Vienna has been crowned 2015’s top ‘Knowledge City’ by the World Capital Institute, an independent, international think-tank which posits intellectual capital as the most powerful leverage for development.

The Austrian capital took out the ‘Knowledge City-Region’ Award at the Most Admired Knowledge Cities Awards, with the city’s educational establishments, cultural offering, high quality of life, cosmopolitanism and geopolitical location decisive factors in the win. The submission was made by Andreas Brandner and Günter Koch of Knowledge Management Austria (KM-A), who also attribute Vienna’s success to the strategic embedding of its knowledge agendas in Viennese institutions.

The ‘knowledge city’ win is also likely to further cement Vienna’s reputation as a ‘meeting metropolis’, giving it an added advantage in the competition for international meetings. The latest statistics published by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) for 2014, rank Vienna in second place worldwide as a congress destination, behind Paris and Madrid.

Christian Mutschlechner, Director of the Vienna Convention Bureau, said: “Vienna’s good accessibility by air, the cleanliness and safety in the city, an extensive public transport network and outstanding meeting infrastructure all contribute a great deal to Vienna’s success as one of the world’s finest meeting destinations. The fact that Vienna has once again received an ‘accolade’ as a centre of knowledge is a no less valuable argument in the acquisition of international meetings and congresses. A knowledge-based economy, intellectual capital as well as research and innovation are benchmarks for every meeting organiser and a driving force behind further investments in the destination.”

Focal strengths of the city’s knowledge economy include life sciences, urban technologies, creative industries and ICT. Vienna attaches major importance to science and research, with 2014 figures showing Vienna employs more than 40,400 people in the R&D sector. Life sciences is a key sector for the city, which is host to biotech, pharma and medtech companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Siemens. Philips and Boehringer Ingelheim. In addition, there are 25 public and private research institutions, among them the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), the Austrian Institute of Technology and the Campus Vienna Biocenter.

Vienna’s information and communication technologies sector is among Europe’s largest, specialising in IT services, as well as instruments and appliances for measuring, testing and navigation, and electronic components. Vienna is also making gains as a start-up hub. The city has hosted the annual Pioneers Festival since 2012, the largest start-up event in Central Europe,  with 2,500 international participants meeting at Hofburg Palace. Technology corporation Cisco runs its Entrepreneurs in Residence programme for Europe in Vienna in cooperation with economic development group the Vienna Business Agency.

Vienna has also achieved success by means of its geopolitical position between East and West, becoming known as a hub for international businesses, as well as being host to many major international organisations, including the United Nations and OPEC.

Renowned for its historical contributions to arts, modernism and science – Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Freud, Klimt, Schönberg, Schumpeter, von Hayek, Drucker, von Mises, von Förster – the UNESCO World Heritage site is also future-focused, with the recent ‘Innovative Vienna 2020’ strategy approved by Vienna City Council aimed at promoting the city’s innovative potential. The city also ranks highly on international scales for ‘Smart Cities’, quality of living, prosperity, business friendliness and environmental factors. ·

Günter Koch added: “Not least of the reasons why meeting destinations like Vienna, which offer the additional bonus of being a capital city as well as having a high degree of intellectual capital, are attractive is because visitors hungry for knowledge can get together with brilliant minds from science and research.”