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Events and awards

A prime task of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) is to inform the scientific community in Austria and abroad about potentials and opportunities relating to international collaboration in science and research.

The BMBWF is keen to present Austria as an excellent location for research and to enable select up-and-coming researchers to network with leading global capacities in physics, chemistry, physiology and medicine as well as economics. That is why the ministry takes part in the week-long Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings held annually in Lindau, Germany. Once a year, more than 30 Nobel Laureates convene in Lindau to meet the next generation of leading scientists: a select group of over 500 young researchers from all over the world.

Science Days

The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) teams up with international partner ministries and representative authorities to stage information events and knowledge days on research, technology and innovation that have come to be known as Science Days. The research and mobility funding agencies provide basic information about the research system and potential collaboration in select partner countries while also presenting concrete funding opportunities. Last but not least, bilateral Science Days also help to cultivate international relations in science and research.

International awards

The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) also garners good publicity from its awarding of science prizes for outstanding achievements in the international arena. These awards and the media coverage associated with them are also instrumental in making the public more aware of how crucial international mobility and collaboration are for achieving progress in science and research.
On the one hand, the prizes are bestowed on established researchers for their scientific work and special achievements in promoting cross-border collaboration. On the other hand, talented up-and-coming researchers are also singled out for these awards. These individuals become active on the international stage early on in their careers and have made exemplary and promising contributions to their field.

Danubius Awards

The Danubius Award came into being in 2011 in a collaborative effort by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) and the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM). It is given out annually to honour established scientists for special contributions they have made to the Danube Region in their scientific activities and output. In 2017, an additional category was added: the Danubius Mid-Career Award.
The Danubius Young Scientist Awards have also been bestowed since 2014 to 14 young researchers every year, one in each of the countries taking part in the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.

ASciNA Awards

The ASciNA Awards of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) are given out each year in cooperation with the researcher network Austrian Scientists and Scholars in North America (ASciNA). The awards honour excellent scientific and scholarly publications written by young researchers during a stay in a North American research institution. The award winners are selected by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) based on an international expert opinion. One ASciNA Award is bestowed in the category “Junior Principal Investigator” and two in the category “Young Scientists”. The awards are presented at the Austrian Research and Innovation Talk (ARIT), an annual network meeting for Austrian researchers in North America that is jointly funded with the Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs (BMDW).

Link:

• Office of Science & Technology Austria Washington DC

Austrian Prize for Development Research

The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) also confers the Austrian Prize for Development Research in cooperation with OeAD. The aim is to boost public awareness and to honour exceptional achievements in this important research field. The prize is awarded every two years in two categories. The main award is given out alternately in odd years to an individual for his or her life’s work or outstanding achievement (publication, project or initiative) in development research and in even years to an institution active in this field. The prize for young researchers is limited to a specific topic in each case.
Austrian Entrepreneurship Award Phönix

This start-up prize gives young and successful companies an arena and singles out top research achievements at universities and research institutions.

The prize is awarded in the following categories:

• Women
The potential of women has been insufficiently tapped in high-tech start-ups in particular. This award is designed to send a message and establish appropriate role models. From the pool of all submitted projects, the panel of experts selects one successful project in which a woman is playing an instrumental part as a researcher, founder or managing director.

• Spin-offs
This category honours spin-offs created to exploit research along with their research institution. They can be spin-offs from public universities, universities of applied sciences or collaborative programmes (such as Research Studios Austria, COMET Competence Centers for Excellent Technologies or Christian Doppler Laboratories).

• Prototypes
Models or prototypes illustrate the feasibility of innovations, stepping up the pace at which they can be exploited by society and the economy. Submissions are allowed to be made by all universities, public research institutions and business enterprises that have submitted entries to the following programmes of the funding agencies Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws) and Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) from 1 January 2011 onwards: PRIZE (aws), PreSeed (aws), Seedfinancing (aws), High Tech Start-up (FFG), Start-up (FFG) and Research Studios Austria (FFG).

• Start-ups
Submissions are allowed to be made by creative start-ups whose innovative products, processes or services contribute to solving social, societal or environmentally relevant challenges.

