Many Finnish entrepreneurs are looking into relocating their company to a different country or opening a new branch of their company abroad. An international presence certainly uplifts a company’s image and revenue. Austria, and specifically the Vienna Region, is an excellent business location that offers many opportunities. Finnish companies in Austria can benefit from a number of advantages which we will outline below.
Strong business relations
Bilateral trade relations between Austria and Finland have developed well in recent years. The most important Austrian export goods to Finland are machinery (31% of all exports) and electrotechnical goods (12%), followed by motor vehicles (8%). Finnish exports to Austria are also dominated by machinery (approx. 50%), followed by paper and cardboard (15%) and electrical machinery (14%, mainly for telecommunications).
In 2019, there were a total of 39 branches of Finnish Companies in Austria. Among the most significant Finnish investors in Austria (EUR 469 million in 2019) are Nokia, Amer Group (Atomic), Stora Enso (wood industry), UPM (papers), Kone (elevators), Dynea (synthetic resins), and Caverion (cooling technology and facility management).For Finns, Austria is a popular vacation destination, especially in winter. Finns love to spend their vacations actively, with sports and city explorations. Austria is perfect for all these activities. In 2016, a total of over 350,000 overnight stays by Finnish travelers were recorded in Austria.
There are many parallels between the two countries regarding social welfare, political structures (democracy), high quality of life, and economic stability. Also, there are many shared values when it comes to business interactions. Punctuality, loyalty, and reliability of corporate partners are appreciated and expected. These similarities create a favorable setting for Finnish companies to smoothly enter the Austrian market. There are direct flights between Helsinki and Vienna and the infrastructure in both countries is excellent. The extensive public transport network in both countries is being enlarged continuously.
With 9 million inhabitants, Austria’s population is quite a bit bigger than that of Finland (5,5 million inhabitants). However, Austria is about 4 times smaller than Finland. Hence, sights, different landscapes (mountains, plains, lakes, hot springs, etc.), natural and cultural attractions are much less sprawled out. Transport routes between production sites, distribution centers, and points of sale are less long as well.
The climate is warmer, especially in the Vienna Region. Burgenland, with its 300 days of sunshine a year, is well known for its flourishing vineyards and orchards, its excellent wines, and its splendid outdoor activities. Vienna enjoys mild winters. And for those who love snow and skiing, the mountainous areas in Lower Austria will offer plenty of freezing days with thick snowfall.
Finland’s sales tax is 4% higher than that of Austria (24 vs 20%). Lower sales taxes decrease the price of goods which increases profit for businesses. Austria’s goods exports in relation to the gross domestic product amount to 39,3 %. That is a higher number than that of Finland or Sweden.
Situated in the very center of Europe, the location of the Vienna Region (Vienna, Lower Austria, and Burgenland) is undeniably more advantageous than that of Northern Europe. It provides easy access to the growing markets in Central and Eastern Europe. An extensive motorway network, an international airport, major railway terminals for regional and international rail travel, and freight transport down the Danube offer perfect connections to all of Europe and beyond. Major capitals like Munich, Bratislava, Budapest, Vienna, Kiew, Prag, etc. can be reached easily and quickly. For industries that rely on raw materials, buyers, and component suppliers this is a considerable advantage.
Grants and subsidies
In the process of setting up a new company, financing is one of the most important issues. Austria has established an extensive system of public funding and early-stage investment. Additionally, there are many private investors. Forbes Magazine has even proclaimed the Vienna Region the best place to start a business. The spirit of entrepreneurship is strong here – start-ups are encouraged and subsidized. There are many jump-start programs, business grants, and accelerators Finnish companies in Austria can benefit from.
The VIENNA REGION Business Agencies are the first point of contact for foreign companies wishing to establish themselves in the Vienna Region.
If you’re looking for business premises, production sites, laboratories, and office space in Vienna, the Vienna Business agency will offer you all the information you need. There is help regarding funding for companies from any industry and of any size. The website offers a detailed overview of investment funds and investor networks based in Vienna. The list of business grants is quite long and each of them has a different thematic focus.
Ecoplus, the Business Agency of Lower Austria, is a reliable partner of entrepreneurs as well as investors and initiators of regional and international projects. The agency acts as an essential interface between business, politics, and science. Business grants include regional funding, investments by municipalities, companies, associations and initiatives as well as by individuals. Burgenland’s Business Agency offers financial support and 1-to-1 coaching as well as various workshops to entrepreneurs. The program includes consulting, expert advice, and office infrastructure. Specialized programs accompany start-ups and companies that relocate to Burgenland along their entire settlement and set-up process. The agency is your reliable partner for all business endeavors in Burgenland. You can find an overview of all current subsidies and a step-by-step guide to the funding process on their website.
Of the approximately 2.44 million employed Finns, more than 70% work in the service sector, about a quarter in industry, and the rest in the primary sector (agriculture and forestry). These numbers are very similar in Austria.
However, the area used for agriculture is only 7,5% whereas it is 32% in Austria which offers much better agricultural possibilities. 73% of Finnland is covered in forests, in Austria that number is considerably lower (47%), leaving more room for fields. The warmer climate is an additional benefit.
Austrian agricultural production is a signpost to the future. It has changed a lot in the last few decades, becoming steadily automated. Artificial intelligence and digital technologies will take on an important role in the future to feed a growing population, compensate for supply chain failure, and manage the effects of climate change. The Austrian government is both aware of and concerned about the future of food production. Smart and sustainable agriculture 2050+ is an important agenda. The Vienna Region puts a strong emphasis on digital transformation. Digital technologies and AI are implemented in all sectors of life, including agriculture. Companies specializing in these areas will find excellent conditions in Austria – networks, think tanks, research facilities, and government grants as well as private investors.
Relocation made easy
More and more companies are discovering the Vienna Region and its many advantages for their business endeavors. There are many helpful business agencies and networks that make setting up shop in the Vienna Region a lot easier. The quality of life is very high. Personal safety, low crime rates, excellent health care, clean air and water, child care benefits and a great schooling system await expats. There is a vast number of universities and colleges with more than 210.000 students in the Vienna Region. Companies looking for local employees will encounter highly skilled graduates and a variety of higher education and training opportunities for their employees. Austria has a strong focus on research. Many research facilities work on advancing innovation, science, and product development.
If you are looking for a new location for your company or a new production facility, you should absolutely consider the Vienna Region. Situated in the very heart of Europe, it holds all the key factors for success. Finnish companies in Austria enjoy many benefits and advantages – especially in the Vienna Region.
Let me give you five reasons why you should set up your headquarters in the Vienna Region:
- it is part of the 4th richest country of the European Union
- a high quality of life at affordable prices
- Excellent, highly-developed infrastructure
- highly qualified workforce
- outstanding spending capacity of customers
- home to many international companies, universities as well as research facilities
- direct access to South East and Eastern Europe
- high level of personal security, political stability and legal certainty
- an international as well as cosmopolitan region due to a population with migration background
What a founder-friendly location needs is a focus on the global market. Austria’s location in particular makes it an ideal hub for the international start-up scene in Central and Eastern Europe.
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