Bitmovin is a leading global provider of online video technology. Working with the University of Klagenfurt and funded by the Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs (BMDW), collaborative efforts will now focus on new technologies set to improve the video streaming experience in the future. Bearing the title ATHENA (Adaptive Streaming over HTTP and Emerging Networked Multimedia Services), the project has been endowed with a budget worth several million Euros.
A dedicated research team will explore possible new tools and methods for encoding, transporting, and playing live and on-demand video using the HTTP adaptive streaming process. This technology is frequently used by online video and TV providers. The insights gained will contribute to supporting the development of next-generation solutions that deliver higher quality video experiences with lower latency while simultaneously reducing storage and distribution costs. Margarete Schramböck, Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs, sees great potential for the future in the development of technologies of this kind: “Video represents 60 % of the Internet data volume and, correspondingly, the potential for optimization and resource conservation is enormous. At the same time, the Christian Doppler Laboratory contributes to the development of high-tech in Carinthia, secures jobs and draws qualified personnel to the region. A win-win situation for companies, science and society.”
Fierce competition increases the need for innovation
“The partnership with the University of Klagenfurt allows us to investigate the basic building blocks of video delivery in greater detail. This will help us to remain in pole position in the years ahead”, as Christopher Müller, CTO at Bitmovin states. Christian Timmerer, Associate Professor at the Institute of Information Technology (ITEC) at the University of Klagenfurt and Laboratory Director, goes on to explain: “Increasing competition between online video providers will accelerate the need for innovation. We continuously strive to maintain the optimum balance between cost, quality of user experience and increasing complexity of content.”
Ministry of Economic Affairs provides support through the Christian Doppler Research Association
The Christian Doppler Laboratory ATHENA is jointly funded by Bitmovin and the Christian Doppler Research Association, whose primary public sponsor is the Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs. The budget for 7 years of research is approx. 4.5 million Euros, with the public sector providing roughly 2.7 million of this total. Martin Gerzabek, President of the Christian Doppler Research Association, sees great potential for cooperation between science and industry, as in this case: “ATHENA is our first Christian Doppler Laboratory at the University of Klagenfurt. We are very pleased about the expansion of our funding model, which facilitates cooperation between outstanding science and innovative companies on an equal footing. We congratulate the University of Klagenfurt on this great success and confidently look forward to further CD labs and JR centres in the region.”
According to Oliver Vitouch, Rector of the University of Klagenfurt, “ATHENA offers a fantastic opportunity for further pioneering developments in global leading-edge technologies. Video streaming has permeated our everyday lives; most of us use it on a daily basis. This lab of the future is an ideal blend of research and innovation”. In Klagenfurt, members of the Institute for Information Technology have been working on the development of innovative multimedia technology for around 20 years. Bitmovin, which operates on a global scale and maintains sites on three continents today, originally began its operations in Klagenfurt: The three founders (Stefan Lederer, currently CEO, Christopher Müller, currently CTO, and Christian Timmerer, currently CIO) first collaborated on the development of the MPEG-DASH-Video-Streaming-Standard during their time at the University of Klagenfurt. This standard is currently used by YouTube, Netflix, ORF-TVThek, Flimmit and many more besides.
Bitmovin was founded in 2013 by Stefan Lederer and Christopher Müller as a spin-off of the University of Klagenfurt, where they both worked on the standardization of MPEG-DASH, a major standard for video streaming, during their time as students. The start-up company found its first home in the neighbouring Lakeside Science & Technology Park. Today, the company provides the world’s most powerful products for highly efficient video streaming on the Internet. Large, international customers such as the BBC or Hulu Japan rely on solutions developed in Carinthia.
Since participating in the renowned Y Combinator programme in the USA, the official corporate headquarters are located in San Francisco. However, the two locations in Austria remain the centres of excellence for research and development – not least due to the strong ties to the University of Klagenfurt. Over the course of two financing rounds in 2016 and 2018, the company was able to secure over 40 million dollars in venture capital from international investors. Most recently, Bitmovin was granted up to 20 million euros by the European Investment Bank to finance research and development as well as investments in sales and marketing in the coming years. Market-oriented, forward-looking product development and research at the cutting edge earn Bitmovin awards time and again, such as the “Phoenix” start-up prize in 2016, one of the most prestigious start-up prizes in Austria, with which the Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH (aws), the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and the Federation of Austrian Industries (IV) recognise outstanding research achievements and innovative product ideas.
About Christian Doppler Laboratories
In Christian Doppler Laboratories, application-oriented basic research is carried out at a high level, which involves outstanding scientists cooperating with innovative companies. The Christian Doppler Research Association is internationally regarded as a best-practice example for the promotion of this type of cooperation. Christian Doppler Laboratories are jointly financed by the public sector and the participating companies. The primary public sponsor is the Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs (BMDW).
About the University of Klagenfurt
Since its foundation in 1970, the University of Klagenfurt has successfully established itself as one of six state universities with a broad range of subjects in Austria. More than 11,600 students pursue their studies and research at the University of Klagenfurt; around 2000 of these are international students. Approximately 1,500 employees strive for top quality in teaching and research. According to the QS World University Rankings (“Top 50 under 50”) the university belongs to the 150 best young universities worldwide. In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020, which endeavour to rank the top 1,400 universities across the globe, it placed in the 301-350 range. In the discipline of Computer Science, the University of Klagenfurt achieved third place among Austrian universities in the 201-250 range. One of the university’s key research strengths lies in “networked and autonomous systems”.
The formal opening of the Christian Doppler Laboratory ATHENA took place on 21 January 2020. Pictures of the opening ceremony are available to download free of charge (photo: Daniel Waschnig):
For further information see https://athena.itec.aau.at/