Austria is one of the leading European nations in terms of research and development expenditure. Along with Sweden, Belgium, Germany and Denmark, it is one of five EU countries to achieve the European target of a 3% research quota.
This and other interesting information can be found in the Research and Technology Report 2022 (FT Report), which was jointly presented by Minister of Science Martin Polaschek, Minister of Climate Protection Leonore Gewessler and the Economy Minister Martin Kocher.
The report emphasizes that the research areas of artificial intelligence, quantum research and high-performance computing (HPC) as well as the topics of the circular economy and sustainability are of particular importance for the future and that ‘highly qualified human capital is a prerequisite for performance excellence.
The current FT report provides for the first time an overview of the portfolio of funding and instruments available in Austria to researchers as well as scientists at all stages of their career.
R&D spending will again increase significantly in 2022
According to Statistics Austria’s overall estimate, R&D expenditure in Austria will amount to around 14.15 billion euros in 2022, which is 9.3% more than in 2021. The research ratio is i.e. the share of gross domestic expenditure on R&D measured against gross domestic product, is expected to be 3.26% in 2022.
This will be the ninth time in a row that Austria has managed to exceed the European target of 3%.
R&D survey 2019: research expenditure increases more strongly than GDP
According to Statistics Austria’s R&D Survey 2019, a total of 12.4 billion euros was invested in R&D in 2019. Compared to 2017, R&D expenditure thus increased by 1.151 billion euros or 10 .2%. This increase far exceeds nominal GDP growth of 7.6% over the same period. At 70.3%, the business enterprise sector accounts for the largest share of R&D spending, while the higher education sector has the second largest share at 21.8%.
Public research institutions represent 7.3% and the private non-profit sector 0.5%.
The Austrian innovation system in international comparison
With an R&D rate above 3%, Austria leads the EU states and, in terms of research and development performance, measured by key quality-oriented parameters such as applications for international patent or citation rate, she is in good upper midfield. Austria performs particularly well in terms of the number of ERC grants per 1 million inhabitants in Horizon 2020 (second place behind the Netherlands).
From the perspective of the global innovation rankings, Austria also holds places in the top midfield (18th place in the global innovation index and therefore an improvement of one place compared to the previous year, 8th place in the European Innovation Scoreboard).
Austria therefore failed to join the group of Innovation Leaders in the overall ranking, but it has held a leading position in the group of Strong Innovators for some time.
In the area of digitalisation, the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) for 2021 shows that Austria is now quite clearly above the European average. Compared to 2020, according to the report, Austria shows improvements, especially in the areas of “connectivity” and “integration of digital technologies”, where previously below average scores were achieved.
For the first time, the report also refers to other indices in which Austria is above the EU average, such as the ability to apply future technologies (Readiness for Frontier Technologies Index 2021) or the use of the “Internet of Things” in the population. (2020).
Austria also performs very well in terms of relevant indicators, such as the share of scientific publications or patents, and is positioned well above the EU average. If other indicators of innovation capacity are taken into account, such as knowledge, human capital, economic complexity and resilience, Austria registers values above the EU-27 average almost everywhere.
Austria is slightly below the EU average in terms of business use of AI, academic qualifications and geopolitical resilience (capabilities). Austria scores above average in R&D indicators, in AI and quantum research, and in social, economic and green resilience.