AI Landscape Austria

The Austrian AI Landscape: An overview of the entire ecosystem covering startups, companies, research institutions as well as their geographic distribution and growth.

Release Date:
December 2021

Summary & Key Findings

In 2021 the Austrian AI ecosystem developing at a steady pace with some important key trends emerging:

Category growth & diversification

Unlike previous years only a small number of categories was newly created e.g. gaming, geoAI or MLOps.

The more important story of 2021 was the maturing of existing categories such a privacy or GreenTech/CleanTech into areas with significant startup activity. Part of the reason for this growth were specific funding instruments such AI for Green and Trustworthy AI, which paved the way for a new wave of founders.

New Cluster: Early adopters

Corporations ramped up their activities and investments in the AI space. This materializes in form of dedicated AI teams, start-up collaborations, spinouts and increased M&A activity. At the same time the public sector is very active and positions itself as the first customer for AI-based solutions. This makes Austria a very attractive location for international startups in this area.

To account for these developments we introduced a new cluster "Early Adopters" in the landscape.

Austria as an AI hub for European operations

In previous years we pointed out that Austrian talent gradually moved into the spotlight of Silicon Valley tech companies, resulting in local AI operations of Amazon, Meta (Facebook) and Snap. AI Hubs opened during this first wave were mostly focused on doing AI research in Austria, utilizing local talent, with limited interaction with the local community.

In the last 12 months this movement gained steam and saw the opening of AI Centers of Excellence, European headquarters of AI companies up to international startups which chose Austria as the place to incorporate their business.

Impact of Covid19

Overall, the Austria ecosystem kept growing at a healthy pace and saw only a very limited number of companies going out of business or getting absorbed by larger entities.

The reason for this resilience is twofold:

  • Grant programs (local, nationwide, EU-wide) are a significant portion of startup funding. To soften the impact of Covid19 additional programs were created to ensure liquidity in the startup sector.
  • the Austrian AI ecosystem is very sector-driven, with more than 50% of startups specializing on a single vertical early on. In times of slowing business this enables startups to bootstrap within that sector without having to exclusively rely on the market performance of their actual product.

About the project: AI Landscape Austria

As a startup focused on Artificial Intelligence, we follow the Austrian AI community closely. Austria might not be the first country that comes to your mind when thinking about Artificial Intelligence, nevertheless lots of great startups, corporates and research institutions have been creating world-class solutions powered by AI.

Based on more than 100 expert interviews, desk research and industry events, we created and maintain the first Austrian AI Landscape, covering startups, corporates and accelerators as well as research- and educational institutions.

You're welcome to re-use the infographic below as long as the content remains unmodified, in full and proper reference to the source is mentioned.

The Austrian AI Landscape was initially created in October 2017 by enliteAI as a side project. This updated version v4.0 includes >80 new entries for a total of over 330! Newly added companies & institutions are marked with “v4.0” for easier identification in the text below the infographic.

Methodology & Release Information

We applied the same logic as in previous iterations of the AI Landscape. The criteria for selection are as following:

  • AI (Machine/Deep Learning) is a central part of software & service offering
  • Application of AI can be proven
  • Headquarter or legal entity in Austria

Clustering Logic

  • by technology, if provided software & service is not sector-specific
  • otherwise by industry vertical / sector / application

Cut-off date for v4.0 was 14.12.2021.
In accordance with reactions to past releases, we expect a v5.0 in Q4 2022, based on the feedback we receive.

Would you like your company or institution to be included in future updates? Simply fill out our AI Landscape form,  we’re happy to keep track of your request!

The Austrian AI Startup Ecosystem

In recent years the number of AI startups has grown by an average of 20%. This is pretty much in line with other international AI ecosystems such as Canada. In 2019 growth dropped to 12%, with a further decline to 7% in 2020. In total around 130 companies qualify as startups The final numbers for 2020 will be available in Q1.

