Every city should have a startup festival. A moment when founders, investors and stakeholders can come together to mingle and transform business. Vienna took this initiative and raised it to another level, through a week long festival for startups and investors.

ViennaUP’23 is not just about one event. Is a decentralized opportunity with a series of satellite events. At the origin of the festival lies Vienna Business Agency, the organization that tries to bring businesses in the capital of Austria.

“As a decentralized, community-driven startup festival, ViennaUP is comprised of dozens of events that our program partners throughout the local ecosystem host. As a result, the topics reflect the business scene in Vienna as a whole very well. This year, we have many events focusing on social entrepreneurship and impact investment, which is an area where Austrian startups are providing some visionary solutions for transnational challenges such as countering climate change or building resilience”, says Gabriele Tatzberger.

ViennaUP has a series of events that can be discovered here, on the official website. You can schedule your ViennaUP experience in order to have amazing days.

Besides this, there will be a broad range of speakers from investors like Oliver Holle from SpeedInvest, to founders and CEOs of unicorns like Maximilian Taventhal (N26) or Eric Demuth (Bitpanda).

Why ViennaUP?

Why a startup festival? Because ViennaUP showcases the local startup community to the world and brings the international startup community to Austria in order to foster innovation, inspiration, co-creation and cooperation.

“As the capital of a small country with a super successful history as a tourism location, Vienna can sometimes be overlooked as an international business hub”, says Tatzberger.

But in reality, the startup ecosystem in Vienna is booming. And many multinational companies have HQs in Vienna because it’s at the heart of Europe.

“On top, Vienna is home to so many talented people from various geographical backgrounds and is very attractive for new talents who choose to live in one of the world’s most livable cities. So, I’d say we have a promising breeding ground for a, smart, well-connected and highly international business hub that we want to show the world”, explains Tatzberger.

In her perspective, what makes ViennaUP special is the decentralized nature of the festival. “It’s a collaborative effort by the entire startup community. This year again more than 30 partners join forces to make ViennaUP possible. It covers a broad range of topics and formats, from conferences, hackathons, match making events to even a Ball. Another difference probably is our boutique approach to it – all events are very straight forward and kept small on purpose to enable personal and meaningful connections”, explain the Head of Startup Services at Vienna Business Agency.

The decentralized nature of ViennaUP makes it a fruitful experience for investors. In Vienna there will be a central festival networking space on Karlsplatz, a beautiful square in front of a famous baroque cathedral in downtown Vienna.

“The ViennaUP Homebase, as we call it, is where attendees of any and every individual event can meet up in the early evening to enjoy “Viennese Hour” to sample local wine and beer and taste some delicacies. We created that space by intention to also facilitate a bit of out-of-the-own-bubble experience so that people from different angles of the innovation space can gather at a common ground too.”

Also, the festival has partnerships with several traditional Viennese coffee houses, the original coworking spaces, so that ViennaUP participants can enjoy free coffee while they meet each other and soak up the ambiance.

An idea born before Covid

ViennaUP was born before the Covid pandemic arrived in Austria. In 2020 the event was canceled and the next year the festival was a digital one.

“Last year we finally welcomed everyone in person in Vienna, as we had always hoped and planned, and were delighted with how it resonated both here and abroad. Around 10,000 people attended events in-person and online, with around 6,000 physically at the events. There is no substitute for face-to-face networking, and it was so exciting to see everyone making the most out of this really rich opportunity”, says Gabriele Tatzberger.

The initiative from Vienna Business Agency provides an umbrella for the program of events as well as special offers for all participants. This is symbolic of the kind of support the city of Vienna tries to provide for entrepreneurs.

“As a city, we have one of the densest startup funding networks out there, and we offer free training workshops and individual coaching for founders of all kinds, whether that’s startups, one-woman-businesses or a local kebab stand. As a city committed to achieving zero emissions by 2040, we have built environmental know-how into our training programs for entrepreneurs, so that they can incorporate sustainable practices into their business models from day one”.

Besides the festival, Vienna Business Agency wants to attract new business owners in the country. Vienna is a peaceful city, has a stable business environment and excellent infrastructure. And also it’s located between Eastern and Western Europe, so it’s at the heart of the ecosystem.

But Gabriele admits that Vienna must improve the framework conditions for growth capital and also the regulations when it comes to founding a company.

”Concerning visa issues for people coming from outside the EU, we established a Business Immigration Office that helps navigating through the process. Currently we have a big focus on also having in mind from day one the ecological and social impact of a business model, here we provide specific services”, says Tatzberger.

How public sector can help startups

It’s always a complicated game to find the right amount of involvement from the public sector in helping sector. On one hand entrepreneurs want the freedom of developing a business, but on the other hand they want support from the cities, communities and nations.

Vienna Business Agency has the mission to support the local business community without stifling innovation.

“That’s why the Vienna Business Agency is simply the initiator of the festival and not the organizer – as with all our activities, the real innovation, hard work and drive comes not only from public but especially from private sector actors”, says Gabriele.

She says that their mission is to support and help amplify the collective voice by bringing this collective power together.

And I asked Gabriele what a piece of advice she would give to other Capital cities in Europe in order to support entrepreneurs.

“Every capital is unique and needs to find its own way. At the same time, joining forces is important. We strongly believe in collaboration, especially in the European context we are very committed to create strong networks and work hand-in-hand with our partners from other ecosystems”, says Gabriele Tatzberger.

Events at ViennaUP

These are some of the events you can attend during ViennaUP, but discover the official schedule on the website.

  • Investors Lunch - Female Edition, get-together for female investors from all over Europe
  • Networking at ViennaUP Homebase in downtown Vienna
  • Social Entrepreneurship - Driving Change and creating meaningful impact
  • Investors Breakfast
  • Connect Day 2023 - central matchmaking event of ViennaUP’23 for startups, corporates, SMEs and investors
  • InnoDays Spring
  • Manufacturing Day
  • Tech Jobs Fair - Vienna 2023
  • GINspiration - Connecting international startups with the Austrian Innovation Ecosystem
  • Calm/Storm Ventures International founders meetup
  • Startup Live ViennaUP’23
  • AI for Sustainability Hackathon ‘23
  • Techstars Startup Weekend - WomenUP

Discover ViennaUP’23 on the official website and schedule your visit and networking experience if you are a startup, investor or corporate.

If you want to find out 5 other reasons to come to ViennaUP'23, check our video below.