"Disruptive Innovation - Early Career Seed Money" is a joint funding program of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) to facilitate the implementation of unconventional, innovative, and potentially high-risk ideas with an uncertain outcome. It is financed by the Fonds Zukunft Österreich (FZÖ). Funding will be interdisciplinary and across thematic areas, with seed money being made available as flexible grants that may be used freely. The low-threshold application process and an unconventional selection procedure are intended to help radically new ideas achieve a breakthrough.

Target group

The target group is outstanding young researchers who completed their doctoral degree not more than three years pre, whose projects suggest extraordinary potential for disruptive innovation. No restrictions with regard to discipline or topic apply. Projects from all scientific disciplines in the field of basic research are eligible for funding. While not a prerequisite for submission, researchers are particularly encouraged to submit interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary and arts-based research proposals.

Funding Goals

Social progress thrives on scientific and academic breakthroughs. Disruptive innovation, i.e. completely innovative ideas, approaches, or experiments which are difficult to integrate into the scientific or social environment at the time they are developed, typically stand at the beginning of such breakthroughs, often undertaken by young, outstanding, creative and productive researchers at an early stage of their careers. The significance of disruptive ideas often becomes evident only after several years or decades; traditional funding tools have their limits when it comes to identifying and supporting such ideas. New disruptive ideas and approaches may also arise from the transfer of new technologies or expertise from abroad to existing research fields and are thus eligible for funding under this program.

Additional program-specific information

Applications are submitted to and reviewed by the ÖAW, and the review process is carried out by the FWF. Approved projects receive a contract with the Austrian Academy of Sciences, which also handles the costs and final review.

Funding period and funding amount

  • 1 to 12 months
  • €25,000 to €75,000
  • The principal investigator’s own salary can only be financed for up to 6 months


  • Researchers who are affiliated with a research institution in Austria and have completed their doctoral studies not more than 36 months ago (calculated from the date of their doctoral defence (Rigorosum), cut-off date: October 31, 2023; eligible to apply: holders of a scientific, medical, or arts-based doctorate). Pursuant to the Guidelines of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), career interruptions of up to 36 months due to parental or other leaves of absence, illness, caregiving obligations, etc. may be taken into consideration.
  • When submitting their proposal, applicants must present approval from the research institution at which the project is intended to be carried out (declaration of consent). A new declaration of consent is required in the event of a change to a new research institution during the term of the project.
  • Applicants should be prepared to pro-actively contribute to the public presentation of the program and to attend related events.
  • Only one application may be filed per person.


  • Selection by an international jury with broad expertise and experience in evaluating highly innovative or original research ideas
  • Pre-selection by the jury of a maximum of 70 applications from all applications received for the selection weekend
  • Selection weekend with applicants and jury from March 8-10, 2024 in the form of short presentations, poster sessions, and in-depth discussions
  • The jury decides on approximately 15 projects directly recommended for funding and nominates approximately 30 additional projects for a pool of projects worthy of funding; of these, about 15 projects are drawn at random and approved for funding.
  • Announcement of award decision and information to applicants expected mid-March 2024

Application information

All applications must be submitted by email to programmmanagement(at)oeaw.ac.at before the application deadline, using the forms provided.

Funding institution

Austrian Academy of Sciences and Austrian Science Fund (FWF)


Currently no submissions

Inquiries and contact

Dr. Uwe von Ahsen (FWF)
+43 676 83487 8611

Dr. Alexander Nagler (ÖAW)
+43 1 51581 1272 1270

Application documents

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