Austria is helping start-ups. In a first step, start-ups can double fresh equity up to EUR 800,000 by obtaining a contribution from the Austrian promotional bank AWS. The main requirements are:

  • Minimum contribution: EUR 10,000; maximum contribution: EUR 800,000;
  • The start-up qualifies as a micro or small enterprise (Kleinstunternehmen oder Kleinunternehmen) and is not older than five years (date of registration) – this is required under EU state aid laws; very young startups (established prior to 15 March 2020) are excluded;
  • Only fresh equity counts; fresh equity is essentially equity that was provided to the start-up after 15 March 2020; equity that was provided before that date (but after 15 September 2019) only counts if at least 75% of the total funds are provided after 15 March 2020. The funds must have been actually provided (paid and received), not only committed;
  • Equity-like funds (e.g. convertible loans) also count under certain circumstances;
  • Funds provided by certain related parties (majority shareholders, managing directors and their relatives) and public bodies do not count;
  • The start-up must be innovative (as defined by the AWS guidelines);
  • Important: The contribution is repayable if the start-up generates an annual profit (Jahresüberschuss); in such a case, up to 50% of the profit must be used for repayment. The obligation to repay lapses after ten years. Upon the sale of the company (majority sale or 100% sale), the contribution is fully repayable;
  • No interest accrues on the contribution.

Originally published 29 May, 2020

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