15. June 2022

Next Round for Top Research Facilities in Upper Austria

COMET competence centres perform application-oriented research at the very highest level. Three K1 centres of excellence based in Upper Austria that are supported under the nationwide COMET scheme – Software Competence Center Hagenberg GmbH (SCCH), Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH - Wood K plus and K1-MET GmbH – successfully applied for grants in the highly competitive sixth call for submissions and have each secured funding of EUR 23 million for the first four of eight years, beginning in 2023. Furthermore, leading Upper Austrian companies and research institutions are involved in the innovative work being done at the new COMET K1 centre HyCentA. This institution researches hydrogen technologies and also receives funds from the government of Upper Austria.


Software Competence Center Hagenberg: INTEGRATE for modern, intelligent digitalization
SCCH, founded in 1999, is completely reorganizing itself in the fields of data and software science under the new COMET K1 centre name of INTEGRATE. Under the longstanding ownership of the Johannes Kepler University Linz, the association of partner companies of Software Competence Center Hagenberg and Upper Austrian Research GmbH, it is expanding to become a competence centre for integrated software and AI systems that pursues an all-embracing technological approach to application-oriented research, combining the best aspects of all approaches to a single integrated solution. It is the first application-oriented research institution to explore not just artificial intelligence and software, but also emerging technologies such as quantum computing and neuromorphic computing. This will enable it to develop the best solutions to meet the constantly increasing requirements with regard to speed, output, miniaturization and energy-efficiency. INTEGRATE makes the entire spectrum of modern, intelligent digitalization accessible to all.

A number of different objectives define the path towards the ecological transformation of industry with its stipulations of carbon neutrality and freedom from fossil resources. These include the topics of bioeconomy and the increased use of renewable sources of energy.

WOOD K plus: Transformation to a sustainable bioeconomy
With its research on new materials made from renewable raw materials and on modern process technology, Wood K plus has been making vital contributions to industry that is sustainable. The company again underscores this pioneering role with the launch of the research programme “WOOD – Transition to a sustainable bioeconomy”. At three research sites in Linz, Tulln and St. Veit, biobased functionalized materials are being developed such as new wood materials for furniture and construction, high-performance carbon materials, sustainable packaging, high-grade fibres, thermal insulation and natural composite materials for a wide range of applications including vehicles and wind power stations. Digitalization is also increasingly important here. For instance, biobased sensors will be used for, among other things, improving the climate footprint in the construction industry.

K1-MET: Innovations for sustainable and carbon-neutral metallurgy
Hydrogen plays a key role for energy-intensive industry in its efforts to switch to more renewable sources of energy. K1-MET has set itself the target of achieving sustainable and carbon-neutral metallurgy and, as the scientific partner, was already involved in setting up the H2FUTURE pilot facility at voestalpine. The research centre has amassed considerable expertise and will continue to lead the way towards carbon-neutral production processes. A second aim is to use CO2 in conjunction with hydrogen in areas where it is not (yet) possible to do without natural gas. The two gases are used to produce synthetic methane, the chief component of natural gas. By means of sector coupling the “green” gas can then be used in sectors of industry. Another considerable advantage is that existing infrastructure, such as mains systems and gas tanks, can be used.

HyCentA: Research in all areas of the hydrogen economy
As the two leading industrial regions in Austria, the provinces of Upper Austria and Styria have a solid partnership in research and development. The new COMET K1 centre HyCentA in Graz will strengthen this relationship considerably. Research in all areas of the hydrogen economy will be conducted at the centre. The spectrum ranges from innovations in the production of hydrogen to new storage and distribution technologies and applications for mobility, industry and the energy sector. Leading companies and research institutions in Upper Austria are participating in the innovative work and, together with the government of Upper Austria, are contributing funds totalling approximately EUR 1.5 million.

About COMET:
COMET stands for “Competence Centers for Excellent Technologies”. It is a nationwide funding programme that serves the long-term support of research cooperation between science and industry. COMET competence centres perform application-oriented research at the very highest level. They conduct research in those areas that are strategically important for Austrian industry and create solutions to key issues of the future such as climate protection, digitalization, mobility and healthcare. COMET competence centres are financed by the Austrian government, specifically the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) and the Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs (BMDW), alongside the participating federal provinces and the participating companies and research organizations.

Bild ©istock/bartekszweczyk