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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Austria

16th February 2018 Vienna, Austria

Mozart and Fintech

The room is crammed with over 40 financial services companies.  In the next few hours, 27 British Fintech companies and 15 Austrian financial institutions will hold over 120 meetings to explore business opportunities.

Why did this event work so well?

The UK hosts the world’s strongest Fintech ecosystem, closely followed by California and New York. The UK market is worth €7.5bn and employs 61,000 people.  Austrian financial services companies are keen to gain access to the market and services offered by UK Fintech companies – and vice-versa. The challenge – and the opportunity – is to bring them together.

That is why the Department for International Trade in Austria and Switzerland worked together to recruit more than two dozen leading Fintech companies for a joint mission to Vienna and Zurich. The invitation for the Vienna leg to the UK Fintech companies, entitled “Why Austria? Isn’t it more Mozart than Fintech?”, noted that Austrian companies had a high market share across Central and Eastern Europe and could be a valuable market to UK companies.  44 companies applied and were placed in front of potential customers in Austria and Switzerland. Those who got the most requests for meetings – working in areas such as blockchain, international payments, quantum security, cyber security, wealth management, regtech and digital identity verification – came on the mission.

Once in place, in a fast-moving and dynamic interaction which I witnessed, each UK company made a three-minute pitch to the room full of Austrian financial institutions. Using a Viennese start-up called DealMatrix, audience members could rate each presentation through their mobile phones as well as being able to tap a button to make contact directly.

The Top 5 UK Companies receiving the highest averages scores were, in alphabetical order,  Digital Shadows, Funding Circle, Money Mover, Onfido and Recordsure.

After a great keynote from Ben Brabyn of Level39 and the fintech presentations, we arranged a further series of  1 to 1 meetings  between the Austrian and UK companies. I am always astonished how brilliant our residence in Vienna, built in the 1870s, is for modern diplomacy, and this was no exception – it provided meeting spaces for over 120 meetings.  Thanks in part to the spectacular surroundings, the entire event generated an unprecedented amount of social media attention on Twitter and LinkedIn (in excess of 10,000 views).

All in all, this was an invaluable opportunity, bringing together dynamic financial sector companies with the potential to work together. We shall continue to liaise closely with companies in Austria and look forward to hearing from you if you want further support in this sector.

To find out how we can help your business export and grow, please contact Miles.Fisher@mobile.trade.gov.uk.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.