SURVEY ON SPIN-OFF ACTIVITIES AND FIGURES IN AUSTRIA
The Spin-off Austria Dashboard is an annual inventory of spin-off activities in Austria. The data is contributed by universities, universities of applied sciences and other institutions.
By doing so, we hope to create a comprehensive database of spin-offs that will be expanded every year. It is important to create such a reference base for the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in order to make clear statements about progress.
This year is the launch year, which will create a solid base for the future.
Austria needs more spin-offs. Despite high investments in research and development in comparison to other European countries, only a few students and researchers dare to take the step of exploiting their research with an academic spin-off. This not only leads to disadvantages for Austria as a business location, but social innovation also falls by the wayside: many excellent ideas and research results are not accessible to the general public because they are simply not exploited.
The goal of the Spin-off Austria Initiative is on the one hand to improve the framework conditions for spin-offs, and on the other hand to create greater awareness among researchers that founding a spin-off can be an excellent way to make groundbreaking research results available to society.
To achieve this goal, it is necessary to get an overview of the current situation: only by understanding a situation can one improve it. This year's Spin-off Austria Dashboard is a first step towards a comprehensive coverage of spin-off activities in Austria. In the coming years, we hope not only to expand our figures, but also to raise awareness of the societal importance of spin-offs.
IN THE PERIOD 2018-2021
In order to be classified as a spin-off, in addition to the definition of the Intellectual Capital Statement Ordinance applicable to universities, a licence or purchase agreement for IP of the institution(s) must exist as proof that the foundation was based on a property right (patent or the like) resulting from research results. In the case of exploitation spin-offs, it is irrelevant whether they are EPUs (one-person enterprises) or not.
The company has a high (technological) innovation content or operates with an innovative business model and aims for significant growth in employment or turnover. A proxy for this qualitative assessment can be the inclusion in an academic incubator or accelerator, the winning of relevant awards, the financial participation of relevant funds / financiers. In addition, the company must have a team of founders and/or already employ at least 1 salaried employee at the time of the survey; EPUs are not counted.
At least 1 of the founding persons had completed a university/university of applied sciences degree (at least a bachelor's degree) at the time of founding, the completion of which was no more than 3 years ago ("graduate founded companies") and/or had an employment relationship with the institution.
The production of knowledge in universities is a central competitive factor in the national economy and the corresponding transfer is essential for increasing the productivity and innovative capacity of the national economy. The function and significance of spin-offs is not only to strengthen the transfer of knowledge and technology from universities and research institutions to the economy and society, but also to support economic growth, especially the creation of attractive jobs.
If one looks at the entire innovation ecosystem, spin-offs are the demonstrable currency for the transfer of knowledge into the market. However, the importance is not limited to measuring output or impact.
The Spin-Off Austria Dashboard's first step is to show the activities of Austrian academic actors and their impact on the ecosystem. In the long run, the data and content can provide a basis to drive activities to increase academic start-ups. Two main challenges need to be addressed: on the one hand, improving the bureaucratic environment with its processes, standards and framework, and on the other hand, supporting the transition of roles: from scientist to entrepreneur, among others by highlighting start-up role models and leading institutions.
51 Austrian universities, universities of applied sciences and research institutions were contacted and asked to return a survey form. The aim was to quantitatively record all academic start-ups and exploitation spin-offs that were founded in the period 01.01.2018 and 01.07.2021 by graduates of the respective institution or by employees there. Foundations from participations of the institution, e.g. COMET centres, were also recorded.
Furthermore, the following points were asked qualitatively:
Strategy of the institution to promote entrepreneurship
Start-up support activities
- Entrepreneurial education
- Extracurricular programmes to promote entrepreneurship
- Further awareness and start-up support activities, especially cross-university activities
- Outlook on planned new activities
Good Practice Cases of the last 10 years
Of the 51 institutions contacted, we received 25 responses, 22 with quantitative and qualitative data and 3 with qualitative data only.
The quantitative data was forwarded to the knowledge transfer centres responsible for the region, which adjusted the data for multiple mentions. Furthermore, mentions that did not meet the criteria (e.g. foundation not in the survey period, graduation of the founders at the respective institution more than 3 years ago) were removed. In the WTZ Ost region, this data cleaning was carried out directly by I.E.C.T. - Hermann Hauser. Subsequently, the quantitative data were merged and evaluated by I.E.C.T. - Hermann Hauser. It should be noted that due to the adjusted multiple responses, the total sum (n=146) does not correspond to the sum of the individual responses per institution (n=157).
