At the first FWF Board meeting after the summer, which took place on 30 September and 1 October 2019, disbursement of some 42.9 million euros was approved as against applications amounting to 156.1 million euros. This translates into an approval rate of 27.5 percent across all programmes. Out of a total number of 539 applications, 155 outstanding projects were successful.
Board meeting details
Representing the “backbone” of FWF funding, Stand-Alone Projects once again accounted for the bulk of approvals. As against an application total (including clinical research) of EUR 86.5 million, EUR 23.8 million euros were approved, which corresponds to an approval rate of 27.5 percent.
In the area of International Programmes, which are implemented jointly with international partner funding organisations, the sum of applications was 55.8 million euros, of which 14.68 million euros were conditionally approved (approval rate 26.3%). In some cases, the decisions of partner organisations are pending.
Career boost through mobility
Numerous scientists from abroad who want to conduct their research in Austria have once again seen their wish fulfilled. In the last ten years alone, more than 400 researchers from around 50 countries have come to Austria to contribute their know-how under the FWF's Meitner programme. This always represents a win-win situation for Austria. Those researchers who return to their home countries represent a valuable networking resource, and they are also first-rate ambassadors for Austria’s science locations. Those who stay in Austria, on the other hand, represent a substantial brain gain.
With its Schrödinger Programme, on the other hand, the FWF enables mostly young scientists to gather experience at top research institutions abroad. The co-financed return phase of the FWF ensures that there is no brain drain, but that the knowledge and experience thus accumulated is used to promote careers in Austria.
In the "Schrödinger" outgoing programme, 41.1 percent of the submissions were successful with an approved sum of 1.6 million euros. In the "Meitner" incoming programme, the approval sum was 2.5 million euros, which corresponds to a success rate of 28.0 percent.
Citizen participation creates added value
The Board also decided on the Top Citizen Science projects, for which the FWF issues a call once a year. TCS promotes research activities with the aim of fostering the involvement of citizens, who muster their skills, expertise, curiosity and willingness to participate, thus enabling an expansion of research results and findings and contributing to a substantial, additional gain in scientific knowledge. A total of 20 applications were received for the 2019 call, of which 4 projects totalling EUR 200,000 (approval rate 20.9%) were approved as follows:
TCS 57 „On everyone´s minds and lips - German in Austria”
Principal investigator: Gerhard Budin
University of Vienna, Centre for Translation Studies
TCS 67 „What do crows in Vienna Zoo?”
Principal investigator: Thomas Bugnyar
University of Vienna, Department of Cognitive Biology
TCS 74 „Heavy Metal City-Zen“
Principal investigator: Andrea Watzinger
University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Institute of Soil Research
TCS 62 „Dead bird surveillance“
Principal investigator: Herbert Weissenböck
University of Veterinary Medicine of Vienna, Institute of Pathology
Approved but not funded
Austrian scientists show an unabated demand for funding from the FWF. At this Board meeting - as was indeed the case in meetings throughout 2019 - projects had to be rejected although they were reviewed as being worthy of support in international expert opinions. Due to the FWF’s budgetary constraints they had to take a back seat to other applications which were also rated as excellent. This loss of scientific potential - at the latest meeting of the Board alone involving 26 projects with a total application volume of EUR 7.9 million - permeates further, since it not only affects frustrated applicants themselves, but also potential project team members who find themselves without a job.
Quality, Fairness, Transparency
In addition to highest scientific quality, internationality and fairness, the FWF also stands for maximum transparency. All approved research projects are described in detail on the FWF website, which can be found at: https://pf.fwf.ac.at/en/research-in-practice/project-finder
In addition, statistics are provided for each meeting of the Board, which can be found at: https://www.fwf.ac.at/en/about-the-fwf/funding-statistics/
The FWF Board is composed of the Executive Board of the Austrian Science Fund and expert reporters. The term of office of the current Board runs until October 2020, whereby the primary task of the Board is to take funding decisions.
All members of the FWF Board can be found at: https://www.fwf.ac.at/en/about-the-fwf/organisation/board/
Austrian Science Fund FWF
The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is Austria’s central funding organisation for basic research as well as arts-based research. Applying international quality benchmarks, the FWF provides funding for outstanding research projects and excellent researchers who work to generate, broaden and deepen scientific knowledge.