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The Software Internet Cluster (SIC) celebrated its 20th anniversary with the who’s who of the Carinthian business, education and IT scene in the Electric Garden next to the Wörthersee. The association of internet and software companies intends to continue promoting IT issues in Carinthia. Right at the top is the expansion of the fiber optic network.

Time travel to 1999. The first bulky computers moved into the offices. The first digital picture frame caused a sensation worldwide and Windows announced a new, simpler operating system. For many, the Internet was still unknown. Software is something completely abstract. But even then, the Carinthian IT experts recognized the potential and importance of the new technologies. They founded the Association Software Internet Cluster. A lot has happened since then. A strong community has developed from the SIC with currently around 60 members and over 1,000 software and internet specialists, management consultants and scientists. Together they have one goal: as the best IT experts in the country, to bundle know-how and drive innovative projects in the country forward.

Personalities who want to advance
Innovative strength and perseverance are typical characteristics of the SIC, which has been supported from the start by personalities who want to advance the IT landscape of Carinthia. Martin Zandonella has been the President of the SIC, who has been in this position before Marc Gfrerer for twelve years. As the host of the small anniversary celebration with baby-elephant distance in the Electric Garden next to the Wörthersee with the who’s who of the local IT scene, he is happy about the success of the SIC. “With the SIC, we want to deliver quality and become a brand. Under the motto together instead of lonely, we are focusing on cooperation and internationalization, especially in the next few years”, says Gfrerer. The industry’s economic performance is impressive – every IT job creates three additional jobs in Austria.

Strong Partners by your Side
WK President Jürgen Mandl and Economic Councilor Sebastian Schuschnig are impressed by the achievements of the SIC. For Schuschnig, it is one of the few clusters that he currently enjoys going to. During the Covid 19 crisis it became clear where there are still gaps in digitization. “Broadband is part of the basic supply like water, garbage or sewers. Providing the appropriate infrastructure is a clear mandate ”, says the Regional Economic Council. Mandl also supports SIC because it is extremely important for Carinthia as a business location. “We need people who do something with dynamism and strength and persistently drive forward topics of the future. Without software and the internet, we wouldn’t be where we are today”, says Mandl.

Not possible without Software and the Internet
The thematic range of the SIC is broad: on the one hand, internet and software companies are considered to be the drivers of topics in IT security, e-commerce, open source, digitization and start-ups, and on the other hand, the SIC is strongly networked with research and educational institutions. It works with the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt as well as the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences and the schools. The former university rector Prof. Heinrich C. Mayr is one of the founding members and is still active as chairman of the advisory board. He can tell many anecdotes from the early years. “Although not all of the ideas came into being, a lot has happened”, says Mayr. A certain spirit of optimism has remained to this day. Markus Malle, chairman of the ÖVP club, is also a founding member of the SIC. “At that time we traveled the country like missionaries holding onto our ideas. That is why the SIC has existed for 20 years”, says Malle looking back. And it continues to grow. The industry has grown wider over time. Companies have specialized and cover different fields. This mix of established companies, experts in niches and young start-ups makes SIC more attractive than ever. Right now there is awareness that software and the Internet are among the basics – without it, it’s no longer possible in business.

Virtual Guests
Federal Ministers Elisabeth Köstinger and Margarete Schramböck joined the team from Vienna as special online guests to convey their greetings. “The future doesn’t happen, you have to do something for it. The SIC is not only a think tank, but also a do tank and that is something we can hope for for all of Austria. Digitization is the key future industry, and broadband expansion is the basis for this”, says Köstinger. Schramböck knows how important software and IT are for job creation: “The SIC is exemplary for digitization in the region and Austria.”

20 years ago, such live broadcasts were unimaginable for many. The future will create many new opportunities in IT – and the members of SIC are already involved in major international ideas. To do this, however, they need an appropriate infrastructure – such as the rapid expansion of the fiber optic network.

Photographer: Didi Wajand
Caption left to right:
Working for the Software Internet Cluster (SIC) – Dieter Jandl, Martin Zandonella, SIC President Marc Gfrerer, Anja Silberbauer, SIC Managing Director Karin Zezulka, Klaus Reimüller, Thorsten Jost, Holger Schmitz and Prof. Heinrich C. Mayr.