The Austrian Minister for the Interior, Wolfgang Sobotka, made his first visit to the U.S. from September 18-20, 2016, meeting the top echelon of the U.S. political security establishment including Attorney General Loretta Lynch. During his trip, the Minister also familiarized himself with several dedicated processing centers of U.S. security institutions.
On September 15th and 16th, 2016, the Embassy hosted a consular conference for Austrian Honorary Consuls as well as the Heads of diplomatic offices and departments in the U.S. Over 40 participants heeded the Ambassador’s invitation to receive briefings on the latest news on Austro-American bilateral issues, actual consular matters, as well as to share experiences on their daily consular work. Besides providing the most up-to-date information on its ongoing economic, scientific and cultural efforts in the U.S., one of the Embassy’s main objectives in this two-day get together was to strengthen the country-wide consular network.
The conference, which is held every three years, also covered updates by the head of the Americas of the Austrian foreign ministry, Robert Zischg, as well as from the U.S. Office of Foreign Missions and the Department of Homeland Security. Additionally, the Honorary Consuls were familiarized with the activities of the Austrian National Tourist Office, the Vienna Business Agency and Advantage Austria, the network of Austrian trade representatives.
Austrian Startups go down well with New York investors
From 5th to 9th September 2016, the Austrian Pitching days were held in New York and Boston for the first time. Out of 60 applicants, 11 Austrian startup teams looking for entry into the international market and second-round financing were selected to present their product and business ideas to US investors which represented health and environmental technology, software as well as on lifestyle industries on the east coast.
The startups presented their business ideas in the office space of the Samsung Accelerator. Representatives from Citi Bank, Flatiron Investors, Saratoga Equity, Rubicon Venture Capital and Brookly Bridge Ventures attended the pitch. The presentations were followed by a networking event with Austrian food and wine.
Supporting program for Austrian startups
The Austrian startups also visited the headquarters of the co-working space “WeWork”, the highest valued startup in New York with almost 10 billion USD. The program included presentations at the accelerators “Techstars” and “Entrepreneurs Round Table (ERT)”, where the young companies were able to test their pitches and get feedback from their U.S. peers. Additionally, they visited a boot camp with experts of the law firm McCarter & English, getting information on important issues including visas, financing agreements as well as property rights and ownership. The Austrians also met other European startups successful in the “Big Apple”.
From the “Big Apple” to Boston
The trip also took the startups to Boston, where they got to know other accelerators like the “Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC)” and “MassChallenge”. Talks with innovators from arguably the world’s leading technical university, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), were the jewels in the crown of the program in Boston. Apart from the well-known Silicon Valley, New York has become a hot spot for young entrepreneurs in the last few years as the world’s leading financial center provides a dynamic market environment thanks to its numerous venture capital investors and its high purchasing power. Additionally, New York is equipped with a rich offer on incubators, accelerators, mentors and universities, thus presenting an ideal habitat for startups.
The Austrian Pitching Days are part of the campaign “go-international” by the Austrian Chamber of the Economy and were organized by the Austrian Trade Commission in New York.
Descriptions and contact details of the 11 Austrian startup teams are available at www.pitchingdays.nyc.
As part of 'Austria to Austin', the Office of Science and Technology Austria hosted and connected Austrian entrepreneurs with local Austin innovators at a networking event on Thursday, July 14th, aimed at kickstarting the startup efforts of the young globally minded Austrian cohort. The Capital Factory, Austin's prime co-working set the stage for OSTA's #AustriaIs event!
In December, 3 Day Startup was awarded a generous grant from the U.S. Embassy in Vienna to lead the Austria to Austin Student Startup Exchange. Over 700 applications later, the Austin based organization, together with a myriad of stakeholders chose 18 students who would end up traveling to Austin. Two energetic weeks later, the students have started early stage companies and become innovation bridges between the U.S. and Austria.
To facilitate this process the OSTA brought in local experts such as Ben Thoma, founder of Creative Mornings Austin, Ben Dyer, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, Maja Kermath, Co-Founder of KOR 180 and Johannes Larcher, an Austrian partner at the Capital Factory, to only name a few.
In an elevator pitch setting, the resident experts elaborated on their own successes, pitfalls, and motivations on becoming immersed in an innovative ecosystem. Over delicious Austrian food and drink (courtesy of Austin’s local Austrian chef Florian Prelog) the Austria to Austin participants actively networked with the experts, making connections that matter!
