Early Career Seed Money

"Disruptive Innovation - Early Career Seed Money" is a joint funding programme of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) to facilitate the implementation of unconventional, innovative and maybe even very risky ideas of an uncertain outcome. It is financed by the Zukunft Österreich fund (FZÖ). Funding will be interdisciplinary and across thematic areas, with seed money being made available as flexible grants that may be used freely. Low-threshold application and an unconventional selection procedure are aimed to help radically new ideas achieve a breakthrough.

Target group
The target group is outstanding young researchers not more than three years after their doctoral degree, whose projects suggest extraordinary potential of disruptive innovation. There is complete disciplinary and thematic freedom. Projects from all scientific disciplines in the field of basic research are eligible for funding. In particular, interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary research approaches and artistic-scientific approaches are invited to submit proposals (however, this kind of approaches are no prerequisite for an application).

Funding Goals
Social progress thrives on scientific and academic breakthroughs. Disruptive innovation, i.e. completely innovative ideas, approaches or experiments which can hardly be integrated into the scientific or social environment at the time they develop, typically stand at the beginning of such breakthroughs, often undertaken by young, outstanding, creative and productive scientists at an early stage of their careers. The significance of disruptive ideas often becomes evident only after several years or decades; in identifying and supporting such ideas traditional funding tools have limits. New disruptive ideas and approaches may also arise from transfer of new technologies or know-how from abroad to existing research fields and are thus eligible for funding under this programme. 

Additional program-specific information 
Submission and formal review of applications is carried out by the ÖAW. The review process is implemented by the FWF. Approved projects receive a contract with the Austrian Academy of Sciences, which also handles the costs and final review.

Funding period and funding amount

  • 1 to 12 months
  • €25,000 to €75,000
  • The principal investigator’s own salary can only be financed for up to 6 months


  • Scientists who are affiliated with a research institution in Austria and have completed their doctoral studies not more than 36 months ago (calculated from their doctoral viva voce (Rigorosum), cut-off date: 31 October 2023; eligible for admission: scientific, medical and arts-based doctorate). Pursuant to the Guidelines of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) (pdf, 70KB) times of parental or other leave of absence of up to 36 months due to illness, nursing duties, etc. may be taken into account.
  • Upon submission of the application, applicants must present approval from the research institute at which the project is intended to be carried out (declaration of consent). In the case of a change in the course of the process, approval from the new research institution must be evidenced by presentation of a declaration of consent.
  • The applicants are prepared to pro-actively contribute to the public presentation of the programme and to attend related events.
  • Only one application may be filed per person.


  • Selection by an international jury with broad expertise and experience in evaluating highly innovative or original research ideas. 
  • Pre-selection by the jury of a maximum of 70 applications from all applications received for the selection weekend. 
  • Selection weekend with applicants and jury from March 8-10, 2024 in the form of short presentations, poster session and in-depth discussions. 
  • Jury decision on approximately 20-30 projects directly proposed for funding and approximately 20 additional projects nominated for a pool of projects worthy funding, followed by a random draw of 15-20 projects for funding.
  • Announcement of award decision and information to applicants expected mid-March 2024.

Application information
Submission by means of the forms provided during the submission period exclusively via email to programmmanagement(at)oeaw.ac.at

Funding institution 
Austrian Academy of Sciences and Austrian Science Fund FWF

Program information ÖAW

Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW)
Department of Research Funding - National and International Programmes
Dr. Alexander Nagler
+43 1 51581-1272; -1270

Uwe von Ahsen
+43 676 83487 8611