An Austrian startup company, ASH DEC Umwelt, won third prize at the Eurocan European Venture Contest 2009, held this weekend in Barcelona. ASH DEC Umwelt is a clean tech company that recycle nutrients and metals from incineration residues.
The top prize of €90,000 went a Danish biotech company, Biomodics, while the second runner up was Liquavista, a Dutch ICT startup.
Organized by Europe Unlimited, the EEVC examined 376 European companies (out of 776 applicants) in a series of local and regional competitions. 313 investor experts took part in vetting the competitors. I also spent a day as an expert evaluator in the Budapest semi-final.
It’s also worth noting that one other CENTROPE company, the Hungarian ICT startup, Gravity R&D, made it to the EEVC Top 25.
Checking with Google Analytics, I noticed an interesting website that has been sending a steady stream of visitors to nowEurope. ArcticStartup, founded in 2007, presents itself as the leading weblog reviewing and reporting on technology startups and growth entrepreneurship from the Nordic and Baltic countries.
I decided to return the favor by linking to the site and telling you all a little bit about it.
Continue reading ‘It’s good to have friends in the North: ArcticStartup.com’
Along with the increasing popularity of the technology debate in Austria during the last years and after numerous discussions with ICT researchers in the Centrope countries I realised that there is a striking resemblance in their complaints, although the statements themselves express the respective opposite. See also http://noweurope.com/2009/09/08/barriers-cooperation/#more-1293 by Vlastimil.
Simply speaking, the Austrians complain that there’s not enough money for basic research as all goes to applied research, whereas the Czech and Slovak Republics as well as Hungary (representing the situation in virtually all new EU member states and beyond) complain that universities concentrate too much on basic research and do not understand the importance of applied research. Continue reading ‘Basic vs. applied research: Potentials unused?’
Analyzing prices for mobile phone usage, in his posting on July 2nd, Robert Nemeth asked an interesting question: “How could the same multinational telecom company cut prices by more than 50% in Austria, while keeping the same price in HU and SK and increasing prices in CZ?” Here is my explanation. This answer applies to the Czech Republic, but it’s also a warning for other countries.
The problem was described in the Commission’s 14th implementation progress report, published in March this year. Among other benchmarks, it used an OECD basket of mobile usage and calculated the cost in various EU countries – in October 2007 and October 2008. The results are what Robert mentions: a drop of around 50% for Austria, of 10% for the EU average – but an increase of 24% for the Czech Republic.
This struck me too, so in March I looked more deeply into the issue and wrote an article about it (available here, but only in Czech). My findings can be summarized as follows:
- Half of the increase for the Czech Republic (12% out of 24%) can be attributed to variations of the exchange rate between the Czech crown and the Euro. The two currencies did change accordingly between October 2007 and 2008, when the benchmark was evaluated. But there is also a strong contra-argument: other comparisons in the same Commission’s report do not reflect the change in exchange rates at all. Maybe because different parts of the report were produced by different people using different methodologies.
- The other half of the increase (the remaining 12%) can be attributed mainly to the changes in call charging. Between 2007 and 2008 our mobile operators silently completed their switch to variants that maximize their revenues. Mainly to 60+60, which is now the standard for national mobile calls, and also for roaming.
Continue reading ‘How did mobile prices rise by 20% in the Czech Republic?’
This somewhat confusing headline should be the shortcut of an answer to the previous two posts by Christoph and Steven. My point is, both posts are right, but they do not entirely see the whole picture.
There’s no question that that Silicon Valley is certainly the archetype of a cluster, as well as that CITT should rather focus on its offerings than on its structural details.
But: the question is how to offer and execute sales, funding, opportunities for technology transfer etc.
1) out of, or for a network,
2) on a cross border level and
3) mainly for SMEs.
And: How can this model on the long run be transferred to other regions of Europe.
Continue reading ‘Cluster yes, network yes, sales yes, funding yes’
IST Austria www.ist-austria.ac.at, Austria’s new center for excellence in research, has been a controversy for years. One of its original proponents, Anton Zeilinger, one of the world’s top researchers in quantum computing, has withdrawn from the project when it became clear that politics started to dominate the debate and “excellence” was abused as a euphemism for “I want some new research stuff in my province”.
Continue reading ‘IST Austria opened: „Excellent“ topping on research coffee?’
Euractiv reports that the European Commission has just approved a plan to enable 870 young entrepreneurs to spend between one and six months in another EU member state in 2010. Entrepreneurs will be paid up to €1,100 per month to move to other EU countries to learn from experienced business owners.
“The project is similar to the long-running Erasmus programme which allows students to spend a year studying abroad,” said Maive Rute, Director for Promotion of SMEs’ competitiveness, quoted in Euractiv. “51% of young Europeans would be interested to follow an entrepreneurial route, but too few of them put their ambitions into practice,” she said.
I can’t help but asking: will this program actually stimulate entrepreneurship?
Continue reading ‘Erasmus for Entrepreneurs’
This is the title of a conference that took place in Berlin in September last year. The conference was organized by the European Academy for Taxes, Economics & Law, with the support of European Commission. Speakers and participants were from all over Europe. It was demonstrated that in the vast majority of EU countries governments – both national and regional – recognized the potential of clusters as drivers of the innovation process and they are strongly supporting them. Importance of clusters is even more valuated by European Commission, which is supporting and financing different programs, initiatives and events related to clusters.
Why am I writing about this conference?
It was source of many interesting and useful information for anybody who participates in the work and/or management of some cluster. Unfortunately there is not a web page, where one could find all conference presentations. I will mention some of them, who drew my attention and where a web page was presented.
Continue reading ‘Cluster Policy and Management – European and Regional Initiatives for Innovation’
There’s no question that the US is in trouble. 50% of the US mortgage banks do not run under Federal control – no further comment on this.
The car industry is one of the industries that obviously has been hit hardest after the banks. Europe and the rest of the world can feel it and the situation will worsen. With the car industry a range of drive by wire suppliers and other related businesses will suffer.
The ICT industry in general will suffer, this time, unlike after the millennium, it is those companies that so far have been immune to new economy stuff. Austria’s ICT industry has quite a share in industrial ICT on an international level.
But, and that’s my point, if we all scream crisis, we will of course have one.
Continue reading ‘A Crisis is a Crisis is a Crisis – or is it?’
This post refers to more recent ones on clusters. I didn’t follow the usual comment path as this text is simply too long. Not only “Brussels” is speaking a lot about clusters, most European governments do as well without looking into the specifics of what “cluster” means for individual industries and what is to be expected by their creation.
A cluster is definitely not just a heap of companies piled upon each other in one spot under the motto “collaborate!”
Clusters are complex networks with different points of departure and different operative practices, depending on sector and target.
Continue reading ‘Cluster Discussion & Speak Brusselese: Details Outwit Strategies’