For more than 50 years, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) has pursued its goal of facilitating cutting-edge research in Austria. What began in 1968 with a budget of 37 million Austrian shillings (a little over €2.5 million in today’s currency) and a handful of projects has grown to more than €270 million and over 2,700 funded projects in 2022. The principles of the FWF, which are still its strengths today, remain unchanged: Providing thematically open funding to researchers from all disciplines and at every career level.

On October 25, 1967, the Austrian National Council passed the Research Funding Act (Forschungsförderungsgesetz), which established two research funding organizations as independent legal entities: the Austrian Science Fund (Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung) and the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (Forschungsförderungsfonds der gewerblichen Wirtschaft) After the senates and departments of the eleven Austrian universities had elected their representatives to the Assembly of Delegates, the constituent meeting of the Austrian Science Fund (known as the FFWF at the time) was held on March 4, 1968; the meeting was chaired by Federal Minister Theodor Piffl-Perčević. Just a few days later, the assets and liabilities of the Austrian Research Council, an association founded in 1960, were transferred to the FFWF.

The legal framework created by the Research Funding Act in 1967 has been amended twice, but the key elements and principles of the FWF’s work remain unchanged. The Research Funding Act was first amended by the Research Organization Act (Forschungsorganisationsgesetz) in 1981. For the FWF, the new legislation mainly brought about changes in the composition of its decision-making bodies: Both the Assembly of Delegates and the Scientific Board were expanded to include representatives of associations and interest groups. The second major amendment reformed Austria’s research funding landscape in 2004, in response to the Universities Act 2002 (Universitätsgesetz 2002).  The FWF was restructured, and the expansion of decision-making bodies adopted in the Research Organization Act was for the most part reversed. In its current form, the FWF is an Austrian institution established as a separate legal entity under Austrian law for the purpose of funding basic research. Under the provisions of the Research and Technology Funding Act, the FWF was equipped with new structures and its strategic and operational units were separated. Since those reforms, the activities of the FWF have been overseen by a supervisory board.

Scroll to the top