Nature Culture Quality of Life

Nature Culture Quality of Life


1.Point of departure


Nature – culture – quality of life

Nutrition – medicine – health

Technology – productivity – prosperity

3.Topic areas

Humanities, Social and Cultural Studies

Collections, Lower Austria

Ecosystems and ecosystem services


Renewable raw materials and bio-energy

Food and feed safety

Sustainable land management and production optimisation

Medical technology and medical biotechnology

Materials and surfaces

Manufacturing technology and automation engineering

Matrix: Fields of activity


5.Cross-sectional subject matters

Training and further training




1.Point of departure

Research, technology and innovation (RTI) are definitely setting the future course for the preservation of quality of life in socio-political, environmental and cultural terms.

They contribute significantly to prosperity and security, to maintaining economic competitiveness and thus growth and employment. In order to account for this high level of future relevance for the development of Lower Austria, a process was initiated in 2012 under the aegis of the Science and Research Department and in close coordination and collaboration with other relevant departments of the Office of the Government of Lower Austria (in particular the Department of Industry, Tourism and Technology) to draft a long-term and coherent strategy for the future formation of policies with respect to science, research, technology and innovation. Under the guiding principle of "Think together, work together, achieve success together", this RTI strategy is an umbrella strategy for existing strategies and concepts, including those for technology and innovation.

Basic RTI strategy

As an initial result of this process, the Federal State Government of Lower Austria determined the first part of the research, technology and innovation strategy (RTI strategy) for Lower Austria and subsequently published it in the early summer of 2013. It covers the basic areas of the current and future RTI policy of Lower Austria. Based on extensive research and analyses, 39 interviews with relevant players in the Lower Austrian RTI system as well as three events with over 400 participants, which focused on dialogue, this basic strategy describes the main objectives and principles of the future RTI policy of Lower Austria, taking into account strategies of the EU ("Horizon 2020") as well as of the federal government.

Furthermore, the RTI strategy identifies potential areas of strength and makes basic statements on the future development of science and research policies

in Lower Austria. Thus the RTI strategy provides the framework for the development of future instruments, flagship projects and measures in the research and innovation system of Lower Austria as well as for the present RTI program.

Starting from a careful consideration of the status quo and the identification of strengths and weaknesses, eight fundamental objectives in the field of research, technology and innovation in Lower Austria were defined: continuation of targeted investments in RTI; setting thematic priorities; strategic build-out of R&D structures; strengthening of RTI in companies; expediting education and training; thinking and acting on a nationwide basis; creating a high profile; boosting of effectiveness. They serve as a medium-term and long-term framework for a progressive RTI policy, on whose basis implementation concepts and measures can be developed. The overall target framework is flexibly designed so that new opportunities and challenges can be addressed.

Process for the development of the RTI program

Founded upon this basic strategy, a participatory process was set in motion in order to develop further necessary elements of the strategic approach, e.g. priorities, instruments, sub-strategies and measures for the implementation and operational realisation of the RTI strategy by 2020. For this purpose, five research areas relevant to the RTI program, namely "Agricultural Technology, Food & Veterinary Medicine", "Society & Culture", "Health & Medicine", "Science and Technology" and "Environment, Energy & Resources" were initially derived from the results of the basic strategy.

In order to stay focused in terms of content and in accordance with the "Smart Specialisation" strategy to build on the existing strengths of Lower Austria in the field of research and address major challenges, relevant special matters within these research areas were identified, upon which the focus should be in the coming years and which constitute the core content of the RTI program. In a first step, based on the findings of the RTI basic strategy and numerous discussions for identifying themes with representatives of relevant areas (research,

education, administration, companies), twelve topic areas were defined, which were dealt with in the subsequent process.

Topic area workshops

The prerequisite for a theme to be defined as a topic area was that it involved both research institutes and educational institutions and that it brings a clear benefit to society, or industry, respectively. For the definition of the topic areas, a number of other criteria were relevant, e.g. critical mass; number of people working in this topic area or these institutions; potential level of innovation; as well as the potential benefits of the topic area for Lower Austria. The development of the topic areas thus consciously followed the location-based concept of the "Smart Specialisation" strategy.

In this way, between one and three topic areas in each field of research were defined in 2013 and 2014. For each topic area, two workshops were held, attended by ten to 20 experts from research institutes, educational institutions and businesses as well as representatives of socially relevant institutions.

Together, ideas and specific measures for the strategic implementation of the respective topic area were developed. The main impetus for the development of the program in this bottom-up process arose from the networking of the various stakeholders with regard to specific, strategically-relevant topic areas.

Besides working on the topic areas, the comprehensive matters of training and advanced training, awareness-raising, instruments and control were discussed in several workshops based on the RTI basic strategy.

