Creating innovative leeway, opening up the world of science, new forms of co-operation and efficient processes are the declared aims of FWF President Klement Tockner
On 1 September 2016, the new Executive Board of the Austrian Science Fund FWF starts its term of office under the lead of Klement Tockner. The 53-year-old aquatic ecologist is supported by three Scientific Vice-Presidents: Gerlinde Mautner (Institute for English Business Communication, Vienna University of Economics and Business), Gregor Weihs (Institute for Experimental Physics, University of Innsbruck) and Ellen Zechner (Institute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Graz). Artemis Vakianis is the new Executive Vice-President in charge of commercial and administrative matters.
Klement Tockner, former Director of the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries as well as Professor for Aquatic Ecology at the Freie Universität Berlin, takes over as FWF President from Christine Mannhalter. The Professor of Molecular Diagnostics had been entrusted with the presidency ad interim in August 2015, after Pascale Ehrenfreund left the FWF for the German National Aeronautics and Space Research Centre (DLR). As of 1 September, Christine Mannhalter assumes the chair of the non-profit research, information and culture undertaking Genom Austria, a citizen-science project initiated by the CeMM Research Centre for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Medical University of Vienna.
Challenges, ideas, new input
In a first assessment, Klement Tockner finds national and international funding of research to be confronted by great challenges, but also perceives these challenges to be opportunities for quality improvement and science development. “As a research funding organisation we have to create even more visible innovative leeway for research and support the humanities and sciences in opening up - particularly towards society at large”, notes Klement Tockner.
After two decades of catching up successfully in basic research, it was now important to ensure Austria did not lose any of its appeal. “In order to foster Austria’s sustainable development as a science and innovation venue, research – and particularly knowledge-driven basic research – requires massive support in terms of ideas and funding”, is the central issue for Klement Tockner as the new FWF President.
On the basis of this stronger support, Klement Tockner and his Executive Board want to introduce a qualitative reorientation of research funding. “In agreement with the Austrian Federal Government’s Strategy for Research, Technology and Innovation, it is our declared objective to shorten the gap between Austria and the leading nations in terms of research and innovation, such as Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark or Sweden”, explains Tocker and continues: “In order to achieve that, the FWF first needs to be in a position to actually grant funds to all project applications with excellent reviews.”
In his term of office, the new FWF President would like to see a strong basis of trust which ensures unequivocal pledges to be followed through and implemented. “As far as I am concerned, trust is one of the most important ‘currencies’ of science. It is my goal to enhance the mutual basis of trust between the FWF, the providers of funds and our partners in science, in the business community and in the general public. I am confident that we will achieve our goal”, affirms Klement Tockner.
The Austrian Science Fund FWF
The FWF is Austria’s central institution for the funding of basic research. It supports research projects of international excellence devoted to obtaining, enhancing and deepening scientific knowledge.
Head of Public Relations and Science Communication