FWF 1000 Ideen Gruppenbild Credit FWFDanielNovotny
Promising research ideas for Austria's future: Federal Minister of Science Heinz Faßmann and FWF President Klement Tockner emphasise the courage and innovative potential of all researchers in the 1000 Ideas Programme. Learn more about those researchers who beat out the competition in the first call for proposals. © FWF/Daniel Novotny

Researchers working in basic research want to discover something new. There is always a risk for the researchers involved in breaking new ground, but if they succeed, there is a good chance that they will make an innovation leap. This is the reason why the 1,000 Ideas Programme specifically supports high-risk research with the aim of further enhancing Austria’s innovative power. Learn more about those researchers who beat out the competition in the first call for proposals.

Originality takes precedence. In the 1,000 Ideas Programme, the number of projects as principal investigator or publications is of secondary importance. Funding is awarded to unconventional projects and novel research approaches that possess the potential to make an innovation leap. The programme provides freedom for fresh research approaches which will lead later on to new research domains. Funded researchers receive between €100,000 and €150,000 per project for a maximum of 24 months.

“Austria specifically supports the courage and the innovativeness of its researchers. As pioneers in their field, they can discover entirely new possibilities and lay the foundation for future applications. This not only benefits Austria, but each and every one of us in the long run,” said Federal Minister of Science Heinz Faßmann.

“We are thrilled to get the first 1,000 Ideas projects up and rolling. The premiere demonstrates the diversity of high-risk research with projects coming from all three major areas of research,” said FWF President Klement Tockner and continued, “The aim is to enable researchers at Austrian research institutes to implement visionary ideas. This increases the chances of scientific breakthroughs for the good of all – even if the original idea should happen to fail.”

New approaches to quality assurance

With the 1,000 Ideas Programme, the FWF is breaking new ground in the way project applications are reviewed and aims to assess these very original or high-risk research ideas with the greatest impartiality. 306 applications were anonymized, selected in part at random, and then assessed by a 20-member international panel headed by James W. Kirchner (ETH Zürich). The experts of the FWF Board took the funding decision based on the panel’s recommendation. In the first call for proposals, 24 projects at twelve universities and research institutes were approved with a funding volume of €3.4 million.

Five research projects from the 1,000 Ideas Programme are featured below to give you an idea of the range of different research being conducted in all 24 newly approved projects:

New paths in malaria research

Karin Albrecht-Schgör
Department of Medical Genetics, Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology; Medical University of Innsbruck

Every two minutes a child dies of malaria. One reason is the high rate of complications in children. One of these complications is cerebral malaria, which leads to brain involvement and often ends in death. Current therapies have neglected the pathological role of the immune system. By adopting a completely new approach, Karin Albrecht-Schgör of the Medical University of Innsbruck wants to place the focus of cerebral malaria therapy directly on the immune system.

New paths in migration and religious research

Ariane Sadjed
Institute for Iran Studies; Austrian Academy of Sciences

In her project, cultural researcher Ariane Sadjed of the Austrian Academy of Sciences examines Jewish and Islamic minorities in Austria and their common experiences as immigrants and religious minorities. What makes her project unique is the selection of communities: the focus is on criteria that reveal both similarities (such as language or regional origin) and differences (reason for emigration, socio-economic status). The focus on biographies and everyday experiences enables her to break open narratives of identity and belonging, and the use of new approaches in interviewing and text interpretation call attention to previously little noticed aspects of emigration and immigration.

New paths in AI research

Jan Steinbrener
Institute of Intelligent System Technologies; University of Klagenfurt

Physicist Jan Steinbrener of the University of Klagenfurt has developed a new approach to controlling drones: the aircraft should teach themselves to fly. In his project, Jan Steinbrener bases his approach on the developmental process by which humans acquire motor skills. Elements of continuous learning are combined with novel AI-based algorithms. The innovative aspect of the project is that the drone teaches itself how to move and acquires experience through real attempts at flying. The ability to use knowledge about oneself acquired through learning by doing to meet new challenges is paving the path to the next generation of intelligent mechatronic systems.

