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 | Deputy Director and Head of Art, Science, and Technology
Clara Blume, PhD is Deputy Director and Head of Art, Science, and Technology at Open Austria, the Austrian Consulate and innovation office in Silicon Valley. She curates and promotes artistic projects at the intersection of art + tech while bridging Austria with the innovation ecosystem in the SF Bay Area. As President of the EU National Institutes for Culture Cluster in Silicon Valley (EUNIC Silicon Valley) Blume spearheaded the creation of The Grid, a network connecting artists and tech/nologists around the globe, funded by the European Commission in 2019. The Grid wants to share lessons learned from investigating different modes and models of collaboration between artists, art institutions, and the tech industry. Prior to her new role in cultural diplomacy, she worked as a professional musician, songwriter, and internationally touring recording artist. As founder of The Singer Songwriter Circus in Vienna, a touring live music show providing a platform for international newcomers, she featured over 350 artists from around the world over 7 consecutive years. Blume has an academic background in fine arts, composition, comparative literature, cultural studies, and history. She is a regular conference speaker and a published author.
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
Martin Rauchbauer is the Co-Director of Open Austria and Austrian Consul in San Francisco. As an Austrian diplomat, Martin was sent to San Francisco in 2016 in order to open and establish his country’s first innovation outpost in Silicon Valley. Martin’s office helps Austrian entrepreneurs, scientists, researchers, and creative minds to connect with the biggest innovation ecosystem in the world.
Open Austria engages in tech-diplomacy, a strategic dialogue with the tech industry on the global governance of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and block chain. Martin has served in many capacities due to his passion for tech-diplomacy, including but not limited to teaching “Digital Diplomacy” at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna and holding the local San Francisco chair of the European Union in 2018.
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 served as 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.
In addition to his diplomatic career, Martin 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 nonprofit 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.