The qualitative data were screened, evaluated and summarised by the Research and Technology Development Council (RFTE). In addition to a formal review, the evaluation criteria included the institution's spin-off strategy, entrepreneurial formation and the number of spin-offs. These data served as the basis for the evaluation by the expert jury, which selected 3 leading institutions per category (university/university of applied sciences/research institution).
The Spin-off Austria Dashboard survey will take place from this year onwards, the aim being to achieve a stable data situation. The 2021 survey is a first step in this direction and does not claim to be complete. Rather, it should be seen as an initial overview of the Austrian spin-off landscape. The figures for 2018-2021 can also be continuously supplemented, as we assume that the survey process will become much more mature in the future.
Feedback and input for future surveys are very welcome, please email email@example.com.
The data is used only for the purpose of preparing for the Spin-off Austria Dashboard 2021. Object of the processing is about data clearance especially focussing on double nominations in order to secure a transparent allocation of the founded companies to the respective institutions. The data is kept secret by the participating organisations; other employees of the participating organisations also undertake to keep the data secret. No subcontractors are used to process the data.
Dispatch of survey questionnaires and invitation to participate to 51 universities, universities of applied sciences and research institutions
Receipt of feedback
Clearing of the quantitative data, processing of the qualitative data, jury meeting
Spin-off Austria Conference, presentation of results
Mailing of survey documents for the Dashboard 2022
Medizinische Universität Graz
Medizinische Universität Innsbruck
Medizinische Universität Wien
Technische Universität Graz
Technische Universität Wien
Universität für künstlerische und industrielle Gestaltung Linz
Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Graz
Universität für Weiterbildung Krems (Donau-Universität Krems)
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Fachhochschule Joanneum GmbH
Fachhochschule Sankt Pölten GmbH
Fachhochschule Technikum Wien
Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt GmbH
FH OÖ Studienbetriebs GmbH
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
IST Institute of Science and Technology – Austria
Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft
Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften
Silicon Austria Labs
Facts & Figures
In the years 2018-2021, 44 spin-offs and 102 academic start-ups were founded in Austria, which corresponds to a total number of 146 new businesses.
To put the figures of the SOA survey in context, reference can also be made here to the Austrian Start-up Monitor, according to which academic start-ups and spin-offs currently account for 22.3% of all start-ups in Austria.
An overview per federal state and year can be found on the following interactive map.Based on the selection (year or total period), the basis for the presentation of results is formed:
Selected data Austria | Selected data per province | Selected data per institution
Due to double entries of cross-institutional foundations, the sum of the stated foundations may deviate from the total number of the federal state. Institutions with cross-institutional foundations are marked with *.
Fachhochschule Campus Wien
Fachhochschule des bfi Wien GmbH
Lauder Business School
Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien
Universität für Bodenkultur Wien
Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien
IMC Fachhochschule Krems GmbH
Joanneum Research GmbH
Upper Austrian Research
Universität Mozarteum Salzburg
MCI Management Center Innsbruck – Internationale Hochschule GmbH
Fachhochschule Kufstein Tirol Bildungs GmbH
SPIN-OFF ACTIVITIES IN AUSTRIA
The feedback on spin-off strategies in the qualitative part of the survey questionnaires was very heterogeneous and enlightening. Based on these results and his many years of experience in the Austrian spin-off ecosystem, Rector Harald Kainz has written the following overview of spin-off activities in Austria:
Entrepreneurship has long become standard practice at Austrian universities and research institutions, in contrast to what is often perceived by the public. They are successful in the national and international competition for research funding and subsidies because they are appointing and employing more and more investigator entrepreneurs, i.e. researchers who bring classical entrepreneurial skills with them and act as intrapreneurs. In this way, the COMET centres can also be considered spin-offs in a certain sense, which were founded by universities and industrial corporate partners and became important players in the innovation system.
The following start-ups and spin-offs were selected from the nominations received from the participating institutions. Best Cases refer to exploitation spin-offs or academic start-ups that are younger than 10 years, have developed particularly well (growth in employment and, if applicable, turnover) or show special achievements (e.g. funding, major promotion) or have been awarded prizes. R&D projects with the institution can also be presented.
