Innovation and Entrepreneurship in… Austria

It doesn’t matter where you are, or whether you are in the private or public sector, around the world it seems everyone wants to drive more innovation and more entrepreneurial activity. I see this every day in the classes I teach at UC Berkeley, the executive programs I run, and the talks and advisory work I do globally.

Which brings me to…   Austria!

Several months back I was invited by the Austrian Foreign Ministry to join a group of innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world for a week-long program in Vienna. Special thanks to Austria’s Silicon Valley/San Francisco Consul General Martin Rauchbauer for extending the invitation, and to our hosts Johann Brieger, Helmut Bock and Johanna Lindner.

Mark at Pioneers

During the course of that week I visited a number of startups, incubators and accelerators, corporate innovation programs, and investors in Vienna and across Austria.  This helped me gain an appreciation for what the Austrian business leaders, entrepreneurs, and government are doing to try and accelerate innovation and entrepreneurial activity.

I also gave several talks, including at Vienna University, and participated in some sessions – including on corporate entrepreneurship – at the startup-focused Pioneers Festival.

Travel tip:  Vienna is truly a dynamic and lovely city. Loaded with culture and the arts, great infrastructure, smart people, centrally located in Europe, it is a great place to visit and it truly seems a great place to live. Stay at the Hotel Sacher (famous for their Sacher Torte) if you can.  And be sure to catch some culture, including museums, music, palaces, cathedrals, and more.

Mark Coopersmith in Vienna at the Austrian Federal Ministry Week in 2017 with delegates from a diverse array of 11 countries, and as far afield as Kazakhstan, South Africa, Kenya, India and of course Silicon Valley!

In Vienna with entrepreneurs from as far afield as Korea, Argentina, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Kenya, India and of course Silicon Valley! That’s me on one knee.

Highlights of my week included visits to Runtastic (one of Austria’s startup success stories), the KAPSCH TraficCom Accelerator Program, the Vienna University Entrepreneurship Center and the A1 Startup Campus.

At Pioneers with Kiki the Robot

You can read more about the event and my take on last year’s edition here at

If you are interested in reading more of my thoughts on the startup scene in Europe, check out my blog post Two ways Europe can accelerate the creation and growth of startups.

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