Find out more about the participants here.
Ambassador Wolfgang Waldner and his wife travelled to Richmond, VA on Friday, July 1 to meet Governor Terry McAuliffe and to visit the Austrian community in the region.
Governor McAuliffe and Ambassador Waldner discussed trade relations between the Commonwealth of Virginia and Austria and the mutual wish to intensify these relations through visits and personal contacts. With imports amounting to over 600 Million US-Dollars annually, Austria is among the largest ten import partners of the Commonwealth. At the same time, Virginia has so far received over 30 Million US-Dollars in FDI from Austria, resulting in a place among the 20 most important economic partner countries. Around 15 Austrian businesses currently operate subsidiaries in the Commonwealth, f.i. GFM, Dibit, Schiebel, IBS, Kapsch, Neuman Aluminium, Anton Paar, Bohler-Uddeholm, Plasser, Franz Haas and ILF.
Ambassador Waldner met with representatives of the Styrian company Anton Paar in Ashland, VA , enjoyed a tour of the company’s facilities and addressed the assembled employees.
During his visit to Richmond, Ambassador Waldner also visited the Virginia Holocaust Museum and with its representatives including Mr. Anvesh Nookala who currently serves as Austrian Gedenkdiener in the framework of the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service.
The trip was concluded by a reception for members of the Austrian community and Friends of Austria at the residence of Austrian Honorary Consul Bernhard Barta who had organized the Ambassador’s visit.
The Foreign Ministry and the Austrian Economic Chamber (WKO) open a joint office in California to pave the way for success for Austrian businesses in Silicon Valley.
Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz and the Vice President of the WKO, Jürgen Roth, officially set up the "Open Austria Initiative". The goal of "Open Austria" is to support Austrian science and business communities, established companies and start-ups alike, and smoothen their way to Silicon Valley. Martin Rauchbauer form the Foreign Ministry and Georg Fürlinger, from the WKO's Advantage Austria will work to connect Austria to the innovation hub Silicon Valley from the joint base in San Francisco.
The Austrian Embassy welcomes a new addition to its network of Honorary Consuls in the United States. Carl Christian Thier was appointed Honorary Vice-Consul in Orlando.
Carl-Christian Thier is founding shareholder and President of Urban Thier & Federer P.A., an international law firm with offices in Orlando (FL), New York (NY), Houston (TX), Los Angeles (CA) and Atlanta (GA) as well as Munich, Germany and London (UK), focusing on international law, in particular in the areas of international business, estate, and family law as well as immigration law.
Mr. Thier was formerly an attorney with the Esser & Partner law firm in Aachen, Germany and an Of Counsel attorney with the law firm of Hendry, Stoner, Sawicki & Brown P.A. in Orlando, Florida.
He was Vorstand (Director) of the publicly traded German Medical Device Manufacturer "WORLD OF MEDICINE AG" (Berlin, Ludwigsstadt) and Executive Vice President and General Counsel for its US distribution arm "WORLD OF MEDICINE USA" (Orlando, FL) and President of a land development company named Jupiter USA .
He is a consulting attorney, concentrating his practice in German and international commercial and civil matters, with a particular focus on cross border legal matters between Germany and the United States.
Mr. Thier is a member of the German Bar and the New York Bar. He serves as President and Chairman of the Central Florida Chapter of the German American Business Chamber of Florida.
University of Miami
School of Law; Coral Gables, Florida Master of Comparative Laws (LL.M.} Conferred May 1997
Landgericht Koln, Germany Second German State Exam Conferred August 1995
University of Trier, Germany School of Law,
First German State Exam Conferred May 1993
University of Maastricht, School of Law
Studies of International Law October 1991 to April 1992
2000 participants coming from 70 countries met in Washington, D.C. from June 20-21.
SelectUSA was founded by President Barack Obama in 2011 and serves as focal point for foreign businesses investing in the U.S. The event also gives companies the opportunity to gather information on the diverse investment-opportunities in the 50 U.S. States and to connect with important contacts within the U.S. The United States are among the leading drivers of innovation and one of the most attractive investment locations worldwide.
The Austrian Embassy and AdvantageAustria organized a presentation on the upcoming U.S. presidential election for the Austrian participants of SelectUSA.