Bitmovin is a spin-off of the University of Klagenfurt and a worldwide leading provider of online video technology. The three founders (Stefan Lederer, now CEO, Christopher Müller, now CTO, and Christian Timmerer) already worked together at the University of Klagenfurt on the development of the MPEG-DASH video streaming standard. This standard is currently used by YouTube, Netflix, ORF-TVthek, Flimmit and many others.
Today, the company operates globally with locations on three continents and offers cloud-based encoding, video analytics and player APIs for high-quality streaming.
Bitmovin also operates the Christian Doppler Laboratory ATHENA at the University of Klagenfurt together with the Christian Doppler Research Association. The goal is to develop new technologies that will further improve the video streaming experience in the future, for example through smooth picture quality. Bitmovin has also specialised in further developing the standards for measuring perceptual quality.
Bitmovin has already received many awards (among others: Technology & Engineering Emmy® Award 2021, 2nd prize at the Houska Award 2020, ECONOVIUS 2017, Phoenix 2016) for their developments.
incubed IT GmbH
May 2021 Official purchase by Verizon Communications Inc. (USA)
incubed IT develops innovative software solutions for the operation of intelligent Autonomous Mobile Robots. The software enables a fleet of AMRs to move autonomously to any destination without specifying the exact route.
The seven founders of the company got to know each other at the "RoboCup" competition at TU Graz, which continues to write an international success story under the leadership of Dr. Gerald Steinbauer. The first orders came from KNAPP AG, a leading global warehouse logistics company based in Hart near Graz.
In 2015 a 30% stake was realized due to the business success.
In spring 2021 incubed IT became part of the US telecom giant Verizon, a deal negotiated with the support of i5invest (Vienna). incubed IT will remain as an independent company, but will be able to operate robotic automation on a large scale and grow strongly by integrating incubed IT's autonomous software with Verizon's 5G platform.
Lithoz was founded by Johannes Homa and Johannes Benedikt as a as a spin-off from the TU Vienna in 2011. Back then, they were PhD Students and part of a working group that initially had worked on developing a ceramic application for the industry and the 3D printing of the related moldings until they started to concentrate on developing the LCM technology for the direct 3D printing of high-performance ceramics.
Through interdisciplinary collaboration between specialists in the areas of mechanical engineering, process engineering and chemistry, Lithoz has succeeded in developing a manufacturing system for the 3D printing of ceramics suited to industrial and medical applications.
This system is especially suited to produce highly precise components for complex applications. The components produced on Lithoz system printers meet or surpass the high levels of density, stability and precision required by the ceramics industry and ceramic research.
Today, Lithoz is world market and technology leader in the field of additive manufacturing of high performance ceramics, currently employing more than 100 people at their headquarters in Vienna and their subsidiary in Troy, NY, USA. Besides 8 patent families already licensed from TU Wien, Lithoz has also filed 4 additional patent applications covering their machines, processes and materials.
Parity Quantum Computing GmbH
ParityQC is a quantum architecture company which develops blueprints for quantum computers based on the ParityQC architecture. The architecture introduces a paradigm shift in encoding optimization problems, creating quantum computers which are scalable by radically reducing the control complexity. Their co-development approach to hardware and software results in quantum chips and algorithms that fit together perfectly.
ParityQC’s operating system, ParityOS, provides access to all the advantages of their architecture via the cloud. Through their compiler, ParityQC solves industry-relevant optimization problems much faster in comparison to the current standard approaches.
The Company was founded by Wolfgang Lechner and Magdalena Hauser as a spin-off of the University of Innsbruck, the Austrian Academy of Science and investor Hermann Hauser in January 2020. The co-founders are also co-CEOs of the company and aim to establish the ParityQC architecture as world-wide standard for quantum computers.
At the 2019 Houskapreis, founder and professor of theoretical physics Wolfgang Lechner won 1st place in the "University Research" category, securing €150,000 in prize money for the University of Innsbruck. In 2020, Parity Quantum Computing GmbH won the Austrian Founder's Award Phönix in the spin-off category. In May 2021, the subsidiary Parity Quantum Computing Germany GmbH was founded in Germany.
ViraTherapeutics was founded in 2013 as a spin-off of the Medical University of Innsbruck (MUI) from the Institute of Virology of Prof. Dr. Dorothee von Laer. With the investment of the Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund together with the EMBL Venture Fund and the Empl Private Foundation, the essential financial and substantive prerequisites for the development of the innovative technology were created. The cooperation with the Institute of Virology and especially Guido Wollmann's CD laboratory at the MUI also played a decisive role. After many years of collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim's research with the spin-off, Boehringer Ingelheim bought the company in 2018.
