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Review and outlook: This is what the startup scene says about 2019 and 2020

Lisa Fassl - aaia

After all the events in 2019 and the numerous impressions from different ecosystems - which we were able to collect in the course of CEE Unlimited - I am convinced that 2020 will be decisive for the long-term development of the Austrian scene. From my point of view, we are at a crossroads and, as a startup scene, we have to take some measures in the next year in order to become really internationally relevant. In any case, the prerequisites and the potential for this are in place, the efforts of the actors are greater (and cooperative) than ever, and the visibility of the location's advantages has also increased significantly. In 2020 it will now be about execution - and that is, as is well known, the most essential part.

Irene Fialka - INiTS

2019 was a year of diverse highlights for INiTS ’: On the one hand, we were able to experience the first IPO of an INiTS startup with Marinomed. This was a unique success for both the biotech scene and the Vienna Stock Exchange. On the other hand, all of our new programs went very well. As part of AplusB Scaleup, many of our startups have celebrated successes and have grown. With Start: IP we have built bridges between universities and founders from startup ecosystems across multiple borders, not just geographical ones. Our investments with STARTKapital are well under way and the Acceleration Program Health Hub Vienna, which we launched with Uniqa and other partners in 2018, became an internationally visible brand in 2019 and interests health-tech startups all over the world.

In 2020 we plan to continue working intensively on all of these programs. The kick-off for the next cycle is on January 30th: IP, our investments will be able to announce further investors, and the Health Hub Vienna will continue to grow. The ViennaUP’20 in May is sure to be a highlight: a week of startup content, where everyone comes together to present Vienna as an international startup hub. It remains exciting to see what the new government plans to do in the startup ecosystem. If it realizes the first regulatory sandboxes, it will have a very positive effect, which we will only feel strongly in the following years, but hopefully there should be the first steps in implementation in 2020.

Herbert Gartner - eQventure

The highlight of 2019 at eQventure was the addition of three Unicorn founders to our core team. With this recruitment of ten successful former founders and 90 club investors (primarily entrepreneurs and managers from Europe, America and Asia), we were able to increase the number of new projects. Including one ongoing round, we will have 14 financing rounds, 6 new projects and around 16 million euros in equity investments in 2019. The leverages are in the same order of magnitude. This year the focus of eQventure was in the SaaS area (7 financing rounds), followed by Smart Sensors (3 rounds), Semiconductor (2 rounds) and MedTech (1 round) and for the first time also Life Science (1 round).

We plan to finance a number of university spin-offs in 2020. In 2019, we unfortunately had to find out that innovative spin-offs that we wanted to finance were mostly thwarted by their universities. The problem lies in the wrong incentive system based on the existing performance agreements between the university and the state. We expect politics to finally set the right course in 2020. There is an urgent need for action here, because Austria is currently falling further and further behind in all startup and venture capital rankings.

Florian Gschwandtner - Entrepreneur and Investor

My highlight in 2019 was my break and the associated cool experience of traveling - including to Hawaii. Maui is a very special place where I could relax and unwind.

What do I expect from 2020? I expect a lot for the startup scene - that there will be good news again and that some companies will be successful - hopefully also from our portfolio. I would also like to work more operationally again, where I can help more and become part of a team. In any case, I am very motivated and look forward to an exciting 2020 that will certainly be very startup-heavy again.

Petra Hauser - Talent Garden

My review of 2019: The launch of the Innovation School in Talent Garden Vienna as a unique training offer in this form (highest practical relevance, user-centered interaction with companies as part of the training and thus training through to placement end-to-end, internationality of Students and thus additional learning from each other).

The outlook for 2020: more difficult economic framework conditions and thus the special potential for talent gardens, entrepreneurs and corporates to offer an ecosystem for business opportunities and innovation. Doing things DIFFERENTLY is becoming more and more important!

Christiane Holzinger - Young Economy (JW)

My absolute highlight was the JW Summit in Linz in September 2019. With 1,500 participants from all over Austria - also thanks to the incredible team spirit - we succeeded in creating a superlative event for young entrepreneurs. I am therefore already looking forward to the JW Summit 2020 in Wiener Neustadt in September!

We expect that the new government will continue to provide positive impetus, stimulate the economy and thus create a clear path for young entrepreneurs.

Awi Lifshitz - weXelerate

2019 was an extremely exciting year for weXelerate. In summary, it was a year of stabilization and focus sharpening! We have intensively developed our own “innovation capabilities”. We were therefore able to adapt our product portfolio more closely to the needs of our customers and can support them even more efficiently in their innovation processes. Not least because of this, we were able to further expand Austria's largest corporate innovation network and gain great new customers. Pointing the way for weXelerate 2019 was certainly the fact that we opened our second location in Dornbirn and were able to welcome numerous new tenants, such as N26 in Vienna or crate.io in Dornbirn, who continue to enliven our hubs.