Ambassador Waldner and the entire Embassy staff can't wait for the kick-off of today's EURO 2016 game against Hungary. The ambassador is convinced that Austria will play a significant role in this tournament:
Having competed numerous times in the FIFA world cup, it may come as a surprise that Austria has qualified for a EURO tournament for the first time ever! And what a resounding qualification it has been: With a commanding series of nine wins and one draw, Austria qualified without a single defeat in a very strong group. Furthermore, Austrian players were also hugely successful with their respective clubs: David Alaba won his fourth German Bundesliga title in a row with Bayern Munich, our team captain Christian Fuchs rose to fame with the unexpected English Premier League champion Leicester City, and Marc Janko and Aleksandar Dragovic won their leagues with Swiss FC Basel and Ukrainian Dynamo Kiev. These successes make Austria proud and prove how far we have come in recent years: From the modest FIFA ranking number 94 in 2007, Austria has risen like a Phoenix to the eleventh best team in the world today! Besides, not less than six players in Austria’s starting eleven have an immigrant background: With family roots in Angola, Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Serbia or Turkey, all our players grew up and flourished in Austria, serving as a perfect illustration of modern Austria: A multitude of religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds forming one pluralistic society. And this summer, we will grow even closer together with our shared goal: Winning the EURO 2016!
A group of European MEPs, including Austrians Paul Rübig and Claudia Schmidt, visited San Francisco on May 18 and 19, 2016. Besides their official program, they met with European expats at the Italian Cultural Institute in San Francisco and with the Austrian community at a „Stammtisch,“ which welcomed the Austrian MEPs and the Austrian Consul General in Los Angeles, Ulrike Ritzinger, in a convivial ambience.
During a sunny break in a rainy week, we welcomed over 3,000 guests at the Embassy for the 10th annual EU Open House Day on Saturday, May 14. Our visitors learned about Austrian culture and cuisine and enjoyed a relaxed party atmosphere with the Red Bull Wheels party truck and Austrian beer and bratwurst.
While Embassy staff and the Austrian Tourism Board gave an overview of Austrian destinations, ample culinary experiences were also provided. The team from At Kaiser’s provided Eggenberg Pils, Stiegl Radler and Bratwürste for hungry and thirsty guests, Austrian chef Sabeena gave a Kaiserschmarrn presentation, while sommelier Klaus Wittauer hosted three wine seminars.
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Israel and Austria celebrated 60 years of diplomatic relations at Vienna’s Palais Lichtenstein on Friday. Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz took the occasion to talk about the past as well as to emphasize the joint and promising future for both countries.
Israel-Austria deepen the bilateral relations further
Right before his visit to Israel on May 13 Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz attended a symposium on the occasion of the 60-year anniversary of Austrian-Israeli diplomatic relations at Palais Lichtenstein. In his speech, Sebastian Kurz talked openly about the past and emphasized the significance of a joint future: “Sincere Commemoration has to call things of the past as they were and has to acknowledge them. However, it is not sufficient to look back. Instead, we have to see commemoration as a mission for the future: We have to learn the lessons from the (Austrian) past and firmly stand by Israel’s side as a partner.” Kurz emphasized that Jewish life was, is and has to remain an integral part of Austria and Europe and sees an obligation of Austrian and European political circles to advocate for that. You can read the entire speech below.
Trip to Israel: Bilateral talks and cultural exchange
The multi-day visit to Israel will begin on Sunday, May 15. “My visit will help to further deepen our good relations. Not only will this trip include important political talks but it will also contribute to getting to know people better”, states Sebastian Kurz. In addition to bilateral talks with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his ministerial colleague Riyad Al-Malki, cultural exchange will also be a focus of the visit. On site, the “Working Holiday Programme” agreement will be signed. This agreement will allow young people to work in the other country for up to six months during their vacation. Another important exchange program in the context of the visit is youth exchange: 30 young people from Austria will get to know Israel during five days, promoting mutual understanding.
The journey will lead the Foreign Minister from Tel Aviv via Ramallah to Jerusalem. To express Austria’s special historical responsibility, the holocaust memorial Yad Vashem will be visited. Subsequently, Sebastian Kurz will meet with holocaust survivors. Moreover, the foreign minister will participate i.a. in a wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesite of Theodor Herzl, the intellectual “father” of the State of Israel.
