Welcome to Open Austria, our new and official Austrian presence in Silicon Valley. With this initiative, Austria is sending a strong signal to the world’s most innovative and future-minded region. Our mission is to connect Austrian entrepreneurs, innovators, scientists and creative minds to the Valley and provide those who are already here with a home base.
It is also our goal to shed light on the vast creative and innovative potential of Austria. A high-tech nation of “hidden champions” in the heart of Europe, Austria deserves to be recognized well beyond its world-famous artistic and cultural traditions. Join us on this adventure and help us create a network of openness towards the world of tomorrow!
Many trends and technologies which are omnipresent in our daily lives have their origins in the Bay Area. Open Austria connects Austria with Silicon Valley and is a platform and partner in business, science, technology and the arts.
There are many reasons why Silicon Valley is unique. An open, collaborative mindset and world-class universities like Stanford and UC Berkeley are just some ingredients that lead to the emergence of radically new ideas. Silicon Valley’s outstanding innovation ecosystem enables entrepreneurs to transform those ideas into real world-changing products and services.
Austria is a high-tech nation that gave birth to many world leaders in their specific markets. Those “hidden champions” and numerous other small and medium size enterprises are the backbone of the Austrian economy and excel with innovative products and services. Austrian higher education institutes, private and public research labs and companies engage in world-class research and development.
Open Austria will leverage the potential of Austria and Silicon Valley and be a focal and contact point for exchanges in both directions.
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In alphabetical order
Clara Blume | Art & Science
Clara Blume acts as Consul Rauchbauer’s Deputy Director and is managing Art & Science for Open Austria. Given the proximity to Silicon Valley as the global hub for innovation, Open Austria puts a special focus on the intersection of art and technology. In close collaboration with academic institutions, museums, and other art-centered organizations, Clara promotes new media & digital art in the Bay Area and in Austria. She also acts as a satellite office for the Office for Science and Technology Austria (OSTA) in Washington DC, providing services for the scientific diaspora in the Northern California region.
For over ten years, Clara worked as a professional musician and critically-acclaimed songwriter in Austria and Spain. She is the founder of The Singer Songwriter Circus – a touring live music show that helps promote Austrian newcomers alongside well-established musical acts. Over the course of six years, Clara curated monthly, theme-based showcases throughout the whole country and hosted more than 350 artists from all over the world. Clara studied Fine Arts at the Academy of Arts in Madrid and complemented her education in classical music with a professional training in Jazz music. She completed her M.A. in Comparative Literature and received her Ph.D. in History and Romance Studies from the University of Vienna in 2017.
Marianna Bonechi | Senior Advisor / Austrian Business Agency
Prior to joining Open Austria and Austrian Business Agency, Marianna was Vice President of M&A at EPIC Financial Consulting, a well-established European investment company with a multi-domestic network across 15 countries.
While at EPIC she primarily covered FIG and TMT sectors, executed over 20 buy and sell side cross-border transactions. Her M&A advisory career has started in New York when she joined SR Capital Partners, a New York based advisory firm. Before switching to the M&A advisory career, Marianna was corporate development associate at Volksbank International driving the eastward business expansion.
Marianna is a graduate of Skema Business School, Sophia Antipolis/France and holds MSc degree in International Finance, ranked #4 by Financial Times worldwide ranking. Marianna regularly attends Stanford technology and finance courses.
Georg Fürlinger | Co-Director
Before he was working at AIT Austrian Institute of Technology conducting research on university startups in the USA and Europe, and was project manager for the European exchange program Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs in Austria. Furthermore he worked with Stanford’s Startup Accelerator StartX, and was adjunct professor at the Entrepreneurship Center of the New York Institute of Technology.
Georg consults in the field of entrepreneurship and innovation and has successfully implemented projects with corporations, public agencies (e.g. UN) and startups around the world. He initially started his career with VAMED in international project management. Georg received his Master in International Business from the Vienna University for Economics and Business and attended courses at the University of Western Australia and Harvard University. He is currently on his PhD at the Vienna University of Technology.
He co-authored the book “Abseits von Silicon Valley” (Beyond Silicon Valley) and publishes in the field of academic entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship ecosystems. As a passionate traveler he was leading educational tours of North American groups through Europe.
Martin Rauchbauer | Austrian Consul & Co-Director
Before coming to San Francisco, Martin was Deputy Director of the Business Support Service and Head of the UNESCO unit at the Austrian Foreign Ministry in Vienna. In 2014, he was briefly CEO at the Österreich Institut GmbH in Vienna. Between 2011 and 2014 he was Director of Deutsches Haus at NYU in New York City. From 2007 until January 2011 he was the Deputy Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York.
Martin also served as Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Mexico City and as Desk Officer at the Austrian Foreign Ministry. Throughout his career, Martin designed and implemented numerous high-profile academic, cultural and business-related events in North America. He also worked as a journalist for Austrian Radio and Television (ORF) and the Viennese weekly news magazine “Format”.
Martin received his M.A. in International Relations and International Economics from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Johns Hopkins University in Bologna, Italy and Washington D.C. He also holds a degree in Philosophy and German Studies from the University of Vienna.
Earl Schaffer | Deputy Director | Project Manager
Earl Schaffer supports Austrian startups and established companies in entering and establishing themselves in the US market. He works intensively on the GoSiliconValley initiative, which allows pre-selected Austrian startups to scale their business through acceleration programs, mentoring and investor relationships. Earl also coordinates the “GoStanford” partnership between the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and Stanford University, granting Austrian companies access to the world class research and know-how of this prestigious university.
Earl holds two Masters degrees in business from universities in Austria and the US, as well as an Amateur World Champion Title in Indoor Volleyball. He is also on the Board of Heart4Youth USA, a not-for-profit organization helping “at-promise” youth reach their full potential through mentorship.
Felicitas Wörndl | Project & Communications Manager
At Open Austria, Felicitas is responsible for all things communications, partnerships and content & events for startups. Felicitas originally hails from Salzburg, holds an MSc in Public Policy from UCL, and has lived and worked in 7 countries. She has experience in the social enterprise, NGO and international relations space, and has a particular interest in market based and data driven solutions to social issues. In her free time, she takes full advantage of the Bay Area outdoors by going camping, snowboarding or kite surfing. She is also president of the UCL Bay Area Alumni Club, and is on the board of Thousand Currents Young Professionals, a group supporting grassroots NGO’s across the world.