Investment in Progress

Inside Austria – Tyrol

powered by Standortagentur Tirol

This blog series gives you an overview on the startup ecosystem in different Austrian regions. First up: Tyrol!

Tyrol combines technology and business, tourism and health, culture and quality of life, modern infrastructure and tradition. Science and research provide important stimulus for innovative products and services that are recognized worldwide. That’s what makes Tirol a popular location for corporates and established companies as well as for startups, investors and business angels. Tyrol provides favourable conditions such as political stability, strong support initiatives, a low unemployment rate and above-average economic growth. It’s geographical location, which makes Tyrol the linchpin between north and south in the EU, is a further reason to choose the region. More than 750,000 people appreciate Tyrol as their home. The region is home to 400,000 employees, who work for more than 44,000 companies and generate a gross regional product of 32.5 billion euros annually. In 2016, the goods exported by Tyrol had a value of 12.3 billion euros and 11.7 million guests visit Tyrol every year to spend their holidays.

Cities in Tyrol

The provincial capital of Innsbruck is the location of three universities and five colleges of higher education that work closely together with the domestic economy. Consequently, numerous public and private initiatives have emerged in and around Innsbruck. They create the ideal basis for a vibrant start-up scene, such as coworking spaces, Fab Labs and incubators. Outside of Innsbruck the aspiring „young and wild ones“ connect with each other. For example, in Wattens near the global Swarovski corporation or in Kufstein around the local technical college, as well as in East Tyrol.

Investors in Tyrol 

Tyrol is increasingly gaining popularity by regional, national and international investors. The Investors Network Tyrol, which has been developed by the Standortagentur Tirol since 2015, has accompanied 52 projects so far. In total they were, and still are, looking for investments amounting to 37 million euros. 12 investment projects were taken over by private investors, providing in total, about eight million euros. The number of Investors being part of the Tyrol Investor Network has increased since 2015 to above 100. Among them is the Swiss Martin Global AG, which invested a six-figure sum in the Tyrolean company Cubile Health in 2016. Its monitoring System can track respiratory and heart rate and records parameters for fall and decubitus prophylaxis. Another Initiative of the Standortagentur Tirol is the annual event in Kitzbühel, the Business Angel Summit. Also established in 2015, more than 250 investors from Austria, Germany, France, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands and the USA meet annually with selected Tyrolean and Austrian companies and start-ups.

Among the various private investors initiatives are the I.E.C.T. Hermann Hauser of computer pioneer and internationally active venture capitalist Hermann Hauser and the Tyrolean Business Angel GmbH of entrepreneur Harald Oberrauch.

As a joint initiative Startup Euregio, of the countries Tyrol, South Tyrol and Trentino, will invest one million euros in the start-up ecosystem of the regions from 2017 to 2019. The goal is to involve at least 100 active members, to initiate or accompany at least 300 projects that contribute to more than 80 foundations and over 100 collaborations and to integrate more than 60 investors in the network.

Corporates active in the ecosystem

To give an example: Swarovski has created a well-known and popular coworking space, called Werkstätte Wattens. Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Hermann Hauser founded the I.E.C.T. – Institute for Entrepreneurship Cambridge – Tirol, a private institution with the aim to support selected entrepreneurs and start-ups. In 2014, Harald Oberrauch, owner of Durst Phototechnik AG and Alupress AG, founded the Tyrolean Business Angel GmbH, an investment company. The company supports technology-oriented start-ups from various industries.

Activities of the public sector

With 2,766 new businesses, Tyrol recorded an increase of 12 % in the year of 2016. Several agencies support startups in the region: the Innovation and Technology policy of the state of Tyrol and initiatives such as the Tyrol Economic Chamber and the Standortagentur Tirol. The last one for example with founder competitions like the “120 seconds chance”, the adventure X and the program „Go Tirol“ (for startups with innovative ICT technologies for tourist applications).  Pooling their forces, Tyrolean Universities together with the Standortagentur Tirol and the Tyrolean Economic Chamber created the AplusB centerstartup.tirol„.  This center provides support for researchers who want to start a business. Thus, the technology transfer at the in Tyrol is promoted. In addition, Standortagentur Tirol is in close contact with national initiatives such as Startup Live, Conda, AWS and the aaia.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Region 

The economic development of Tyrol in recent decades is – despite the international economic and financial crisis 2009 – a success story. Once a country with a strong agricultural economy, Tyrol today is an attractive location for industry, trade and tourism. Tyrol is home to a number of global companies, market leaders, niche specialists and „hidden champions“ and convinces with modern infrastructure and successful education and research institutions. Especially among the SMEs, which make up 98% of Tyrolean companies, and the universities, colleges and non-university research institutions, a lively collaboration was established, which the supports Tyrolean companies in building market leadership through consistent innovative work.  Tyrol is home to three universities and five colleges of higher education with a total of 47,000 students and nearly 6,000 researchers further it hosts a number of non-university research institutions. Enforcing these advantages are innovation and technology offensives of the state of Tyrol with special attention to the needs of small and medium-sized RTI subsidies, which cover all stages of innovation work. This way Tyrol is not only promoting the development of innovative products, processes and services, but also the necessary preliminary research of the technical feasibility as well as the examination of the economic potential of upcoming developments. In addition, labour costs and educational expenditures of employees who are specifically hired for upcoming innovation projects are also covered. Once again it becomes clear: For many people, Tyrol is known primarily as a tourism region. Rightly so. But only the connection of tourism with Tyrol’s dynamic economy and innovative research makes it one of the most sought-after powerhouses of the alpine world. Especially for founders and investors.

Which industries are the strongest within the region?

The economic structure in Tyrol is characterized by a balanced relationship of the various branches and a dominance of medium-sized enterprises. A successful pillar for the Tyrolean economy is the tourism, which is particularly important for the regions. The industries commerce, craft and trade are more important when it comes to number of active companies as well as value added. A quarter of the economy is made up of the industry sector. There are numerous Tyrolean flagship firms, which are active internationally, like the medtech MED-EL, metal professionals such as the Plansee Group or Thöni Industriebetriebe, Sandoz AG is Europe’s largest production of generic pharmaceuticals, the crystal brand Swarovski, the Tyrolit Schleifmittelwerke, and settlers such as the waffle maker Loacker or Durst photo technology, the cable car specialist Leitner and Liebherr Hausgeräte GesmbH. Niche specialists and hidden champions from various industries complete the picture.

How should an interested investor spend a day in Tyrol?

The question is not how, but when! You want to visit us in winter? Then join Skinnovation, the biggest startup conference on skis and experience the alpine version of the elevator pitch – the chairlift elevator pitch! In spring, you can join numerous presentations and competitions – such as Camp Two, Startup Live or adventure X – this promises nice mingling with promising, emerging start-ups. In summer you should stop by in Kitzbühel: regional, national and international investors meet selected Tyrolean and Austrian start-ups there. Autumn is your preferred season? Perfect: the aaia Investor Academy takes place there. For a small and exclusive audience, experts pass on their knowledge and accompany you at the start of your career as a business angel – hands-on, practical and unadorned. Have a look at the website: www.aaia.at/academy

Thank you to the Standortagentur Tirol and Startup.Tirol for this deep dive into the Tyrolean startup Ecosystem. And if you spontaneously come to Tyrol: the team of the Standortagentur Tirol and Startup.tirol is there for you all year round!