Austria, a landlocked country in Central Europe, is unarguably one country to watch for entrepreneurs and founders in the artificial intelligence scene looking for an ideal location to expand or set up their AI businesses.
The country currently houses some of the biggest tech companies, including IBM, Microsoft, Capgemini, Amazon, Oracle, and many others. Recent research has also shown that Austria’s capital city Vienna is currently the prime location for entrepreneurs looking to launch a new business.
The ratings are not without a cause. Similar to San Francisco, London and Paris, which are considered the favourite jurisdictions for AI businesses, or tech in general, Austria has a pool of educated talents, friendly regulation, funding opportunities and other factors that support startup growth.
AI model training requires a lot of resources, which makes it capital-intensive. Therefore, funding is very crucial for AI businesses, especially startups.
In Austria, it’s safe to say that startups have a decent opportunity to secure grants and funding. According to Forbes Magazine, Austria is one of the countries that encourage new startups through generous seed money. In 2015, the Austrian government made available €289 million (about US$325 million) that benefited over 3,715 startup startups.
The companies also benefit from a comprehensive system of public sector funding. The federal promotional bank Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH (aws) and the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG also provide non-repayable grants, guarantees and subsidized loans to startups.
Pool of AI Talent
Austria has well-educated talents that specialise in artificial intelligence. For instance, the foundational research for speech recognition technology was done by Sepp Hochreiter, one of the leading experts based in Austria, attesting to the country’s history of AI innovation.
In addition to the local talents, it’s also easier for businesses to attract international employees, considering the low cost of living in Austria.
“For the first time ever, we had lots of applicants from the Netherlands, Italy and France. The Netherlands, especially, was surprising for me because they have a very lively ecosystem. But in the interviews, it turned out that real estate prices are skyrocketing there,” said Ben James, founder of Austria-based Atlas.
Regulation and Tax
Austria is also ranked for having friendly regulatory and taxation policies that support startups and innovations. Earlier this year, the Austrian government reduced corporation tax from 25 to 24% and plans to get lower in 2024. In May, the government also announced different strategies to attract and support startups.