Today, ViraTherapeutics is an independent unit of the Discovery Research Organisation of the Boehringer Ingelheim group of companies.
ViraTherapeutics is developing a new class of immunotherapy drugs based on oncolytic (cancer-killing) viruses. Their proprietary virus is designed to be safe for humans and efficiently destroy cancer cells while leaving normal tissue intact. ViraTherapeutics is currently conducting preclinical safety and efficacy studies for its modified vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV-GP) and intends to conduct initial clinical trials in cancer patients in the near future.
Of the 25 participating institutions, three per category (university/university of applied sciences/research institution) were nominated as "Leading Institution", and one institution each was awarded the "Spin-off Austria Award". The evaluation of the Spin-off Austria jury was based on the criteria spin-off strategy (20%), entrepreneurial education (40%) and the number of spin-offs (40%).
Here you can find the evaluation criteria of the jury
a. Formal criteria are NOT fulfilled if ONE of the following statements is true
i. No information on the strategy included
ii. None of the 4 fields under 2.b. (entrepreneurial education etc.) filled in
iii. No number of spin-offs reported back
iv. No evidence of spin-offs in the survey period (2.c.)
a. Strategy (weighting 20 %)
i. Score 0-6 points
1. holistic assessment ("compelling story")
1. existing or independent?
3. specific (instead of generic) = fits the institution
b. Entrepreneurial education (weighting 40 %)
i. Assessment 0-6 points
1. holistic assessment ("compelling story")
3. differentiation, range
4. specific (instead of generic) = fits the institution (including size)
5. future plans (especially in the case that there are no offers yet
c. Number of spin-offs (weighting 40 %)
i. Rating 0-9 points
1. in relation to the institution (also size)
2. ratio of exploitation spin-offs versus academic start-ups
The Spin-off Austria jury particularly emphasised the comprehensive, detailed, specific and well-anchored spin-off strategy as well as a wide range of courses on entrepreneurship. Furthermore, Graz University of Technology has an excellent infrastructure and a large network for start-up activities (e.g. WTZ, AplusB, Schumpeter Laboratory, Science Park, Start-up Map, Data House, ESA Incubation Centre). There are also extensive plans for the future to make the university even more spin-off friendly.
For many years, TU Graz has fulfilled the essential attributes of an entrepreneurial university: it plays a leading role in Austria in the competitive acquisition of third-party funding from business cooperations, as well as in its participation in COMET research centres. In teaching, basic economic competence traditionally has a high value ("brand" industrial engineer), the student teams of TU Graz (racing teams, robotics, synthetic biology ...) operate at world-class level and the demand of the economy for graduates of TU Graz is very high.
Accordingly, the commitment to entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship can be found in prominent places in the mission statement of TU Graz:
- Vision (element 6): "TU Graz educates its students to become critical-creative personalities, brings basic research into market-oriented innovation processes and thus forms fertile ground for start-ups."
- 6th guideline : "Distinct entrepreneurial thinking and start-up activities of students and staff".
- Unique selling proposition "World-class student teams".
The strategic project "Entrepreneurial University" was established at Graz University of Technology a few years ago under the leadership of the rector in order to develop new formats in entrepreneurial education and extracurricular offers, to professionally use the opportunities of new programmes (AplusB scale up, FFG Spin-Off Fellows, aws prototype funding, WTZ Süd ...), to support the expansion of infrastructure such as labs and maker spaces and to focus on the career option as a founder in external and internal communication. To learn from the best, representatives of successful science entrepreneurship were invited to workshops, including Kees Ejkel (Kennispark Twente), Hermann Hauser (I.E.C.T.), Burton Lee (Stanford Engineering), Johannes Schmadtke (RWTH Aachen Campus), Tomas Brenner (ieLab ETH Zurich) and representatives of the MakerSpace at TU Munich.
The jury's decision was mainly based on the wide range of intra-university innovation and start-up support facilities. These include a dedicated incubator, a comprehensive selection of courses for the acquisition of entrepreneurial skills and a whole range of programmes and activities aimed at entrepreneurship (prizes, networking, mentoring, etc.). Furthermore, numerous new formats for the promotion of entrepreneurial skills are planned for the future.
