Picture credits: Standortagentur Tirol


Karoline Obitzhofer from Metasys Medizintechnik at the meeting of partners in the Tirolean clusters, reporting on activities - and encounters equally communicative researchers.

Innovation through cooperation

"In isolation no goal can be achieved," as Goethe was already aware. In Tirol the companies are all too aware of it. The cooperation with the universities and research institutes has become indispensable in everyday business. The conditions in the region are excellent. The universities and polytechnics are renowned for their excellent research and their researchers are also communicative, the distance between the partners is short and politics encourages joint R&D projects between businesses and science with attractive grants.

The competence centres receive the highest grants. As the forerunner of cooperation funding, consortia of companies and scientific institutions work together on the key issues of applied research in projects lasting several years. At the federal competence centres in the COMET programme, the government and the state of Tirol both provide financial assistance. The K-Regio programme – customised for the needs of small and medium-sized companies - is funded solely by the state of Tirol. The companies in Tirol are involved in a total of 25 regional and national competence centres.

Let's start with the large ones or "Let’s talk big." The K2 centre Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) is Austria's figurehead in the field of industrial biotechnology. The amalgamation of seven universities at the moment and 27 project partners (incl. Sandoz, Biocrates Life Sciences and Ionimed from Tirol and BASF, Boehringer Ingelheim RCV, etc.) employs more than 150 researchers in Graz, Vienna and Tirol with a turnover of about 12 million euros a year with its projects. In total 60 million euros by the end of 2014. The state of Tirol contributed to one of them, 6.2 million euros came from just three Tirolean companies. Sandoz as the largest corporate partner is involved in chemical science and biopharmaceuticals in all of acib's fields. According to the head of worldwide development of biopharmaceuticals, Dr. Jörg Windisch, the acib has been "the most successful cooperation between industry and universities for our business unit." Also because the technologies developed at acib are geared towards high productivity and efficiency. One of them comes from Ionimed, a spin-off from the University of Innsbruck. The university professor Armin Hansel states, "in the acib consortium we were able to adapt and apply our technology. For example, the development of a sensor that measures the "breathing air" of bacteria and yeast."

Do you share Cicero's opinion that the beginnings of all things are small? Then lets take a look at a research project in the regional K-Regio programme. The Tirolean company Physiotherm is participating in one and together with two other companies as well as UMIT Hall and the Medical University of Innsbruck developed a hyperbaric chamber with combined low temperature infrared technology. The combination of heat and pressure for medical treatments makes this hyperbaric infrared chamber the world's first device of its kind on the market and will be used to treat illnesses associated with circulatory disorders and bronchial illnesses. "In the future we not only want to be involved in the market for well-being products but also for medical devices and want to achieve about 10% of our revenue with it in the long term. For our company to grow in this direction we need an extremely good product, which we are developing with the hyperbaric infrared chamber. And to make this excellent product we needed to cooperate with scientists ," Josef Gunsch, the managing director of Physiotherm, explains.

Back to the "communicative" researchers. This kind of cooperation needs them. In Tirol, they regularly disclose their research results on the communication platforms of the Tirolean clusters so that companies can test their relevance to businesses. After all, the Tirolean clusters in the fields of renewable energies, IT, life sciences, mechatronics and well-being are being managed as cooperation hubs. And it's easy to prove that that's what they are:

In 2014, all of the cluster management groups were able to advise 110 ongoing or planned cooperation projects of their members. As a result of this, in the same year 40 per cent of the projects submitted to the state of Tirol for funding in research, technology or innovations was made by cluster members or where one is in the consortium. The leading partners of all Tirolean K-Regio programmes come from the clusters, working across all industries. After all, key innovation themes need all kinds of industries to cooperate with each other, including traditional sectors . This is why Josef Gunsch has a design studio on board his association. The K-Regio CryoTipcatheter (more information here) regarding the company AFreeze has included a Tirolean cluster mechatronics member with Micado, and Ergospect in the K-Regio Diagnostic Pedal Cardio also cooperates with the IT specialists at Infpro IT Solutions.

Excellent prospects, therefore, for cooperating in Tirol. These figures prove that this really does lead to success. In 2013, Tirol was the Austrian state with the highest portion of research expenditure flowing back into applied research for the first time. For many years before then, Tirol had been the state with the highest portion of basic research. And another record compared to the rest of Austria: 42 per cent of the young entrepreneurs in Tirol and 21 per cent of the companies in Tirol provide, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Austria Report 2014, new products or services in markets with little or no competition and, therefore, are regarded as good Austrian examples of the two key aspects of competitiveness and innovation.

Do you want to come on board? Then the Tirolean clusters are the right points of contact. The cluster managers will integrate you quickly and smoothly into their networks. Because – no one has to work in isolation anymore. Especially not in Tirol.


Find specialists

Innovative brains in the Tirolean clusters could be your future partners in the ongoing competition for the markets:

The Tirol competence atlas knows what the specialist fields of the companies and R&D institutes are:

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They have the right partners from industry and science in Tirol for your innovation and business:


The state of Tirol and the Austrian government fund R&D cooperation with attractive grants: