Research Policy & Development

F&E - Research Policy & Development


F&E Profile and Lab Missions

ZSI’s Research Policy and Development (F&E) Unit has expertise in the development and implementation of Research and Innovation (R&I) policies with a focus on social innovation. Our experts are committed to the coordination and implementation of projects and activities at the interface of research and application. Over the decades, we have created a diverse portfolio of innovative, tailored approaches involving multiple stakeholder groups in a co-creative manner. We work in cooperation with diverse partners at an international, national and regional level.

Today, we not only employ our successfully proven expertise, but we are open and eager to further develop our existing products and services as well as create new ones. Our approach is based on the shared goals of addressing global challenges, the promotion of inclusiveness, equality, equity and open science. We are dedicated to sharing experiences, spreading excellence and opening up opportunities.

The Research Policy and Development Unit is managed by Gorazd Weiss.

Our activities are organised in two labs:

The R&I Policy and Internationalisation Lab

Mission statement

The R&I Policy and Internationalisation Lab supports the development of R&I policies, for example related to internationalisation processes and science diplomacy. 

Based on our work in the Austrian R&I system, we strive to contribute not only to the implementation of the European Research and Innovation Area policies, but also its further expansion by engaging globally with stakeholders in countries spanning the European Neighbourhood, the Americas, Africa, and Asia in joint R&I policy planning, scientific standardisation processes and mission-oriented policy advice, in order to ramp up joint efforts to address societal challenges of our time. In order to build common ground for our collaborative work both with EU and non-EU partners, our work is anchored in the ambitious goals within the EC’s Global Approach, the Horizon Europe Missions and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

About us

The Lab brings together an interdisciplinary team with a long-standing and international experience in policy research, policy evaluation and policy advice. We provide insights on how R&I policies, programmes and projects contribute to

  • addressing global challenges,
  • promoting shared principles and values,
  • finding common ground in standardisation processes related to scientific conduct and technology development, and
  • supporting the cooperation of stakeholders from a quadruple helix background

The Lab works with all actors of the policy-design and -implementation cycles. It organises multi-stakeholder mutual learning, networking and knowledge exchange opportunities with the aim to improve the R&I ecosystems – from a regional to a global scale and by addressing multi-level governance systems. We research various R&I system components and implement studies in Austria and abroad. These activities are supported by the planning and implementation of effective science communication, results dissemination and exploitation activities.

An important focus of the lab is internationalisation and cooperation to address multiple crises, for example by supporting science diplomacy or addressing foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI) in the R&I sector. We also support stakeholders (e.g. the EC, national ministries, research funding or performing organisations, etc.) by evaluating their policies, programmes and projects and by providing evidence-based, analytical reports on how to best support regional, national or global R&I ecosystems.

The R&I Policy + Internationalisation Lab is coordinated by Elke Dall.

The Transformative Innovation Lab

Mission statement

The Transformative Innovation Lab studies and supports socio-technical transformation processes that tackle complex societal challenges through innovative social practices. In a broad range of projects, we support our implementation partners in researching, initiating, innovating, orchestrating, and evaluating transformative innovation & policy approaches in various domains and topics.  By working at the intersection of technological and social innovation together with actors from governance, academia, business, and civil society, we strive to create knowledge, concepts, tools and methodologies that support these socio-technical transformations in the frame of the SDGs.

How do we understand Transformative Innovation?

Transformative innovation describes the introduction of a novel approach that aims at significantly altering how individuals, organisations, or societies function. It entails the combination of different perspectives on innovation into concepts and practices for system change and system transformation. This perspective is a reaction to the silo mentality of generic or technology-focused innovation policies that fall short in addressing “Grand Challenges” or “wicked problems”.

Today’s challenges require transdisciplinary, horizontal and coordinated approaches that include new technologies, practices, institutions, and social innovations. Thus, concepts like Transformative Innovation Policy or Mission-oriented Policy call for changing the development paths that are embedded in the structures of our socio-technical systems.

The Lab brings together an interdisciplinary team with a long-standing and international experience in real-life-experimentation, co-creation, action research, and policy evaluation. We strive to create socio-economic impacts contributing to, as well as developing further, the EC’s Missions in Horizon Europe and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals with our research. Finally, we aim to  initiate system change on various levels and scales.

The Transformative Innovation Lab is coordinated by Stefan Philipp.

Who we work with

Our clients include the European Commission, International Organisations, different ministries and agencies from Austria, the EU Member States, and globally.

The F&E team is open to discussing new ideas for joint applications to "calls for proposals" or "calls for tenders" in different national and international funding programmes (Horizon Europe, Interreg programmes, COST, Technical Assistance, etc.).

We address new topics and invite you to discuss collaboration possibilities with us!


We offer:

Research & Analysis: Broad portfolio of SSH research methodologies (quantitative and qualitative) to study, reflect and improve R&I systems, policies and innovation processes in a multi-level context.

Policy Development & Internationalization: Expert advice on research, higher education, and innovation policies, with a focus on international collaboration.

Transformative Innovation Design, Management & Implementation: Steering innovation processes in socio-technical transitions, safeguarding ethical innovation, and fostering public trust through the principles of responsible Open Innovation and Open Science.

Evaluation & Impact Assessment: Development of reliable indicators for measuring impact of innovations, policies and instruments. Evaluation of policies and programs in the field of R&I and beyond.

Network Coordination & Communication: Support for establishing international networks and managing R&I partnerships e.g. within EU-framework programs.

Our entire project list detailing our diverse services, methods and approaches is accessible here (please filter "Research Policy & Development", in order to display only F&E-projects).


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