Research funding and key research funding agencies
Actors, investment and international comparison
Overview of research in Austria
R&D statistics: global estimate and full survey
How is research funding developing?
How does Austria rank internationally?
Who is researching what?
Who funds R&D in Austria?
Who works in R&D in Austria?
In which sectors are researchers employed?
In which sectors is research being conducted?
What is being researched?
In which regions of Austria is research being conducted?
Investment in science and research is a key factor and basic requirement for a country’s ability to innovate. It is not just used to ensure long-term competitiveness, but is also essential for addressing societal challenges.
Here you will find information about the following areas as well an article providing an overview of research in Austria.
In 2019, a total of €12.441 billion was spent on research and experimental development (R&D) in Austria across all economic sectors. There are 144,117 people (83,659.9 full-time equivalents) working in R&D in Austria, 63 per cent of whom are scientific personnel. The latest full survey on R&D in Austria conducted by Statistics Austria for the 2019 reporting year outlines the research structures.
The most recently published R&D global estimate, which appeared in 2022, shows that the positive trends are continuing this year too.
Find out here who is researching what, what R&D funding is spent on and by whom, how Austria’s research ranks internationally and much more by means of an overview of key R&D figures.
Once a year, Statistics Austria publishes the R&D global estimate in which it calculates the R&D expenditure for the current year and the resulting R&D intensity. At the same time, the data for previous years is also revised.
Every two years (most recently in 2019), Statistics Austria also conducts a full R&D survey on the basis of the R&D Statistics Regulation (Federal Law Gazette II no. 396/2003), which shows who is researching what and how research is developing in Austria. This also generates a list of research sites in Austria.
For more information, visit Research statistics
The global estimate produced by Statistics Austria in April 2022 shows that €12.951 billion was spent on research and development in 2021 (0.9 per cent more than in 2020).
In its global estimate, Statistics Austria expects R&D intensity to increase to 3.26 per cent of GDP in 2022 and further expenditure on research and development to amount to approximately €1.15 billion. Estimated total expenditure on R&D in 2022 is expected to amount to €14.15 billion.
The global estimate highlights the important role that public research funding continues to play in 2022: the rise in federal funding by an estimated €440 million to €3.9 billion (up 12.8 per cent) and the increase in support for companies through the research bonus to around €1 billion (up 12.3 per cent) kept the research intensity relatively stable. Nevertheless, domestic companies remain the most important source of R&D funding in terms of their share. It is expected that €6.16 billion will be spent on R&D here (excluding research bonuses), and that despite the difficult economic situation caused by the pandemic and the war, R&D expenditure will increase by almost €500 million compared to 2021.
For the public sector as a whole, R&D expenditure is expected to amount to €4.5 billion, of which around 82 per cent will come from the Federal Government, around 13 per cent from the federal states and around 5 per cent from other public institutions such as municipalities, professional chambers or social insurance institutions as well as funding from the private non-profit sector. Funding from abroad refers mostly to foreign businesses that finance R&D for their Austrian subsidiaries and, to a lesser extent, to receipts from the EU research programmes. This category is expected to amount to some €2.2 billion or 15.7 per cent of total expenditure.
According to the European Union R&D expenditure data published by Eurostat in November 2021, EU Member States spent around €311 billion on R&D in 2020, €1 billion less than in 2019. The R&D intensity in the EU stood at 2.3 per cent in 2020, compared with 2.2 per cent in 2019 – the decrease in GDP as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has a “positive” effect on the R&D intensity. In 2020, R&D expenditure in Austria amounted to €12.143 billion – about 3.22 per cent of GDP. Compared with other European countries, Austria is significantly above the EU-27 average of 2.32 per cent. In 2020, the highest R&D intensity was recorded in Sweden and Belgium (3.5 per cent of GDP), followed by Austria (3.2 per cent) and Germany (3.1 per cent).
Recent comparative data from 2019 is available for countries that are not members of the EU: Switzerland is only just ahead of Austria, with an R&D intensity of 3.15 per cent in 2019 (the Austrian figure for 2019 was 3.13 per cent); Japan is slightly higher, at 3.20 per cent; leading the field are Israel and South Korea, with an R&D intensity of 4.93 per cent and 4.64 per cent respectively. The USA is at 3.07 per cent, the UK at 1.76 per cent.
