Austrian Report on Research and Technology discussed in Parliament

2. Jul 2020

Brigitte Ecker (WPZ-Research) and Klaus Schuch (ZSI) were invited as experts to discuss the report with MPs

The  Research Committee of the Austrian Parliament held an intensive debate yesterday about the research and innovation system in Austria and what needs to be done to further strengthen it. The research and technology report was first negotiated. It is the annual management report on federally funded research, technology and innovation in Austria. The research and technology report is produced annually on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF), the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) and the Federal Ministry for Digitalization and Business Location (BMDW).

The 2020 report includes a presentation of the revised global estimate 2019 on the development of R&D expenditure in Austria and analyzes the performance of the Austrian innovation system in an international comparison, with a focus on Horizon 2020, explained Brigitte Ecker (WPZ Research), who is one of the authors of the Report invited to the committee. One focus of the 2020 research and technology report is dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI). The report also included insights into the evaluation culture in Austria and an overview of evaluations about RTI programs and research institutes. Monitoring the central research and research funding institutions in Austria is a new part of the report and represents an attempt to develop a systemic view of the research and innovation system. This should make it possible in the future to assume the control responsibility of the departments as defined in the Research Funding Act (FoFinaG).

Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a GDP forecast for 2020 is not possible, which also means that the global estimate of Statistics Austria's research quota is no longer available. Instead of the estimate of R&D expenditure and the R&D quota for the current year, the global estimate for 2019 was revised by Statistics Austria in April 2020, explained Ecker. In 2019, research and development (R&D) expenditure in Austria was € 12.69 billion, 4.8% more than in 2018 (€ 12.11 billion). According to the revised global estimate for 2019, the estimated research rate (share of gross domestic expenditure on research and development as measured by gross domestic product) was 3.18%, which means a slight increase compared to 2018 (3.14%). Austria is now for the sixth time in a row above the European target of 3%.

Ecker said that the goal of becoming an innovation leader is not yet in sight. Austria remains in the Strong Innovators group. Here, one had advanced by one place in the EU, but that was due to the UK's departure.

Klaus Schuch (Center for Social Innovation ZSI) focused on the success of the ending EU Research Framework Programme HORIZON 2020. Austria is very successful here and is a net recipient with the funds raised.

You can read more on the debate here (in German only).

You can download the report from here (in German only; English version soon to come).

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