As of August 2018, the increase in the FWF’s budget will translate into immediate benefits for the scientific community in Austria.
In April 2016, budget constraints forced the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) to introduce application restrictions. These emergency measures included limiting the number of ongoing projects and capping the amount granted per project. Some two years later, thanks to a budget increase of EUR 110 million for the years 2018 to 2021, the new Executive Board headed by Klement Tockner is now able to lift at least some of these restrictions.
Specifically, the following changes will be made: (a) The maximum number of ongoing projects permitted will be raised from two to three. (b) The cap of EUR 400,000 on the application amount is lifted. (c) Project duration is still up to four years, but the option of a cost-neutral extension is extended to up to twelve months. The changes to the application restrictions regarding the number of projects and the application amount will become effective for all new applications submitted as of 1 August 2018. The extension of the cost-neutral prolongation to twelve months will come into force on 1 December 2018 for all projects that currently have a cost-neutral extension option of six months.
“After two years in which restrictions were admittedly drastic, I am truly delighted that the FWF is now able to let applicants benefit directly from the budget increase”, said FWF President Klement Tockner. The recent surge in the number of applications confirms his analysis. “Austria has enormous potential for cutting-edge research and the scientific community here has ambitious goals”, Tockner added. The FWF President sees the FWF as having a very clearly defined role. “Our task is to identify and promote scientific excellence according to the highest international quality standards, thereby ensuring optimal conditions for creative and outstanding research. With this - urgently needed - budget increase, the Federal Government has taken a first, central step that will enable us to fulfil our remit”, Tockner concluded.
The FWF President also pointed out how important it was to continue along the path adopted by Federal Minister Heinz Faßmann. “There is still a lot to be done if we want to achieve our goal of letting Austria catch up with the innovation leaders”, Tockner noted. An ambitious goal according to Tockner, but certainly achievable if everyone stays focused. Tockner defines three important steps for the FWF to make a pivotal contribution to fostering an outstanding research location: (a) increasing the FWF budget at least to a level comparable to the German Research Foundation (DFG); (b) introducing overheads for all FWF programmes; and (c) commissioning and implementing an initiative to promote research excellence.
Head of Public Relations and Science Communication