WeXelerate will of course also focus on growth in the coming year 2020 - regionally through our hubs and nationally through the further expansion of our customer base. For us, this means a continuous expansion of innovation services and further development of all services that we offer for our partners in our ecosystem. We are already working intensively on it and I can already promise that there will be some extraordinary highlights in 2020!

Chris Miess - DAAA

The big breakthrough in 2019 was Libra. It was a blast that for the first time a global conglomerate and US company took on the controversial topic of crypto currencies for consumers and immediately planned to create their own currency. As Facebook noticed relatively quickly, however, this was no easy undertaking, as both the SEC and the European finance ministers spoke out relatively quickly against it and threatened regulation. Even if Facebook is not a very popular name in the blockchain scene, Libra is likely to come long-term, whether you like it or not. The consensus is that regulations can delay Libra, but not prevent it.

2019 was also a very successful blockchain and FinTech year in Austria. With our work in the FinTech Council, for example, we managed to get a regulatory sandbox off the ground. This will be of great help to many FinTech start-ups in our country. In addition, the Digital Asset Association (DAAA) has been very hardworking and has celebrated great success in its work to make Austria more attractive as a blockchain location. Much has progressed in the regulation of ICOs and cryptocurrencies, and good progress is also being made in terms of KYC, AML and the like.

Here we are in good spirits for 2020.

And what will 2020 bring? What we have suspected for a long time has come true. The ICO market is disappearing more and more, but security tokens are becoming a good alternative. Unfortunately, this is going more slowly than expected, as there are a lot of regulatory hurdles and there is still a lot to be done, especially in the area of ​​liquidity (keyword secondary market).

On the cryptocurrency side, we will experience the so-called Bitcoin halving in May 2020. The miner's reward is reduced by half. This means that Bitcoin is becoming rarer again. Bitcoin will move in here again. And due to the close correlation of the smaller coins (altcoins) with BTC, the volatility of these will rise again accordingly. By the way, 2019 was a horrific year for Altcoins. The vast majority of altcoins have depreciated significantly.

Opinions still differ on the question of whether cryptocurrencies will again have a bull run similar to 2016 and 2017, for example. Some observers say that this has already been priced in, while others firmly claim that Bitcoin will shoot up to USD 50,000 and more . Who is right? 2020 will bring us the answer.

Selma Prodanovic - 1MillionStartups

2019 could be called the "Greta year". And by that I don't just mean Greta Thurnberg - but also what she represents: courageous young women who use the power of their voices to bring about important changes. A new generation that is not afraid of personal commitment, is ready to be against the establishment and to take on a lot for its (and our) future. The media attention that makes this change in social values ​​visible is particularly important.

A change in values ​​that will continue in 2020 in the direction of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). With 1MillionStartups we will do our part with two highlights: The 1MillionStartups SDG Campaign and the 1MillionStartups Global Tour.

As part of the 1MillionStartups SDG Campaign, we will focus on one of the 17 SDGs every week throughout the year and, together with partners, identify and promote existing entrepreneurial solutions. Of course, we want to give as many cool Austrian startups and partners as possible exposure to our global network and hereby call on all interested stakeholders to contact us.

With the 1MillionStartups Global Tour we will strengthen our members and support the local SDG ecosystem - in Nairobi, London, Cork, Tokyo (Olympic Games), New York (United Nations General Assembly), Singapore, Mexico, Brussels and Dubai (Expo2020). Of course we stay loyal to Vienna with the 1MillionStartups SDG Solutions Event on May 14th (as part of Vienna UP’20) and with the annual 1MillionStartups Global Conference on September 10th.

Last but not least, I will continue to use my voice as an “Entrepreneurship Activist” to show the importance and role of startups and angel investors for our future.

P.S. I'm really curious about the new government and what changes we can expect, socially but also for the startup scene.

Markus Raunig - AustrianStartups

2019 was the year of responsibility. While the supposedly largest startups on the other side of the Atlantic attracted negative headlines this year, founders in Austria and Europe are devoting more and more to social problems. That is why my highlight at AustrianStartups this year was our new series of events, Circle 17, in which we and Respact help potential founders to develop solutions for challenges related to the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In my role at the European Startup Network, the great development of the European fintech sector was definitely a highlight for me. I had the chance to meet Stripe founder John Collison in September and found it remarkable that Europe is now perceived as the international hotspot in this area for the founder of the most successful American fintech.

2020 will be the year of great opportunities. The new EU Commission has announced that it intends to invest 1,000 billion euros in green technologies and more and more founders will recognize the climate crisis as an opportunity and develop sustainable solutions for the future. With a strong green tech cluster in Styria, it seems as if we have been early again for a long time and could actually be at the forefront when it comes to the big technologies of the future - a unique opportunity for the location, if you can now Step on the gas and make it a top priority. At AustrianStartups, we will take on the education sector in the next year and thus ensure that we in Austria also have the necessary entrepreneurial skills to take advantage of the opportunities just mentioned. Austria is currently missing out on some of its best founders, and we will change that.