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Austrian weftec reception

Wednesday 29 October, 2008

Franz Roessler, Trade Commissioner for Austria, hosted a reception for Austrian exhibiting companies @ weftec (water environment federation annual technical exhibition & conference).  There were 11 Austrian companies exhibiting/attending Weftec-their contact information & profiles are attached here austrianparticipantsweftec2008 Although it’s no indicator of size, most firms seemed to be from smaller towns in Austria.  Only 1 was from Wien/Vienna & 1 from Graz.  Size does not appear to be an impediment to operating globally-a number of them seemed to already have a world-wide presence.  I wasn’t able to attend the weftec conference, but it is remarkable how much higher profile environmental technologies are becoming.  Weftec moves around each year, so it doesn’t appear that this conference will be coming back to Chicago in the next few years.  At the reception, I met & spoke with 1 of the principals of Cosmic, which has repair robots for pipe & sewage systems, which sounded like a pretty cool solution.  They have a US office in California, & consequently have more business on the west coast.  In many ways, my impression is the Europeans in general & German speakers specifically (Germans, Austrians, & Swiss) are ahead of Americans in many environmental technologies.

The Germans were at the reception as well.  When I lived in Europe the 1st time, I lived in the south in Muenchen/Munich, which is the largest city near Austria in Germany.  When I visited Salzburg & Innsbruck, which I did often, I found the Bavarians have a typical brother-like love/hate relationship with the Austrians.  While there are many similarities (greet 1 another with “Gruss Gott”  rather than “Guten Tag” used in most of Deutschland & are more catholic than the rest of Germany), there are still many of the little brother (Austria) vs. big brother (Germany) rivalries.  The Austrians seem to be a little sensitive about these differences, so if you’re doing business there, it would be wise to pay attention to them.  In comparison, in many ways the Austrians are far more open, as evidenced by being the gateway to eastern Europe.  The Germans, as a result of their larger population, tend to look more inward.  I’m a fan of both, but tend to root for the underdog.

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