April 21, 2020

New Funds to Boost Private Investment in Austrian Startups (Startup Aid Package)

Europe
COVID-19
Description of the core change(s) brought by this policy instrument

A startup aid package worth a total of EUR 150 million is in place in Austria. There are two relief funds available to startups:

  1. A COVID-19 aid fund of the state-owned bank Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws) endowed to the amount of EUR 100 million, and 
  2. A EUR 50 million venture capital fund.

 

1) COVID-19 startup relief fund

Innovative startups with financing and liquidity problems due to the corona crisis will be supported with an aws grant for private investments. Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws) doubles fresh equity invested in Austrian startups.

  • Fund volume: EUR 100 million
    (EUR 50 million private investors, EUR 50 million federal government)
  • Private capital (from EUR 10,000 to a maximum of EUR 800,000) will be doubled through grants
  • The grants are repayable in case of success
  • Private investors can come from both Austria and abroad

2) Venture capital fund

A new VC fund focuses on Austrian startups, which could have closed a financing round without the Corona crisis. 50% of the EUR 50 million fund capital is guaranteed by the state. An investment amount of EUR 200,000 to EUR 1 million will be provided for each startup.

  • Focus on technology-based startups
  • Fund volume: EUR 50 million
  • Financing: EUR 200,000 up to EUR 1 million per company
  • aws capital guarantee of up to 50% of the fund volume
  • Processing: aws calls for tenders for operational fund management and handles the investors' guarantee agreements

 

 

Please list the implementing agencies

The Austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft (aws), an Austrian federal development and financing bank for the promotion and financing of companies. The Austrian Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs (BMDW) and the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) act as its owner representatives. 

Lifecycle of target firms for this policy instrument
Start-up firms
If you marked "start-up" and/or "scale-up" firms, please provide the specific definitions used

1) COVID-19 startup relief fund pre-requisites:

  • Innovative Austrian startups, founded less than 5 years ago
  • 1:1 grant with equal share of private capital
  • Affected by the corona crises (e.g. branches concerned, delays in production and development, disruption of the supply chain)
Support offered
Direct Financial Support
Indirect Financial Support
Level of intervention
Firm-level
Barrier(s) addressed with this policy tool
Access to capital: early-stage investment
Access to capital: growth capital
Policy timeline

The new VC fund has to be put out to tender and will start beginning of May, 2020.

Challenges, criticisms and lessons

"With the EUR 150 million Startup Aid Package, the government has taken a necessary step to support the Austrian startup scene. Startups generate potentially high macroeconomic impacts with respect to jobs, innovations and investments. Accordingly, they are a key driving force and pacemaker for the future", stated Harald Mahrer, President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO).

Notes and additional context

Further measures for startups

  • Ongoing startup programs of the funding agencies aws and FFG will be continued (e.g. aws Seedfinancing)
  • Additional aws guarantees can also be requested
  • Quick and unbureaucratic deferment of loan rates
  • Flexible handling of aws milestones (subsidies and financing are provided, even if 100% of the planning is not achieved)
  • Application for Corona short-time work at AMS
  • Corona hardship-fund of the Austrian Economic Chamber
Geographic scope
National-level