In 2018 the panel of experts selected the following prizewinners, who received their awards at Haus der Industrie on 3 December 2018:

• Winner in the “Business” category: talentify GmbH, Vienna
The educational network of the social enterprise created talentify.me, a free online platform for pupils. Studying together helps pupils develop social skills and strengthens social cohesion. At the same time, the platform creates an alternative to classic tutoring. talentify also provides a business platform that helps businesses to find the right individuals who are just starting their careers and to train them in-house. This enables talentify to fund itself in a sustainable way from various revenue sources.

• Winner in the “Start-up International” category: PhagoMed Biopharma GmbH, Vienna
PhagoMed Biopharma GmbH is a biotech company specialising in the development of approved human therapeutic applications of phage therapy. Phages are viruses that infect and kill solely bacteria. They are effective only against a very limited spectrum of bacteria. This high selectivity coupled with high effectiveness in killing bacteria are the traits that make phages such a fascinating alternative to antibiotics in the treatment of bacterial infections. Since its founding in November 2017, PhagoMed has already raised more than €4 million in investments and grants. PhagoMed currently has six highly qualified employees working for it at the Vienna BioCenter campus.

• Winner in the “Women” category: Gerda Fuhrmann, founder and managing director of UriSalt GmbH, Innsbruck
The Tyrolean start-up UriSalt, co-founded by Fuhrmann, develops simple, non-invasive tests for doctors’ surgeries and pharmacies as well as private at-home tests for rapidly assessing and monitoring the status of physiologically essential electrolytes in the body using urine samples. Currently, sodium status, for instance, is assessed mainly through blood tests. This method is invasive and logistically comple, making it suitable to only a limited extent for screening and monitoring. However, these procedures are extremely important in many cases because if disorders of sodium balance are not treated in time, they may cause serious and even life-threatening health problems. That is why UriSalt has developed SODISENS: an inexpensive point-of-care test (POCT) to assess the sodium balance using disposable urine test strips and a portable analysis device.

• Winner in the “Spin-off” category: Blue Danube Robotics GmbH, spin-off of TU Wien
This Vienna-based company focuses on safe human-robot collaboration. The patented AIRSKIN® is a sturdy, pressure-sensitive skin that is mounted directly onto the robot. It makes robots safe for humans and enables companies to gain competitive benefits such as cost efficiency or higher productivity and simplified risk analysis.

• Winner in the “Prototype” category: AVVIE GmbH, Vienna
Angel Valve Vienna GmbH (AVVie) is the only medical technology start-up in Austria to develop implants for treating heart valve diseases. About 8.1 million people in Europe and the USA suffer from a leaking mitral valve. The gold standard for treatment is open-heart surgery, a serious procedure entailing high risks. Mitral Butterfly is an implant that can be put in place in the beating heart in a minimally invasive procedure via the vascular system (using a catheter). The implant adapts to the movement of the heart, repairing the defective heart valve in a gentle way. Thanks to this new approach and the shorter intervention and rehabilitation times involved, all affected patients can be treated and costs for the health care system are reduced.
Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH (aws) stages the Phönix competition in cooperation with the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) and the Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs (BMDW). The invitation for submissions to Phönix 2019 ran till 17 July 2019. The awards ceremony is scheduled for 14 October 2019.

Links:

Phönix – Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH (aws) (in German only)
Phönix – Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) (in German only)

Contacts:

Daniela Kopriva-Urbas
Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research
Department V/1a
Minoritenplatz 5, 1010 Vienna
T +43 53120 7213
daniela.kopriva-urbas@bmbwf.gv.at


Sabine Matzinger
Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs
Department II/3
Stubenring 1, 1010 Vienna
T +43 1 71100 806078
sabine.matzinger@bmdw.gv.at


State Prize for the Promotion of Alternatives to Animal Testing

This prize honours outstanding scientific work whose results or objectives adhere to the principles embodied in the 3R tenet of Russell and Burch (1959): replacement or reduction of the use of animals in animal testing or refinement of the conditions for breeding, housing, husbandry and use of animals in animal testing. The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) funds the prize, which has a cash value of €10,000, and bestows it once a year.
Award frequency: annual
Prizes: monetary prize

Contact:

Silvia Bader
Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research
Department V/3b (Animal Testing and Genetic Engineering)
Minoritenplatz 5, 1010 Vienna
T +43 53120 7120
silvia.bader@bmbwf.gv.at