In 2014 Austria ranked fourth among the 28 EU countries in terms of research and development (R&D) spending, at 2.99% of GDP. The number of enterprises involved in ongoing research and innovation rose from around 2,000 in 2002, to over 3,300 in 2011. During the same period the number of researchers in Austria increased from around 39,000 to over 61,000 (measured in full-time equivalents). Today more than 400 Austrian enterprises are global market or technology leaders in their particular industries.
The Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) plays a key role in helping to develop Austria as a centre for research and innovation. Annually it awards well over 400 million euros in federal funding to around 3,000 applied research and innovation projects involving around 5,500 partners. The FFG also offers a comprehensive range of information and services. It is the national contact point for the EU programme Horizon 2020, which provides Austrian organisations with 150 to 200 million euros in funding each year. The agency provides professional expertise on tax incentives for research and innovation (“R&D allowance”) and coordinates Austrian activities in space research and technology. It has also been commissioned to manage the programme to extend Austria’s broadband infrastructure (“the broadband billion”).
National and international evaluations highlight the success and effectiveness of these activities. Around 80 percent of the projects funded by the FFG could not have been undertaken at all, or only to a lesser degree, without this support. On average every funding euro generates ten times its value in additional revenue for business. Start-ups supported by FFG funding enjoy above-average performance. FFG funding programmes, such as the competence centre programme, have been recognised throughout Europe as best practice examples. Austria is also highly successful in the EU programme Horizon 2020. And as a member of TAFTIE, the European association of leading national innovation agencies, the FFG was charged with organising the TAFTIE Academy.