Volume 23 - October 15, 2009 - Noteworthy Information
Austrian Science Talk 2009: "Under Crisis Conditions - Using Research and Technology as a Means to Step Out of the Crisis"
bridges vol. 23, October 2009 / News from the Network: Austrian Researchers Abroad
By Stefan Eichberger
As Dr. Christian Prosl, Austrian ambassador to the United States, put it in his opening remarks: "Time is not standing still, not even in Austria." Therefore, he called on the approximately 100 participants at the Austrian Science Talk 2009 to "engage proactively and get yourselves informed and involved." It was the sixth time that the Austrian Science Talk - the major annual networking event for US-based Austrian scientists - had been hosted by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT) along with the "brainpower austria" initiative. With the theme "Under Crisis Conditions - Using Research and Technology as a means to step out of the Crisis," the event was held in New Orleans, October 3, 2009.
Tomorrow is better than today
Günter Bischof, head of the "Center Austria" at the University of New Orleans, introduced the keynote speaker for the event, the Austrian-born and -educated Norbert Bischofberger.
Twenty-two years ago, this internationally successful scientist founded a small start-up enterprise in the San Francisco Bay area. However, major success would not be achieved overnight. His enterprise, Gilead, required 15 years of intense research and development, along with an investment of more than $1 billion, finally leading to a success story that could not be more impressive.
Today, Gilead is a 4000-employee multinational company, with a turnover on sales that exceeds five billion dollars. Tamiflu and Atripla are notable examples of their product range. As Bischofberger observed, not only research activities but, more importantly, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Bay Area led to this success. Gilead is in good company with enterprises such as Intel, Google, and Genentech also based in the Bay Area or nearby.
Having access to a well-established venture capital system, not being averse to risk-taking, and having the ability to accept failure are major differences between the entrepreneurial spirit found in the Bay Area and that found in Europe, according to Bischofberger. However, he also had to pay a price for the better business environment in California. Originally a native of Vorarlberg, Bischofberger used his preferred language - which, after more than two decades, is now English - to make his presentation to the bemused Austrian ex-pat community who well understood the language issue.
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