RTI summit in spring 2019: RTI Strategy 2030, excellence initiative, Research Funding Act, consolidation of research councils, research funding database

On Wednesday, 22nd August, Federal Ministers Heinz Fassmann (Ministry of Education, Science and Research), Margarete Schramböck (Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs) and Norbert Hofer (Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology) presented an advancement drive for research, technology and innovation to the council of ministers. The proposal submitted to the council for approval is based on the government programme, which included this priority topic. The three federal ministers are now jointly proposing concrete steps to implement the government’s plans. Initial results are to be presented as early as spring 2019 at a first RTI summit.

FWF hails advancement drive as very promising

FWF President Klement Tockner considers the three ministries’ joint undertaking to be extremely promising. Based on the set of actions defined in the proposal submitted to the council of ministers, the drive will sustainably pursue four overall goals:

  • To position Austria as a research nation among the leading European countries in the fields of research, training and innovation
  • To foster a competitive research culture that promotes excellence in line with international standards and ensures room for scientific development
  • To strengthen distinct profiles in the research landscape and to cultivate increased cooperation between disciplines and institutions
  • To recruit and retain the best and most creative talents by means of a science-friendly research environment and attractive career prospects for young scientists

Compared to the current RTI Strategy 2020, in which some things have fallen by the wayside, the new undertaking presents essential improvements, according to the FWF’s president, as it constitutes a joint approach, also involves the finance ministry, and features a clear division of tasks. “The advancement drive encourages a research culture that seeks to promote cutting-edge research and innovation to the highest international standards – as has been the practice in countries such as Switzerland or the Netherlands. The FWF as a funding institution in particular generates a competitive framework that meets the highest international standards for fairness and transparency. The researchers who receive funding from us stand for scientific excellence”, Mr. Tockner concluded.

Overview of the five actions in the fields of research, technology and innovation (RTI)

1) Development of a new RTI Strategy 2030: As the term of the current RTI Strategy expires in 2020, a new strategy will be drafted, based on the principles of excellence and competition, impact and openness. It will build, among other things, on the lessons learned from the OECD’s RTI review currently in course.

2) Excellence initiative: In order to specifically strengthen and advance competitive basic research in Austria, an excellence initiative will be established to promote cutting-edge research.

3) Research Funding Act: Research institutions and research funding institutions will have greater planning reliability, and cooperation with the ministries will be made even more efficient.

4) Consolidation of the research councils RFTE, ÖWR and ERA Council Forum: By consolidating the Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development (RFTE), the Austrian Science Board (ÖWR) and the ERA Council Forum, a new advisory body to the federal government will be established in line with international benchmarks.

5) Research funding database: On the recommendation of the RFTE, a pan-Austrian research funding database will be set up, facilitating an overview of public research funding across institutions.

Austrian Science Fund FWF

The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is Austria’s central funding organisation for basic research. Applying international quality benchmarks, the FWF provides funding for outstanding research projects and excellent researchers who work to generate, broaden and deepen scientific knowledge.


Marc Seumenicht
Head of Public Relations and Science Communication

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