Green Tech Valley
From pioneers to global market leaders
The Green Tech Valley location has an industrial history that goes back over 100 years. It is as revolutionary as the pioneers who formed it. To make their ideas a reality, these originators of green technology pushed the boundaries of feasibility. Their pioneering spirit and joy in invention are firmly anchored in the DNA of the Green Tech Valley and can still be clearly felt today.
The history of the Green Tech Valley and its evolution to a Green Tech Hotspot starts in the 1970s and 80s. In an era when oil was cheap and the nuclear power boom in full swing, far-sighted innovators were busy implementing their first renewable energy concepts.
The first waste management systems were also developed here by the budding green tech whizzes of the circular economy. They have moulded the corporate landscape of Styria and Carinthia, which now represents a formidable innovative force in both the green power – hydro, solar and biomass – as well as the recycling sectors.
With a heightened level of environmental awareness and inventive tenacity, they are leading the south of Austria toward a green future. They are not just transforming this industrial region into a high-skill, knowledge-based production and service location, they are also establishing environmental technology as a pillar of the domestic economic landscape.
The initial starting point goes back to the Styrian industrialist, Viktor Kaplan. The Kaplan water turbine was his pioneering invention, and drew worldwide attention to southern Austria even at the beginning of the 20th century. This is how electricity was generated from hydropower for the first time. Today, every 5th kWh of green electricity worldwide is generated using hydropower technology from the Green Tech Valley.
The electrical engineering pioneer, Nikola Tesla, also worked here in the Green Tech Valley. Known by his admirers as the “Wizard of Electricity”, the inventor studied at Graz University of Technology. In a spectacular manner, he demonstrated that electricity can be transmitted through air while being subjected to a voltage of two million volts.
In the 1970s, solar power took centre stage. Self-assembly solar thermal systems from Styria took international markets by storm. And the research institute AEE Intec offered the first courses in this field. In the early 1990s, Robert Kanduth from Carinthia was busy tinkering around in his garage with his first attempts at solar collectors. Before long, he took the plunge and founded GREENoneTEC. His perseverance has been well rewarded. And the company has since developed to become the world’s largest manufacturer of solar thermal collectors.
A further green milestone: Fully automatic, sustainable heating using wood pellets. New standards were set by the Styrian manufacturer KWB-Kraft und Wärme aus Biomasse using innovative combustion technology to develop the cleanest pellet heating system on the market.
The Green Tech Valley is continously growing
Today, the Green Tech Valley combines the expertise of over 800 entrepreneurs in one location. 20 global leaders in technology all lie within one hour’s drive. This established network is robust and ready to launch into a greener future. More than 60 start-ups and therefore a large number of founding innovators are successfully investing their heart and soul into the development of new technologies for the green transition. With an above average R&D ratio, you can hear the buzz of research in the south of Austria. The top flight, cutting-edge research activities, devoted to the green solutions of the future, are here in the Valley, including 14 out of a total of 18 COMET Competence Centres in Austria. This unique combination of industrial expertise and dedicated research form the cornerstones of the region.
The call for new ways of thinking is getting louder and louder. That is why innovators in the Green Tech Valley constantly invest their deep know-how in further development of sustainable technologies for renewable energy and the circular economy and are continuously breaking new ground.
“The companies in the Green Tech Valley
have already generated CO2 savings of 550 mega tonnes.”
"The companies from the
Green Tech Valley
have aleady generated
CO2 savings of 550 mega tonnes"
– Bernhard Puttinger
CEO Green Tech Cluster
The Green Tech Valley has an impact
On the ECO Innovation Index Austria registers amongst the top three leaders in innovation in Europe. Above all, the country is noted for its above-average level of employment and high profit ratios in the green tech sector. The south of Austria is considered to be a particularly fertile breeding ground for eco-driven economic growth. Companies in the Valley have doubled the number of employees within the space of 10 years. Over and above this, they have tripled their sales turnover. With a research ratio of over 5% and investment in the development of new green technologies running in the billions, the Green Tech Valley is the dynamo of Austria as an innovation leader.
Green tech employees
Jobs with purpose
Distinctive research and the high level of industrial expertise place the country amongst the front runners, even when pitched against international competition. The advantages of the location are a magnet for leading environmental technology companies.
Many successful international companies have located their headquarters in the Green Tech Valley to ensure they are prepared for changing market conditions and future developments. The circuit board manufacturer AT&S relocated its headquarters to Leoben in Upper Styria. AVL, one of the leading independent companies involved in the development, simulation and testing of drive systems for the automotive industry, is also based in Graz. And one of the major groups in the mechanical and plant engineering sector, Andritz AG, also has its headquarters in Graz.
The high level of employment and growth in sales turnover in southern Austria also speaks volumes for the location. In the last 10 years, companies in the Green Tech Valley have been able to double their employment figures and triple their sales. Around 24,500 people are currently employed in the energy and environmental technology sector. Together they generate annual green tech sales of € 6.8 billion.
The export ratio of nearly 90% is also a positive confirmation of the worldwide demand for the products and services of Green Tech Valley companies.