According to the full R&D survey conducted in 2019, Austria’s research landscape is shaped by the country’s 22 public universities, 21 universities of applied sciences, 14 university colleges of teacher education and 16 private universities with their 1,327 research entities and by the approximately 3,872 businesses doing research, primarily small and medium-sized enterprises, and a handful of large companies, with international corporations headquartered in Austria making a major contribution to research. An important role is also played by the various institutions conducting non-university research. These range from the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), the largest non-university research group, to the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OEAW), the largest institution conducting basic research outside the universities.
The list of research sites compiled by Statistics Austria includes all institutions conducting R&D that were recorded in the most recent full R&D survey and that agreed to their data being published in the list.
Finally, the nine federal states have also significantly expanded their R&D activities in recent years and have created new structures and instruments both in research itself and in research funding.
According to the 2019 full R&D survey, businesses are the biggest funders, accounting for €6.824 billion or 54.8 per cent of total R&D expenditure (up 10.6 per cent on 2017). In 2019, the public sector funded R&D to the tune of €3.473 billion, which represents a share of 27.9 per cent (up 8.3 per cent on 2017). Foreign funding accounted for €2.111 billion or a share of 17 per cent (up 12.6 per cent on 2017), with the EU making up €0.248 billion or 2 per cent of total expenditure. The private non-profit sector funded €0.043 billion or 0.3 per cent of total expenditure (down 13.3 per cent from 2017).
According to the 2019 full R&D survey, 83,659.9 people (calculated in full-time equivalents, abbreviated as FTEs) were employed in R&D in Austria, slightly less than a quarter of them women. This means an increase of 10 per cent compared to the 2017 survey and a new record number of employees. Scientific personnel (university graduates and equivalent personnel) account for 52,794.3 FTEs (around 63 per cent), about 24 per cent of whom are women.
The ratio of full-time equivalents to people, i.e. the degree of utilisation, is around 58 per cent overall. The figure for women is around 46 per cent overall, while the figure for men is around 64 per cent. This indicates a high level of part-time employment and, at universities, also a larger share of teaching, especially among women.
According to the 2019 full R&D survey, 70 per cent of all R&D employees work in the business enterprise sector. Just under a quarter – 22.7 per cent – are employed in the higher education sector, which includes universities of applied sciences, university colleges of teacher education and the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA), while 6.5 per cent work in the government sector – these statistics also include the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OEAW), the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft (LBG) – and 0.7 per cent are active in the private non-profit sector.
The ratio of male to female employees is as follows: 56:44 in the higher education sector, 84:16 in the business enterprise sector, 59:41 in the government sector and 50:50 in the private non-profit sector.
Research is mainly conducted in the business enterprise sector, which accounts for the largest share of R&D expenditure in Austria – this is also shown by the 2019 full R&D survey. Around 22 per cent of R&D expenditure occurs in the higher education sector. The government sector accounts for about 7 per cent of R&D activities and the private non-profit sector for 0.5 per cent.
In the 2019 full R&D survey, Statistics Austria attributes 17.8 per cent of R&D expenditure to basic research, with the higher education sector conducting about 66 per cent of this research, the business enterprise sector 21.4 per cent and the government sector 12.2 per cent.
Applied research accounts for 33.9 per cent of total expenditure, with the business enterprise sector conducting 66 per cent of this research, the higher education sector 25 per cent and the government sector 8 per cent.
A total of 48.3 per cent of R&D expenditure is attributed to experimental development (making it the most significant research category), of which 94 per cent takes place in business enterprises, just 4 per cent in higher education institutes and about 1.8 per cent in the government sector.
The 2019 full R&D survey shows that, when R&D expenditure is viewed regionally by federal state and measured by the main location of the business enterprise or survey unit, Vienna accounts for 31.4 per cent of all activities. It is followed by Styria (19.6 per cent), Upper Austria (18.8 per cent), Lower Austria (8.4 per cent), Tyrol (8.2 per cent), Carinthia (6.3 per cent), Salzburg (3.9 per cent), Vorarlberg (2.8 per cent) and Burgenland (0.6 per cent).
- Austrian Research and Technology Report (in German only)
- Statistic Austria: List of research sites (in German only)
- Statistics Austria: Research and experimental development (R&D)
Dr. Patrick Svensson-Jajko
Department of Research, Technology, Innovation: Strategy, Reporting, Knowledge Transfer from Universities and Public Research Institutions
Minoritenplatz 5, 1010 Wien
T +43 1-53120-7152