Overall, more than 250 experts worked in more than 30 workshops and numerous discussion groups on the RTI program for Lower Austria during 2013 and 2014. The results of the discussions were structured by a Steering Group established for this purpose, checked for relevance and financial viability and prepared for submission to a Management Committee.

Management Committee

A Management Committee was set up at the beginning of the process for the evaluation, assessment and consideration of the procedure, of the measures in the RTI program as well as for the assessment and consideration of the topic areas. A number of professors from Vienna universities, group managers of the Office of the State Government as well as representatives of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Industrialists Association made up the Management Committee.

The strategies of the topic areas, the project proposals that were developed and the planned additional measures of the RTI program (such as awareness-raising, measures concerning training and advanced training as well as future support and monitoring instruments) were presented to the Management Committee by representatives of the work groups for discussion and recommendation or else rejection.

To evaluate the topic areas and the relevance of the proposed projects within the topic areas, the Management Committee defined a number of quality criteria. These criteria included the question as to how strong the topic area is – or has the potential to be – in Lower Austria; the potential social and/or economic benefits of the theme for Lower Austria; the level of innovation; the potential contribution to achieving an international profile; the level of networking of different institutions; and the potential for attracting third-party funds.

Of the original twelve topic areas proposed, the Management Committee considered ten to be have priority for implementation. From the large number of proposed projects in these ten topic areas, two to three each were defined as priorities. These projects have top priority to be implemented in accordance with existing resources.


According to the principle of "Strengthening strengths", Lower Austria is pledged to developing a clear profile in the field of science and research with the present RTI program. By focusing on 10 defined topic areas, public funding for science and research can be made use of even more purposefully. The aim is to achieve, or build out, critical masses within the defined thematic focuses, heighten the international profile and attain or strengthen academic excellence.

The measures and goals of the topic areas developed in a bottom-up process can be summarised in three basic focuses, which represent the framework of the RTI program in terms of content:

Nature – culture – quality of life

Understanding natural and cultural environments. Using natural and cultural environments.

Preserving natural and cultural environments.

Lower Austria is an agrarian region. Lower Austria has the greatest biodiversity in Austria. Lower Austria is the historic heartland of the Republic of Austria. This entails the societal obligation to continue to explore our natural and cultural surroundings, to use them sustainably and to preserve them on a long-term basis.

The RTI program contributes to securing and improving the quality of life in Lower Austria. It aims at exploring both its own past and the current social environment and better understand ecological relationships and natural environments. Sustainable

agricultural land cultivation and the innovative use of natural resources aim at preserving our biodiversity.

To achieve these goals, the following topic areas within the RTI program are focused on:

  • Humanities, Social and Cultural Studies
  • Collections, Lower Austria
  • Ecosystems and ecosystem services
  • Water
  • Renewable raw materials and bio-energy
  • Food and feed safety
  • Sustainable land management and production optimisation

With this, the federal state of Lower Austria is continuing its road to success in this field of research:

Lower Austria has invested in the setup of the Tulln University and Research Centre, where the focus of the conducted research is on "renewable resources, biological resources and bio-based technologies". At the Tulln technology park, researchers focus on "Agricultural and Environmental Biotechnology"; at the Wieselburg technology park, on "Biotechnology, Agriculture and Food Technology". WasserCluster Lunz is an important centre of excellence in the field of limnology. Excellent basic research in the natural sciences is done at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria). Galerie Niederösterreich (Lower Austria Gallery) and Museum Niederösterreich (Lower Austria Museum) display the cultural treasures and the past of Lower Austria. The wide range of institutions for the arts and humanities in Lower Austria do research in social issues.

Nutrition – medicine – health

Enabling a healthy life. Ensuring a healthy life.

Improving a healthy life.

Lower Austria invests in research for the benefit of humankind. Lower Austria intends to ensure health as the greatest asset of human beings.

The RTI program helps to improve medical standards, develop new medical technologies and guarantee food quality. It aims at enabling a long and healthy life; ensuring food reliability, feed and clean water; and improving or developing methods of medical treatment through new scientific findings.

In order to accomplish these goals, the following topic areas are an integral part of the RTI program:

  • Ecosystems and ecosystem services
  • Water
  • Food and feed safety
  • Medical technology and medical biotechnology

That the focus has been on these themes in Lower Austria for quite some time is reflected by decisions made in science policy in recent years. They include the creation of Karl Landsteiner Private University for the Health Sciences; the setup of the MedAustron Cancer Treatment and Research Centre; the "Health and Medicine" centre at Donau Universität Krems; the educational focuses on health science and medicine at the technical colleges; the Tulln University and Research Centre;

scientific research groups at IST Austria; the technology parks in Krems, Tulln, Wieselburg and Wiener Neustadt; as well as the annual "Life Science Academic Appointment".

