Strategic Networking Platforms in Austria
Mission-oriented research in the context of the Grand Societal Challenges is a relatively new issue for science, research and innovation policy in Austria. On the European level, the focus on societal challenges became concrete in 2008, with the launching of the Joint Programming Process. Austria has been very active in this process from the beginning. Being a medium-sized country in the centre of Europe, the argument that Grand Societal Challenges are of European or global nature and therefore need joint European or even global action, also in the field of science and research, was considered convincing. Austria is therefore currently actively participating in 7 Joint Programming Initiatives.
The major current issue in the Joint Programming Process at European level is Alignment. The term "Alignment" means the strategic approach taken by Member States and Associated Coutries (MS/AC) towards designing or modifying their national strategies, priorities, funding programmes or other funding actitivities around strategic priorities jointly identified at European level (as for example in the Strategic Research Agendas of JPIs).
The European Alignment process requires national strategies, or at least national priority setting. Without these, European Alignment is hardly possible. Within the given context, this process is called “National Alignment”. Austria's relatively small size makes thematic national R&D funding programmes in the areas of the Grand Challenges problematic. A complex and time-consuming process for setting up national strategies top-down does not seem appropriate either. Instead, Austria intends to follow a mixed bottom-up and top-down approach to tackle this issue, by initiating and providing incentives for strategic self-organising processes of the different Austrian scientific communities. These self-organising processes should lead to the establishment of Strategic Networking Platforms.
The Networking Platforms should organise the strategic collaboration between science and research institutions which are active in a given area/societal challenge. Building on their core competencies, these institutions should aim to complement each other, learn from each other, share existing knowledge, share infrastructure, and collaborate in transferring and using research results, with a view to serving society and to participate in European initiatives, both jointly and individually.
The Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy and the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology will provide funding to support the setting up of the Strategic Networking Platforms (for further information refer to the documents below, in German).