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Rapid implementation of disruptive research ideas: 60 researchers presented their research ideas to a jury; 30 of them will have the opportunity to realize their concepts. © Unsplash/Patrick Tomasso

The Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW) and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) are giving 30 junior researchers a chance to implement completely new research ideas. With the first “Disruptive Innovation - Early Career Seed Money” grant, the two organizations are working closely together and investing €2 million, provided by the Fonds Zukunft Österreich, in the next generation of promising young researchers. 60 researchers introduced their approaches in a new, dialog-based evaluation format featuring hearings and poster presentations in front of an international jury of experts. 30 of them were selected for funding, with up to €75,000 per year.

30 projects from a wide range of research disciplines

The 60 researchers are based at more than 20 different research locations throughout Austria. Their research ideas come from a wide variety of academic disciplines; no thematic restrictions applied. For example, in her “Wisdom of the Crowd” project, behavioral psychologist Yana Litovsky from the University of Innsbruck is trying to develop a method for predicting the future. With the help of crowd-sourcing and the research community’s expertise, the project will identify the most suitable methods to use “crowd wisdom” to make predictions in different areas. Ralo Mayer from the University of Applied Arts Vienna, on the other hand, will be combining artistic practices and space research in his project “Plots of Un·Earthing.” He will be applying arts-based research methods to initiate a transdisciplinary dialog on the current and future effects of space mining. A further example is the research project “Feeling (Counter)Democracy” by Leda Sutlovic. Working at at the Academy of Sciences, she is investigating whether grassroots initiatives can counteract current anti-democratic tendencies. This research is attempting to integrate a variety of different democratic innovations and studies on social movements, with a focus on the significance of affects and emotions.

Praise from Heinz Faßmann and Christof Gattringer

OeAW President Heinz Faßmann says, “I’m delighted that with the ‘Disruptive Innovation’ program we can support 30 young researchers and help them implement their unconventional projects. The Early Career Seed Money funding program strays away from increasingly conformist research trends, rewarding ‘unheard-of’ ideas rather than the mainstream. I'm really looking forward to the findings.”

“Young talents need to be given the freedom to pursue bold research ideas at Austria’s universities and non-academic research institutions. The high level of interest in this program demonstrates the need for funding for early-stage researchers, who can now take a major step towards top-level research with the Early Career Seed Money funding. In addition to excellence, the academic development potential of the researchers was also a key selection criterion in the evaluation of the projects,” said FWF President Christof Gattringer, who is very pleased with the new approvals.

Early Career Seed Money funded by Fonds Zukunft Österreich

The program is financed with funds from the Fonds Zukunft Österreich. Almost 120 postdocs from all disciplines submitted research ideas, and 60 of them were invited to the evaluation weekend following a pre-selection process. The two-day hearing included discussions at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and was held in cooperation with the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). 30 researchers were selected for funding, and will receive up to €75,000 for one year that they can use very flexibly to implement their bold, “unheard-of” research projects. 

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