Carinthia: An El Dorado for Researchers and Developers in the South of Austria


Carinthia, the southernmost federal province of Austria, located in the border triangle of Italy, Slovenia and Austria, is not only a convincing location due to its fantastic natural landscape but also due to its first-class technological competence. Internationally operating flagship competencies shape future developments, above all in the fields of electronics/microelectronics, mechatronics, sensor technology, robotics and ICT in cooperation with research-intensive small and medium-sized enterprises.

Hub for the microelectronics sector
Microelectronics and nanoelectronics comprise the backbone of digitalization. In recent years, Villach has emerged as a hub for the microelectronics industry.
First and foremost, the one company that comes to mind is Infineon Technologies Austria, the most research-intensive company in the country. Infineon invested EUR 35 million last year alone in expanding research and development and creating up to 350 new jobs in Villach. In the meantime, Infineon products are integrated into eight out of the ten most popular electric-powered vehicles in order to regulate the drive system of the vehicle. The technology company Flex (known as Flexitronics up to the year 2015) is expanding its Carinthian facility in Althofen. It is investing EUR 20 million in additional production areas, high-tech equipment and intelligent systems. 100 new jobs are likely to be created. Flex in Althofen manufactures electronic modules and complete devices for international customers in the automobile industry, in the field of medical technology and in other sectors.

El Dorado for Researchers
Extensive entrepreneurial know-how is complemented in Villach by an attractive research landscape. The largest non-university research center Carinthian Tech Research CTR is located at the High Tech Campus Villach and ranks among the leading research institutions in Austria when it comes to intelligence sensor technology and system integration. The research laboratory there recently aroused the interest of the European Space Agency, which is currently testing a laser ignition system developed years ago by CTR researchers. Similarly, the Carinthian headquarters of the Silicon-Alps Cluster, the Austrian technology and innovation cluster in the field of “electronic based systems” is also located in Villach. 

The right place for ICT companies
The field of information and communications technologies is to Klagenfurt what microelectronics is for Villach. An ICT campus unrivalled in Austria has emerged in the Lakeside Science & Technology Park covering an area of 34,000 m2. More than 60 companies employing a workforce of 1,200 employees are currently based here between Lake Wörthersee on the one side and the Alpen Adria University on the other side. When completed, double the number of companies will be located in the science and technology park. The second out of four expansion phases began in the autumn of 2017. Companies, employees, researchers and students all benefit from the short distances and the will to cooperate.

This convinced Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft so much that it located its research activities for robotics and mechatronics in Klagenfurt. The young team of about 20 employees has already made a name for itself on an international level. It developed a program code for the open source Robot Operating System (ROS) which created quite a stir in the robotics community. And now research operations are being expanded. Starting in March 2018, a competence group of LIFE, the Graz-based center for energy research of Joanneum Research, will also be located in Lakeside Park. The focus is on the research area of “Innovative Mobility Modelling” and issues relating to mobility behavior and spatial development which are vital to future mobility forms, car sharing and autonomous driving. At present, software is being developed designed to combine and manage autonomous driving with the traffic behaviour of people.  The German automobile industry has already displayed a great deal of interest in the research findings from Carinthia.

Students at the Alpen Adria University which is located right next door also benefit from the strong focus on research. The technical faculty there cooperates with Airbus, Siemens and naturally with local companies such as Kostwein, Funder and Skidata. An endowed chair at the university for “Industry 4.0: Adaptive and Networked Production Systems” will be set up in the near future. It will be established in collaboration with the Graz University of Technology and corporate partners. One of the youngest and very successful spin-offs of the university is Bitmovin. If you watch films via Amazon, you are implicitly applying the technology from Klagenfurt.

High-tech playground for 5G
Carinthia will be the very first test region for 5G, the much faster and more powerful new mobile telephony standard. The 5G test region in Carinthia will be called the “5G Playground Carinthia” and serve domestic mobile telephony providers as a testing laboratory under real-life conditions enabling them to develop and try out new technologies. These include self-driving vehicles and intelligent drones, which can independently locate injured people and navigate rescue teams to the accident scene. In addition to the Lakeside Park in Klagenfurt, the High Tech Campus in Villach and the St. Veit Industrial Park will also be equipped with fiber optic Internet so that the new 5G technology can be tested.

Carinthia’s commitment and investments in research and development have paid off. The research rate is 3.15 percent, the province is increasingly at the forefront of innovation and attractive and sustainable jobs are being created. On balance, these activities have also enhanced Carinthia’s visibility as a business location in Austria and abroad.  

If you are interested to find about more about Carinthia as a business location, please do not hesitate to contact us. The team at the Carinthia Agency for Business Promotion and Public Investments, in short BABEG, supports foreign companies in setting up business operations or investing in Carinthia. This is done competently and at no cost.