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 €350 million in its funding programs in 2023.


Foreword by the FWF Executive Board

“I just wasn’t sure whether I was dreaming or if it was reality,” is how Ferenc Krausz describes the moment he recognized the Swedish number on his phone and found out about his Nobel Prize a few attoseconds later. His career has taken him from Budapest via Vienna to Munich, with many stops along the way. As with the previous Nobel laureates Anton Zeilinger and Emmanuelle Charpentier, several FWF grants have given him the opportunity to break new scientific ground. After winning the FWF START Award and later the prestigious FWF Wittgenstein Award, it was clear that he and his team at TU Wien were on the trail of a major break-through. Several of the FWF-funded publications from his time in Vienna provided the basis for his Nobel Prize. Read our interview to find out his plans for the future.

Nobel Prizes focus attention on scientific achievements resulting from public investments in research. In 2023, a total of 624 researchers and their teams demonstrated their pioneering spirit to the FWF, just like Ferenc Krausz once did – we’ll be introducing some of them in this Annual Report.

FWF’s funding programs and their excellent reputation are thanks to the hard work of many people at the FWF, who we’d like to bring into the spotlight here. The terms of office of the Supervisory Board, the Assembly of Delegates, and the Scientific Board expired in 2023, and new colleagues took up their posts.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to all of them: to the members of the Supervisory Board for their conscientious monitoring of the FWF’s activities and to Sonja Puntscher Riekmann and Günther Burkert for chairing the board prudently and well. Developments like the move to the new FWF location or the digitalization of funding administration are evidence of the Board’s foresight. We would also like to thank the members of the Assembly of Delegates, its Chair Michaela Fritz, and her deputy Horst Bischof for their valuable contributions and productive discussions. Our thanks also go out to all the members of the Scientific Board for their expertise and the resulting high quality of the funding decisions made.

At the same time, we’d also like to welcome all the newcomers: the newly elected members of the Supervisory Board under Chair Heinz Engl and Deputy Chair Susanne Kalss, Manuela Baccarini as the new Chair of the Assembly of Delegates and her deputy Andrea Höglinger, together with all the new colleagues and the 69 new Scientific Consultants on the Scientific Board. Welcome to the FWF!

We have a record year behind us, with around €350 million in funding awarded. There remains, however, cause for great concern that, despite an overall increase in the FWF’s budget, there are still insufficient means to allow us to approve all of the out-standing projects worthy of funding. Continued high inflation is also dampening real growth.

A new round of promising research projects, the Emerging Fields, will be starting in the summer of 2024. Together with the Clusters of Excellence, the Emerging Fields form the second pillar of the excellent=austria initiative. A comprehensive funding reform in the highly competitive postdoc sector (“R3”) will create additional new incentives: The FWF ASTRA Awards currently under development will include better funding opportunities and set new standards in the advancement of women. The funding agreement recently concluded with the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research for the period until 2026 enables Austria to continue to successfully fund vital and internationally visible basic research – supported by the FWF’s commitment to promoting the 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

Today’s world is characterized by enormous social, economic, and ecological challenges. We have to face these challenges – burying our heads in the sand and hoping for improvement is not an option. It’s up to us to work together to find solutions and discover new ways forward.

Research and science are among the most creative and reliable tools we have to do this. This makes researchers our closest allies if we want to better understand an increasingly complex world. They embody the pioneering spirit and ask the right questions, so we can find the answers we need to make progress in all areas of our lives. And they also make fascinating new worlds accessible to us, from Ferenc Krausz’s attoseconds to Anton Zeilinger’s quantum particles.

When it comes to research and innovation, our country has a lot to offer: The breakthroughs and innovative strength coming from Austria’s universities and non-university research institutions are truly impressive. FWF funding gives hundreds of researchers the opportunity to generate new knowledge in cooperation with the world’s brightest minds, for the benefit of all.

I wish all of you continued success for this important work, because I’m convinced that science and research give us a much better chance of mastering the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Federal President of the Republic of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen

Foreword by Federal Minister Martin Polaschek

New findings that benefit society and the economy are closely linked to outstanding achievements in research. One of the highlights of 2023 was undoubtedly the presentation of the Nobel Prize in Physics to the Hungarian-Austrian physicist Ferenc Krausz.

The FWF played an important role here, as several of the publications cited by the Nobel Prize Committee were funded by the FWF. Ferenc Krausz was a recipient of the FWF START Award early in his career and later also won the FWF Wittgenstein Award. This is an impressive demonstration of how the right fundi ng and support can lay the foundations for cutting-edge research.

The kick-off of the excellent=austria funding initiative was a further standout moment in 2023: Five consortia in the Clusters of Excellence program launched their cooperative projects on forward-looking issues. Clusters of Excellence not only create networks between important stakeholders in strong areas of the Austrian research community but also increase their international visibility. We can expect to see particularly high-risk and innovative research projects from the second program in the initiative, Emerging Fields. I am looking forward to the announcement of these projects with great interest.

Strengthening trust in science is another key concern for me, which is why I particularly welcome the Science Communication program initiated by the FWF. This program was created specifically to facilitate the communication of important research findings to the public.

Finally, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the FWF and all its employees and congratulate the successful researchers and participating research institutions on their achievements.

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 research projects worth €348.9 million, an increase of 27.8% as compared to the previous year.  €148.2 million went to projects in the natural sciences and technology, €122.6 million in biology and medicine, and €78.1 million in the humanities and social sciences. The FWF is currently funding a total of 4,890 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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