Startup Growth & Attrition

While the plateauing growth is in line with international developments, Austria is still an outlier when it comes to startup attrition. Since the first Landscape got released in 2017, only a handful of companies went out of business, resulting in an attrition rate in the very low single digits. One possible explanation for this trend is the prevalent business model of offering both an AI solution and implementation services. As a result, Austrian AI startups tend to be much more resilient when it comes to downturns in the investment climate.

Geographic Distribution

Vienna is home to approx. 55% of all startups and the clear hotspot when it comes to pure numbers. Styria and Upper Austria are home to very strong AI ecosystems as well, which correlates with the very high R&D expenditures in these 2 provinces. Overall growth outside Vienna has increased significantly in recent years and resulted in an evenly distribution.

Business Focus

For the analysis of the business focus we use the same methodology as the German Association for AI (Bundesverband KI):

  • Industries: Sector- or Industry specific solutions
  • Enterprise Function - Optimization of existing processes
  • Enterprise Intelligence - analysis of existing data
  • AI tech stack - Tools for developers

Companies & Startups

AgriTech

AI applications in the agricultural sector range from crop to cattle monitoring. Technologies like these can support farmers to increase margins and limit operational risk. Recently there has also been an uptick in AI applications for adjacent sectors such as forestry and environmental technologies.

Automotive & Mobility

Austria has a long and successful history in automotive engineering and is home to renowned brands such as AVL and MagnaSteyr. In recent years, local companies not only accelerated their efforts towards e-mobility and digitization, but also lead the charge when it comes to applying AI in automotive engineering. With Evolve.Tech a classic DeepTech startup has emerged, which aims to revolutionize voice detection with custom models and AI silicon.

Big Data & Enablers

Companies like Braintribe, Kivu and Dynatrace have been leading the first domestic wave of AI start-ups. Besides, Austria isn't just home to many local and well-funded companies but it also houses local subsidiaries and AI centers of excellence for international corporations.

CleanTech

AI is often cited as an essential piece in achieving the sustainability development goals of the UN. It is therefore very encouraging to see that Austrian companies started to work on solutions in this field - from improving the efficiency of photovoltaic solutions to reducing the downtime in construction.

ConsumerTech

Edutech

Applying AI to improve educational outcomes has become commonplace, especially in China. While this category is new in 2020 we expect rapid growth in the coming years -both in new companies as well as established players adding AI-based tutoring to their software.

EnergyTech

From trading to grid optimization, AI offers numerous applications along the energy value chain.

Enterprise

Austria is home to several regional headquarters of international AI Tech Companies. These companies are very active in both promoting AI and its capabilities to corporates, as well as supporting the ecosystem with free trainings and events.

Fashion

With its ability to analyze image data and provide personalized recommendations, AI is a natural fit for the fashion and apparel industry.

FinTech

Financial institutions have been widely disrupted by new technologies, and AI is one of them. The reasons why financial firms are implementing AI into their processes is to increase security, reduce processing times and increase levels of automation, among others. After a very active phase in 2018 & 2019 investment activity has been relatively quiet recently.

Hardware

Austria is home to many chip design teams, working for in companies such as Infineon, Grace semiconductors and Intel. It therefore shouldn't be a surprise that we start to see the emergence of tailor-made silicon for AI made in Austria. So far the companies in this field are focused on automotive applications, but we expect a widening scope, especially for use-cases in manufacturing.

HR Tech

The automated screening of resumes and subsequent matching with job profiles is among the most frequent AI applications worldwide. With recent advances in analyzing German text, we also see increased activity in the DACH region.

Health & MedTech

Austria’s medical universities provide a perfect combination of large datasets, cutting edge technologies and a high willingness to create spin-outs. Research focus in this area lies mostly in the detection of skin and retina diseases.

Image & Video Processing

Companies in this field have identified global needs and turned them into new business models. Anyline is using its patented technology to provide image recognition services from passport readers to smart meters.

