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Vienna and Sofia Discussed Good Practices for Urban Development

On February 12-13, a team of Sofia Investment Agency attended business meetings in Vienna with representatives of Vienna Business Agency, Urban Innovation Vienna, the MA 23 Directorate of Vienna Municipality and Vienna 3420 AG. The meetings were organized by Eurocomm-PR Sofia, the international relations bureau at Vienna Municipal Council in Sofia.

Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, and a representative of the “Investment Analysis” department discussed successful practices for developing a more favorable business environment in both cities and effective incentives for investors, implemented by both countries.

The four visited organizations are the main driving force in Vienna’s administration and development as a business destination and implement policies and activities to develop Vienna as a city with a comfortable, technological and eco-friendly urban environment.

Vienna in figures

  • As of 2016 Vienna is home to 1 840 226 people from 181 different nationalities; the city‘s population increases by 22-27 000 people a year.
  • The administration of residential areas and jobs in the city is of utmost importance for the proper development of Vienna, given the rapid growth rate of the population. The average residential area per person in the city is 38 sq. m.
  • The city has 857 park spaces, 854 playgrounds, 32 cinemas
  • The budget for the city’s administration is some EUR 12 billion
  • As of 2014 the gross domestic product per capita in the city is EUR 47 300 /compared to EUR 38 500 for Austria/
  • The foreign investment in the city for 2014 totals EUR 93 billion, as the largest share of  42% is for investment from EU countries, followed by Russia – 21% and the USA – 11%
  • The IT sector is among the fastest growing in the city, with 40 000 employees; in 2015 a total of 6 681 new companies were set up the city

Interesting facts about the administration of Vienna and the functions of the visited organizations

Vienna Business Agency

Vienna Business Agency has been actively supporting the development of national and international companies from various sectors in the Austrian capital for more than 30 years by providing financial support, real estate, and urban development incentives as well as free service and advice. With its activities, the Agency is developing Vienna as a competitive business destination in Europe and as a stimulating environment for new companies, while constantly boosting the growth of existing businesses in the city. Vienna Business Agency offers financial support to companies through its own fund, settles a real estate, office and housing issues, and offers grants, advice and consulting.

The Agency employs more than 160 people and the Vienna Еxpat Center international department has 11 employees who speak 15 languages and work to provide consulting and easy adaptation to foreign companies that have chosen to establish a presence in Vienna. The team of the organization works to promote the city outside the country and helps foreigners who have chosen to work and live in Vienna to settle more easily in the local environment. The other departments of the organization provide support to start-ups or development in specific industries – creative, scientific, technology, etc.

The capital of the Agency for business support comes from the budget of Vienna municipality and from ownership management of nearly 1% of the city’s real estate. In order to attract foreign investors, the Agency works in constant collaboration with trade attachés to Austrian embassies around the world. In addition to the full range of consulting and administrative support, the Agency also works on managing an annual grant fund of EUR 40 million. Some 1 200 companies on average, active in different sectors and being at different stages of their development, both local and foreign, apply for funding from Vienna Business Agency under 15 different programs. Nearly half of the applicants receive approval for funding. A total of EUR 500 000 of the annual fund are always used to boost corporate research and development projects and another EUR 50 000 are intended to support internationalization initiatives. Vienna Business Agency is also responsible for the annual organization of various events that stimulate the development of startup environment, the technology sector, and the creative industries. The teams attend meetings with all similar agencies across Europe every year.

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Our team held a meeting with Urban Innovation Vienna to discuss smart city solutions and what kind of activities the two capitals have implemented to develop smart city strategies. Urban Innovation Vienna is part of the municipal structure of Vienna and functions as a consultancy at the city administration. The main mission of the organization is to promote the introduction of interdisciplinary solutions so that Vienna can function as a smart and innovative city and to facilitate the implementation of consensus policies between the state, the administration, and the business.

Urban Innovation Vienna relies on extensive technical know-how, international contacts and networks and is active in the development of pilot and experimental projects in the field of smart cities and innovative urban solutions. Among the department’s current projects is testing of delivery of energy products and services to end customers through blockchain technology. To this end, in the last months, Urban Innovation Vienna has been partnering with private energy companies in the city. One of them, Wien Energie, is an expert in the use of blockchain-based platforms for accelerating transactions, and the other – Viertel Zwei, administrates a neighborhood in Vienna with residential and office buildings and provides its services to business users and households. By participating in the project, Urban Innovation Vienna aims to test working resources to tackle increasingly complex transactions between large and small manufacturers and consumers, as well as to manage electricity from renewable sources and then to introduce successful models into mass implementation throughout Vienna’s urban environment.

Sofia and Urban Innovation Vienna have a joint project under the EU Smarter Together initiative. Sofia’s participation in the project creates conditions for transfer of leading technologies and practices from Vienna, Munich and Lyon and exchange of experience on the development of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) and strategy at a local level. The vision of Sofia in the project is to become the “green and intelligent capital of Bulgaria – a model for sustainable development”. Sofia took part in the project as a follower city along with Venice and Santiago de Compostela under the mentoring of the more experienced Vienna, Munich, and Lyon.

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The MA 23 Directorate

MA 23 is responsible for the statistics of the city. The directorate’s experience in collecting data on key city indicators, including economic data and data on labor market, education, tourism, consumption and any other urban statistics, was discussed.

MA 23 works in close collaboration with the city’s universities and various research centers. Every four years, the Directorate publishes a complete guidebook for Vienna with a comparative analysis of the indicators of other cities. One of the main tasks of the team is the digitization of the public sector through the OPEN GOVERNMENT WIEN initiative.

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Wien 3420 AG

Wien 3420 AG promotes urban planning and supports zoning and infrastructure development of Vienna. The company is responsible for the construction and development of the urban lakeside of Aspern – one of the largest urban development projects in Europe.

Residential and business space will be created in an area of 240 ha for 20 000 people, including 20 000 job openings over the next 20 years. The new area is the modern management of space and energy resources, meeting all needs in an urban system – home, education, work, social activities, culture, sports and recreation, science and business development.

The meetings were organized by Eurocomm-PR Sofia, the international relations bureau at Vienna Municipal Council in Sofia. We would like to thank the team of Eurocomm-PR Sofia for the perfect organization.

If you are interested in an investment opportunity in Vienna or looking for a partnership with an Austrian organization, do not hesitate to contact our team at contact@investsofia.com for more specific guidelines and opportunities that we have mapped out at our working meetings with the organizations.

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