TU Wien (TUW) is the largest technical and scientific research institution in Austria and with departments, such as Research and Transfer Support and the Innovation Incubation Center (i²c), fostering the areas innovation, technology exploitation and entrepreneurship. The aim is a visible and sustainable promotion of university spin-offs along the value chain in the translation of excellent basic research through applied research to innovation as well as its anchoring in the innovation ecosystem.
The TUW Innovation Incubation Center (TUW i²c) together with the TUW Innovation Incubator (TUW i²) form the competence center for innovation education and business start-ups at TU Wien. It promotes the entrepreneurial spirit at TUW by supporting innovative, technology-oriented start-up teams from brainstorming to product development and implementation of business models through to market entry. For this purpose, programs are developed, implemented and evaluated that take into account the framework conditions of a university environment and thus create tailor-made offers, considering synergy effects with national and international funding programs. The innovation ecosystem includes, for example, the TU Wien StartAcademy, a "bootcamp" for researchers who are interested in setting up a spin-off, as well as an Extended Study Program on Innovation - an international curriculum with high quality and hands-on entrepreneurship training for students that not only encourages innovative thinking, but also provides solid education for entrepreneurial spirit.
TU Wien also cooperates with the AplusB Center INiTS, of which it is a co-founder and co-owner, together with the University of Vienna and the City of Vienna Business Agency.
Inspire. Educate. Innovate. Connect. On these four pillars, entrepreneurship and innovation at TU Wien will be expanded on in the future.
The jury's decision was based, among other things, on a large, interdisciplinary range of educational programmes (lectures, seminars and extension courses) on the topic of entrepreneurship. Furthermore, the University of Innsbruck has its own investment company, an incubator and a team of start-up advisors. There are also marketing measures to increase awareness and in the future all students will have to deal with the topic of entrepreneurship as part of their studies. In addition, the University of Innsbruck is also very active internationally in the field of entrepreneurship and is particularly well networked.
The University of Innsbruck offers its researchers and students a variety of opportunities to develop and implement their skills in the field of entrepreneurship. The offer includes own interdisciplinary lectures on entrepreneurship for Bachelor's / Master's and PhD students of the Department of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, workshops for post-docs or the start-up programme and other services with respect to entrepreneurship and innovation of the InnCubator (startup hub of the university and the Tyrolean Chamber of commerce). For selected diploma and master's students, there is also the extension programme Entrepreneurship, in which students can acquire skills and knowledge related to entrepreneurship and business start-ups to the extent of 45 ECTS. Students, researchers and employees thus have many opportunities to receive advice and training in this area.
Since its foundation in 2008, the University itself has participated in the start-ups of its scientists through the University of Innsbruck Unternehmensbeteiligungsgesellschaft mbH (Uni-Holding). Spin-offs as an option for the exploitation of scientific results have a high priority and are intensively supported. The University of Innsbruck also has 4 very experienced start-up advisors, some of whom have 16 years of start-up experience themselves in the biotech and business management sectors and have been assisting start-ups in their first steps as future entrepreneurs for more than 10 years. The support is holistic - the start-up advisors support the founders technically as if they were a team member themselves.
In order to build on its international expertise, the University is also involved in numerous international projects on the topic of entrepreneurship. The University of Innsbruck was and is a partner in the Erasmus+ projects GITA and Beyond scale, in the unfunded consortium P2I-Postdocs to Innovators with the University of Cambridge, Paris Science and Letters, Freie Uni Berlin, University of Edinburgh, Astrazeneka, BP and Schlumberger, the European Association for Technology Transfer Professionals ASTP as well as the European University Alliance AURORA.
The University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten has a comprehensive strategic entrepreneurship programme that is very precisely and specifically elaborated. In addition, the jury was convinced by the wide range of intra- and extracurricular offers on entrepreneurship as well as numerous diversified cooperations on a national and European level. For the future, the jury sees particularly great potential for a further increase in spin-offs.
The Start-up Strategy of the St. Pölten UAS is divided into “7 steps to start-up”:
- Basics of Entrepreneurship & Innovation: Several courses provide basic knowledge about innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Motivation & Ideas: To develop innovative ideas, the university cooperates with various organizations discussing different points of view on societal and economic problems.
- Experiments & Concepts: Various commonly project-oriented courses serve as playground for students to experiment and develop ideas and concepts. Examples include the European Project Semester and interdisciplinary study programmes.
