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Austrian Research Promotion Agency

by Alexander Unkart

September 1, 2004, is a date to remember for all those who deal with science, research and innovation in Austria. On September 1, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), the new key player in public funding on RTD, began its operations. This new "super agency" brings together the former Industrial Research Promotion Fund (FFF), the Austrian Space Agency (ASA), the Bureau for International Research and Technology Cooperation (BIT) and the Technology Impulse Society (TIG).


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To make this new spirit in the Austrian scientific landscape visible to the public, the agency will move to its own premises—the so-called Haus der Forschung (House of Research)—in late 2005.

photo credit: Architektenteam Neumann + Partner and Mascha & Seethaler (planning); bayer.co.at (animation)

 
The FFG falls under the supervision of the government, with the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology and the Federal Ministry of Economy and Labor exercising oversight. The agency is led by two CEOs, Klaus Pseiner, former CEO of ASA, and Henrietta Egerth, from the Federal Ministry of Economy and Labor. The supervisory board of the FFG consists of ten members. A closer look at the composition of the board shows a balanced distribution between the public and private sectors. Members from the private sector include representatives from industries such as food and telecommunication.
The four divisions under the FFG reflect the former agencies, FFF, ASA, BIT and TIG. The tasks of the merged institutions will remain the same. However, the new agency will have a much broader approach to RTD. It intends to be more than a mere public funding agency. The FFG's priority is to strengthen RTD in Austria. The law states that the FFG is entitled to take any action to achieve that goal. In order to fulfill its tasks, the FFG was given an estimated budget of €300 million for the first year. According to media reports, this amount will increase to €350 million the following year.

The main tasks of the FFG are as follows:
  • Providing funds for research projects;
  • Fostering cooperation between science and the private sector. In this context, the FFG will be particularly important as official contact for SMEs who want to strengthen their efforts in RTD both in Austria and internationally.
  • Fostering programs that are intended to increase the cooperation between private companies, universities and research institutions;
  • Creating an environment that facilitates the launch of innovative companies;
  • Designing strategies and policies to advance/further RTD in Austria. These strategies are intended to provide a decision-making basis for policy makers and research institutions.
It will be a particular challenge during the initial year of the FFG to create a homogenous agency. Eventually, the FFG hopes to become the new Austrian one-stop shop for research and technology promotion for industry.

Links:
Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) -http://www.ffg.at/
Haus der Forschung - http://www.big.at/BIG/de/News/News/Haus_der_Forschung.htm
Austrian Space Agency (ASA) - http://www.asaspace.at/
Bureau for International Research and Technology Cooperation (BIT) - http://www.bit.ac.at/
Industrial Research Promotion Fund (FFF) - http://www.fff.co.at/
Technology Impulse Society (TIG) - http://www.tig.or.at/

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