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International research collaboration

The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) provides Austrian higher education and research institutions with many instruments and measures at national, bilateral, regional and EU level to help them to expand international research collaboration and to position themselves in global research.

International treaties and agreements are concluded to promote research collaboration with partner countries important to Austria. These accords lay the groundwork for bilateral cooperation programmes with global leaders in research, technology and innovation (RTI), such as South Korea or China. The aim is to advance excellence in the Austrian research and innovation system. But they also enable long-term collaborative relations to be forged with less developed countries. The aim here is to expand local capacities in science and research and to reduce the emigration of qualified personnel by transforming this “brain drain” into “brain circulation”. That is why Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, particularly the West Balkans, are long-standing regional priorities of the BMBWF. Africa is a new geographic priority, especially with respect to science diplomacy and development research. The BMBWF launched two initiatives in 2019 in addition to its bilateral cooperation programmes: the research network Africa UniNet and the newly structured development research programme Cooperation Development Research.

Similarly, the European Union has become a crucial driver of international cooperation with non-EU countries not only through its bilateral activities but also through the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. That is why the BMBWF continuously participates in these EU activities, teaming up with its partner ministries in the EU to develop funding programmes for multilateral research cooperation with countries outside Europe.

To inform the scientific community about existing opportunities for collaboration and funding with key partner countries such as the United States or India, the BMBWF holds regular networking and information events such as bilateral Science Days or the Austrian Research and Innovation Talk – ARIT in North America. In addition, the BMBWF confers the Danubius Awards, the ASciNA Awards and the Austrian Prize for Development Research to honour outstanding, internationally recognised achievements in research and development. These accolades help to boost public awareness of globally acclaimed research work being done by Austrian scientists and scholars.

Austria is also the seat of renowned international research institutions such as the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg and international initiatives such as the Salzburg Medical Seminars International, which alongside its research activities, plays an instrumental role in medical training, especially in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. Through its involvement in large-scale research institutions (internal link to II.3), the BMBWF also enables Austrian researchers to access joint research infrastructures, giving them the opportunity to pursue work of top international calibre.

Finally, the BMBWF represents Austrian interests in numerous international and EU bodies, for example in the Strategic Forum for International Science and Technology Cooperation (SFIC) of the European Union; on the Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and in relevant bodies of the United Nations.

The Federal Government’s Strategy for Research, Technology and Innovation provides the overarching framework for the BMBWF’s international initiatives and for its coordinated internationalisation actions with the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (BVIT), the Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs (BMDW) and the Federal Ministry of Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs (BMEIA).