With the FWF Annual Report, we not only offer you an insight into the past funding year, but also invite you to look back on some special moments in research. Read it to find out more about key funding metrics and statistics. In total, the FWF invested around €273 million in its funding programs in 2022.


Foreword by the FWF Executive Board

With the first Clusters of Excellence, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), together with the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and the participating universities and research institutions, is opening a new chapter in research funding. Thirty-five consortia submitted proposals for the first call of the nation-wide initiative excellent=austria, eleven teams were shortlisted for the final round, and five clusters were approved. Austria’s new research networks will be advancing basic research in key areas: energy storage, quantum technologies, global health, the future of knowledge, and Eurasian cultural heritage. This milestone will be followed in the spring of 2024 by funding decisions for the Emerging Fields pro-gram, which was established to help transformative research in key areas achieve breakthroughs.

In addition to excellent=austria, the FWF also expanded its funding portfolio in other areas in 2022. AI Mission Austria, a funding program focusing on the development of artificial intelligence as a key technology, was launched in cooperation with Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws) and the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG). Funding from the NextGenerationEU recovery and resilience plan allowed the FWF to fund 22 university research projects in the field of quantum research as part of the Quantum Austria initiative.

Statistics from the five FWF Scientific Board meetings in 2022 show, as in previous years, a continued high demand for funding for open-topic Principal Investigator Projects - approximately 45% of the FWF’s funding volume. Thanks to the ESPRIT program, the FWF successfully hit its target of 50% women in its career development programs. In international collaborations, the past funding year was characterized by a high demand for the new inter-national Weave grants and the successful launch of the European Partnerships. In addition, six new Special Research Areas and four new Research Groups were established, and 64 doctoral positions were funded through the doc.funds and doc.funds.connect programs in 2022.

It is also important to mention that the FWF provided €1.2 million in crisis support for Ukrainian researchers. The commitment of numerous project heads gave 30 Ukrainian researchers the opportunity to continue their research careers in Austria.

In spite of all these successes, the funding budget still gives cause for concern. In 2022, the FWF funded 743 new research projects: a considerable number, but the potential is there for many more. Once again, in spite of excellent reviews, too many researchers were prevented from implementing their projects at Austrian research institutions due to a lack of funding. High inflation is compounding the situation.

If we want to see true social change, we need to find answers to the crucial ecological, economic, and political questions of our time. Basic research generates the knowledge we need to help us find these answers. The transformation to a sustainable future is the key issue of our generation – Austria should be dedicating the financial resources needed to support talented researchers who are already discovering today what will matter tomorrow.

The Executive Board of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

Foreword by Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen

Research does not necessarily have to have a practical application for it to generate knowledge that will benefit all of us in the future. Just as our children and grandchildren will work in professions that may not exist yet, much of our current research will be applied in ways we can’t even imagine.

The Nobel Prize awarded to Anton Zeilinger was a historic moment for basic research in Austria. It was important for him to be able to pursue his curiosity without restrictions, without needing to reach prespecified goals. Curiosity like his is what will help us find sustainable answers to both present and future challenges. Anton Zeilinger’s impressive career shows the potential of basic research in Austria – but individual curiosity isn’t enough, the conditions provided by research policy are also an important factor. Success needs an inspiring environment that gives ideas and visions a chance to thrive just as much as it needs those brilliant flashes of genius.

It takes freedom and financial security to get to the bottom of a question over the long term. And in any discipline, topclass research needs cooperation and exchange with the best in the world. FWF funding offers researchers these chances and opportunities. All FWF-funded projects are given the space they need to find answers to questions no one has asked before. I would like to congratulate all the researchers involved in projects funded by the FWF in 2022 – and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they’ll make the most of their opportunities. And who knows, maybe there will be more Nobel laureates among them.

Federal President of the Republic of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen

Foreword by Federal Minister Martin Polaschek

The FWF and the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) are united in their joint commitment to encouraging interest in science and research. The number of people skeptical about science and democracy seems to be higher in Austria than in other EU countries, which is why the BMBWF is working hard to make people more curious about research. The contributions made by science and the expertise of our researchers help us as a society to respond quickly and effectively to challenges.

Sometimes even the most abstract fields of research have the potential to captivate and fascinate, as demonstrated by Nobel laureate Anton Zeilinger. The FWF has played a role in his success by funding some of his groundbreaking research. This also demonstrates clearly that the FWF’s international quality assurance process is the key to producing outstanding research and future innovation.

2023 promises to be an exciting year: With excellent=austria, we are launching the largest funding initiative for basic research in Austria to date. This initiative will allow researchers to pursue more cross-institutional and unconventional cutting-edge research. Research institutions cooperating to produce excellent, high-quality findings will give Austria’s research profile even more visibility on the world stage.

The FWF has also made a significant contribution to the integration of Ukrainian researchers into the Austrian scientific community.

For this and for all the other important work performed by the FWF and its dedicated staff, I offer my sincere thanks. They help create the best possible conditions for researchers, allowing them to investigate fundamental scientific questions at the international level.

Martin Polaschek, Federal Minister for Education, Science and Research

Key figures and performance data

Austria's cutting-edge research continues to be on the upswing, and this growth is also reflected in the funding going towards third-party-funded research. Last year, for example, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) was able to finance 743 research projects worth €273 million, an increase of 6.6% as compared to the previous year.  €115 million went to projects in the natural sciences and technology, €100 million in biology and medical sciences, and €58 million in the humanities and social sciences. The FWF is currently funding a total of 4,842 researchers in ongoing projects at Austria's universities and other research institutions - a new record.


Annual Report (PDF)

You can find a review of the past year and all the performance figures in this year’s FWF Annual Report.


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