- Discover & Encourage: St. Pölten UAS hosts several events to present ideas to colleagues, industries and a wider public, such as “Golden Wire”, or the “Projekte Vernissage”
- Develop & Enhance: As a unique support action for students and alumni, St. Pölten UAS and accent GmbH, Lower Austria‘s founding agency, started the „Creative Pre-Incubator“ in 2014. Selected teams get individual coaching and support, advice on business plans, workshops tuned to specific needs as well as free office in a co-working space.
- Network & Promotion: The university established contacts and collaborations with business angels, investors, start-up associations, innovation hubs and others and enables direct interactions between these stakeholders with students, alumni, and staff members.
- Starting the Business: As St. Pölten UAS cooperates with accent within the „Creative Pre-Incubator“, it encourages teams with interesting business ideas to apply for their incubation program. The university has various possibilities to support start-ups and spin-offs.
The University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria was able to convince the jury above all with its differentiated range of activities to promote start-ups, as well as the large number of academic start-ups.
The University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria has a pronounced transfer competence and a well-established Startup Centre which is located at all four campuses in Linz, Wels, Hagenberg and Steyr. It stands out for its range of teaching and learning methods in the field of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is pursued as a holistic approach in all service areas of the university and spaces or opportunities for creation and interaction are created. This is reflected, among other things, in the offer of several cross-curricular courses in the area of entrepreneurial education; furthermore, with the further education programme "Wannabe a Founder", an opportunity is created for alumni and students to delve deeper into the topic of entrepreneurship outside of the regular curriculum.
In general, the strategy is to provide infrastructure (co-working spaces), know-how (mentors) and networks (internal and external to the FH) free of charge for two years in order to increase the motivation to found a company and minimise the risk in the early phase. By creating co-working spaces at the Hagenberg, Steyr and Wels campuses, students are offered the opportunity to use them without having to travel long distances.
Furthermore, great importance is attached to networking with other educational institutions, which is evident, among other things, in the operation of the start-up platform "Akostart OÖ" together with the Johannes Kepler University Linz, the Linz University of Art and the tech2b incubator.
Further supportive marketing measures (online and print) for start-ups and more extensive support for business angel investments are planned for the future.
The University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt has its own Start-up Centre and Innovation Lab, which are central organisations for the start-up sector, as well as numerous cooperations with external incubators and start-up services. Furthermore, the jury emphasised the great potential for further start-ups and spin-offs.
The UAS Wiener Neustadtis a hot spot in offering study-programs and extracurricular activities that have a specification in entrepreneurship/ start-ups and innovation topics, and has recently also established a large Innovation Lab that is an Open Fab Lab (to start operations in 2HY 2021).
The FHWN StartUp Center supports future entrepreneurs and founders in implementing their business ideas and inventions.
The UAS Wiener Neustadt is also committed to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in teaching, research, and management across all faculties and campuses and will further intensify these efforts in the future. This is also evidenced by the recent foundation of an University Institute for Sustainability, and a central function for sustainability within FHWN.
The FHWN management is highly committed to the fields of innovation, sustainability, and entrepreneurship. The FHWN’s development strategy is stressing the commitment to embed modules on business creation to a greater extent in existing and future programs.
Furthermore, there is also a special institute and Master Program on Entrepreneurship:
The Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation focusses on topics that are closely linked to the study programs that have a specification in entrepreneurship/start-ups and innovation. It also cooperates closely with the start-up center. The aim of the institute’s research is to contribute to a better understanding of the emergence and development of new firms. This can apply to both young start-ups and established firms.
The master program Entrepreneurship & Applied Management addresses two topics to emphasise entrepreneurship and innovation for middle and small enterprises. The goal is to sustain a long-term and strong position on the market for founders, Start-Ups and well-established companies.
IST Austria was able to convince the jury with a clear and, above all, annually reviewed entrepreneurship strategy, a broad range of programmes and courses, as well as the high number of academic start-ups for such a research institution.
IST Austria has articulated its strategy towards technology transfer and entrepreneurship in 2016. This strategy is reviewed and updated on an annual basis.
In essence, the program consists of (i) awareness creation and training, (ii) clear rules and processes and (iii) specific support tailored to the needs of individual spin offs.
In addition, IST has developed two activities beyond the realm of the Institute – the venture fund IST cube and the science and tech park IST PARK.