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Austria and Israel, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem will host a reception. Oskar Deutsch (President of the Vienna Jewish Community), Dr. Danielle Spera (Director of the Jewish Museum Vienna), Dr. Ilan Knapp (Head of the Jewish Vocational Training Center Vienna and member of the Austrian Expert Board on Integration) and Daniel Kapp (Chairman of the Club of the Friends of Israel) will also be part of the Austrian ministerial delegation.
The speech by Minister Sebastian Kurz, held on May 13:
Translation: Austrian Press- & Information Service
Mrs. Ambassador [of the State of Israel], President Deutsch [of the Vienna Jewish Community], Ladies and Gentlemen!
I am honored to be present today to commemorate the 60 years of diplomatic relations between Austria and Israel. The relationship between our two countries is special in a variety of ways: Not only because of our shared history, but also because of the fact that diplomatic relations resumed only 11 years after the end of the Shoah, a time during which there hadn’t been a real and sincere debate about Austria’s role. Today, I am very glad to be living in a country where a lot has changed. Discussing our past has become increasingly important and today’s generation not only learns extensively about World War II but also about the grim details of our country’s darkest hours. I am part of a generation that visits the concentration camp memorial in Mauthausen during school trips regularly and yet, I personally feel that one can hardly fully understand the extent of this dark period in our past until having talked with a survivor. During such a conversation, I have come to realize that I am probably part of the last generation to have the chance to talk to survivors of the Holocaust. I think this should serve as a reminder of our responsibility to openly address our past and to acknowledge that on 15 March 1938, the cheering people who gathered on the Heldenplatz were definitely no victims. When commemorating sincerely, it is not only important to look back but also to learn the lessons and to draw the right conclusions for the politics of the future:
First of all, due to our historical responsibility, it is our obligation to engage in an intense dialogue with Israel. I am humbled to be in Israel over the weekend [15-16 May] and I am grateful to be accompanied by a large delegation as our economic relations have reached an all-time high and tourism is flourishing. It is crucial for our bilateral relationship to lead this dialogue and Austria has to continue to foster it.
Secondly, our historical responsibility should shape our foreign policy. We are a small, neutral country and home to thirty-seven international organizations. We serve as a place of dialogue and we aim at building bridges. As a result, we see the need to talk to all players active on the international stage, but not without being firm on our basic principles. It is crucial for Austria to function as a place of dialogue and to be in touch also with countries of which Israel might not always approve. However, it is equally important to adhere to fundamental principles, like the need for the security of Israel; principles that are not debatable and that we have always stressed and will always stress when talking to those third parties.
Finally, the lessons learnt from the past constitute a mission for Austria: There are still dangers for Jewish life in Austria and Europe. During the last few years, it has become clear that life has not necessarily become better or safer. Therefore, it is our responsibility to ensure that Jewish life is secured in Austria and I am determined, as the Minister for Integration, to not only tackle existing but also newly imported antisemitism.
I am aware, Mrs. Ambassador, that the Austrian-Israeli history and the history of Austria and Judaism has seen bright but also very dark hours. But it is my firm belief that those past 60 years of diplomatic relations do not mark the end but rather the beginning of even more progress. As foreign minister, I would like to make a contribution to this development and continue to work together towards this goal. Thank you for this invitation and congratulations on this anniversary!
Ambassador Wolfgang Waldner visited Los Angeles, CA on May 9th and 10th, 2016 on the occasion of a fundraising concert for the baroque orchestra "Musica Angelica." The Austrian conductor and composer Martin Haselböck has been serving as the orchestra's artistic director for years. In addition, Ambassador Waldner visited the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH), where he met LAMOTH's director, Samara Hutman, members of the Jewish community, as well as the Austrian Gedenkdiener (Holocaust Memorial Servant) Hannes Breitenlechner.
Ambassador Waldner enjoyed a guided tour of the museum by its former president Randy Schoenberg. In addition, the Ambassador had the opportunity to meet Austrian expats from the Los Angeles area during an evening reception at the residence of the Austrian Consul General in Los Angeles, Ulrike Ritzinger.
The Embassy of Austria and the Office of Science and Technology Austria (OSTA) are deeply saddened by the death of Professor Walter Kohn, who passed away on April 20, 2016.
Professor Walter Kohn’s arguably biggest achievement was the awarding of the 1998 chemistry Nobel prize to him and his colleague John Pople for developing the density functional theory. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences acknowledged that Prof. Kohn made lengthy calculations obsolete, revolutionizing computer-based calculations. The pair effectively developing “…the entire quantum-chemical methodology now used in various branches of chemistry.”
