Michael Kreppel-Friedbichler

General Manager Biogen Austria

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What does the USA mean for you personally?

When I think of the USA, a fascination based on innovation, mindset, and the belief that everybody can have an impact comes to my mind directly. At the same time, the USA is also a country with a different understanding of society and with some issues like a wide gap between rich and poor, a strong focus on divergent standpoints and limited room for compromise.

Overall, fascination and inspiration prevail as innovation, creativity and shaping the future is personally very close to my heart.

What does the USA mean for your company?

As a company, founded 45 years ago in Switzerland but with a headquarter based in Cambridge, MA, the USA is very important for Biogen. In our headquarter and innovation hub we use the possibility to collaborate with start-ups, universities and some of the best hospitals and laboratories in the world. This strong collaboration in the USA between us as a pioneering biotech company, academia and start-ups is a great asset.

The USA as our biggest and one of the most innovative markets is always important concerning our strategic decisions.

How important are the relations between Austria and the USA?

In addition to the EU, the relationship to the USA is very important for Austria. Based on the high level of expertise and our leadership in certain industrial areas, the USA has a strong interest to interact and collaborate with Austria. Especially in the areas of healthcare and digital innovation, a lot of Austrian start-ups moved into the US market or generally relocated to the USA at some point – So let’s use these bridges that the USA and Austria have to further strengthen the relationship.

How can the relationship between the two countries be improved and intensified?

A leaver for even better relationships is first and foremost the people – individual bridges and networks. Some of the most important aspects are the willingness to listen, to understand each other and the willingness to combine big thinking (moonshot mentality) in the USA with the solution orientation and pragmatisms in Austria. Humor can be the perfect enabler and a nice cherry on the cake of our relationship.

How can you/your company benefit more from bilateral trade?

Bilateral trade for products, raw materials but also for know-how is always great. With an alignment in terms of standards and quality both sides can grow and improve.

What is Austria better at?

Based on the general social system, Austria has built a strong healthcare system that offers a good basic service to almost all inhabitants. To maintain and further develop this system, ideas and examples of other countries like the USA can be an asset.

What is the USA better at?

USA is at the forefront of innovation in many areas and with a great mixture of high-quality academia, a start-up mentality (I can do it) and very good venture funding network. Taken together, this enables that ideas can reach the market very fast. Also in the field of digitalization, the USA has achieved a lot in the last years – in Europe we need to find the right balance to foster digital innovation with the right guidance and standards in place.

What can we learn from each other?

To learn from each other it is important to truly listen, try to understand each other and to combine the knowledge and experiences of both partners.

In the areas of education, medicine and renewable energies, I see a lot of potential. I think a mix and balance between Austria and the USA would be the ideal mix between speed and a system for most of all people.

What has been the best AmCham experience so far?

The exchange and the discussed topics are of high relevance and the overall quality of meetings is a strength. It is a strong platform bringing together people from various areas and backgrounds who all want to make a difference in our world.

What do you expect from AmCham?

I expect a high-quality exchange and a strong inspiration and bridging mentality for Austrian and USA based people and companies.