.

For detailed information, please refer to our Half-Year-Results-Press Release.

Styrian Mount Erzberg gets underground tunnel research center

Underground mining for iron ore in Styria’s Mount Erzberg was terminated 20 years ago. However, soon a lot will be going on the inside of the mountain once again. Montan University Leoben is setting up a research center focusing on the construction and safety of tunnels.

The largest mining operations in Austria take place on the mountain. Some 200 employees help derive about 8.5 million tons of rocks in open cast mining each year, which is processed into fine ore. A unique infrastructure in Europe for scientific and applied research focusing on the construction and operation of tunnels, with real underground conditions, is being created outside of the current mining zone, at an altitude of about 1,000 meters above sea level, and in the mountain itself.

"Tests to further develop construction methods in building tunnels, but also materials, equipment and safety technologies have only been possible up until now at great expenses, and by accepting very limited and unfavorable conditions”, says Robert Galler of the Institute for Subsurface Engineering at Montan University Leoben. An underground tunnel system for research purposes, the so-called "Zentrum am Berg" (ZaB) in Eisenerz, Styria should be of assistance. Thanks to the new infrastructure in the traditional Styrian mining region, five underground tunnel shafts will provide “a hub for international researchers and companies involved in the construction and operation of tunnels and other underground workings” and thus offer ideal research and testing conditions.

The "Zentrum am Berg" will offer two parallel car and railway tunnels and a fifth shaft for testing purposes. After about 400 meters, the car and railway tunnels will reach the old Pressler mining tunnels which are no longer in operation. These tunnels are to be expanded to a length of about one kilometer and also be used for research and development purposes.

"Companies have already named about 50 specific research projects for implementation“, says Galler. The first cooperation projects are to be carried out in the year 2018. In this way, tests can be implemented concerning the outbreak and detection of fires and fire protection systems for very high fire loading. In addition, the entire infrastructure is to serve as a training and education center for rescue and emergency response services to simulate crisis and disaster scenarios. Other potential uses are exercises for maintenance staff and users of the road and railway infrastructure.

Tyrolean company receives European space technology order

The Innsbruck-based company GeoVille has been granted a contract in the field of space technology. The company won a European-wide tender by the European Environment Agency to develop a satellite-based environmental information system.

GeoVille will put together uniform environmental information for 39 European countries on the basis of data provided by Sentinel satellites from the Copernicus space program. In this way, the company was granted a large share or EUR 3.5 million of the European tender amounting to EUR 8 million. Up to 30 new high-tech jobs in Austria will be created in order to be able to implement the contract on time.

The contract order by the European Environment Agency shows that Austrian know-how is in demand in all areas of space technology, both on board launch vehicles and satellites as well as in processing data on the Earth. Austria is investing about EUR 25 million or about 40 percent of its total space budget for earth observation technologies.

Successful launch of the new research program “Beyond Europe”

The new “Beyond Europe“ program designed to promote international networking on the part of Austrian companies outside of Europe was successfully launched.

“We can fund 14 projects with a total of EUR 4.6 million. In this way, we support the opening up of new markets and profit from the know-how of international partners. Global networking plays a decisive role in becoming more internationally competitive, especially in the fields of research and technology”, says Reinhold Mitterlehner, Minister of Science, Research and Economy.

The funded projects will lead to new partnerships with companies, institutions and universities in the USA, Canada, Australia, China, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and Egypt. The sectors involved range from information and communication technology and life sciences to production, Industry 4.0 and projects in the fields of mobility and agriculture.

"The "Beyond Europe" program links top Austrian research companies with partners in leading innovative countries such as South Korea, the global number one. We have spread our innovation network across the entire globe, and thus strengthen our partnerships outside of the European Union. This will bring new ideas to the country, which companies in Austria can implement and use as the basis for creating new jobs”, according to State Secretary Harald Mahrer.

“Beyond Europe” promotes cooperative R&D projects (several partners in a consortium focusing on a joint project, funding to the amount of up to EUR 500,000 per project) as well as exploratory projects (preparation of research, development and innovation projects, funded with up to EUR 200,000 per projects). Following the tender, the applications were evaluated by experts based on a pre-defined scoring system. Subsequently a specialized jury selected the best projects to be supported.

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