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bridges vol. 10, June 2006 / News from the Network

by Irene Eckart and Martin Streicher
 

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The OeNB Jubiläumsfonds (Anniversary Fund) for the Promotion of Scientific Research and TeachingAs the central bank of the Republic of Austria, one of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank 's main tasks is to supply the general public and the business community in Austria with high-quality (i.e., counterfeit-proof) cash. At least for researchers, the OeNB's role as a supplier of cash has a second dimension: namely, the connection with its Anniversary Fund for the Promotion of Scientific Research and Teaching.

 

{access view=guest}Access to the full article is free, but requires you to register. Registration is simple and quick - all we need is your name and a valid e-mail address. We appreciate your interest in bridges.{/access} {access view=!guest}Research promotion at the OeNB has a long tradition. From its Anniversary Fund, which celebrates its own 40th anniversary this year, the OeNB provides funds for top-level scientific research work of great thematic variety. Since 2004, the Anniversary Fund has also supported the newly established National Foundation for Research, Technology, and Development, which replaced the OeNB's "economically-oriented research promotion" and aims at supporting interdisciplinary research geared to long-term profitability. Nevertheless, the Anniversary Fund abides by its original task - to finance basic research in Austria in a direct, flexible, and non-bureaucratic way. In addition to its interest earnings, the endowment is €9 million since 2004. In 2005, 161 projects were funded with about €9.3 million. From the projects selected for funding in December 2005, 35 percent were in medicine, 30 percent in economics, 23 percent in the humanities, and 12 percent in the social sciences.

bridges asked Wolfgang Höritsch from the Anniversary Fund about the scope of the OeNB's funding programs, its eligibility requirements, and the review process. In the following interview you will find out which research projects qualify for OeNB funding, when to apply, and what to consider.

Hoeritsch_captionbridges: What kind of funding programs (grants, fellowships, prizes) does your institution offer? Are there any deadlines approaching or are applications continuously accepted?

The OeNB Anniversary Fund, which was founded in 1966 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB), provides grants for scientific work of high quality, focusing in particular on economic science as well as medical research projects on clinical illness and/or patient-oriented medical research projects. Projects in the humanities and social science fields are also supported, albeit to a smaller extent. The deadlines for submitting projects are usually every January and July; the OeNB's website may be consulted for the current deadline. Funding decisions are usually made in July or December following submission.

bridges: Do you offer grants for transatlantic research projects, for instance:
- projects at Austrian institutions where Austrian and foreign researchers collaborate,
- projects by Austrian researchers in the US or Canada,
- projects with research being done partly in Austria and partly in the US or Canada, or even
- projects by US or Canadian researchers in Austria or Europe?


Like the Austrian Science Fund, the OeNB Anniversary Fund supports only research activities undertaken at Austrian research institutions (universities or nonprofit research institutions). There are no nationality requirements for participating researchers. Cooperation with foreign research institutions is welcome; however, research work undertaken abroad is not eligible for OeNB Anniversary Fund grants.

bridges: What is the difference between the "FTE Nationalstiftung" and the original Anniversary Fund? What are the targeted disciplines of these two programs? Is the application process for both programs the same?

The National Foundation for Research, Technology, and Development (National Foundation) was founded in 2003. The OeNB provides €75 million of funding annually to be awarded to research projects. OeNB Governor Klaus Liebscher is a member of the board of the National Foundation, thus taking part in the decision-making process of this institution. Whereas the aforementioned initial OeNB Anniversary Fund provides grants directly to researchers, the National Foundation supports only sponsoring institutions such as the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), or the Christian Doppler Research Society (CDG), which apply for funds at the National Foundation. The sponsoring institutions, in turn, provide funding for researchers at universities and nonprofit research institutions and for corporate research.

OeNB_Gebaeude_captionbridges: Since its establishment in 1966, how many projects have been supported thus far, and how much money has been granted? In recent years, how much money has been made available annually for funding research?

Since its establishment, the Anniversary Fund has supported 8500 research projects, granting a total of €668 million. In recent years, an annual €9 million to €10 million has been made available to fund research.

bridges: How are submitted research projects reviewed? On which criteria are decisions based?

The submitted projects are subjected to a peer review process. The reviewers, mostly non-Austrian, are asked to give a descriptive assessment of the submitted project and to award points for the scientific relevance and quality of the project as well as the appropriateness of the amount of funds applied for. The reviewers' assessments provide the basis for the decision on project funding.

bridges: How many applications do you receive per year, and how many of those are accepted? How do you plan to deal with the "steady rise in the number of research projects submitted?" Is decreasing the total number of accepted proposals an option?

The Anniversary Fund receives about 570 applications a year, 150 of which are accepted. Considering that the amount of funds to be granted remains constant and that the amount of funds applied for is increasing, only projects that receive excellent assessments by all reviewers can be accepted.

bridges: Does funding eligibility for your programs require Austrian citizenship?

Funding eligibility does not require Austrian citizenship; the research activities must take place in Austria, however (see question 2).

bridges: Which scholars would you like to encourage to apply? (e.g., those who are underrepresented in your programs or those whose field of research you consider particularly important, etc.)

As the central bank of the Republic of Austria, the OeNB naturally takes a particular interest in research in the field of economic science; therefore, the OeNB especially encourages researchers in this field to apply.

bridges: Is there any advice you would give scientists who plan to apply for a funding program?

The OeNB advises applicants to make sure that their funding requests contain all the documentation required and meet the usual standards for such requests. Compliance with these requirements ensures the speedy processing of funding requests; otherwise, the OeNB may have to ask applicants for further information, which may delay decisions on awarding grants to a project by six months.

bridges: Where can interested scholars find more detailed information on your programs? Who is the contact person for questions and applications at your institution?

Detailed information, including a list of the documents required for application, is available at http://www.oenb.at/fonds .
 
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