Cutting-edge research is an expedition into the future. Through excellent=austria, Austria plans in the coming years to send promising research teams on a journey to gain innovative insights into all fields of knowledge. 

An overview of Austria's first Clusters of Excellence can be found here:

Cluster of Excellence “Quantum Science Austria”
Pushing the Boundaries of Quantum Science

Board of Directors and affiliated research institutions: 

  • Gregor Weihs (Director of Research, University of Innsbruck) 
  • Markus Aspelmeyer (University of Vienna) 
  • Francesca Ferlaino (Austrian Academy of Sciences) 
  • Johannes Fink (Institute of Science and Technology Austria, not shown) 
  • Armando Rastelli (University of Linz) 
  • Oriol Romero-Isart (University of Innsbruck) 
  • Hannes-Jörg Schmiedmayer (TU Wien )

FWF funding volume: €21 million 

The Second Quantum Revolution - the breathtaking development of modern quantum science - would have been inconceivable without groundbreaking contributions from Austria. Based on these discoveries, quantum technologies are being developed today that surpass traditional technologies in many areas. The Cluster of Excellence “Quantum Science Austria” aims to advance basic research in quantum science and expand the frontiers of knowledge, making it a driver for future innovations. Its focus is on fundamental questions about the quantum nature of space, time, and gravity, new paradigms in quantum information science, and the physics of quantum many-body systems. The Cluster’s researchers in Innsbruck, Vienna, Linz, and Klosterneuburg are asking innovative, groundbreaking questions that can only be solved by uniting the unique expertise available in Austria. With well-controlled model systems based on trapped ions, ultracold atoms, long-range interacting systems, superconducting quantum circuits, and nanoscopic solid-state systems, they aim to unravel the most complex mysteries of the quantum world. 

“Austria has developed into a global leader in quantum physics over the past three decades, as demonstrated by the Nobel Prize for Anton Zeilinger. This development is in part thanks to the very close cooperation between different research groups in Austria. With the new Cluster of Excellence, we can further strengthen these collaborations and establish an internationally visible center of quantum science in Austria that will attract the best minds to Austria,” says Gregor Weihs, Director of Research, about the Cluster of Excellence’s goals.

Cluster of Excellence “Knowledge in Crisis” 
Understanding and Overcoming the Crisis of Knowledge

Board of Directors and affiliated research institutions:  

  • Tim Crane (Director of Research, Central European    University)
  • Marian David (University of Graz) 
  • Katalin Farkas (Central European University) 
  • Max Kölbel (University of Vienna)
  • Hans Bernhard Schmid (University of Vienna)
  • Paulina Sliwa (University of Vienna)
  • Charlotte Werndl (University of Salzburg)

FWF funding volume: €8.9 million

Today we face a crisis of knowledge. Our claims to knowledge are being threatened by rapid and spectacular developments in technology, and by attacks on the very ideas of knowledge and truth themselves. The flood of information on the internet challenges our ability to tell truth from falsehood, and there is a widespread rejection of the standards of scientific evidence and expertise. The crisis raises deep philosophical questions about knowledge, truth, science, ethics, and politics, and ultimately about our relationship to reality itself. These questions will be addressed in entirely new ways by this Cluster of Excellence, which will work to understand the crisis of knowledge in all its manifestations, and to find ways to combat it and reshape our relationship to knowledge.

“This Cluster of Excellence will address fundamental questions about knowledge, many of which have deep social, ethical, and political relevance, by linking many different areas of philosophy which normally function independently. This is something that never has been done before in philosophical research,” says Tim Crane, Director of Research of the Cluster of Excellence.

