The most innovative startups in Graz
ith multiple universities and around 60,000 students, Graz is a dynamic and lively city with a large number of research facilities and university-related institutions. As the second-largest city in Austria, Graz is an ideal size, characterized by a constantly growing and well-connected startup community in which you can meet people quickly and gain a foothold easily. On average, more than 1,400 new companies are founded in Graz every year. Informed by Startup Guide Graz, here’s a selection of some of the most innovative startups that have emerged in Graz in recent years.
Informed by Startup Guide Graz, here's a selection of some of the most innovative startups that have emerged in Graz in recent years.
In 2017, while working at a former leading airline, the founding team came together in Graz to discuss how surveillance data could be used to help the aviation industry reduce emissions and how they could generate valuable insights on operations efficiency. The startup took part in the Singapore Aviation Accelerator and was selected from a pool of hundreds of applicants as one of the most promising startups from around the world to calculate potential carbon emission savings for descents into Singapore.
Over the years, Aeroficial Intelligence has used different data sources in the aerospace field to build business-intelligence applications such as their Performance Cockpit, which provides optimization solutions in capacity improvement, emission saving and big data analytics to airports, air navigation service providers, civil aviation authorities and aircraft operators. Since its inception, Aeroficial Intelligence has won several industry competitions, including the Galileo Masters in 2019.
As the head of the Banking and Insurance Institute and chair of a bachelors and masters program at the FH JOANNEUM University of Applied Sciences in Graz, Michael Murg is also a serial entrepreneur, a robo adviser and an extreme sports enthusiast. Along with his three Brickwise cofounders, he wanted to revolutionize the real estate market. According to their research, more than 50 percent of Europeans would like to invest in real estate and yet only 10 percent do. They saw huge potential and untapped demand and decided to make it easier for people to invest in property.
In 2018, combining many years of academic experience with the latest technology, Michael and his cofounders founded Brickwise, Europe’s first marketplace for trading digital real estate assets. Through its platform, Brickwise completely overhauled and simplified the process of buying real estate shares. Users can quickly and simply invest, collect rental income and then sell again at any time.
CelerisTx, a deep-learning company that leads the field in AI degrader development and discovery, was set up in 2020 by friends Christopher Trummer and Jakob Hohenburger, and incorporated in 2021. Until recently, drugs were developed to suppress disease symptoms by inhibiting the functions of the pathogenic proteins (targets) that cause the illness. However, 80 percent of targets cannot be inhibited by modern medication. These “undruggable” targets are often associated with central nervous system diseases such as Alzheimers and many types of cancer, as well as virus-related illnesses. Yet through a process called targeted protein degradation, there is an opportunity to degrade these proteins and thereby work towards treating the disease. With their combined experience across the pharmaceutical, bioinformatics and IT industries, Christopher and Jakob saw that they could make an impact by using deep learning to identify and degrade the undruggable proteins.
EET - Efficient Energy Technology was started by three doctoral students working on hydrogen production and storage at Graz University of Technology. Christoph Grimmer, Stephan Weinberger and Florian Gebetsroither were studying renewable technologies and wondering why the tech was not more widely used when they saw an opportunity for an impactful, high-growth business solution. EET was founded in 2017 to create SolMate, a small device that connects to two solar panels and directs energy into the home while also storing enough to function as a backup generator. The panels can be placed anywhere there are four square meters of sun exposure, and the device plugs into a standard wall socket. A row of LED lights indicate the storage capacity, and there’s a small switch for “on-grid” and “off-grid” modes. SolMate allows renters to use solar power no matter the building they live in, and for home-owners, this removes the barrier of bureaucracy in connecting to the power grid.