Technology – productivity – prosperity

Exploring technologies for the future. Designing technologies for the future. Developing technologies for the future.

Lower Austria is an innovative region in Central Europe. Lower Austria invests in the future "raw materials" of science and research. Through innovations, Lower Austria ensures the competitiveness of local enterprises and sustainable jobs.

The RTI program contributes to ensuring that Lower Austria will remain a leading technology base in the future. It aims at exploring innovative technologies today, applying them tomorrow, developing from an "innovation follower" into a

"innovation leader" and thus shaping the future in a pioneering role. Research in this area aims at increasing prosperity.

In order to accomplish these goals, the following topic areas are an integral part of the RTI program:

  • Renewable raw materials and bio-energy
  • Sustainable land management and production optimisation
  • Medical technology and medical biotechnologies
  • Materials and surfaces
  • Manufacturing technology and automation engineering

Already today, innovative projects play a crucial role in achieving the goal of becoming "Innovation Leader": Within the Lower Austrian technology park program, investments are made in pioneering technology fields on a local basis, giving

corporate research a major boost. The technologies applied at MedAustron in Wiener Neustadt are one of a kind in Europe. The IST Austria is a centre of excellence in basic research.

3.Topic areas

Ultimately, ten topic areas were defined for implementation as part of the process for the development of the RTI program.

The basic requirement for the consolidation of related themes and research ideas into a topic area was that organisations and institutions from the three fields of research, education and society, or business and commerce, are involved in it.

Together, these institutions and organisations developed detailed concepts and a number of specific research and development projects. A total of over 100 projects and ideas for action were developed. Subsequently, the RTI Management Committee classified two to three projects per topic area as priorities.The detailed draft papers submitted by the work groups of every topic area as well as all proposed ideas for projects and measures can be found at: The following section briefly presents the ten topic areas, their objectives and contents as well as the most important projects.

Humanities, Social and Cultural Studies

In the field of the Humanities, Social and Cultural Studies (HSC), the academic landscape of Lower Austria is characterised by a wide range of research institutes. Due to the small-scale structure, though, many Lower Austrian HSC institutes are currently facing great difficulties, because the increasing competitiveness in applications for research projects leads to significant problems in terms of scale and sustainability for smaller research institutes: Many Lower Austrian HSC institutes cannot or can hardly afford the massive inputs in terms of money and time that are necessary for successful applications.

For this reason, it is necessary to boost the cooperation with the HSC research facilities in Lower Austria. Structural measures whose main focus is on the establishment of a "Research Network Interdisciplinary Regional Studies" (FIRST) are expected to contribute in manifold ways to networking the individual Lower Austrian institutions, which nonetheless will maintain their research priorities. This way, synergies can be exploited.

The general aim is that socially relevant issues get linked and elaborated upon by the Lower Austrian HSC research institutes on an interdisciplinary and high-quality basis. The research results thus obtained can serve private and public stakeholders as a basis of decisions. A secure resource base and increased cooperation among the HSC institutions in Lower Austria as well as the founding of a research network and several research associations will all help to overcome the scale and sustainability problem of smaller research institutes and create a critical mass at the international level. This should result in an increase of the existing research potential; better success in attracting national and international project funds; an increased provision of factual and contextual knowledge; and a heightened international profile for HSC research in Lower Austria.

Priority projects

Research Network Interdisciplinary Regional Studies (FIRST) – Network Management

The establishment of the FIRST Research Network allows smaller HSC institutions in Lower Austria, doing research at an international level, to pool their resources in the future. The FIRST Network Management housed at Donau Universität Krems provides services for individual institutes and research associations and serves to coordinate the FIRST activities, ongoing quality assurance, networking of institutes and research associations, information management and the dissemination of findings.

Specificgoals are: the coordination of cross-institute (research)

activities of the individual institutes; boosting the research potential; attracting a high rate of national and international project funding.

Lower Austria benefits because synergies are achieved by alleviating the individual institutions of some of their work burden through shared central services. Thus the efficient use of resources is increased.

Migration Research Network

The focus of the measure is on the creation of an innovative, interdisciplinary network of social and cultural migration research in the field of

"Migration region Lower Austria".

The specific goal is an excellently networked research community with a shared knowledge base for migration research that successfully attracts third-party funds and establishes a functioning mediation instrument for the dialogue between academic research and society.

Lower Austria benefits because suggestions addressing current challenges will be provided, which contribute toward making the discussion on migration/integration more objective.