Hannes Richter

Austria Goes Texas

Hannes Richter

 

In the last week of March 2012, a delegation from the Medical University of Vienna, IniTS, start-up center for entrepreneurs in Austria, the Austrian Business Agency (ABA) and the Office of Science and Technology at the Austrian Embassy in Washington, D.C. (OST) were welcomed by the Austrian Honorary Consul Gerald Seidl in Texas for a week of exciting visits, meetings and workshops.

The aim was to identify interests for the establishment of exchange programs and research cooperation, as well as the promotion of Austria as one of the most dynamic locations for research and development activities in Europe – offering excellent research universities, a high availability of qualified staff, and a motivated workforce in one of the most secure countries in the world with an unsurpassed quality of life.

Karin Gutierrez-Lobos, Vice- Rector of the Medical University of Vienna, and the Neurologist Dietrich Haubenberger, a former visiting fellow at the national Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD (NIH), who returned to the Medical University of Vienna in August 2011, explored opportunities for collaboration, exchange, and mutual learning during numerous meetings in Houston and Dallas.

The Texas Medical Center of Houston is one of the world-leading locations for patient care, research, and education, consisting of 50 institutions dedicated to the highest standards. The Medical University of Vienna, building on a tradition of almost 650 years, is one of the largest biomedical research centers in Europe, linked to Europe’s largest hospital and providing its medical staff.

Gerald Seidl set up meetings with representatives of the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Houston, Rice University, the Gulf Coast Consortia, the Bayer College of Medicine, the Memorial Hermann Health Care System, Bio Houston as well as with the Southwestern Medical Center.

There was great interest on both sides to increase the collaboration between these two world-famous medical institutions, and we look forward to the start of a long-lasting collaboration. The strategy to create a network of Austrian Scientists in the U.S. and Canada proofed again its value. Not only were the Austrians “on the ground” instrumental to set up numerous meetings, but they were again a great source of knowledge to identify opportunities to increase the collaboration. Hubert Zajicek, Managing Director of NTEC, a business accelerator in the city of Frisco (north of Dallas), who is also the president of the association “Austrian Scientists and Scholars in North America” (ASciNA), welcomed the delegation at his start-up center, introduced NTEC and exhibited the impressive infrastructure the incubator offers to its tenants.

INiTS - the largest start-up center for entrepreneurs in Austria and led by Michael Rauhofer – and NTEC will keep this dialogue going, not only to learn from each other, but also with the possibility to support each other’s start-ups if they plan to expand into the European or U.S.-market with their innovative products. In addition to these meetings, the Austrian Business Association and the OST Washington hosted two evening workshops on the “Research Location Austria - Opportunities for R&D Cooperation and Start-ups” in Houston and Dallas.

Following the model of last year’s road shows at the West- and East coast, the participants were informed about funding opportunities in Austria for potential entrepreneurs, incentives from the government for R&D start-ups, the favorable corporate tax rate and investment incentives. Besides that, Gisbert Mayr, head of ABA did not forget to point out that Vienna offers, according to Mercer’s Worldwide Quality of Life Surveys 2010 and 2011, the highest quality of life of any city in the world, followed by Zurich and Geneva. We look forward to an increasingly strong scientific and business exchange between the Republic of Texas and Austria.