OPEN AUSTRIA – Austrian representation opens in innovation hot spot Silicon Valley

Together with US Ambassador Alexa Wesner, Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz and Jürgen Roth, Vice-President of the Austrian Economic Chamber, opened the new office of the OPEN AUSTRIA initiative on 4 October 2016 – via a live video link connecting Vienna with the community event in San Francisco.  

The new office, operated jointly by the Foreign Ministry and AUSSENWIRTSCHAFT AUSTRIA (the Economic Chamber’s foreign trade section), will provide services and support to Austrian start-ups, companies, investors and academia directly on site, in the innovation area Silicon Valley. A number of Austrian companies are already successfully established in the greater Silicon Valley and San Francisco area. As a central contact for interested Austrians, OPEN AUSTRIA places a main focus on developing, strengthening and expanding networks to the benefit of Austrian companies and institutions. 

“As home to companies such as Apple or Uber and one third of the world-wide risk capital, Silicon Valley is one of the most innovative regions. Nowhere else in the world is there such a culture of innovation, a readiness to take risks as well as such conviction that entrepreneurship and the realisation of ideas can change the world”, Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz stated in the context of the launch of the ‘OPEN AUSTRIA Initiative’, which was set up a result of the Foreign Minister’s trip to Silicon Valley last April. "With this new office we seek to build a bridge enabling Austrian companies to form closer links to this region, its networks and potentials”, the Federal Minister continued.

 “Under the ‘Go Silicon Valley’ technology offensive, launched in the context of our ‘go international’ internationalisation offensive, we have since 2010 sought to act as bridge builders to Silicon Valley for qualified Austrian start-ups. Under the ‘OPEN AUSTRIA Initiative’ we are now further expanding the range of services provided to Austrian companies”, the Vice-President of the Austrian Economic Chamber Jürgen Roth emphasised. In addition to the AUSSENWIRTSCHAFT AUSTRIA branch office in Los Angeles, this new office located in San Francisco, which is even closer to Silicon Valley, will provide support to Austrian companies acting as a door opener to venture capital companies as well as business angels, and facilitating industrial contacts.  

In the context of the ‘OPEN AUSTRIA’ opening event, US Ambassador Alexa Wesner emphasised that over the last 25 years, California has benefitted more than any other US state from the rise of the technology sector. Highlighting California‘s entrepreneurial leadership, she referred to the fact that of the five largest technology companies according to their market value – Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft – three have their headquarters in California

The two co-directors Martin Rauchbauer from the FMEIA and Georg Fürlinger from AUSSENWIRTSCHAFT AUSTRIA (the Economic Chamber’s foreign trade section) are based in the San Francisco office. They provide information about the latest trends in innovation in the fields of business, technology, science & research, and present Austria as a leading location for business and innovation.

A central task pursued by OPEN AUSTRIA is enhancing awareness in Silicon Valley of Austria as a start-up location. This was also one of the reasons for establishing the OPEN AUSTRIA office in the Galvanize co-working space, located in the heart of the central South of Market (SoMa) district in the immediate vicinity of software and Internet giants such as Uber, Airbnb and Twitter. One of the first activities launched by OPEN AUSTRIA was the organisation of the first-ever Austria pavilion at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. TechCrunch is a web platform which reports on the latest trends and developments on the technology and start-up scene and is read by more than 13 million users worldwide. The conferences organised by TechCrunch count among the most influential in their industry sector. Thanks to the joint pavilion, seven Austrian start-ups, active in the fields of mobility, the Internet of Things, augmented reality/image recognition, logistics, digital health, Fintech/SaaS and indoor navigation, had the opportunity to present themselves to conference participants and visitors.

 

Contact

Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs
Press Department

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EMAIL: abti3@bmeia.gv.at

Austria and Italy to further strengthen their joint commitment to the Western Balkans and in the context of the OSCE Chairmanship

Secretary-General at the Foreign Ministry Michael Linhart meets Italian Secretary General Elisabetta Belloni in Rome

At a meeting with Elisabetta Belloni, Secretary General at the Italian Foreign Ministry, Secretary-General Michael Linhart highlighted the excellent relations between Austria and Italy, stating that “Italy is an important partner in managing many of the current challenges, such as the fight against illegal migration, terrorism and the prevention of radicalisation. Italy is also our second most important international economic partner.”

