Inside ViennaUP'23: A Preview of This Year's Highlights
The Budapest Business Journal talks with Gabriele Tatzberger, director of Startup Services at the Vienna Business Agency, about the most exciting aspects and novelties of the upcoming ViennaUP'23 startup festival.
BBJ: Last year's ViennaUP was a resounding success, attracting some 10,000 people from 67 countries around the globe. How high is the international interest in the event this year? In what ways do you think participating in ViennaUP'23 could benefit startups in the CEE region?
Gabriele Tatzberger: Thanks for this question! Event registrations are still open and so we don’t know the final numbers yet, but my team and I had the opportunity to present ViennaUP at SXSW in the United States as well as at events in Europe and Asia, and the response was overwhelmingly positive – we were really delighted by the response. Vienna is exciting for the international startup and business communities because of its location between CEE and Western Europe, its dense funding landscape, its beauty, and its quality of life.
However, for many international people on other continents, a trip to Europe is a big commitment, so they really welcome ViennaUP as a chance to meet the entire community of founders, investors, enablers, and experts in one swoop. After all, there are over 50 events by over 30 program partners taking place all across town! I should add: the presence of so many founders and startups from CEE actually makes ViennaUP even more attractive, and for CEE founders and startups, the festival is a chance to meet the movers and shakers who can help them expand their market into Austria and the rest of Europe.
BBJ: How has the startup festival changed and evolved since its inception?
GT: ViennaUP was founded during the pandemic, and so our first edition was purely online. Last year, most of the events were both online and in-person, so we finally had a chance to welcome people on the ground in Vienna and give them a chance to explore our wonderful city, meet the startup community, and network face-to-face! We could really feel how hungry people were for real-life contact. This year, most events are in-person only. We look forward to having more highlight events at the festival Homebase in downtown Vienna, more top investors and speakers, and simply more opportunities to meet and network! In business, there really is no substitute for personal contact.
BBJ: What will be the highlights of this year's program?
GT: ViennaUP has a wide-ranging program with the most important startup topics. To help participants find the best events to suit their needs, this year the festival has six program tracks – we think of them as curated experiences – for people who want to find investors, learn new skills, invest brilliantly, impact the future, discover new tech or experience culture and technology. We will have the Startup World Cup’s Austrian finale, where the winner can compete in the United States for a USD 1 million investment. The Impact Days will bring together the world’s top voices in impact investment. At Connect Day, the entire startup community comes together to learn from each other and network.
We have the Creative Days, where participants will take insider tours of Vienna’s top museums and galleries and join the conference where artists, designers, and innovators will share how new tech is revolutionizing art and creative industries. The Smart City Summit will gather the innovators and policymakers using tech to reach climate goals and keep cities not just livable, but wonderful. At the Tech Jobs Fair, talent and companies can find each other… and those are just some of the dozens of pitch sessions, hackathons, conferences, networking meetings, and more. I could go on!
BBJ: How does ViennaUP help female entrepreneurs find new opportunities in the business world?
GT: As a city, Vienna is proud of the ways it supports working women, whether through its special funding opportunities for female founders, its gendered street design, or its family support programs that make it easier for parents of all genders to both raise kids and conquer the business world! At ViennaUP, several of the city’s very strong female founder networks and organizations will be hosting networking meetings and gatherings.
I’m especially excited by the “Find Your Female Co-Founder” pitching event, the “Techstars Startup Weekend – WomenUP” for entrepreneurs building new ideas, and “SHETech: How women shape the future” conference, which will be held at the city’s largest aquarium, the “Haus des Meeres”. But of course, every event and every company benefits from diverse leadership, so gender equality and inclusion will be on-stage and in the program at every ViennaUP event!
BBJ: Vienna is one of the most beautiful and also most livable cities on the continent. How does the festival take advantage of such a culturally rich, historic environment?
GT: We really want participants from every event to experience the city fully and find out what makes Vienna such a great place to live. Our new tradition is the central festival meeting space, the ViennaUP Homebase, where all participants can gather every evening to meet new people, sample free local wine, beer, and delicacies, and just enjoy the relaxed atmosphere around the Karlskirche in historic downtown Vienna.
We’ve also partnered with four beloved Viennese cafes, where there will be ViennaUP-branded tables so participants can enjoy free coffee while they work or have meetings. We are especially excited about the ViennaUP Coffee House Sessions this year, where founders can register to have an intimate coffee with top entrepreneurs and investors. Beyond this, ViennaUP participants get to know Vienna not just for its beauty and greenery, but also as a business city: the many events are being held at historic palaces and museums, but also at ultramodern co-working spaces, corporate headquarters, and industrial locations.
BBJ: Are there any new or particularly exciting partnerships or collaborations you can tell us about for the upcoming festival?
GT: Yes, there are! For the first time, we have in Vangardist a partner who is organizing the “Future Ball”, a party and digital art exhibition. It's a platform to showcase innovation, art, and technology and to connect the people behind it. Furthermore, Calm/Storm Ventures, the most active digital health investor, is now hosting the portfolio and networking day. The Maker Faire Vienna, Austrian largest do-it-yourself center, is adding 900 high-tech hobbyists, tinkerers, and inventors to present their extraordinary ideas and projects.
If you are interested in learning more about businesses that drive positive change, the event “Social Entrepreneurship in Vienna: Driving Change and Creating Meaningful Impact” from WeDO5 & SENA & SIA is your place to go. And there are others like CultTech Accelerator, Big Cheese Ventures, BOKU Base, and more.
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