14. October 2016

Presentation of “STAR”, the New Research Fund for Upper Austria

Research leads to innovation — and innovation increases competitiveness, creates jobs and secures long-term prosperity. As a business region, Upper Austria aims to rank among the best in Europe. To this end, the government of the province carries out investment in carefully selected research fields. Under “STAR”, the new funding scheme for research in Upper Austria, an additional EUR 40 million will be invested in research in the coming years. 

“If we as a business region are to rank among the best in Europe, strategic investment in research is required,” says Deputy Governor Stelzer. “Under ʻSTARʼ, the new funding scheme for research in Upper Austria, we will invest an additional EUR 40 million in research in the coming years.”

Research funding acts as an efficient means of taking targeted measures to open up new avenues for research. The research environment has effective instruments at regional, national and international level to achieve this. At regional level in particular there is great potential for taking into account strategically important sectors, local conditions, the province’s core competences and future challenges. 

Up to now the research funding system in Upper Austria has rested on two central pillars. The first of these essentially concerns the funding of R&D centres and institutions. Here, the structures and guidelines have been continually and systematically developed over the past few years and an efficient monitoring process was introduced which enabled a high degree of quality assurance. The second pillar is based on cooperation with external partners such as the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). This highly successful cooperation has been going on for many years and produces tremendous synergies.

STAR – The Third Pillar of Regional R&D Funding

With the introduction of the “STAR” (Step Ahead through Research) research funding scheme the Upper Austrian government implements the research funding initiative with the working title “Forschungsstiftung” (“research foundation”) that is part of its programme. “The initiative has more the form of a funding scheme than a foundation in the legal sense since this would entail more bureaucracy and organs,” says Deputy Governor Thomas Stelzer. “With ʻSTARʼ we expect to take another major step towards fulfilling the innovative potential of the province of Upper Austria.” 

Under “STAR”, the government of Upper Austria will invest an additional EUR 40 million in research funding from 2017 to 2021. The funds will be used to finance projects and initiatives run by individuals.

In the coming months, one project and one personal programme are to be selected and carried out.

Professional Support of the Development of “STAR”

"As the leading company for research in Upper Austria, Upper Austrian Research GmbH (UAR) supports the government of Upper Austria in its tasks relating to research policy and plays a major role in furthering innovation in the province,” says Dr. Wilfried Enzenhofer, MBA. “UAR played a central role in the conception and development of the ʻSTARʼ research funding scheme in close cooperation and coordination with the economy department of the Upper Austrian government. We accompanied the entire process and will continue to contribute actively to its development in future.” 

One of UAR’s principal tasks was to explore various approaches and models during the planning stage and evaluate best practice models. To this end, UAR took an especially close look at models used in international regions particularly active in research such as the UK, Finland and Denmark in order to build on the strengths of these models and respond to the specific needs in Upper Austria.

One of the chief aims of “STAR” is to create an environment that enables access to fields of innovation in which no one is yet active and to build on Upper Austria’s strengths to highlight areas where the province has particularly great potential. To this end, UAR analysed and assessed existing programmes and their level of funding in order to identify such areas for Upper Austria and to support the selection of priorities for the ongoing development. On the basis of this assessment, a recommendation was made to pool the funds available in the increased research budget and to take strategic steps to support projects and programmes run by individuals.

Photo: Dr. Henrietta Egerth (CEO of FFG, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency, and Deputy Governor Thomas Stelzer; photo: Land OÖ/Schauer, Use of image permitted only when source is quoted