Cluster of Excellence “Materials for Energy Conversion and Storage” 
Discovering New Materials for an Emission-Free Future

Board of Directors and affiliated research institutions:  

  • Günther Rupprechter (Director of Research, TU Wien) 
  • Ulrike Diebold (Vienna University of Technology) 
  • Stefan Freunberger ( Institute of Science and Technology Austria) 
  • Leticia González (University of Vienna) 
  • Julia Kunze-Liebhäuser (University of Innsbruck)

FWF funding volume: €20.6 million 

The continued burning of fossil fuels to meet our growing demand for energy has brought the world to the brink of a climate crisis. In this Cluster of Excellence, researchers are working to create new technologies for efficient energy conversion and storage, paving the way to a fossil fuel-free society. One key factor is the storage of renewable energy in recyclable energy carriers: water can be split into hydrogen and oxygen, and CO2 can be converted into higher-value products - even climate-neutral substitutes for natural gas and crude oil.

To fulfil this purpose, the researchers aim to develop catalysts on which chemical reactions can take place quickly and reliably. The Cluster will bundle expertise from various fields such as surface chemistry, surface physics, materials science, and computer simulation. The work of this Cluster of Excellence is an important step towards climate neutrality.

“It's already five minutes past 12. The energy transition can only be achieved if the best minds in materials research work together to develop innovative, climate-neutral ways of storing renewable energy. With this Cluster of Excellence, Austria is making a contribution to mastering this global challenge,” says Günther Rupprechter, Director of Research, about the new Cluster of Excellence.

Cluster of Excellence “Microbiomes Drive Planetary Health” 
Understanding how Microbiomes Impact Planetary Health

Board of Directors and affiliated research institutions:  

  • Michael Wagner (Director of Research, University of Vienna) 
  • Andreas Bergthaler (Austrian Academy of Sciences) 
  • Christina Kaiser (University of Vienna) 
  • Bernhard Lendl (TU Wien) 
  • Christine Moissl-Eichinger (Medical University of Graz) 
  • Alexander Moschen (University of Linz) 
  • Leonid Sazanov (Institute of Science and Technology Austria)
  • Angela Sessitsch (Austrian Institute of Technology)

FWF funding volume: € 21 million

Microbiomes - communities of microorganisms that colonize all ecosystems and living organisms - are essential for the health of our planet and all its inhabitants. In this Cluster of Excellence, 30 scientists from a range of disciplines and seven different research institutions are working to decipher common basic principles of environmental microbiomes and human microbiomes. The goal is to understand how microbiomes control the health of our planet. With this knowledge, global change will become more predictable while enabling us to target microbiomes as an innovative solution for a sustainable future. 

“In our Cluster of Excellence, we are creating completely new synergies by dissolving the boundaries between red and green microbiome research in Austria and directly linking medicine with environmental research. We want to learn to understand the basic principles of microbiomes in order to then strengthen our planet’s health by modeling and targeting them,” says Michael Wagner, Director of Research of the Cluster of Excellence.

Cluster of Excellence “EurAsian Transformations” 
Discovering the Cultural Heritage of Eurasia

Board of Directors and affiliated research institutions:  

  • Claudia Rapp (Director of Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences) 
  • Birgit Kellner (Austrian Academy of Sciences) 
  • Tijana Krstić (Central European University)
  • Melanie Malzahn (University of Vienna) 
  • Walter Pohl (Austrian Academy of Sciences) 
  • Robert Rollinger (University of Innsbruck) 
  • Jens Oliver Schmitt ( University of Vienna)

FWF funding volume: €9.2 million

The “Eurasian Miracle” (Jack Goody) developed over the course of three millennia, from Central Europe to Asia: historical transformation processes that continue to have an impact even on modern times. The growth and decline of empires, environmental changes, and mobility and migration affected economic developments, resulting in new constructions of identity and strategies of exclusion in societies and religions. Historical sources from this period are preserved in a variety of languages and writings. The cultural heritage of this large region is in many cases still waiting to be processed and analyzed.

A team of 31 Austrian scientists at four institutions will be dedicating themselves to researching these topics in dialog with international partners and training a new generation of doctoral students and junior researchers with broad skills in research-led teaching. 

“Political attention is focusing increasingly on the region from Europe to Asia. This Cluster allows us to take a unique approach combining basic research, innovative research methods, and the training of a new generation with broad skills. We want to delve deep into the region’s history and participate in the global discourse," says Claudia Rapp, Director of Research, about the new Cluster of Excellence.

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