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.
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