Minister Heinz Faßmann: Award for promoting talent at Austrian ERC host institutions

First "Nurturing Talents Prize" was presented at the FFG FORUM 2018 and went to the University of Innsbruck and the Medical University of Innsbruck - jointly conceived by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF), the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), each prize is worth 10,000 euros.

Klaus Pseiner (FFG), Helga Nowotny, Rector Wolfgang Fleischhacker (Medical University of Innsbruck), EU Commissioner Carlos Moedas, Rector Tilmann Märk (University of Innsbruck), Henrietta Egerth (FFG), Klement Tockner (FWF), Minister Heinz Faßmann.
Fotocredit: FFG/Oreste Schaller


"The ERC grants have long been established as the gold standard for excellence in research, and accordingly are greatly in demand", stresses Heinz Faßmann, Minister for Science and Research. Together with Helga Nowotny, founding member and former President of the European Research Council (ERC), he awarded the "Nurturing Talents Prize 2018" at the FFG FORUM 2018 to the University of Innsbruck and the Medical University of Innsbruck. The prize worth 10,000 euros is given in recognition of excellent ERC mentoring concepts. The award was launched as an initiative by the Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Research (BMBWF), and designed jointly with the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). The aim is to motivate and support Austrian universities and research establishments in activities directed at strengthening their ERC performance, and to highlight Austria’s profile and appeal as a research location on the international stage. In a competition process managed by the FFG, the two universities were chosen by an independent, international jury.  


"Europe can become an attractive hub for young talent in science and research. If we are to exploit available potential to the full, we must continue to move forward on both European level and the level of the member states", says Minister Faßmann. The "Nurturing Talents Prize" is intended to motivate (potential) Austrian ERC host institutions, "to be even more innovative and original in promoting talent", Faßmann explains. "Scientific talents need a fertile environment in which to develop their potential. If their aim is to secure an ERC grant, then universities and research establishments are encouraged to create the conditions for success through mentoring and other measures. I am delighted it has also been possible to initiate such programmes in Austria", saysHelga Nowotny, Chair of the ERA Council Forum Austria. 


"As the national ERC contact point, we do everything to support researchers in universities and research establishments in participating in the ERC grant scheme. And with success, as the 194 million euros received since the start of Horizon 2020 in 2014 demonstrates", say the two FFG Managing Directors, Henrietta Egerth and Klaus Pseiner. "These efforts go hand in hand with the measures taken at the institutions themselves. Together we can sustainably and comprehensively promote talent, in order to perform even better when applying for coveted ERC grants."


"The ERC grants, in particular, demonstrate the importance of cooperation between national and European research funding, since a well-established national funding landscape is a key prerequisite for success at both European and international level", stresses Klement Tockner, President of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). "Around 80% of those awarded ERC grants have a FWF track record,” says Tockner. “Supporting institutions in their mentoring activities helps jointly raise existing scientific potential, and to strengthen cutting-edge Austrian research on the international scene."


The "Nurturing Talents Prize"

The "Nurturing Talents Prize" was announced by former Federal Minister for Science and Research Harald Mahrer at the European Forum Alpbach 2017. The prize was established in honour of Helga Nowotny, founding member and former President of the European Research Council (ERC), on the occasion of her special birthday. The prize will be awarded to institutions which, in the opinion of an international jury composed of four experts including two ERC grantees, have developed the most convincing concepts for mentoring activities with regard to the ERC. The mentoring concepts may include both measures which have already been implemented, as well as activities planned for the future. In this way the prize is designed to reach out to those research institutions which wish to position themselves as future ERC host institutions.




Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF)
Mag. Annette Weber
Press Relations Officer
+ 43 1 53120-5025


Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG)
+43 5 7755-6010


Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
Marc Seumenicht
Head of Public Relations and Science Communication
+43-1 505 67 40 - 8111