TRADITIONAL AND MODERN

Austria is a country where culture has a special importance and a rich history. There is also a noteworthy tradition in science.

The empress Maria Theresia left far more than a new system of administration to posterity. Together with her son, she also founded the ‘Vienna Medical School’, whose heritage can be seen to this day. The construction of the General Hospital (Allgemeines Krankenhaus) not only established a comprehensive healthcare system, but also put medicine and its sub-disciplines on a new scientific basis. Famous names worked here, including the founder of modern hygiene, Ignaz Semmelweis, and the world-class surgeon, Theodor Billroth. Other Austrian physicians of world-renown include Karl Landsteiner who discovered blood groups and Adolf Lorenz, the founder of modern orthopaedics. Austria also brought forth outstanding scientists come in other areas such as Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, the Nobel Prize Laureates Konrad Lorenz and Friedrich August Hayek, Lise Meitner, who laid the basis for the use of nuclear energy, and Erwin Schrödinger, the founder of quantum mechanics – although after 1938 some of these scientists had to continue their research abroad. Those who enjoyed international reputation include the founders of modern empirical social research, Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Hedy Lamarr, without whose interference-proof radio control there would probably be no mobile telephones. Today, it is the quantum physicists Anton Zeilinger and Peter Zoller or the geneticist Josef Penninger who regularly draw worldwide attention to their scientific findings.

RESEARCH FINANCING / FRAMEWORK CONDITIONS

A refined system of research funding, support through regional business agencies and tax breaks form an excellent breeding ground for companies with an affinity for research.

In Austria, innovative companies can make use of a support system that is recognised as a global model. The funding quota for company research projects ranks at the top end of the international scale. With more than one third, the public sector, in international comparison, supports a high proportion of the total research and development expenditure. Similarly, in basic research and tertiary education, the state also makes huge contributions. Thus the public financing share of universities of around 90 percent is far above the EU average.
Particularly in recent years it has been possible to interest an increasing number of companies for R&D so that the innovative base in Austria continues to grow, which is also a result of the good framework conditions for business-oriented research in Austria. A refined system of research funding, support through regional business agencies and tax breaks, such as the research bonus which was raised to ten percent in 2010, form an excellent breeding ground and represent an important advantage for Austria as a business location.

ONE-STOP SHOPS

Austria supports the entire innovation process from basic research to founding a company. Three agencies in particular are responsible: recently, the science fund FWF made available almost EUR 200 million for basic research projects. This was sufficient to finance around 3,500 researchers. The Austrian Research Promotion Agency Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft – FFG) supports industry-oriented research with an extensive programme of grants and services. Over EUR 400 million are invested annually for application-oriented projects. The FFG offer ranges from ‘Entry’ programmes to the funding of large excellence and competence centres. The Austrian Business Service (austria wirtschaftsservice – aws) is the development bank of the Republic of Austria. It offers low-interest loans, grants and guarantees to companies. It also provides information, know-how, consultations and other services.

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