(i) Awareness and training
Beyond regular orientation meetings with incoming classes and faculty, this includes the TWIS Talks series, the Entrepreneurship Lab and the Science Industry Talk.
(ii) Rules and Process
IST Austria has adopted a spin off policy including clear rules on licensing terms, institutional shareholding and faculty involvement. It has set up a wholly owned subsidiary, Twist, to run its tech transfer and spin off operations.
(iii) Tailor made support
(i) and (ii) are activities that should be standardized as much as possible. We recognize though that each spin off is special and requires its own tailored support. The Twist Fellowship Program is the mechanism through which the team and additional experts can provide that support.
(iv) IST cube
IST cube is a venture fund founded by IST Austria and Lansdowne Partners. IST cube is dedicated to funding and supportinh spin offs primarily from Austrian research institutions. It has raised an initial capital in excess of EUR 40mln, and is supported by the European Investment Fund. To date, IST cube has facilitated the launch and invested in eleven spin off companies.
(v) IST PARK
Recognizing that access to space and lab infrastructure is a critical component for spin offs, IST has entered into a joint venture with a real estate developer to develop IST Park, is a science and tech park adjacent to the campus of IST Austria. It provides ready to use lab space, mainly molecular biology and cell culture, access to the machine shop and open plan offices for founders and spin offs.
In the jury's view, AIT's strategy demonstrates a coherent further development and integration of start-up support measures into the ongoing research and development process. The jury also highlighted the establishment and integration of a technology-oriented VC network and the integration of entrepreneurship into the PhD programme. Another plus point is that awareness and further training measures are organised with external partner organisations.
AIT's entrepreneurship program encompasses several aspects: Spin-offs and start-ups are considered early in the innovation cycle as a possible option to capture value. Early positioning of entrepreneurship with scientists and engineers leads to recognizing business opportunities early on. Spin-off project candidates are supported and guided by internal and external experts. Special emphasis is placed on understanding and addressing the business model, accompanied risks and market demands. Validation of market and product hypotheses play a central role.
The Spin-Off program is adapted to the specific requirements of the respective Spin-Off project. The applied methodologies, tools and procedures are continuously refined and established as best practice methods. In IPR licensing or transfer, special attention is paid to finding a good balance between safeguarding AIT's economic and legal interests and still creating start-up-friendly conditions.
In addition to a dedicated team for the development of the entrepreneurship program and the support of spin-off candidates, a mentoring and support network is established. Integrating AIT into existing start-up networks (incubators, accelerators, etc.), organizing or participating in hackathons and cooperating with industry incubators complement these activities.
In the case of the ÖAW, the jury particularly highlighted the differentiated IPR strategy and the high number of spin-offs.
The IP strategy of the Austria Academy of Sciences, which has been in effect for the entire Academy since February 2018, contains a clear commitment to the transfer of knowledge acquired at the Academy into the economy. With the IP Strategy, the Academy fulfills an essential task in the continuous innovation process in line with the Austrian federal government's intellectual property strategy adopted in February 2017 by increasingly promoting the commercial use of research results. At the same time, with its IP strategy, the Academy is following a recommendation of the European Commission from April 2008 on the handling of intellectual property in knowledge transfer activities for public research institutions and is thus making itself fit for future research and innovation programmes such as the EU's Horizon Europe programme.
Five strategic goals shape the IP strategy of the Austrian Academy of Sciences:
- Ensuring compliance and the adherence of the Academy´s legal and contractual requirements forms the essential basis of knowledge and technology transfer at the Academy.
- Researchers should be given the best possible support in knowledge and technology transfer, i. a. by providing sufficient IP-related training opportunities and centrally coordinating cooperation between the Academy and other institutions or companies at the administrative level.
- The establishment of IP rights, especially patents, forms the basis for successful commercial exploitation of inventions made at the Academy. Patents can be incorporated into spin-offs of Academy´s institutes, attract cooperation with other research institutions or companies, or serve to attract third-party funding. Patents allow the licensing of the technologies protected in this way to external companies at conditions in line with the market.
- In cooperation with commercial enterprises or application-oriented research institutions, research results of the Academy should be made accessible to society through the (further) development of new products, processes and services.
- The strengthening of the business location and the development of the regional entrepreneurial scene through the generation of start-ups, spin-offs and the licensing of technologies and know-how from the Academy to cooperating companies should be increased.