Austrian Science Minister Mahrer and GD Smits stress importance of excellence and digitisation in Alpbach
At the Technology Symposium at the European Forum Alpbach in Tyrol, Austrian Federal Minister of Science, Research and Economy Harald Mahrer and EC Director-General for Research and Innovation Robert Jan Smits talked about current European and Austrian research issues at a press conference held on 24 August 2017.
Minister Mahrer stressed Austria's successful performance in Horizon 2020, with € 750 million of funding received by Austria so far. Austria is also performing very successfully regarding European Research Council (ERC) grants. Director-General Smits emphasised the importance of focusing on digitisation and modernisation of universities.
With regard to research funding in Austria, Minister Mahrer said it would need to be come more competitive and excellence-oriented, with quick and efficient administration, in order to increase its impact. Regarding Austria's universities, the minister announced, amongst other issues, that there will be new financial incentives for universities for ERC grants received, as well as a special Spin-off Fellowship Programme with a total budget of 15 million and due to start in autumn 2017.
Both Mr. Mahrer and Mr. Smits identify a need for Austria to catch up with regard to digital infrastructure. The Minister added that from the point of view of the Federal Ministry of Science, Reserch and Economy (BMWFW), digitisation, Open Innovation und Open Access will be important issues for Austria's upcoming EU Council Presidency in 2018. With BREXIT negotiations and the negotiations on the EU's next budget also being part of the Austrian Council Presidency, the Minister sees a need for "a clear commitment in Europe to the value of science, research and innovation. This will need additional funds, otherwise there is a danger of Austria falling behind as a location for innovation and business" [check against delivery].
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Photo: Minister Mahrer and Director-General Smits, by BMWFWTOP