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International research institutions

Participating in large-scale international research institutions and research networks assures Austria of access to new knowledge. The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) takes up nearly three quarters of the total budget set aside for this item.

International connection assured

The Directorate-General for Research at the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) represents Austria in international bodies that are relevant to research, such as those of the European Union, the OECD [in the Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP) and in the Global Science Forum] or the United Nations. This participation in large-scale international research institutions and research networks such as CERN, ESRF, WMO or EMBL gives the Austrian scientific community access to new knowledge and research opportunities.
The BMBWF spends about 30 million euros on membership of international research institutions, with the Directorate-General for Research managing these funds.

  • The membership fee for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) accounts for more than half of this figure (about 21.6 million euros) and funds research on fundamental questions about the structure of matter and its elementary particles (including administrative costs, salaries and pensions for CERN employees). The BMBWF also shares about 500,000 euros of the proportionate annual costs to participate in CERN experiments (links to the 2018 CERN Annual Report and to the Annual Report and Financial Statements of the CERN Pension Fund are available from mid-July). Outlays for CERN scholarships amount to about 600,000 euros a year.
  • Membership of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) with administrative headquarters in Germany and observatories in Chile [proportionate costs for 2019: about 6 million euros, including proportionate investment expenses for the new European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT)].
  • About 3 million euros are budgeted for memberships of the European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) located in Heidelberg, Germany.
  • Other large-scale research institutions in the Directorate-General for Research’s portfolio of international scientific collaborations include the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF, about 1.9 million euros), the Institut Laue-Langevin high-flux reactor in Grenoble, France (2.5 million euros) and the Italian synchrotron research centre ELETTRA.
  • The BMBWF also finances, among other things, the work of organisations and networks such as the World Meteorological Organization and GRID. The latter is, as it were, the successor technology to the Internet for networking data-storage and data-processing capacities (“your supercomputer from a wall socket”).

Austria is also home to centres of the international scientific community co-funded by the BMBWF, among them the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Salzburg Medical Seminars International.
The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg near Vienna conducts interdisciplinary scientific studies on global change involving, inter alia, energy, ecology, transitioning to new technologies and demographics and on the impact these changes have on human beings. IIASA is one of the most renowned think tanks in the world. The researchers at IIASA apply innovative scientific methods to arrive at knowledge and insights important for both policy and research. The Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) is the national member organisation representing Austrian interests in the governing body of IIASA. The BMBWF enables selected up-and-coming researchers to take part in the Young Scientists Summer Program, an annual three-month programme organised by IIASA.
Salzburg Medical Seminars International constitute a continuing education programme for physicians, especially from newly industrialised countries (NICs) and developing countries. Top physicians from the United States and Austria jointly conduct the thematic seminars on a pro bono basis. Salzburg Medical Seminars International do much to build up capacities and reduce the brain drain in the participants’ countries of origin. They also help to fortify Austria’s status as a central hub, especially for Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.