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12 September 2017

Austria boosts spinout support

The government has launched Spin-Off Austria, an $18m nationwide initiative that will support academics looking to set up spinouts.

Author: Thierry Heles, editor

The government of Austria has launched Spin-Off Austria, a €15m ($18m) initiative that will initially function as a fellowship program to support academics looking to set up spinouts.

Academic staff and students will be able to apply for up to 18 months of mentoring, coaching and training support, and receive up to €500,000 in capital. The aim is to enable researchers to fully focus on the commercialisation of their products and services.

The program will be managed by research promotion agency Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft. Applications for the first round of funding are open until January 18 2018, with second and third rounds then closing in January and August 2019, respectively.

The government also hopes to set up a venture capital fund, to be managed by economic development bank Austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft, to invest in spinouts, though details have not yet emerged.

A total of 22 Austrian universities produced 23 spinouts between them last year, up from 19 companies in 2015 and 15 in 2014. Spin-off Austria is expected to add 40 to 50 spinouts over the next three years.

Spin-off Austria was inspired by Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich)’s fellowship program.

It also follows Austria’s decision in 2014 to set up three regional tech transfer offices – WTZ Ost, WTZ Süd and WTZ West. These TTOs are seen as instrumental in guaranteeing the success of Spin-Off Austria.

A month ago, Institute of Science and Technology Austria and an unnamed subsidiary of investment management firm Lansdowne Partners signed an agreement to establish a €5m technology seed fund called IST Cube.

The government will organise an event this autumn to bring together university, industry and other relevant actors to develop the next steps for Spin-Off Austria.

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