The Austrian Minister of Science and the FWF President address strategic plans for the Austrian Science Fund FWF up to 2020 – FWF budget increased by EUR 281 million – more leeway for new projects and funding of additional researchers
At a joint press conference on Monday, the Austrian Minister of Science, Reinhold Mitterlehner, and the President of the FWF, Klement Tockner, presented their new funding strategy for basic research in Austria. “We are raising the budget of the Austrian Science Fund FWF, thus enabling it to support more projects and researchers than ever before. A country like Austria needs to compete in the champions league of research. This step will secure jobs and prosperity in the long term”, says Mitterlehner. “The crux is to turn Austria into one of the most attractive science and business venues. The Government's ‘research billion’ is a major step towards achieving this common goal”, emphasises FWF President Klement Tockner. “It is a courageous signal that deserves our profound gratitude.”
Highlights of the Future Strategy
The Austrian Science Fund FWF is an important pillar of research excellence. Mitterlehner and Tockner jointly presented the main lines of the FWF’s strategy for the period 2017 until 2020. The declared aim: strengthening Austria as a leading science venue and giving a boost to basic research. Against this background, the Federal Government has approved an initiative from Mitterlehner and decided to increase the FWF budget by 50 percent, resulting in an additional amount of EUR 281 million for the period 2018 until 2021. This will progressively raise the annual budget from the current EUR 184 million to EUR 290 million in 2021, thus enabling the FWF to support more projects and to give funding to an additional 1,400 scholars per year.
The second focus is on using resources even more effectively in order to provide optimum support for research activities. The ongoing re-structuring of the FWF will work towards that end. The aims here are a transparent structure of internal work flows (in response to recommendations from Austria's Court of Audit), improved co-ordination with other research support organisations and an optimised transition from basic research to applied research and business applications. Thirdly, the FWF will focus on new issues in terms of content: the creation of 100 additional ‘future chairs’ for research between 2018 and 2021 features in the strategy paper as well as a ‘1000 Ideas Programme’. The latter targets high-risk research topics which would have little chance of being approved in traditional funding programmes.
The plans also include setting up an FWF Foundation so as to be even more attractive for third-party funding and stimulate more private funds for basic research. In addition, the FWF intends to be a model and pioneer when it comes to improving the quality of the research review and selection process. The FWF is endeavouring as well to rapidly develop an open science strategy as a basis for open innovation, in co-operation with research institutions.
Austria Ranked 2nd in EU in Research Spending
“Innovation, science and research are the way to secure our future. Our budget takes its cue from these focus areas”, says Mitterlehner. The fact that this is not an empty claim is demonstrated by Austria’s climb in the EU research rankings. Austria is currently in second place when it comes to research spending within the European Union. At an R&D ratio of 3.07 percent of GDP, Austria is clearly above the EU average of 2.04 percent and has overtaken innovation leaders such as Germany, Denmark and Finland. Mitterlehner views this as “evidence of the excellent work at our universities, research institutions and corporate research activities. The positive trend shows that additional funds and stronger interlinkage between science and the business world do have an impact.”
Strategische Vorhaben 2017–2020(pdf, 270KB) (only available in German)
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