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Research in Austria

Austria has developed dynamically as a research location in recent years. Over the past decade, total expenditures on research and development in Austria have risen by about 65 percent. In its global estimate, Statistics Austria forecasts expenditures in this area to reach 12.8 billion euros in 2019. This corresponds to a research intensity, i.e. R&D expenditures as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), of 3.19 percent. The expected rise of 4.5 percent over the previous year is somewhat higher than the anticipated GDP growth of 3.8 percent.

By way of comparison: R&D spending totalled 11.679 billion euros or about 3.16 percent of GDP in 2017 (the last year for which figures for international comparison are available). By European comparison, Austria is substantially above the EU 28 average of 2.06 percent. In 2017 Austria had the second-highest research intensity in Europe, surpassed only by Sweden (3.4%).

This website lets you know what these funds are being spent on and who is spending them.

Who is doing research and on what subject matter?

Every two years, Statistics Austria conducts a survey to determine who is conducting research on what and how R&D is developing in Austria. This article describes the key results from the complete survey from 2017.
The R&D landscape in Austria is shaped by the currently 22 public universities in the country with their 1,259 research entities and by the approximately 3,489 businesses doing research, primarily small and medium-sized enterprises, and a handful of large companies. These international corporations with headquarters in Austria make a major contribution to R&D. A crucial role is also played by the diverse institutions conducting non-university research. They range from the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), the largest of these research groups, to the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the largest institution for basic research outside the universities. Finally, the nine federal states (Laender) have robustly expanded their R&D activities in recent years, both in the conduct of research itself and in the creation of new structures and instruments to fund and promote research.

In 2017, expenditure on research and experimental development (R&D) in all economic sectors in Austria amounted to 11.290 billion euros. Austria had 131,032 individuals (76,009.7 full-time equivalents) working in R&D, 62.5 percent of whom were scientific personnel. The latest complete survey on R&D in Austria conducted by Statistics Austria for the reporting year 2017 outlines the structures of research as follows:

Who funds R&D in Austria?

Austrian businesses were the biggest funders in 2017, accounting for 6.170 billion euros or 54.7 percent of total R&D expenditures (18% rise on 2015). The public sector funded R&D to the tune of 3.206 billion euros, which represents a share of 28.4 percent (a drop of 8% compared to 2015, attributable to the inclusion of the research premium in the calculation of business enterprise funding from 2017 onwards). Foreign funding accounted for 1.874 bilion euros or 16.6 percent (a plus of 8% compared to 2015), with the EU making up 0.207 billion euros or 1.8 percent, of the total expenditures. The private non-profit sector funded 0.04 billion euros or 0.3 percent of the total expenditures (down 28% from 2015).

Who works in R&D in Austria?

In 2017, R&D personnel in Austria totalled 76,009.7 [calculated in full-time equivalents (FTEs)], less than one quarter of them women. This figure represents an increase since the 2015 survey of about 6.5 percent and a record level of personnel. Scientific personnel (university graduates and equivalent personnel) accounted for 47,520.7 FTEs (about 63%), about 24 percent of whom were women.

Degree of employment:

FTEs as a percentage of total personnel totalled about 58 percent – about 46 percent for women and, by contrast, about 63 percent for men. This figure points to a high level of part-time employment and also to a larger share of teaching at universities, especially among women.

In what sectors were researchers employed?

About 69 percent of total personnel in R&D were in the business enterprise sector. Just under one quarter – 23.3% – worked in the higher education sector (including universities of applied sciences, university colleges of teacher education or ISTA). About 7 percent were in the government sector [these statistics also include the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft (LBG)], while 0.8 percent were active in the private non-profit sector.
The ratio of male to female employees was as follows: 56:44 for the higher education sector, 84:16 for the business enterprise sector, 59:41 for the government sector and 46:54 for the private non-profit sector.

In which sectors is research being conducted?

Research is being conducted mainly in the business enterprise sector, which accounted for about 70 percent of all R&D expenditures. About 23 percent of the R&D expenditures occurred in the higher education sector. The government sector accounted for 5.5 percent of R&D activities and the private non-profit sector for 0.6 percent.

What type of research is being conducted?

For 2017, Statistics Austria attributes 17.9 percent of R&D expenditures to basic research, with the higher education sector accounting for about 69 percent, the business enterprise sector for 19 percent and the government sector for 12 percent. Applied research amounted to 33.5 percent of total expenditures, with the business enterprise sector conducting 67 percent, the higher education sector 26 percent and the government sector 6 percent. A total of 49 percent of R&D expenditures are attributed to experimental development (making it the most significant research category), of which 93 percent occurred at business enterprises while just 4 percent took place at universities and about 3 percent in the government sector.

In what geographic regions of Austria is research conducted?

Viewed regionally and measured by the main location of the business enterprise or surveyed unit, R&D spending by federal state in 2017 shows Vienna ranked first, accounting for about 32 percent of all activities. Styria and Upper Austria were next, with about 19 percent each. They were followed by Tyrol with about 9 percent, Lower Austria with 8 percent, Carinthia with about 6 percent, Salzburg with about 4 percent, Vorarlberg with about 3 percent and Burgenland with a rounded figure of 1 percent.

Research funding

Summary of the global estimate from Statistics Austria for 2019 and R&D intensity of Austria. Comparison with R&D intensity of other countries.

Expenditures for research and development (R&D) in Austria

Once a year, Statistics Austria publishes an estimate of R&D expenditures for the current year and the resulting R&D intensity.

For 2019, Statistics Austria forecasts expenditures of 12.8 bilion euros for research and development, which represents a research intensity of 3.19 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). The expected rise of 4.5 percent over the previous year is somewhat higher than the anticipated GDP growth of 3.8 percent.

Austrian business enterprises form the biggest and most dynamic source of R&D funding, accounting for 6.3 billion euros or about 49 percent of total expenditures. In 2019, they are expected to spend 5.3 percent more than in 2018. The public sector will increase its spending by 3.6 percent compared to 2018, contributing an estimated 4.5 billion euros or about 35 percent of total expenditures. Within the public sector, the Federal Government (Bund) is the key funding source, providing nearly 3.8 billion euros. Federal Government financing also contains the reimbursements for the research premium (estimate for 2019 according to the Ministry of Finance (BMF): 670 million euros) and the resources from the National Foundation for Research, Technology and Development (Nationalstiftung für FTE) and the Österreich-Fonds. The expenditures of the federal states are estimated at about 547 million euros while those of other public institutions such as the municipal authorities, professional chambers or social insurance institutions are put at about 132 million euros. Funding from abroad refers mostly to foreign businesses that finance R&D for their Austrian affiliates and, to a lesser extent, to receipts from the EU research programmes. This category will amount to about 2 billion euros or about 16 percent of total expenditures, an increase of some 1 percent over 2018.

With an R&D intensity of 3.16 percent, Austria ranked second only to Sweden in the EU in terms of R&D intensity in 2017, the latest year for which data for all Member States is available. It also ranked second the year before. Denmark and Germany were the only other EU countries to reach the EU target of 3 percent. Notably, two of the four innovation leader countries on the European Innovation Scorecard in 2019 did not reach the 3 percent mark, namely Finland and the Netherlands.

Every two years, Statistics Austria conducts a full survey on, inter alia, the use of personnel and financial research resources as well as the type and strategic orientation of the R&D carried out. The results from the most recent survey can be found on the Statistics Austria website.



Irene Danler
Department of Research, Technology, Innovation: Strategy, Reporting, Knowledge Transfer from Universities and Public Research Institutions
Minoritenplatz 5, 1010 Vienna
T +43 1 53120 6315