Austria's position and prospects in ERA discussed at "Europatagung"
"Rethinking ERA" was the focus of this year's "Europatagung" (Europe Conference), which took place in Vienna on 13 November 2014. Mr. Reinhold Mitterlehner, Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister for Science, Research and Economy, and the ERA Council Forum Austria presented and discussed first results of Austria's participation in Horizon 2020 as well as Austria's position in ERA, its strenghts and weaknesses and prospects for ERA in the coming years with a wide audience from the Austrian science and research community, administration and the business sector.
In the first calls under the new Research Framework Programme "Horizon 2020", Austrian research institutions and enterprises have participated very successfully. According to Mr. Mitterlehner, this is "once again proof of the high quality of our research projects", since Austrian institutions have already been allocated funding to the amount of euro 64 million , with an above-average success rate of 15.4% (the EU average is 14.6%). Currently, 28 percent of the funding provided for Horizon 2020 for 2014 have been allocated, with 189 successful Austrian participants. The current figures also show a strong participation from small and medium-sized enterprises, again with a higher participation rate from Austrian SMEs than the EU average. In his speech, Mr. Mitterlehner also emphasised the particular importance of new technologies and products for SMEs and the support provided to applicants by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency
Austria's ambition to become an Innovation Leader means that Austria has to "think and act internationally", according to the Vice-Chancellor. Amongst others, this means making Austria more attractive for foreign researchers and creating as well as providing incentives for additional funding for start-up enterprises. The upcoming performance agreements of the Austrian universities will provide additional incentives for the universities to participate in European funding programmes, Mr. Mitterlehner said.
The ERA Council Forum Austria, the Vice-Chancellor's advisory body for matters relating to the European Research Area, chaired by Prof. Helga Nowotny, will commission a benchmark study to analyse the innovation systems in Denmark and Sweden as compared to Austria, to provide advice for Mr. Mitterlehner on how Austria can reach the goal to become an Innovation Leader (both these countries have a similar size and structure to Austria, but perform better in RTI). The results of this study should be available by the end of 2015.
Prof. Nowotny emphasised that it should be possible for Austria to achive its goal to become an Innovation Leader, provided certain issues were tackled. In the panel discussions and two workshops, the conference speakers and participants deliberated on these issues, which included amongst others private and public research funding, the structure and funding of the Austrian university system, career perspectives for young researchers, or the degree to which the Austrian research and business sectors cooperate internationally. Particular importance was attributed to a more strategic orientation of Austrian universities towards Horizon 2020 and international cooperation, the "welcome culture", i.e. how Austria deals with researchers from third countries, and the concept of lead markets.
Downloads of the presentations at the conference are available below.
press release Vice-Chancellor Mitterlehner (in German): http://www.bmwfw.gv.at/Presse/AktuellePresseMeldungen/Seiten/Mitterlehner-Erfolgreicher-Start-für-Österreichs-Wissenschaft-bei-Horizon-2020.aspx