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RIO Country Report Austria 2016

The annual RIO Country Report offers an analysis of the R&I system in Austria, including relevant policies and funding, with particular focus on topics critical for EU policies. The report identifies the main challenges of the Austrian research and innovation system and assesses the policy response.





  • —GDP growth in Austria picked up in 2016 but remains below the EU average.
  • —R&D intensity increased further to 3.07% of GDP in 2015. Nevertheless, Austria’s very ambitious EU2020 target of 3.76% will be very difficult to reach.
  • —Public funding for both universities and private R&D increased significantly in 2015 and 2016. The latter benefitted in particular from the raise of the "Research Premium" tax incentive.
  • —Austria's BERD is among the highest in the EU and continues to grow. The R&D intensity of both the manufacturing and service sectors is positioned in top ranks within the EU.


Main R&I policy challenges

  • Streamline the support policy mix for private R&I. Austrian BERD is high and an array of public support instruments for private R&I is in place. However, funding agencies and instruments for private R&I are fragmented and overlaps or potential synergies between them have mostly been left unexplored, particularly at Länder level. Despite some streamlining efforts, the funding landscape still appears too complex to maximise its contribution to reaching strategic R&I policy goals.
  • Increase funding of excellent basic research. Funding for basic research in Austria is low compared to both EU and international innovation leaders. The relatively low amounts of competitive funding for basic research channelled through the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) limit the potential for the emergence of a critical mass in specific scientific fields. Since excellence in basic research strongly correlates with universities' commercialisation capabilities, this may also hold back knowledge transfer and innovation. Public funding for universities will be increased by over €1b in the period 2016-2018, but its impact cannot be assessed yet.
  • Further increase supply of equity capital for start-ups and scale-ups. Supply of equity finance for companies in the scale-up stage in Austria is improving but still scarce. Cumbersome regulatory framework conditions for equity investment and IPOs further hamper young innovative firms' access to finance. The implementation of an ambitious strategy to improve such conditions has started with concrete regulatory reforms in 2016. Public venture capital funds are starting to create a nascent entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Main R&I policy developments in 2016

Geo coverage
Report year
Official publication date
Friday, 12 May, 2017
Last update: 19/03/2019 | Top | Legal notice | Contact | Search