Austria as a research location

In 2015 Austria's public and private sectors invested around EUR 10.1 billion in research, technology and innovation (RTI). Austria's research expenditure accounts for around 3 percent of GDP and is thus significantly above the EU average. This places Austria, together with Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, amongst the top 5 EU countries in terms of research intensity.

Overall, R&D investment in Austria has more than doubled since 2000. The number of companies involved in research has also surged, from 1,942 in 2002 to 3,284 in 2011, with an accompanying rise in the numbers of those employed in research – from almost 38,900 to more than 61,100.

Austrian research facilities at a glance:


Research units


Industrial research






Non-university research



The Austrian government's RTI strategy, adopted in 2011, has set the goal of establishing Austria as a leading European research country by 2020. Austria can already claim to be an increasingly attractive research location within Europe, especially for sunrise industries such as the life sciences, environment and energy, information & communication technologies (ICT), or mobility & transport. 

Industrial research

Austria's companies provide the majority of research investment in Austria. Over 3,000 companies are active in research, development and innovation, 400 of whom are ranked as global technology and/or market leaders in their particular segments. More than 50,000 people are employed in research & development in national companies.

With funding programmes such as its Innovation Voucher, Austria has succeeded in significantly increasing the number of local companies actively involved in research. The economic environment for start-ups and spin-offs has also been decisively improved.

Universities, R&D Centres

Austria's universities provide the basis for Austria's innovation system, combining high quality education, basic scientific research and broad-based research cooperation with local industry. 34 universities and 21 universities of applied sciences are a key driver of Austrian innovation, and produce over 50,000 graduates annually.

Non-university research institutions create a link between universities and industry. The primary focus of these R&D centres lies in application-oriented research at the interface between science and business. – Key non-university research centres in Austria include the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), Joanneum Research, research institutions of the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft (LBG) and the Christian Doppler Research Association (CDG), and commercial research institutions pooled in the Austrian Cooperative Research (ACR) association.

Technology Centres and Clusters (Non-university research)

Successful networking, both in research and between science and business, is a key factor in effective research, technology and innovation.

Since 2006 Austria has provided targeted funding under the COMET programme to support networking between universities, non-university research institutions and companies – and with great success. Around 50 competence projects and centres are currently active in Austria within the framework of the COMET programme, including five K2 centres which are involved in cutting-edge, international research. 

Cooperation via clusters has proved a successful model for companies with a focus on R&D. Companies and R&D institutions leverage on the synergy effects of joint activities in over 60 industry clusters throughout Austria.