Industry & Robotics

Industry is often used for a collection of topics ranging from robotics to internet of things. Specific AI applications in Austria cover sensor-fusion and image recognition for robotics, as well as deploying AI assistants in the field. With toolsense a new interesting player has emerged, which aims to bring AI capabilities to the construction industry.

InsurTec

While small in number, InsurTec companies like Dolphin and Twingz have reached a high level of maturity in product and team with customers and partnerships across whole Europe.

Language & Text

With cortical.io and the Semantic Web Company two pioneers in text and speech analysis for large B2B clients are based in Austria. Recently a new wave of companies has emerged, which also cater to B2C customers.

Market & Media Analytics

Social media monitoring or auto-summarization of documents and text is carried out by companies specialized in media analytics.

Privacy

Globally the EU is leading the charge when it comes to privacy regulations. It therefore comes as no surprise that local companies are turning privacy preservation into scaleable business models.

Tourism

With a 15% share of Austria's GDP tourism is one of the most important contributors to the Austrian economy. Startups in this sector often focus on dynamic pricing and recommendation engines.

Productivity

There is a growing number of tech pioneers developing new solutions for your personal assistant needs. These digital helpers can take the form of a calendar, a scheduler, or even a personal butler. What all of them have in common is re-allocating hours of wasted productivity, which lets you focus on more important tasks.

Retail & eCommerce

Few areas are as suited for AI based analytics as retail, pricing and payment. With its innovative approach to data-driven retail and commerce 7lytix emerged as an early leader, securing 7-digit investment
in its first year of operations.

Sales, Marketing & PR

Austrian companies such as Frux and Kjero quickly discovered the potential of recent development in natural language processing to provide insight for international customers. In terms of classical PR and multimedia, Tunnel23 should be especially mentioned. Looking for powerful digital content? Intellyo might be your platform of choice, while Logoshuffle will help you creating your company’s CI in no time.

Enablers & Extended Ecosystem

Government

Based on guidance from the previous EU commission, Austria started to develop its own AI strategy AIM AT 2030 (Artificial Intelligence Mission Austria 2030) from 2018 onwards. In November of that year a first whitepaper by the Council on Robotics and AI was published. Based on these recommendations work in the strategy continued in 2019 with 7 working groups, with representatives from the relevant ministries, government agencies, academic & research, industrial and civil society stakeholders

As of September 2020, an official AI strategy still has to be published.

Universities & Education

Austria’s universities have seen numerous AI winters, as a result the field did not receive the same attention as it did e.g. in France or Canada. Most majors were introduced recently and mainly focus on data science. Interestingly it’s not the technical universities that lead the change but a mix of universities for applied sciences and medical universities.

Research

Austria has a long history in carrying out AI research. It was the JKU Linz where Sepp Hochreiter published his seminal work on long short-term memory, which forms the basis for automated translation systems we use every day. Furthermore, with the OFAI Vienna, Austria has one of the longest-serving AI research institutions worldwide.

Organizations & Communities

Austria has a vibrant AI community, which organizes events and meetups on a regular basis across the country. Recently, with AI Austria a non-profit think-tank has emerged, which aims to promote development and application of AI in Austria.

Public

Austria is home to many federal and public organizations who actively promote the adoption of AI, either by being a lead customer or by channeling government funds.

Accelerators, Incubators &Investors

AI-specific programs are a rare sight in Europe, where Austria is no exception. Currently the large domestic VCs don’t run any specific AI funds, as a result a gap was created which was quickly filled by corporates starting their own programs and the local start-up community, that created the equivalent of a Y Combinator for AI and Art.

Media

Austria does not have publications specialized on AI or technology trends, however the startup media has picked up the topic and is doing a great job of reporting about the progress in this area, both locally and internationally.

Conferences

Created by EnliteAI - Vienna - 10/2017
Update v1.1 published in 12/2017
Update v2.0 published in 11/2018
Update v2.1 published in 07/2019
Update v3.0 published in 10/2020
Update v4.0 published in 12/2021

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