New paths in material physics

Toma Susi
Faculty of Physics, University of Vienna

Completely new insights into physics can be obtained by smashing molecules and bombarding materials with beams. Particularly enlightening is the research into how matter and antimatter behave. Material physicist Toma Susi of the University of Vienna is working on a little-researched atom, positronium, to apply existing modelling tools for the first in this field. Through his project, he is laying the foundation for developing new approaches to physical models in the field of anti-matter physics.

New paths in cancer research

Adelheid Wöhrer
Division of Neuropathology and Neurochemistry, Medical University of Vienna

Targeted therapies are a milestone in the treatment of cancer. While it has turned out to be a “silver bullet” for some cancer diseases, it has had less success with others. In her project, Adelheid Wöhrer of the Medical University of Vienna investigates the hypothesis of whether the quantity and composition of tumour cell clones vary. The rule here is the more complex, the more resistant to therapy. With this project, the team is breaking new ground as the tumour is not analysed as a static entity, but as a dynamic one, similar to an anthill. The transformative potential of the project lies in its ability to directly influence tumour heterogeneity through a better mechanistic understanding.

Overview of all the projects approved as part of the 1,000 Ideas Programme in alphabetical order:

Karin Albrecht-Schgör: Therapy of cerebral malaria with Adenosine 2A receptor blockade
Medical University of Innsbruck – Department of Medical Genetics, Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology

Kerstin Bellaire-Siegmund: Sox makes the difference
Medical University of Innsbruck – Department of Medical Genetics, Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology

Frederic Berger: A novel epigenetic code
Austrian Academy of Sciences – Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology

Markus Faulhuber: Universal optimality of the hexagonal lattice
University of Vienna – Faculty of Mathematics

Wolfram Graf: River sounds – A stimulus for aquatic organisms
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna – Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management

Anja Hörger: Immortal giants: Does titan arnum have a germ line?
Paris Lodron University of Salzburg – Department of Biosciences

Markus Muttenthaler: Breaking the blood-brain barrier with animal venoms
University of Vienna – Institute of Biological Chemistry

Vanja Nagy: Reverse engineering of neuronal development disorders
Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft GmbH – Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases

Michael Ornetzeder: Impact assessment of the energy revolution
Austrian Academy of Sciences – Institute of Technology Assessment

Michael Parzer: The art of immigration
University of Vienna – Institute of Sociology

Paolo Piovano: Mathematic modelling of bone regeneration
University of Vienna – Faculty of Mathematics

Peter Pohl: Stress transport through membranes
University of Linz – Institute of Biophysics

Ariane-Táhirih Sadjed: Narratives of migration – Jews and Muslims as ‘others’
Austrian Academy of Sciences – Institute of Iran Studies

Stefan Rass: Computer-aided verification of existing P/BP proofs
University of Klagenfurt – Institute of Applied Computer Science

Stefan Scheiner: Deciphering wood mechanobiology through multiscale modelling
Vienna University of Technology – Institute of Mechanics of Materials and Structures

Rainer Schindl: ELPHI: A controllable implant for chemotherapy in the brain
Medical University of Graz – Institute of Biophysics

Jörg Schnecker: Death – The hidden side of microbial turnovers in soils
University of Vienna – Department of Microbiology and Ecosystems Science

Jan Steinbrener: Learning flying live,
University of Klagenfurt – Institute of Intelligent System Technologies

Giulio Gino Maria Superti-Furga: The human mini-cell
Austrian Academy of Sciences – CeMM – Center for Molecular Medicine

Toma Susi: Positronium interferometry
University of Vienna – Faculty of Physics

Peter Trebsche: Lost or Found? Microarchaeology in rescue excavations
University of Innsbruck – Institute of Archaeologies

Michael Trupke: A light clock
University of Vienna - Quantum Optics, Quantum Nanophysics, Quantum Information

David Szaller: Quantum optical phenomena in magnetoelectric crystals
Vienna University of Technology - Institute of Solid-State Physics

Adelheid Wöhrer: Clonal complexity of glioblastomas
Medical University of Vienna – Division of Neuropathology and Neurochemistry

The Austrian Science Fund FWF 

The FWF is Austria’s central funding organisation for basic research as well as arts-based 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
Dep. Head of Communications, Spokesman
scilog.fwf.ac.at | @FWF_at | @FWFOpenAccess

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