The digital revolution will have a direct or indirect impact on all areas of business. Digital technologies make new business models, products and services possible. Industry has long been concerned with the question of how to link existing manufacturing and business processes along the value chain with information and communication technology and has coined the term Industry 4.0. Increasing the degree of customization and flexibility in production offers new business opportunities for existing and new providers. The key factor here is to ensure fair competition for all economic operators. To be competitive in the digital age, we need to ensure that the whole economy benefits from the advantages of digitization.
To achieve this in Austria, we need a lively startup scene, greater awareness among SMEs of digital development opportunities, and an optimal framework for innovations and funding. Networking and collaborations between companies in different industries and of different sizes will be crucial success factors, with the Austrian economy being able to build on its existing fields of expertise. While the productivity of the workforce increases as a result of digitization, people with new qualifications are in demand – and we are responsible for ensuring that these qualifications are acquired.
- Implement the measures adopted as part of the startup package to improve general conditions for startup companies:
- Risk capital bonus of 20 per cent for investors to encourage investment in innovative startups
- Increase in seed funding from aws (Austrian Business Service) and allocation of the aws Business Angel Fund
- Funding for non-wage labour costs for the first three employees of innovative startups
- Introduction of startup fellowships for academic spin-offs
- Flexible development of the Austrian business financing system as required, in particular for fast-growing innovative companies
- Develop and expand networks for Austrian companies via OPEN AUSTRIA, Austria’s official presence in Silicon Valley, as an interface between innovative companies, applied research and public stakeholders
- Expand the Global Incubator Network (GIN) as a single contact point for the international networking of startups, investors and incubators
- Introduce a patent check to assist SMEs in the patent application process and to strengthen contact between businesses and the patent office
- Set up an electronic one-stop shop for business startups to simplify the process of establishing a business and reduce the amount of time needed to do so
- Create a convenient digital platform interface for public procurement
- Strengthen the creative industries as a central “translator” of digital progress into customer- and user-friendly end products
- Strengthen the networking and improve the access to technologies by establishing digital innovation hubs
- Support the digital transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises by specifically funding consultancy and training measures within the new “KMU.digital” funding programme from 2017
- Focus on SMEs and open source at AT:net, a funding programme for launching and establishing digital applications and products on the market
- Strengthen strategic sectors of the future in the digitization field, such as big data and data science, cloud computing, quantum technology and cybersecurity
- Increase specialist ICT education and vocational training, especially in the STEM subjects
- Continuously review professional roles; in particular, constantly develop and adapt apprenticeships in line with the requirements of the digital world of work
- Include programmers in the list of shortage occupations from 2017 in order to meet the acute need for specialists with digitization expertise in the Austrian economy. This will make it quicker and easier for third-country nationals to start working in Austria
Digitization opens up new opportunities for the service sector, in particular, through the understanding of technical processes combined with a knowledge of new business models. A clear, understandable and well-structured regulatory environment for eCommerce is a prerequisite for being able to take advantage of these opportunities. Deficits in the fields of data protection and customer data transparency must be quickly eliminated.
- Create a legal framework that makes national online business models competitive and takes the needs of consumers into account
- Increase awareness-raising measures to facilitate consumers’ understanding of how modern pricing systems work
- Develop specific measures to ensure transparency and data protection in individual pricing processes in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation
Austria’s attractiveness as a business location depends on forward-looking measures agreed within the EU. Different national markets need to grow together digitally to form a single market – only then can Europe maintain its position on the international stage. To utilize the full potential of digitization, Austria is therefore working at a European level to improve the regulations, and especially to eliminate unjustified barriers, for small businesses in particular.
Over-the-top players (OTTs): an increasing number of OTTs (Google, Facebook, etc.) are offering their services to Austrian customers. However, it is not usually possible to make these companies comply with Austrian legal standards (consumer protection, data protection, rights of use). This causes a competition problem for Austrian companies, which are of course bound by strict legal regulations. Resulting imbalances must be dealt with at pan-European level in order to eliminate distortions of competition.
- Play an active role in shaping European initiatives to establish a digital single market
- Systematically reduce obstacles to trade and distortions of competition, for example by continuing to harmonize value-added tax and taking joint measures to prevent tax avoidance
- Evaluate the existing EU legal framework for online trade, including the Consumer Rights Directive, and ensure that providers from third countries comply with the guidelines
- Participate in the development of European and international norms and standards to safeguard Austrian interests
- Implement efficient Europe-wide parcel deliveries
- Continue to develop the copyright system at European level