StartupBlink Blog

Attracting foreign startups is a competitive endeavor that requires strategic planning, robust support systems, and a collaborative ecosystem. In this episode of the Startup Ecosystem Podcast, we welcomed Gabriele Tatzberger, Head of Startup Services at the  Vienna Business Agency

Tune into the episode now to learn more about Vienna’s approach to becoming a hub for international startups and get valuable insights for cities aiming to enhance their global startup appeal. If you’re looking for ways to attract foreign startups to your location, check out our ecosystem development modules.

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Drawing from Vienna’s successful initiatives, we outline key strategies for cities to attract foreign startups.

1. Develop a Strong Value Proposition

In the competitive environment of startup ecosystems, having a compelling and distinct value proposition is crucial for cities looking to attract foreign startups. This foundational step goes beyond mere promotional efforts, diving deep into what makes a city unique and appealing to the entrepreneurial spirit. The first recommendation focuses on developing this strong value proposition through two main avenues: highlighting the unique strengths of your ecosystem and fostering a sense of collaboration among its members.

attract foreign startups to your city

A. Highlight Unique Ecosystem Strengths

Every city has its own set of advantages, be it a rich cultural heritage, a robust support network for startups, or unparalleled access to industry-specific talent and resources. Identifying and promoting these unique attributes effectively can set your city apart as an attractive destination for foreign startups. Drawing inspiration from Vienna, which seamlessly combines its historical allure with a thriving modern startup scene, cities can craft a narrative that resonates with entrepreneurs worldwide.

B. Foster a Collaborative Ecosystem

The power of collaboration cannot be overstated in the development of a successful startup ecosystem. Vienna’s approach, particularly through initiatives like the ViennaUP, demonstrates the value of creating an environment where startups, investors, and various stakeholders work in harmony. This recommendation explores how cities can emulate Vienna’s model to cultivate a collaborative ecosystem that not only supports innovation but also positions the city as a nurturing ground for foreign startups looking to grow and succeed.

attract foreign startups to your city

2. Offer Comprehensive Support and Incentives: Vienna Business Agency’s services for startups 

To transform your city into a magnet for foreign startups, it’s essential to go beyond basic infrastructure and create a support system that addresses their unique needs and challenges. This recommendation delves into crafting tailor-made support programs and offering enticing funding options to ease the transition for startups considering your city as their new home base.

attract foreign startups to your city

A. Tailor Support Programs

 The journey of a startup relocating to a new city is fraught with challenges, from understanding local laws to integrating into the business culture. Drawing inspiration from the services offered by the Vienna Business Agency, cities should develop support programs that provide a comprehensive suite of resources. This includes funding, mentoring, access to coworking spaces, and assistance with navigating the bureaucratic environment. Tailored support programs signal to foreign startups that your city is not just a place to do business, but a community ready to facilitate their growth every step of the way.

For startups wishing to experience Vienna’s ecosystem and gain first insights, they can do so through initiatives such as the Vienna Startup Package.

B. Provide Funding and Financial Incentives

Financial considerations weigh heavily on the minds of entrepreneurs looking to expand or relocate their businesses. Vienna’s approach to offering funding schemes and financial incentives showcases how cities can attract startups by alleviating some of these financial burdens. Whether through grants, subsidies, or tax breaks, making your city financially appealing to startup founders can be a game-changer in the competitive landscape of global startup ecosystems.

Read this article to learn more about the optimal mix of private and public sector funding in startup ecosystem development.

3. Leverage Technology and Innovation

In today’s digital age, fostering a culture of technological advancement and innovation is crucial for cities aiming to attract foreign startups. This recommendation focuses on how cities can leverage their sector-specific strengths and create opportunities for knowledge exchange and networking to support startup growth.

A. Promote Sector-Specific Opportunities

Vienna’s success in nurturing sectors like digital health, fintech, and green tech demonstrates the importance of specializing and promoting industry-specific ecosystems. Cities should identify and enhance their unique sectoral strengths, creating a conducive environment for startups in those industries to innovate and thrive. You can explore where your city excels by checking its ecosystem rankings.

Learn more about our recommendations for Startup Ecosystem Promotion in this article.

B. Encourage Knowledge Exchange and Networking

The exchange of ideas and building of networks are pillars of startup success. Events such as ViennaUP exemplify how cities can facilitate these connections, offering startups the chance to engage with local and international peers, investors, and industry leaders. By organizing such events, cities can become vibrant hubs of innovation where startups from around the world come to share knowledge, explore partnerships, and grow their businesses.

attract foreign startups to your city

4. Enhance Quality of Life and Infrastructure

A city’s quality of life and infrastructure are pivotal in attracting foreign startups and the talent they bring. This recommendation explores how cities can become more appealing to startups by focusing on creating a livable, supportive environment and investing in the necessary infrastructure to meet their needs.

A. Prioritize Quality of Life

The decision to relocate often goes beyond business considerations, touching on the quality of life offered by the prospective city. Vienna’s reputation for high living standards serves as a benchmark for cities worldwide. Enhancing aspects such as affordable housing, efficient transportation, and access to cultural and recreational activities can make your city a preferred destination for startups and their employees.


B. Invest in Infrastructure

The backbone of any thriving startup ecosystem is its infrastructure. Vienna’s investments into creating modern coworking spaces and innovation labs highlight the importance of providing startups with the facilities they need to succeed. Ensuring that your city offers high-speed internet, reliable transport options, and contemporary office spaces is essential in creating an environment where startups can flourish.

attract foreign startups to your city

5. Simplify Legal and Administrative Processes

For foreign startups, navigating the legal and administrative frameworks of a new city can be one of the most daunting aspects of relocation. This recommendation emphasizes the need for cities to streamline these processes and offer dedicated support services, making the transition as smooth as possible.

A. Streamline Legal Frameworks

Regulatory innovations, like Vienna’s new legal form for startups, can significantly enhance a city’s attractiveness by simplifying legal procedures related to incorporation, employee equity, and business operations. Cities should consider similar reforms to create a more startup-friendly legal environment.

B. Offer Guidance and Support Services

The provision of dedicated support services can be a lifeline for startups grappling with the complexities of a new legal and administrative system. The Vienna Business Agency’s model of offering guidance on legal issues, registration processes, and networking opportunities serves as an excellent example of how cities can assist startups in overcoming these initial hurdles and foster a welcoming ecosystem for businesses worldwide.

attract foreign startups

Sum Up,

Attracting foreign startups requires a holistic approach that combines a strong value proposition, comprehensive support systems, sector-specific opportunities, quality of life enhancements, and streamlined legal processes. Vienna’s success in becoming a foreign startup-friendly city provides a roadmap for other cities. By adopting these strategies, cities can not only attract foreign startups but also foster a vibrant, innovative ecosystem that benefits the local economy and positions them as leaders in the global startup ecosystem.

If you’re looking for ways to discover the Vienna Startup Ecosystem physically, secure your place at the ViennaUP happening between 3-9 June 2024.