„ICT loca­tion Upper Aus­tria requires aware­ness for infor­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­o­gy as counter strat­e­gy for the short­age of skilled workers.”

Infor­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­o­gy (ICT) is an ele­men­tary fac­tor for Upper Aus­tria as busi­ness loca­tion. They con­tribute in many ways to the com­pet­i­tive­ness of Upper Aus­tri­an econ­o­my: „Increas­ing pro­duc­tiv­i­ty can be traced back to the use of ICT,” ACADEMIA SUPERIOR pres­i­dent Mag. Michael Stugl stressed in the event „Infor­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­o­gy — dri­ving force for econ­o­my and soci­ety” host­ed by ACADEMIA SUPERIOR — soci­ety for future stud­ies and the unit for con­sult­ing and infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy by the Upper Aus­tri­an Fed­er­al Eco­nom­ic Cham­ber on May 22, 2012 at the Upper Aus­tri­an Fed­er­al Eco­nom­ic Cham­ber in Linz.

One prob­lem is that the aware­ness for ICT among the pop­u­la­tion is still fair­ly low. This also leads to a short­age of skilled work­ers in this seg­ment because the exist­ing edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions in this field are not used enough, as Strugl stress­es. This is also the result of dis­cus­sions with ICT busi­ness­es in all of Upper Aus­tria pri­or to the event. The results from these dis­cus­sions and the event will be part of ACADEMIA SUPERIOR’s eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy reform agen­da for Upper Austria.

How­ev­er, com­pared to oth­er regions of Aus­tria Upper Aus­tria is very well of: „We have no rea­son to be ashamed, with the Soft­warepark Hagen­berg, Johannes Kepler Uni­ver­si­ty and the Col­leges we are posi­tioned very well. More­over, the planned IT-clus­ter is a promis­ing project, but still we have to face a num­ber of chal­lenges.” Apart from the short­age of skilled work­ers Strugl also men­tioned finances and the sup­port of strong­ly grow­ing ICT busi­ness­es and the ques­tion of ICT infra­struc­ture and future challenges.

Also DI Win­fied Seyruck, pres­i­dent of the unit con­sult­ing and infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy by the Upper Aus­tri­an Fed­er­al Com­mer­cial Cham­ber, stressed that in com­par­i­son to oth­er regions, Upper Aus­tria has the sec­ond high­est num­ber of employ­ees in ICT after Vien­na. More­over, in con­trast to oth­er regions there is a strong cen­ter force in ICT in Upper aus­tria: „We have a lot of soft­ware pro­duc­ers and mar­ket lead­ers in Upper Aus­tria, Upper Aus­tria is also a great loca­tion for the found­ing of ICT busi­ness­es.” How­ev­er, Seyruck also warns from a short­age of skilled per­son­nel: „In 2020, when the first gen­er­a­tion of com­put­er sci­en­tists retires we have a melt­down.” To counter this devel­op­ment one has to inter­est more women in ICT and build on education.

The key lec­ture of the event­ing by Tobias Weber, project leader of „Men­tor­ing-report Ger­many Dig­i­tal” by TNS Infrat­est dealt with the ques­tion what do the best ICT loca­tions of the future require? First, cor­re­spond­ing dig­i­tal struc­tures, like high-qual­i­ty tech­no­log­i­cal infra­struc­ture or legal reg­u­la­tions have to exist that guar­an­tee inno­v­a­tive ICT busi­ness­es best pos­si­ble cours­es of action. Sec­ond, one has to build on „dig­i­tal knowl­edge”, to guar­an­tee for edu­ca­tion and the attrac­tive­ness of insti­tu­tions to make sure that enough human resources are avail­able Third, also high­ly inno­v­a­tive and fast grow­ing „dig­i­tal busi­ness mod­els” have to be pushed, accord­ing to Weber. The key­stones are accep­tance and spread­ing of new tech­nol­o­gy and appli­ca­tions, find­ing the best peo­ple, clus­ters, ven­ture cap­i­tal, get­ting new prod­ucts on the mar­ket quick­ly, bring­ing togeth­er inno­va­tion and busi­ness mod­els, entre­pre­neur­ship, the con­cen­tra­tion of grow­ing mar­kets and inter­na­tion­al loca­tion marketing.

In a pan­el dis­cus­sion, Wirtschaft­s­lan­desrat Vik­tor Sigl, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Erich Peter Kle­ment, mem­ber of the ACADEMIA SUPERIOR advi­so­ry board, Mag. Eve­line Pupeter-Fell­ner, CEO of empo­ria Tele­com, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Bruno Buch­berg­er, direc­tor of the Soft­warepark Hagen­burg and DI Bernd Greifened­er, CTO of dyna­Trace soft­ware talked about the poten­tial and per­spec­tives of the ICT loca­tion of Upper Aus­tria. Sigl reprot­ed that the prepa­ra­tions for the foun­da­tion of the Upper Aus­tri­an IT-clus­ter are in full blast and it will start in fall 2012 or Jan­u­ary 2013. Accord­ing to Prof. Kle­ment the IT clus­ter has the poten­tial to inten­si­fy the coop­er­a­tion between research and small and medi­um-sized companies.

Univ.-Prof. Buch­berg­er stressed that Soft­warepark Hagen­berg as spin-off of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Linz is an exam­ple for the close inter­ac­tion of fun­da­men­tal research and econ­o­my. Accord­ing to him, the essen­tial start­ing points for Upper Aus­tria are the inno­va­tion spi­ral con­sist­ing of research, edu­ca­tion, econ­o­my, and cap­i­tal which gen­er­ates progress and growth. This spi­ral has to be enriched with a fifth ele­ment: lifestyle. Upper Aus­tria has to cre­ate an attrac­tive cli­mate so that young peo­ple come and stay: „Our goal must be to bring enthu­si­as­tic young peo­ple to Upper Aus­tria by com­bin­ing tech­nol­o­gy and lifestyle.”

DI Greifened­er stressed that there are con­flicts of aims and tim­ing between research insti­tu­tions and com­pa­nies because the lat­ter have to enter the mar­ket quick­ly. There­fore, coop­er­a­tions with research insti­tu­tions take place for longer term top­ics and projects that are less urgent. „For more press­ing issues we take research in our own hands”, says Greifeneder.

LR Sigl said about ICT-infra­struc­ture that the Upper Aus­tri­an broad­band ini­tia­tive sets an impor­tant course. He is pos­i­tive for the real­iza­tion and the costs of the con­nec­tion of com­pa­nies to the fiber optic cable network.

In terms of ICT com­pe­tence Mag. Pupeter-Fell­ner and Prof. Kle­ment agreed that this is espe­cial­ly impor­tant for old­er mem­bers of soci­ety, who have had less con­tact with ICT and have con­straints against it. Prof. Kle­ment also sees a social dimen­sion of this prob­lem since the lack of ICT com­pe­tence inten­si­fies the iso­la­tion and loss of con­nec­tion of old­er peo­ple. There­fore one has to equip old­er gen­er­a­tions with ICT basic com­pe­tences before they retire.