Attracting "bright minds" to take up positions in R&D, retaining such employees through appropriate structural and personnel measures and making the most of existing staff potential through the provision of relevant employment conditions are currently some of the major challenges faced by R&D organisations.
The need for successful career planning for individual researchers and managers working in the field of R&D has also grown. Apart from the acquisition and extension of specialized research expertise there are other issues that also need to be addressed, such as career strategies, use of networks and information platforms, establishment of contacts to HR and R&D managers and self-marketing. In recent years, FFG has considerably expanded its range of funding for promoting human resources potential in cooperation with its clients. These funding measures are implemented at all career stages, from young school children to established scientists.
Promoting young talents
The Talents Programme, for example, offers young people and female students the opportunity to find out what it’s like to work in research through funded work placements in Austria’s innovative companies, ranging from SMEs through to large companies. Talents Regional offers incentives to foster cooperation between schools and research institutes in a certain region, in order to interest children and adolescents in science and technology, reseach and development.
The Aeronautics and Space Agency helps young, qualified graduate scientists, as well as talented undergraduate students to take advantage of educational and advanced training opportunities and to secure work placements at key space research centres in Austria and abroad. The opportunities offered range from the traditional annual Summer School Alpbach, courses offered by the International Space University (ISU), to training and grants available from the European Space Agency (ESA).
Funding for all stages of a researcher's career
Young scientists have access to a whole range of national and international (EU, ESA) funding.
The Industrial PhD Programme („Research Partnerships“) aims at the systematic build-up and further qualification of research and innovation staff in companies and non-university research institutions. An Industrial PhD project is a three-year industrially focused PhD project where the student is hired by a company and enrolled at a university at the same time. The General Programme (cooperation), for example, provides them with opportunities to work with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and the EU Horizon 2020 Programme, offers many opportunities for individual researchers as well as for research organisations and companies. Top researchers are also supported with generous grants from the European Research Council (ERC). EURAXESS - Researchers in Motion is a unique pan-European initiative providing access to a complete range of information and support services to researchers wishing to pursue their research careers in Austria or stay connected to it.
The establishment of Endowed professorships is designed to strengthen important areas of knowledge for Austria’s innovation system and contribute to promoting cooperation between science and industry.
w-fFORTE (economic impulses by women in research and technology) offers workshops on career strategies for women in research and technology and workshops on management & leadership for women and men. One of w-fFORTE’s activities is executing the impetus programme "Laura Bassi Centres of Expertise". The Laura Bassi Centres of Expertise are applied industrial research facilities, headed by highly qualified female experts featuring a new research culture.
With its free and daily updated Austrian Job Exchange for research, development and innovation, the FFG provides a unique service in Austria. In addition to the Job Exchange itself, applicants from abroad are offered special support services to help them with interviews or relocation.
Sustainable strengthening of research competencies
Under the programme Research Expertise for Industry, companies (particularly SMEs) are supported in the systematic build-up and further qualification of their research and innovation staff. The programme also aims to promote cooperation between companies and tertiary education and research institutions as well as to enhance the integration of industrially relevant research fields.
Equal opportunities are a key focus in the FFG range of funding programmes. Women continue to remain underrepresented in research and technology – particularly in management positions. In the programmes Talents and w-fFORTE/Laura Bassi Centres of Expertise the FFG supports various measures and projects aimed at promoting women in research and technology and thus fostering equal opportunities.
Since 2010, gender aspects have also been taken into account in project proposals submitted for funding under the General Programmes. The criteria include project content and project impacts, composition of the research team as well as employment conditions pro vided by the applicant. As of 2011, other FFG programmes also have introduced gender criteria as part of the project evaluation process.