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Interview. Gabriele Tatzberger of the Vienna Business Agency, Martin Fassl of ecoplus, the Business Agency of Lower Austria, and Raphaela Graf of Wirtschaft Burgenland are the joint managers of VIENNA REGION Marketing. Here, they discuss how they are planning to strengthen the region as a business location.
- Vienna and its surroundings enjoy an excellent reputation all over the world. Is it necessary at all to promote the region?
Gabriele Tatzberger: It is true that Vienna enjoys a good reputation all over the world, but mainly for its culture and music. It’s less known that the Vienna region is also an excellent business and research location, and this is the message we’d like to communicate.
- Which countries does VIENNA REGION's marketing currently focus on?
Raphaela Graf: For the next two to three years, we’re concentrating on Northern Europe and Canada. We’re especially focusing on Sweden and Finland, where we are planning to build a network and create awareness of the Vienna region.
- Where do you see the strengths of the Vienna region?
Martin Fassl: One of the Vienna region’s major strengths is a good balance between producers and service companies. There is a large range of industry sectors, from metal and mechatronics to food, plastics, sustainable construction and life sciences to ITC and the creative industries. The overall level is extremely high, from economic power to innovative capacity to research & development to training standards.
Gabriele Tatzberger: The Vienna region boasts a unique CEE competence. At the same time, the office market is very attractive here. In terms of office costs, Vienna can compete with the most inexpensive cities of Europe.
Raphaela Graf: Additionally, the region is located in a secure and solid country with a good welfare system, excellent infrastructure and a high quality of life. Not to mention its central location in Europe.
- Does this attract international companies and skilled personnel?
Gabriele Tatzberger: Yes, since with everything it has to offer, the Vienna region has all the ingredients for a sustainable region. Especially regarding the current developments in production, digitization, sustainability, life sciences etc., the region is well-positioned and attractive to talents. This in return is exciting for companies since they know that the environment and the high quality of life will keep talents in the region, and they are less expensive than in many other cities.
- Can you point out an example that showcases that the Vienna region is more unique than commonly assumed?
Gabriele Tatzberger: Not even all the Viennese people know that the Vienna region is the biggest university city in the German-speaking area – bigger than Zurich or Berlin. Statistically, every tenth person you meet on the streets of Vienna is a student. For companies, this means that they have access to a large pool of qualified workers, and that research is of high importance in the region.
- VIENNA REGION comprises Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland. Which industries are Vienna’s strongest points?
Gabriele Tatzberger: Recently, we have been able to generate considerable investments in the areas of ITC and life sciences. In the area of production, there is extensive know-how concerning smart production and a willingness to boost production facilities within the city. Also, Vienna represents the cultural industries and everything related to the smart city concept.
- What are the synergies with Lower Austria and Burgenland the entire Vienna region profits from?
Raphaela Graf: Burgenland is happy to participate in the Vienna region. We offer recreation, nature and affordable living space to those who work in the city. In terms of industries, steel manufacture, engineering and mechatronics are prominent. We have large companies, including a few world market leaders in the areas of plastics processing and production, but also many hidden champions which do excellent work, especially in the ITC sector.
Martin Fassl: There is no question that Lower Austria also profits from having the metropole of Vienna in its middle. At the same time, Lower Austria adds to the diversity of the Vienna region with its many internationally reknowned control operations, the innovative structure of small and medium-sized businesses as well as its politico-economic initiatives. For example, there is an individual technopole program which actively links research & development, economics and training at the technopole locations of Wiener Neustadt, Tulln, Krems and Wieselburg. The areas include biotechnology, material and medicinal technology, food and agricultural technology as well as bio-energy systems. The Vienna region works as a functionally connected economic area. The players of all three states are very well-connected. Apart from the functional economic area, many international companies also appreciate the living environment and its culture.
- Which role do start-ups play in the Vienna region?
Gabriele Tatzberger: An ever-growing role. There is a very dynamic development. We experience a growing interest in the Vienna region from international start-ups. Our region is especially attractive for young companies from the UK who are looking for new EU locations after Brexit. But start-ups are also getting more and more important for companies in the region in terms of collaboration. There is an excellent infrastructure in the cooperation with resident international companies that offer special programs for start-ups. This creates intersections the entire region can profit from. The start-up location of Vienna has experienced a rapid development in the last ten years. This gets noticed on a large scale. We also have a unique early-stage mentoring and subsidy environment which allows, for example, to gain grants during the first product design without having to sell company shares.
Martin Fassl: As a supplement to the Viennese start-up scene, Lower Austria has an individual start-up agency that guides and supports the broad development of entrepreneurships with a focus on the creation of value.
Raphaela Graf: Since Burgenland has no central information center, we have a mobile innovation manager since 2018. His job is to travel the country to determine the situation of potential entrepreneurships. Also, the mobile innovation manager coaches young entrepreneurs and educates them about individual options for subsidies. This creates a growing network that allows us to strengthen our position collectively.
- What are the challenges in the next years?
Gabriele Tatzberger: There is no question that the competition between agglomeration areas like the Vienna region is growing. Especially in terms of talent. We are well-positioned in that regard, but we need to communicate the advantages of our location even more specifically.
Martin Fassl: Nobody will be able to ignore the subject of digitization. It is a big challenge to counter demonization. We want to show companies potentially useful points of contact and starting points. The second important challenge is that human resources are getting in short supply all over the world. Both challenges are addressed with foresight in the Vienna region.
Raphaela Graf: Digitization is also about connecting with social media. We’ve started a new channel to keep international networks up-to-date and create mutual stimulation.
Interview by medienkomplizen/Christian Scherl