Minister of Education, Science and Research Martin Polaschek and FWF President Christof Gattringer look back at research year 2022. © FWF/Luiza Puiu

Austria's basic research community is growing, and with it the funding provided by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Investments increased again in 2022, reaching €273 million, and 743 projects were funded at Austria's research institutions. Currently, 4,842 scientists and scholars are conducting their research with FWF funding, and their discoveries help lay the foundations for progress, innovation, and prosperity. The FWF Distinguished Professor program, the third pillar of the excellence initiative excellent=austria, will start in 2023. The Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) will be providing the FWF with €1.124 billion for the 2024 to 2026 budget period.

Austria's cutting-edge research continues to be on the upswing, and this growth is also reflected in the funding going towards third-party-funded research. Last year, for example, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) was able to finance 743 research projects worth €273 million, an increase of 6.6% as compared to the previous year. €115 million went to projects in the natural sciences and technology, €100 million in biology and medical sciences, and €58 million in the humanities and social sciences. The FWF is currently funding a total of 4,842 researchers in ongoing projects at Austria's universities and other research institutions - a new record.

At the FWF annual press conference, Minister of Education, Science and Research Martin Polaschek emphasized the importance of basic research for the future. “FWF funding gives researchers the opportunity to pursue fundamental research questions at the highest international level. All of these researchers are making a valuable contribution, helping us find new answers to current and future challenges. My goal is to ensure the best possible conditions for scientific progress and, at the same time, to further strengthen the public’s confidence in research findings," he said.

“The need for new knowledge is growing in all areas of life, from medicine to the climate to digital technologies, or to give us a better understanding of history and current events. In the face of multiple crises and the transformation to a sustainable future, basic research plays an important role in triggering innovation and expanding our knowledge base. For the 2024 to 2026 period, we will have to continue to work together to ensure that all planned projects can be fully implemented with the announced budget and any additional funds,” said Christof Gattringer, President of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).

The goal must be to continue last year's successful funding record and the positive momentum in Austria's cutting-edge research as well as possible in spite of the high inflationary pressure. The approval rate for excellent research proposals should be maintained at the current level; this is particularly important for the rapidly growing number of junior researchers. Unfortunately, due to the effects of inflation, the number of projects with the status “approved but not funded” will remain high. 

The investment volume for basic research the federal government plans to is therefore of crucial importance to the FWF and the research community. With the €1.124 billion provided by the BMBWF for the 2024 to 2026 period, key elements of the successfully established excellence initiative as well as the majority of FWF programs can be continued.

Approval volumes from 2013 to 2022

In 2022, the FWF was able to fund research projects worth €273 million - more than ever before. (figures in € million).

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Application volumes from 2013 to 2022

The increase in research funding applied for from the FWF illustrates the growing demand for basic research funding (figures in € million).

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Total no. of projects approved but not funded in 2022

At the same time, the number of projects that were approved but could not be funded also increased, despite excellent reviews.

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Future potential: 70% are 35 years old or younger

The age distribution of all 2,588 ongoing FWF-funded projects shows: More than two-thirds of the researchers working on FWF projects are 35 years old or younger. This confirms the important role the FWF plays in training the next generation of top researchers. 47% of FWF-funded researchers are women. 

Focus on quantum research - Quantum Austria update 

On the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF), Austria is investing €107 million in quantum research and technologies with funds from the NextGenerationEU recovery and resilience plan. The Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) are working together closely in this area; to date, €78.4 million in funding has been approved. The FWF was able to approve a total of 23 basic research projects with a total funding volume of €7.8 million at Austria’s universities. The five most recent approvals, totaling €2.1 million, went to TU Wien, the University of Linz, and the University of Vienna.

First Fonds Zukunft Österreich projects on track

Two major Special Research Areas, four Research Groups, and nine doc.funds and doc.funds.connect consortia, offering a total of 64 new doctoral positions, were established by the FWF with funding from Fonds Zukunft Österreich. Subject-specific funding is also available in other areas, such as Sustainable Food Systems or AI Mission Austria. Fonds Zukunft Österreich is sure to remain an important source of funds in the future, and the FWF will continue to apply for funding.

Cooperation with leading research nations

Cutting-edge research depends on international cooperation, and numerous funding opportunities support internationally cooperative research projects. Demand for funding in this area is growing in leaps and bounds – a positive development that the FWF supports strongly. €25 million in international Weave funding was awarded in 2022. In addition, the FWF launched three European Partnership funding programs focusing on sustainability and health. In the area of international mobility, the FWF is expanding the funding opportunities offered by the Erwin Schrödinger program: In the future, researchers will have more options and more flexible funding for career-enhancing research stays at international universities.

International peer review by the world’s leading researchers 

The FWF’s funding decisions are oriented towards international quality standards, and approval depends entirely on the excellence of the proposed research. In 2022, the FWF commissioned some 4,900 international reviews from 67 countries, with most of the reviews coming from researchers in the USA, Germany, and the UK. 

Emergency assistance for researchers who fled Ukraine

Immediately after the war in the Ukraine broke out, the FWF allocated €1.2 million in funding as crisis support for refugee researchers. As part of this initiative, thanks to the commitment of numerous FWF-funded principal investigators, 30 refugee researchers were included in ongoing research projects for up to 12 months. 

Up to €100,000 for science communication

With its Science Communication program, the FWF helps researchers carry out new and innovative projects in the field of science communication, strengthening the dialog between society and the research community. Applications for funding of up to €100,000 per project are being accepted until June 30, 2023. 

Top Citizen Science funding program invites citizens to get involved

The FWF is continuing its Top Citizen Science program intended to support the involvement and participation of laypeople in research. The goal is to actively involve citizens with their knowledge, resources and commitment in research projects. Researchers can apply for an expansion of existing FWF-funded projects to include citizen science components. A total of €250,000 in funding is available. For innovative projects focusing on sustainable food systems, the Fonds Zukunft Österreich will be providing additional funding of €150,000 for the first time this year. 

All funding statistics at a glance

You can find a review of the past year and all the performance figures in this year’s FWF Annual Report. In addition, the new FWF Dashboard offers you access to all key figures and statistics on the FWF’s funding programs.

FWF Annual Report 2022 (pdf, 15.21MB) (accessible PDF) 


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