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Research infrastructure in Austria

Research infrastructures exist in all scientific disciplines. They assist researchers in delving into complex issues and new areas of research.
Research infrastructures are instruments for excellent research, research-driven teaching and training of up-and-coming talent as well as for profile building and knowledge transfer. They support technological advances and societal innovations.

What are research infrastructures?

The term “research infrastructures” refers to facilities, devices, equipment or other resources situated at one location, distributed among several locations or virtual in nature. Research infrastructures are key factors used especially for gaining knowledge in basic research, applied research or experimental research or in the advancement and appreciation of the arts. They support the teaching and fostering of up-and-coming talent and are vital for ensuring that specialised expertise and skills are properly set up, operated and used.

Research infrastructures are essential for resolving the most daunting challenges facing society (e.g. climate change, health, the scarcity of resources, the loss of biodiversity, food security and digitalisation) and challenges also addressed in the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development. They are geared to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Strategic development and university performance agreements

High-quality and competitive infrastructures and access to large-scale international research infrastructures are essential prerequisites for a research, technology and innovation location facing global competition. The strategic development of research infrastructures is therefore a key goal of Austrian research, technology and innovation policy (RTI Strategy).

Major steps towards creating a modern research and university policy have been taken on national, European and international level in recent years as part of the Austrian Research Infrastructure Action Plan 2014-2020 and in connection with the ESFRI Roadmap update from the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). ESFRI infrastructures are mainstays for a sustainable development of research and research infrastructures in Austria and in Europe. Along with state-of-the-art infrastructures and new research methods, they also provide specialised expertise for advanced and continuing education and training. To this end, ESFRI infrastructures feature modern organisational structures and special research services to bring knowledge and expertise flowing back into Austria while making enormous economic, social and societal impacts.

As part of the performance agreements with the Austrian universities, the goals and challenges of research infrastructure strategies are also tackled in corresponding performance agreement projects. The issues surrounding large-scale research infrastructure in particular are illustrated in the performance agreements with national and international projects.