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Reinhold Mitterlehner, AT

Vice-chancellor and Federal Minister of Science, Research and Economy

The sea showcases exceptional projects in the area of sustainable entrepreneurship. What do you think of this initiative? 

Having set benchmarks, the projects distinguished serve as models that inspire other entrepreneurs to follow their example. That way, the SEA contributes to creating new awareness of the significance of sustainability.

What does sustainable entrepreneurship mean to you personally?

It’s a central business model of the future. Those who unite economy, ecology and social responsibility will be able to consolidate their competitiveness on a long-term basis. In addition, many areas require a new set of rules, because wealth and success are no longer defined by growth rates alone.

It seems that sustainable entrepreneurship is particularly relevant in economically challenging times. Why is that?

In times of crisis, measures are examined more critically than in boom times. In order to achieve a long-term economic improvement it is not enough to simply do more or less of the same. Instead, it needs structural change with innovative products and services being introduced to new markets. It's all the more important that SE is ingrained in the company philosophy.

How firmly rooted is sustainable entrepreneurship already in people’s thinking and, above all, in the actions of companies?

All in all, we are well prepared in Austria, but we must not rest on this position because a growing number of countries recognise the opportunities of acting in a sustainable manner. It is important not to merely regard CSR as a useful marketing claim but to put it into practice at all levels. 

What is your opinion of Austrian companies’ contribution towards SE?

In international comparisons our companies are leading the way. Especially in the field of energy and environment-friendly technologies Austrian companies are among the technology pioneers. This is why eco-innovations from Austria are in ever greater demand all over the world.

What sectors do you consider exemplary?

Above all, it's the companies dealing with energy and environmental technologies or with medical technology that put a particular emphasis on the issue of sustainability. The submissions for the SEA 2012 show this very clearly. Especially in these branches it's important that their CSR claim does not only exist on paper.

Politics, industry, society – who should be the driving force for the development of sustainable entrepreneurship?

All parties involved are equally addressed. The transition of our economic system into a more sustainable one not only requires alternative basic conditions and subsidy frameworks, but also new products and services that - in turn - have to be accepted by customers.