powered by Startup Salzburg

In this blog series, we have recently explored the thriving startup hubs Tyrol and Vorarlberg. Let’s discover what Salzburg has to offer! By diving deeper into Salzburg’s startup scene, this article by Startup Salzburg reveals a small but prospering startup ecosystem: Local incubators and international accelerators speed up innovation and boost the scene of young and dynamic entrepreneurs. 

Compact and vital: Salzburg’s startup ecosystem and its actors 

Salzburg evolved into a prospering ecosystem for startups, providing professional start-up support, entrepreneurship skills and capital. Attracting more and more founders, young entrepreneurs find themselves surrounded by a lively, innovative and well-connected network: Entrepreneurship initiatives, universities and accelerators with an international business network as well as a mix of global players, medium-sized companies, traditional craft and creative businesses are pivotal pillars for this thriving startup ecosystem in the heart of Austria.

Salzburg is widely known for Mozart, Sound of Music, crystal-clear lakes and idyllic mountain landscapes. However, it is also home to 37.221 companies – including not only small and medium-sized companies but also global players. In their Salzburg-based headquarters, they operate their global business activities: Red Bull, crane manufacturer Palfinger, Porsche Holding, ticketing expert Skidata or the trading giants DM and Spar – just to name a few of them. With nearly 255.000 employees, Salzburg’s companies generated a gross regional product of €28 billion in 2017 and exported goods to more than 184 different countries in the world. And! There is no lack of fresh and innovative ideas either! Salzburg is one of the youngest and most dynamic startup regions in Austria. 

Startup Salzburg: strong network drives innovation 

Established in 2016 under the patronage of governor Wilfried Haslauer, Startup Salzburg provides business development support as a guide and facilitator and easy access to a strong mentoring network for young entrepreneurs. As Salzburg’s business incubator for early-stage start-ups, Startup Salzburg is based on a service networkorganization that combines the expertiseof Salzburg-based institutions such as ITG – Innovation Service for Salzburg, Chamber of Commerce, University of Applied Sciences Salzburg, University of Salzburg and several further partners. 

With four startup service-points, Startup Salzburg organizes a series of startup activities in the region to inspire entrepreneurs and create ideal conditions for innovative founders in the initial phase. The pivotal aim is to further advance knowledge- and technology-driven entrepreneurial projects: „We want to make the life of start-up entrepreneurs easier and to help founders boost their business ideas into commercial companies. Therefore, we provide early market feedback, peer learning and access to a strong working ecosystem of corporates, investors, public stakeholders and universities.  Due to Salzburg’s size as a business location, we benefit from a well-connected innovation and startup ecosystem and a high-level of collaborative thinking among regional players. This is what we are building on in the future.”, states Oliver Wagner, network coordinator of Startup Salzburg.

Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit is key to a thriving startup ecosystem. That’s the reason why Startup Salzburg initiates numerous event series aiming to mingle startups, mentors and investors in the region:  “Startup Weekends”, “Social Hackathon”, “Entrepreneurship ABC” and “Meet-ups” or the  “Demo Day” –  Startup Salzburg’s flagship event which annually takes place at WIFI Salzburg. 

Demo Day 2019 © Startup Salzburg


Startup Salzburg Factory: matching startup teams and mentors 

Out of nearly 120 start-up ideas getting in touch with Startup Salzburg each year, about 1/3 are supported with an individual startup coaching. 5-10 Salzburg-based startups with innovative, technology-driven ideas ready for the market have the chance to make the leap into the incubation program Startup Salzburg Factory. The start-up entrepreneurs are supported according to their needs and individual stages of development for nine months, prepared for financing and product/ market fit by mentors of established businesses. By now, 18 young founder teams made the leap into the market and achieved company growth.

Home of aspiring startups, talent & accelerators 

A number of Salzburg-based startups have made great strides in recent years: Authentic Vision, hotelkitFindologic and Wikitude are some of the best examples. And the next young companies with promising ideas are just about to take off! Such as Startup Salzburg Factory alumni’s Native Waves, FactAI, ORIGINAL+, polycular, or Barkinsulation.

By counting more than 22.000 students at University of Applied Sciences Salzburg, University of Salzburg, Paracelsus Medical University and the private Seeburg Castle University as well as taking measures in order to increase the number of student places for technical studies in the next years, Salzburg fosters young talent and entrepreneurial spirit. 

Complementing the services of Startup Salzburg accelerator programs such as Silicon Castle’s Startup Executive Academy and Next Floor‘s Tourism Accelerator have an international perspective. The Startup Executive Academy gathers startups at the castle of Urstein/Puch aiming to connect high potential founder teams with international experts, delivering strategic business advice and providing access to a global network. In cooperation with University of Applied Sciences Salzburg and Baba Shiv, Professor of Marketing at Stanford University, the Startup Executive Academy will take place the 3rd time this year. Andreas Spechter, mastermind and CEO of the business accelerator Silicon Castles, claims that “Salzburg has the potential to become a small Silicon Valley in terms of its mindset”. Europe’s first tourism accelerator by the investors network Next Floor connects international tourism-focused startups with scientific know-how from partner universities and strengthens their investment readiness.

Access to know-how & capital

As we have seen, Salzburg has the right ingredients for a thriving startup ecosystem. All relevant players – from economy, politics, education to startup institutions – are extremely well connected and pursue the same goal: to act as a door-opener for innovative startups by proving unbureaucratic access to know-how and capital. 

Thanks to Startup Salzburg for this deep dive into the startup ecosystem of Salzburg.