South Tyrol, which always ranks high on Austria’s agenda, was also among the topics discussed – especially with a view to the current reform of the Italian constitution and to the preservation and dynamic further development of the region’s autonomy. Another topic addressed in the meeting was an important concern shared by both countries, namely the Western Balkans. “We agree that supporting the Western Balkan states’ EU accession perspective is an absolute must”, Secretary-General Michael Linhart emphasised in this connection. Within the Central European Initiative (CEI), both Austria and Italy also play leading roles. Further topics addressed in the talks included the planning and preparations for Austria’s Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2017, a function in which it will be succeeded by Italy in 2018. “Austria will focus in particular on the prevention of radicalisation and extremism. Likewise, it seeks to make a pro-active contribution to putting an end to the crisis of confidence in the OSCE area as well as to resolving frozen conflicts”, Secretary-General Linhart stated, explaining the cornerstones of Austria’s Chairmanship programme.

On the invitation of the Italian State Secretary Sandro Gozi, Linhart also took part in a meeting of the “Friends of the Rule of Law” on 3 October. Austria has a long-standing tradition of commitment to the respect of fundamental rights at international level. Together with its European partners, it therefore also actively supports strengthening the rule of law within the context of the EU.

 

 

Contact

Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs
Press Department

Tel: +43 (0) 50 11 50 - 3320
Fax: +43 (0) 50 11 50 - 213

EMAIL: abti3@bmeia.gv.at

Acting on the initiative of Austria, the United Nations Human Rights Council calls for the immediate release of all arbitrarily detained journalists worldwide

Journalists are at risk of persecution and violence when carrying out their professional activities. Proposed by Austria, a resolution that supports the safety and protection of journalists worldwide has now been unanimously adopted by the United Nations

Foreign Minister Kurz: “Committed to supporting freedom of the press at international level”

Almost every week a journalist dies. This year alone, the number of journalists who lost their lives as a result of carrying out their professional activities has already reached 42. The International Press Institute (IPI) assumes that since the year 2000 more than 900 journalists have died because of their work. The number of those who have been attacked or threatened due to their work is many times higher. 

"Around the globe, the number of journalists who fall victim to attacks, arbitrary detentions or even murder has increased substantially. Austria thus supports the protection and safety of journalists at international level and speaks out in international fora against the increasing restrictions being placed on freedom of the press," Foreign Minister Kurz pointed out. 

For Austria, the promotion of the protection and safety of journalists is one of the key human rights priorities at international level. In the context of the UN Human Rights Council, within the EU, the United Nations General Assembly, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and UNESCO, Austria’s diplomats have for many years now worked tirelessly in support of protection and safety of journalists around the globe, including improvement of their working environment.

Protection and safety of journalists: Resolution introduced by Austria unanimously adopted

Austria’s commitment to promoting the safety of journalists has now met with particular success. At its meeting in Geneva on 29 September, a comprehensive resolution on the safety of journalists introduced by Austria was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council – unanimously. This resolution is by far the strongest text that the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly have ever adopted on this topic.

The resolution very clearly highlights the risks that journalists face in carrying out their professional activities and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all arbitrarily detained and arrested journalists. It condemns the forced closure of and attacks on media companies in the strongest possible terms. The text also highlights the special risks faced by journalists in this digital age. It furthermore calls on all states to ensure the protection of journalistic sources, i.e. safety of journalists’ sources of information. 

"The fact that the resolution was co-sponsored by more than 80 states and adopted by consensus, underlines its significance and adds to its importance. After this latest success, we will remain committed to supporting the safety of journalists both in the UN Human Rights Council as well as in other international fora," Foreign Minister Kurz stressed.

Austria in the UN Human Rights Council

Austria’s support of journalists in the UN Human Rights Council already goes back a long way: A motion introduced by Austria was adopted by the UNHRC as early as 2012. The current resolution was preceded by long rounds of discussion; eventually the open and transparent way in which Austria conducted the relevant negotiations was positively received by the other states’ representatives – which is reflected most impressively by their unanimous adoption of the resolution.

The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council is the United Nation’s central forum for the protection and promotion of human rights. It is mandated with addressing and dealing with human rights violations as well as with contributing towards the prevention of such violations. 

 

Contact

Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs
Press Department

Tel: +43 (0) 50 11 50 - 3320
Fax: +43 (0) 50 11 50 - 213

EMAIL: abti3@bmeia.gv.at

Law on Recognition and Assessment of Qualifications (AuBG)

Main points:

Aim of the law: integration into the labour market and support for immigrants to quickly find jobs appropriate for their qualifications
Target group: persons with access to the Austrian labour market or the intention to work in Austria
Scope: formal qualifications acquired abroad; the necessary requirements to enter the specific profession remain unaffected à no impact on quality standards

Federal Minister Kurz: "We seek to further deepen relations with the Western Balkans states" Launch of the second round of the Austrian Leadership Programs (ALPS)

A total of 25 international executives from nine countries have accepted the invitation extended by Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz to participate for one week in the Austrian Leadership Programs (ALPS). This time, the focus has been placed on decision-makers from the Western Balkans states and participants also include representatives from Georgia, Lebanon and Mexico.