In 2019, Ines Wöckl and Alexander Rech bought two escooters. Although excited about their new way to travel short distances, they never felt totally safe on the streets and especially not in the dark. “One is easily overlooked, the brake light is small, and you can’t give hand signals. So we figured, there has to be a solution for that.” Statistically speaking, escooters and bikes are at higher risk than cars in traffic. Therefore, with micromobility becoming more important in cities, Ines and Alexander wanted to increase riders’ safety on the streets. The two started developing safety wearables that can be snapped onto the upper arms and function as a gesture- controlled blinker system. While hands stay safely on the handlebar, a slight lift of the elbow activates the automatic blinker. Two additional night-time modes increase visibility in the dark. The wearables are light, water resistant, easy to attach and can be used for any kind of micromobility.
Many organizations know they need to embrace the AI revolution, but how do you get started? Leftshift One’s mission is to help nonspecialists deploy artificial intelligence efficiently in their processes by offering an operating system that does this more quickly than any other solution on the market. Text analysis, image recognition, email automation, ticketing and document recognition are just some of the use-cases that service providers can deploy. In the manufacturing sector, tools can predict quality outcomes and give early warnings of maintenance requirements. Leftshift One’s solution covers all the necessities for running MLOps (machine learning operations) and quickly brings AI into practical use.
Opus Novo is the company behind Elly, a motion detection system which automatically provides lighting to elderly people at night. The device is linked to lighting systems and also enables information about the user’s movement to be sent to a mobile app. For example, when the person gets out of bed at night, lights will guide their path, maybe to the bathroom or living room. That the loved one has left their bed is also communicated to caregivers’ mobile devices, enabling them to provide assistance if necessary. Elly’s advantage over competitors is how it combines effectiveness and flexibility with privacy and reliability at a relatively low price.
In 2018, one of Probando’s cofounders, Manuel Leal Garcia, accompanied his fiancée to an international medical conference in the US. As they spoke to other researchers there, Manuel found that many faced the same difficult experience in their line of work: finding participants to be a part of various clinical trials. Together with cofounders Julia Harrer, Gernot Winkler and Matthias Ruhri, Manuel developed the idea of a platform where individuals can find, access and sign up for clinical trials.
Today, Probando serves as a platform that provides both visibility and transparency for clinical trials. Participants gain exclusive access to the latest therapies, learn more about their bodies and health, test new products, take part in competitions and even earn money in some studies.
When Lukas Watzinger smashed his phone while trying to take a selfie during a mountain-climbing trip in 2018, he was determined to make sure it didn’t happen again. He looked online to see if there was an accessory that could secure his phone during his outdoor pursuits, but couldn’t find anything suitable, so he set about designing his own product. With a background in mechanical engineering and a passion to succeed, he developed a unique accessory with a patented anti-drop system. Small, compact and practical, it can be attached to any smartphone or action camera and ensures the equipment stays safe and secure at all times.
Skilltree was founded in 2018 by Markus Skergeth, Sebastian Wanke, Viktor Ielnykov and Simon Löwy, former classmates and alumni of FH JOANNEUM. While doing their postgraduate internships with large IT companies, they identified a gap between the diversity of skills and knowledge they brought from their studies and the narrow range of their assigned tasks. They saw this as an opportunity to create a way for companies to see and work with their employees’ complete skill sets. The Skilltree software allows employees to fill out their own skill trees and uses machine learning to turn loose information, such as CVs, into accessible, user-friendly data. Companies use this data to form more effective teams and make more integrated career-development plans for employees.
Body temperature is one of the most powerful medical diagnostic tools, all the more so if readings can be taken on a continuous basis. SteadySense’s first product was femSense, whose sensor is linked to a mobile app to give women strong evidence of when they are ovulating. This key information helps them to plan or avoid pregnancy. Launched more recently, SteadyTemp helps to detect potential infections by creating time-series temperature curves. Data is transferred securely to mobile apps and central databases for analysis. To ensure high levels of security, anonymized data is held on European servers in accordance with General Data Protection Regulation rules.
Inspired to start your own business Graz? Want to learn more about the local ecosystem? Order your copy of Startup Guide Graz now.
Written by Diana Figueroa, Lucy Beckley, Rachel Velebny, Sarah Kampitsch and Stephen Evans
Repackaged by Anastasia Ilcov
Photography by Kurt Remling