Venture capital investments have hit record levels. Tax relief and reduction of bureaucracy are intended to further improve conditions.
The Viennese online travel agency Tourradar collected 43 million euros in June, while Bitmovin’s streaming experts based in Klagenfurt generated 24.4 million euros in April: mega-financing rounds are no longer a rarity in Austria. This is shown by the Startup Report Austria, which is published today and about which the portal “Der Brutkasten” reported in advance. The study will be published by serial founder and fundraising coach Flo Kandler. Accordingly, the venture capital investment, driven by some strong injections of funds, reached a new high in 2018.
According to the surveys, there were 101 deals with a volume of more than 250,000 euros. A total of 238 million euros of venture capital was invested. In the previous year, there were still 146 million euros in 66 deals. “The start-up ecosystem as a whole has matured significantly,” said Birgit Reiter-Braunwieser of the state-owned location marketing agency Austrian Business Agency (ABA).
Regional clusters form
The investment boom is also due to state subsidies. In the summer of 2016, for example, the government approved a 185 million euro subsidy program, which was implemented only incompletely. The state-run AWS Gründerfonds was also initiated in 2013, with a total volume of 68.5 million euros in start-ups.
It is striking that even if Vienna is still the top location for start-ups in Austria, other federal states are also catching up. “Regional clusters are gradually emerging,” says Reiter-Braunwieser. Styria, for example, with its provincial capital Graz and its automobile cluster, have made Innsbruck a name for themselves as a biotech location. In Salzburg, for example, an accelerator for tourism start-ups has recently opened, while Upper Austria and its industrial companies are particularly attracting B2B start-ups.
Criticizing bureaucratic hurdles
Despite the growing ecosystem, many founders complain that they are unnecessarily thwarted by politics. Tourradar boss Travis Pittmann, who is from Australia, recently criticized bureaucratic hurdles in an interview with Der Standard. For all you need a notary, also it takes too long to get a work permit (“red-white-red card”) for professionals from abroad.
“The procedure for a red-white-red card takes too long,” said Reiter-Braunwieser. “We can get even better”. She points out that Economics Minister Margarete Schramböck has already announced a reform of the procedure. In addition to reducing bureaucratic hurdles, tax incentives are also planned for investors.
This is urgently needed
“The share of investment volume for domestic start-ups in the entire European cake is well below one percent, the share of Austria in economic performance, however, significantly more than two percent”, complained Thomas Gabriel, Partner and Head Start-up.