Irina Bindlechner

Go Silicon Valley

Irina Bindlechner
Go Silicon Valley

The Austrian bridge to the IT center of the world

"Go Silicon Valley" is an international trade initiative by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (http:// www.en.bmwfw.gv.at) and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (http://www. wko.at). It offers selected Austrian SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) an opportunity to access the epicenter of IT innovation in Silicon Valley and its abundant sources of partnerships and risk capital. Every year, up to 18 companies are selected by a U.S. jury to spend three months in Silicon Valley at one of the partner business accelerators of the Austrian Trade Commission, Plug and Play Tech Center (http://www. plugandplaytechcenter.com) or NestGSV (http://nestgsv.com), to learn the ropes and get connected with the local business community.

Austrian participants profit immensely from the honest and constructive feedback they receive from VC (venture capital) partners, mentors and corporate development managers of top-tier tech companies, who know the ins and outs of the market. Contacts that would require months or years to cultivate from Austria happen within weeks in Silicon Valley. High-profile companies like Apple or Google become approachable once you receive personal recommendations, which are plentiful. "Go Silicon Valley" was founded in 2009 by representatives of the Austrian Trade Commission in Los Angeles. They administer the initiative, pay frequent visits to the Austrians during their stay in Silicon Valley, and conduct initial and final interviews to define and monitor goals. "It is always a pleasure to see our Austrian companies thrive in this ultra-competitive environment," says Sabine Schubert-Lee, who manages the initiative.

Now in its fifth year, the venture has already graduated over 70 companies, a fifth of which established a subsidiary in the U.S. as a result of their participation in the program. Even though every company has different goals and achievements, numerous strategic partnerships were formed and successful acquisitions took place. In 2012, the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber won First Prize as the world's best Trade Promotion Organization when it entered the "Go Silicon Valley" initiative as a best practices example of innovative programs. "Many other countries have started to copy our initiative," says Deputy Trade Commissioner Tony Emsenhuber, who created the initiative and still oversees it.

Text courtesy of Austrian Trade Commission, Los Angeles