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Startups look to Vienna as next big thing

Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 02:21

As the fight between tech companies for funding becomes ever more intense, so too is knowing where to find the best and brightest tech prospects. As Joel Flynn reports, it's not Silicon Valley or East London where those in the know are looking, but the historic city of Vienna.

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To most, the dreamy spires of Vienna might evoke a sense of the city's grandeur and history. But for those in the tech world, this is home to some of the most exciting prospects in innovation. The Austrian capital is host to the Pioneers Festival - a four day tech conference dubbed by some as the "South by Southwest of Europe." Andreas Tschas and Jurgen Furian co-founded it. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) PIONEERS FESTIVAL, CO-FOUNDER, JÜRGEN FURIAN, SAYING: "We want to build the World Economic Forum of the 21st Century. So we believe that in the future, and right now in fact, innovations and all the big leaps will be coming from what we call the "True Economy", which is a symbiosis of the advantages of big corporations and the advantages and strengths of an agile, small start up." SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) REUTERS REPORTER, JOEL FLYNN, SAYING: "In 2009 just 40 people came to this tech conference and now more than 3000 come every year, including things like this Eco-Capsule, everyone here is looking for a lucrative piece of the start up pie - and that means money." People like investor Marvin Liao, a partner at venture capital firm "500 Startups." He's based in Silicon Valley - but says it's in Vienna where he finds the real gems. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) 500 STARTUPS PARTNER, MARVIN LIAO, SAYING: "There's just a lot of really, really smart people with bright ideas, working on really, really interesting problems, and coming here to Pioneers, it's an aggregation of a lot of these people from across the world, and that's why this is not just a great venue, but it's a great event." One startup that's being talked about by many here is Prometheon Pharma. They've found a way to eliminate needle injections - replacing them with a skin patch that can administer drugs like insulin. Devon Grimmé and Steve Hsu are business director and founder of Prometheon - and say Vienna gives them an edge. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) PROMETHOEN, FOUNDER AND CEO, STEVE HSU, SAYING: "We've been to a lot of different innovation contests in the U.S., and the thing about the U.S. is that even though they're international, we don't actually see that much of a variety - ultimately the finalists are primarily Americans, and what I love about this is the energy and cosmopolitan nature of having all of these great innovative ideas here." Talk here is of empowerment - both for the companies and individuals. While this festival won't be the place to find solutions for all of mankind's problems, the organisers, investors and startups themselves hope it could be the beginning of solving at least some.

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Startups look to Vienna as next big thing

Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 02:21