Science and Research
Austria invested 7.4 billion euros in research and experimental development in 2009. Research expenditure equals almost 2.8% of Austria’s gross domestic product (GDP), which represents an increase over previous years and makes Austria one of the leaders among European countries. The drivers of research investment in Austria are primarily private enterprise with 46.7%, the public sector with 37.4%, and foreign research support.
Austria views the 7th Framework Programme (2007-2013), which was initiated to implement the Lisbon Strategy, as a new opportunity to promote research and development at the European level. Research and development is to be supported both by the 50.6 million euros provided for in the budget and by funds made available by private investors. The primary issues to be addressed in this context include the new social and environmental challenges (climate and environmental protection, transport, information and communications) but also the new trends in research, such as nanotechnology and radiation protection. Cooperation among scientists and institutions is promoted across Europe in order to share experience and enhance efficiency. It is therefore in Austria’s interest to promote such forms of scientific cooperation at the European level.
Austrian research policy distinguishes between science-related and business-oriented research. Universities and institutes of higher education, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the institutes of the Ludwig Boltzmann Society, the institutes of higher technical education, and other state-run or private research facilities are considered institutions of science-related research, while business-oriented research is undertaken by Austrian companies and private or state-run research facilities for entire sectors of industry.
The priority objectives the Federal Government defined for the field of research and technology are networking with European partners, the target-oriented expansion of competence clusters and funding of specific programmes by introducing subject-specific national research programmes in line with current EU programmes or in preparation of the new Framework Programme. The priority objectives the Federal Government defined for the field of research and technology. A focal area in this context of research and development is biotechnology and genetic engineering, alongside other specific fields of science. Strong emphasis is being placed on enhancing skills and qualifications in the area of information and telecommunications technology in the European context (e-Europe). A specific Austrian programme, “e-Austria”, was adopted to proactively work towards achieving this goal. The dialogue between scientists and the public at large is being intensified in order to reduce scepticism towards science, and a special programme is being prepared to this end.
As regards international and scientific-technological cooperation, Austria’s focus is primarily directed at cooperating with and within the European Union. In addition, Austria attributes much importance to research cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, particularly with a view to EU enlargement.
Moreover, Austria takes part in science and research activities launched by the Council of Europe, ESA (European Space Agency), CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, European Organization for Nuclear Research), EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory), OECD and UNESCO.
Currently there are 22 universities and institutes of higher education, 18 universities of applied sciences and 11 private universities in Austria. Founded in 1365, the University of Vienna has a long scientific tradition and is the second-oldest university in Europe. Approximately 350,000 students were registered in the higher education sector in 2010/2011. Of these, 284,085 were enrolled at public universities, 38,459 at universities of applied sciences, 6,301 at private universities and 4,985 at other institutions of higher education.
To date sixteen Austrians have been awarded the Nobel Prize. The laureates include Julius Wagner-Jauregg in 1927 (therapy of paralysis), Wolfgang Pauli in 1945 (for the "Pauli Exclusion Principle" in quantum theory), Karl von Frisch and Konrad Lorenz in 1973 (behavioural science) and Friedrich A. von Hayek 1974 (monetary and cyclical theory).