Research and innovation are the most important drivers of growth – they create jobs, strengthen the business and re-search location and provide answers to society’s greatest challenges, including climate change, scarcity of resources and the ageing population. With its Europe 2020 strategy, the EU is supporting a broad-based approach to innovation, which includes both social innovations and strategies for research and innovation.
Strong performance in innovation and the good position in international competition this brings with it require new knowledge to be created all the time and those in business to seize upon it quickly. What distinguishes highly developed economies such as Austria is the fact that their stock of knowledge is constantly increasing. This is because it is increasingly important to create new knowledge, new technologies and new organisational forms for the good of society itself, rather than simply absorbing knowledge through importing innovation.
For knowledge and technology to be transferred successfully, it is essential that both the company and those involved in the science and research side have certain skills in innovation and knowledge management, as well as business and content-related expertise, and that RTI (research, technology, innovation) activities and organisational provisions are present. Small and medium-sized businesses in particular must adapt their core expertise to the fast technological development and the changes in the market these bring about. In the future, knowledge from external sources will have to be put to even more successful use through even greater integration of the (academic) research base, easier access to sources of knowledge and putting the results of research to
Strong knowledge locations produce strong business locations. A stable connection between the commercial sector and the universities produces academic spin-off start-ups. Because of their research orientation, these companies usually also retain a lasting connection to their “incubator” university (such as through cooperative research projects), and are thus of great significance for the region as a business location. Companies with an emphasis on research often base themselves close to universities w ith a similar emphasis on research.
The number of spin-off company start-ups has increased in Austria in recent years. The absolute number is currently estimated at around 500 start-ups per year. In general, an increase in the number of start-ups can be seen most clearly in sectors with high levels of research and technology. Of the almost 20,000 individual start-ups per year, 4,730 (that is almost a quarter) are in sectors based on research and knowledge. Of these, 1,990 (around 42 per cent) are founded by academics.
A study by the university of Linz (“Bene-fits and Effects of Basic Research”, Joan-neum Research, Andreas Schibany and Helmut Gassler, June 2010) about the effects of Graz University of Technology on economic value creation and employment showed that, between 1996 and 2007, the TU Graz produced an additional value creation effect of around 2.4 billion euros and an employment effect of around 19,100 people (jobs secured and/or created), in addition to the jobs provided by the university itself.
Founding universities of applied sciences in new locations has made another valuable contribution to regional development and created improved access to the knowledge generated at these institutions for new groups of companies.
Further strengthening cooperation be-tween science and business. The Federal Ministry of Science and Research is further promoting the transfer of knowledge and technology at Austrian universities and public research institutions and has succeeded in building up structures which are now a significant prerequisite for further support measures.
uni:invent. In the supporting initiative uni:invent (2004 – 2009), awareness measures and the establishment of a professional IPR management system has allowed sustainable utilisation structures to be established at the universities. uni: invent created 38 new jobs for invention advisors at the universities and concluded 410 new research cooperation agreements and contracts. In addition, around ten spin-off companies were founded from uni:invent projects each year. Between 2007 and 2009 alone, the funding used generated 2.8 times as much in cash flow or returning cash.
IP utilisation strategies of the universities. In order to strengthen the universities’ established structures for patenting and utilisation, the development of professional intellectual property and utilisation strategies was added to the performance agreements with the universities, in order to further increase the level of professionalisation in knowledge transfer in the public research institutions.
National contact point (www.ncp-ip.at).
In addition, a national contact point has been set up at the Federal Ministry of Science and Research, which uses targeted measures to further strengthen cooperation between science and business, supports public research institutions in dealing professionally with intellectual property law (workshops, training, sample contracts etc.) and represents Austria in European committees.
Phoenix 2012 – Start-ups with a future. Utilisation spin-offs are a sign of successful knowledge transfer and provide crucial stimulus for Austria as a business location. In order to make the connection between science and business even stronger and to anchor it better in the public consciousn ess, I will award young, innovative entrepreneurs with the business prize “Phoenix 2012 – Start-ups with a future”.
Science and business – a bright future together. We are facing the crucial question of how to secure our viability for the future and continue to expand our wealth for the coming generations. The answer lies in increased cooperation between science and business. Especially in times of economic difficulty and when prospects for the future are uncertain, research and innovation help to move the country forwards, create jobs and add value.
When compared internationally, Austria
is a leader when it comes to the intensity of cooperation between science and business. It has a modern and well-performing research and innovation system. In order not to endanger the successes already achieved, in its RTI strategy, the Federal Government has set the aim of continuing and improving the measures implemented so far and adapting them to the changing conditions, and especially on strengthening strategic cooperation between science and business, with a particular focus on excellence and sustainability.
A central message of the RTI strategy is to double spending on basic research by 2020. Israel is an impressive example in this field. Thanks to its very high investment in basic research and successful cooperation between science and business, it has become one of the strongest countries in the world in research.
It is therefore my aim to create the right conditions for those teaching, researching and studying at Austrian universities and research institutions, to allow them to continue to meet the national and international challenges they face. As well as more public and private funding, this also predominantly means structural measures, which are defined in the Austrian Universities Act to ensure that funding is used efficiently, to coordinate infrastructures better and, alongside cooperation between universities and other research institutions, to continue to expand and strengthen cooperation with business.
Investment in universities and research institutions pays off and creates value. Without sufficient financial means, there will be no more innovation in the medium to long term. Driving investment in the future is therefore an essential requirement if we are to achieve our ambitious goals in science, research and innovation in accordance with the Federal Government’s RTI strategy and make Austria one of the leading countries in Europe when it comes to innovation by 2020.
Der 1949 geborene Autor promovierte nach dem Studium der Philologie und Germanistik mit einer Dissertation in Klassischer Philologie. Es folgten der Abschluss der Lehramtsprüfung für Deutsch, Latein und Sponsion zum Mag. phil. sowie die Habilitation für Klassische Philologie. Seit April 2011 ist Prof. Dr. Karlheinz Töchterle Bundesminister für Wissenschaft und Forschung der Republik Österreich.