His alma mater University of California, Santa Barbara echoed the sentiment of the Academy remembering Kohn as a:
"…condensed matter theorist who made seminal contributions to the understanding of the electronic structure of materials, he revolutionized scientists’ approach to the electronic structure of atoms, molecules, and solid materials in physics, chemistry, and materials science."
The OSTA remembers Prof. Walter Kohn especially as an honorary guest and curious mind at Austrian Research and Innovation Talk 2013. At the annual conference, Prof. Kohn was able to meet and congratulate the winning Austrian team of the Solar Decathlon 2013.
The Austrian Academy of Sciences recalls the extraordinary biography of Walter Kohn who helped understand the pain inflicted by the Third Reich. Kohn was born in Vienna, Austria in 1923 to Jewish parents. He managed to escape the country thanks to the Kindertransport operation in the 1930s, following Austria’s annexation by Third Reich. Consequently, drawing lessons from the expulsion of Jewish scientists remains crucial, as Anton Zeillinger, President of the Academy of Sciences stresses. Heinz Fischer, the President of Austria underlined that Kohn's life was marked by "...scientific excellence and clear ethical principles..."
Photo: Johann Steininger
Austria’s R&D spending in 2016 will increase to € 10.74 billion – an increase of 2.9 percent according to Statistik Austria. The R&D quota will once more be over three percent, thus distinctly higher than the EU-average of two percent.
“Austria has the third-highest R&D quota of all EU countries. We have overtaken Germany and Denmark and are on the right track,” said Reinhold Mitterlehner, Austrian Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister of Science, Research and Economy. “Innovation is our foresight for the future and secures jobs. Therefore, the Austrian R&D sector must be one of the best in the EU,” Mitterlehner stressed in regard to the prognosis by Statistik Austria.
Approximately 48% of R&D spending is done by Austrian businesses. This sum has increased by 4.6% to approximately € 5.2 billion. About 36% will be financed by the public sector. The federal government is one of the largest sources of financing, providing € 3.24 billion. The ratio between private and public R&D spending has further improved (64 vs 36%). This development aligns with the goal, set by the FTI strategy, of achieving at least a 66-33% ratio.
Translated from a press release by the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy.
On April 13, 2016, Austrian Minister of Finance Hans Jörg Schelling, Governor of the Austrian National Bank Ewald Nowotny, Deputy Speaker of the Austrian National Council Karlheinz Kopf, and Vice president of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber Jürgen Roth attended the 4th Investor and Business Conference in New York.
Hosted by 21st Austria in collaboration with Advantage Austria, this year’s conference was titled “Europe 2018: The Framework for the Future - And How to Benefit” and addressed challenges as well as opportunities for U.S. investors interested in the European market. While recent above average growth rates seem promising, there are also a number of challenges that need to be considered with regard to monetary policy, integration and immigration, among others.
Together with Austrian Ambassador to the U.S. Wolfgang Waldner, the group of Austrian officials engaged in lively discussions with other high-level European and American economic policy makers and business leaders to foster existing business relationships and to further promote Austrian-American cooperation.
For more information visit 21st Austria: Events&Webinars
Deputy Speaker of the Austrian National Council Karlheinz Kopf travelled to New York City on April 13 to participate in the 21st Austria Investor & Business Conference. Together with a number of high-level European and American economic policy makers and business leaders, current economic challenges and opportunities were discussed.
The Austrian Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Austrian National Bank attended the IMF/World Bank Group spring meetings which were being held from April 14-17 in Washington, DC.
On the sidelines, they held bilateral meetings with World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and senior officials of both the IMF and The World Bank to discuss the current economic situation in Austria, Europe and the World. At a reception at Ambassador Wolfgang Waldner’s residence on Thursday night, they also had chance to talk to the Austrian staff members of the International Financial Institutions in Washington, D.C. In his welcoming remarks, Ambassador Waldner emphasized the strong economic ties between Austria and the U.S. and thanked all attendees for their dedicated work.
Besides attending the IMFC meetings on Friday and Saturday, Minister Schelling and Governor Nowotny held high-level bilateral consultations at the U.S. Federal Reserve. They also briefed Austrian and International Press representatives at a media luncheon and gave an interview to the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation on Friday morning.
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All photos: BMF/Loebell