A vibrant startup scene has developed in the state of Tyrol, not only in the rest of Austria but also the neighboring countries Italy and Germany.
Marcus Hofer, Managing Director of Standortagentur Tirol, explains how the ecosystem has grown. And why quantum computers and artificial intelligence are the big topics of the future and how to meet the shortage of skilled workers.
How did this come about?
According to Marcus Hofer, over the last few years, we have seen more and more teams that can be specifically supported with appropriate formats. Of course, this requires funding. Tyrol is an economically strong area, and they have many entrepreneurs in the location who want to invest part of their money in young companies. That’s how it came about. We have draft horses like Hermann Hauser or the Tiroler Adler Runde, which show how it works.
Because we all work very closely together in Tyrol, both private and public actors, an ecosystem has evolved that looks how to make the best possible progress in the teams.
How has the number of startups developed?
Each year, between 15 and 20 startups in the Tyrol develop and develop themselves. That’s a good base they can work with. There are already some role models, such as the biotech company ViraTherapeutics, which made 2018 an exit to Boehringer Ingelheim. Young startups, such as Swarm Analytics, are also developing very strongly on the market. We need such role models to get more founders into the scene and to convince them that it can work if you start your own business.
Where do the Tyrolean founders come from?
The greater part is certainly from the Tyrolean universities. Many of which are supported in the A + B program of the federal government and the state of Tyrol. Many others also come from the technical or academic field, who start their own business with an idea. And there are more and more existing companies that found spin-offs. It may be a young market, but we have seen a few months ago that it is increasingly moving in this direction.
Is the shortage of skilled workers also an issue in Tyrol?
This concerns tourism as well as industry. However, in the small Tyrol area we have five colleges and therefore have the advantage that regularly graduates who are regularly trained leave these colleges as specialists. This is confirmed by the startups they look after as well as companies from abroad who settle in Tyrol. In the technical area, but still lacking professionals. Together with partners such as the Economic Chamber and the Federation of Industrialists, we as a location agency in Tyrol are in the process of creating a program to meet the demand.
In which sectors is Tyrol particularly innovative?
Of course there are some promising startups in the tourism sector, such as RateBoard, but we see many startups in the area of IT, in mechatronics and electronics, and in the field of life sciences in the startup center Startup.Tirol. Since we are pretty much in the segments inside, which are also among the top industries in Austria.
What are the topics of the future that Tyrol relies on? Innsbruck is known for its excellent quantum computer research.
In terms of quantum computers, the Quantum Institute of the University of Innsbruck is one of the top 3 research institutions in the world. Two spin-offs have already been released there, which shows that the technology is slowly being used in basic research. There is also a lot going on with artificial intelligence. There is a reason why the association AI Austria was founded here in Tyrol. There we see a big future.
Tyrol lies between Germany and Italy and between Vorarlberg and Salzburg. In which markets are the startup founders oriented?
Of course, the founders are very Austria affine, if only because of the common language and legal culture. But Tyrol is a limited market, which is why founders are also heavily dependent on foreign countries. For example, we have founded Startup Euregio with partners in Italy in order to develop the ecosystem in the European region Tyrol, South Tyrol, and Trentino. There suddenly arises a market of two million people. Since you can act as a startup very different and try as a startup to conquer Italy. The proximity to Munich should not be underestimated. The founders are thus from Tyrol in the heart of the DACH area and in direct proximity to Italy.
Also published on Medium.