ISSUE 5_2010
















The area of conflict between the present

and future.


Steering systems are rapidly becoming

more dynamic and complex. By using new

methodology, foresight processes should

provide the appropriate answers.



How conventional research concepts can be

adapted to current needs.



Which recommendations AIT researchers

derive from using their innovation dynamics










AIT investigates the interaction between

society and technology as the decisionmaking

foundation for RTI decisions.


Transparency of potential effects of climate

change on the domestic economy by means

of regional climatic scenarios.



Stimulation of the necessary capacities of

the innovation system for sustainable

development of the regions.



Visualisation of research maps for the early

identification of scientific findings.



Individual forms for steering (complexity).



Co-operation between AIT and the

University of Economics of Vienna

supporting young researchers.

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1220 Wien, Tel.: +43 (0) 50550-0. Editors-in-chief_Michael Hlava, E-Mail:, Christian Klobucsar, E-Mail: Editors_Margit Noll,

Daniel Pepl, Victoria Reinicke. Authors of this edition_Sylvia Anner, Raimund Lang. Layout_Marion Karasek. Print_Leykam Druck Ges.m.b.H. & Co KG. Cover

Publication_6 times annually. All rights, including accepting contributions in line with Art. 44 (1) and (2) Copyright Law, are reserved. ISSN1994-5159 (Print), ISSN 1994-5167 (Online).

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/// Foresight research was a twentieth century development. It arose

due to the challenge of finding valid answers to the complex questions

of our society. But also from the growing need for the orientation by

decision-makers in politics and the economy. ///


connected with positive or negative utopias that should be

achieved or avoided. With the modern concept of the future,

the future is considered designable and ideally contains

an improvement of the status quo. The basic assumptions

of what the future is, how it should be plannable, controllable

and designable, are seldom explicitly negotiated.

But the way the “better future” is represented and how we

attempt to control and form it has changed decisively over

the last hundred years.

In the 1920s, the Russian economist Vasiliy Kondratieff, for

instance, is considered a pioneer, defining the theory of the

“long waves” based on observations of economic fluctuations,

which was later taken and expanded by the Austrian

Joseph Schumpeter.


The need for orientation guides is definitely larger today

than ever. Climate change, resource scarcity and demographic

change, but also financial crises and increased business

Photos: sxc_hu, BMVIT, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Peter M. Mayr


location competition set the pace and also demonstrate

that the global challenges are highly complex and cannot be

understood with conventional models.

This touches on the limits of political and economic ability

to act. In addition, the prediction and/or planning horizons

are shrinking. If earlier governments and company

management used to be able to plan decades in advance,

Doris Bures, Federal Minister of

Transport, Innovation and Technology:

"The AIT experts provide us with answers

that are required for the measures

needed to meet the challenges of

a changing society."

today short-term crisis management scenarios and quick

result optimisation are the focus. But just for that, a longterm

orientation would be necessary, since only those who

properly recognise great developments and related uncertainties

can avoid risks and take advantage of potential

windows of opportunity.

Decision-makers from politics and industry therefore utilise

the expertise of scientists who use special foresight processes

to decode complex scenarios and demonstrate potential

answers that are then the basis for further measures.


The expert group centred round Josef Fröhlich, AIT’s Head

of the Foresight & Policy Development Department, provides

just these answers. The team does not only support

the domestic government to estimate future scenarios, but

also offers its service to industry. The team is so successful

that the Department is now in the Top 3 in Europe in the

field of foresight, and is regularly commissioned by the European


Scientists deal preferentially with research questions, for instance

which research topics will be important in the long

run, which should be expanded because of the strengths of

domestic sciences and economy, or which RTI fields have

sufficient synergies, so they can provide impulses for other

areas. But also which future fields are interdisciplinary and

can therefore only be localised by means of special proce-

dures. The definitive answers derived often promise completely

new cognition approaches in science and technology

and therefore substantially contribute to the improvement

of quality of life and saving resources, in general, as

well as securing a business location.



How complex this work is can be demonstrated by individual

projects of staff of AIT’s Foresight & Policy Development

Department. For instance, a team is currently researching

the sustainable availability of infrastructure –

especially in the case of mobility, energy and health care –

thus, the main indicators for life quality and economic performance.

The challenge when estimating future developments

and their simulation is that time horizons are long,

up to fifty years, and the individual processes have to be coordinated

with each other despite varying time horizons.

A further example is the regional estimation of the effects

of climate change that can only be partially compared to other

models due to Austria’s geographic situation. Early recognition

of the potential effects is elementary both for political

and economic measures. Due to the correct estimation

of the frequency and seriousness of extreme events, like

heavy rains and flooding, corresponding preventative

AIT Commercial Managing Director

Anton Plimon: "Our foresight specialists

have the know-how to make the

organisation fit for the future,

supporting, considering and ensuring

decisions holistically."

measures can be taken. The exact knowledge of intensive

heat waves serves as the foundation for planting appropriate

fuels in agriculture and forestry as well as the case of

(winter) tourism, which needs to find alternative offers if,

in the future only the ski regions at high altitudes have sufficient




A sharp focus is also placed on support organisations in

their innovation processes. In doing so, AIT experts pave

the way from brainstorming to the implementation of specific

products or services. Above all, what is essential is the

knowledge round the cost dynamics of research, which have

still hardly been discussed. The researchers also use new

models, for instance “Open Innovation”, to identify the

first signs of innovation strategies. Especially those which

could develop into sustainable trends providing corresponding

solutions for their implementation.

In general, early perception of when new things arise is one

of the pillars of the Foresight Department. With “BibTech-

Mon”, special software was developed to perfectly visualise

even complex research and technology maps. The advantage

is that emerging – hidden or unexpected new technologies

due to interdisciplinarity – can be more easily

identified. And this visual presentation makes it much easier

to recognise connections quickly and establish a time

advantage when developing new strategies.

AIT Director Wolfgang

Knoll: The knowhow of our researchers

is very sought after internationally.

In Europe, our Foresight Team is amongst

the Top 3 when it come to questions

about the future.”


A significant fact about the team centred round Josef Fröhlich

is that they do not just offer their expertise to politics

and large companies, but also support the SMEs, which are

especially strong in Austria. Small and medium-sized enterprises

are known in many areas as the trendsetters of

technological progress, but often cannot afford the risks

connected with cutting-edge research.

“Austrian Corporate Foresight” therefore begins in the case

of this orientation guide of SMEs by accessing good

practice methods and results of participative, European,

national and sector foresight processes and makes them

available to small and medium-sized enterprises.


Despite the enormous need for such support, seasoned experts

in this field are rare all over Europe. Whereas a lot of

attention is being paid to the expansion of the topic of foresight

in the USA and Asia, Europe has a significant need

to catch up. AIT Department Head Fröhlich has therefore

initiated a purposeful education initiative with the University

of Economics of Vienna for altogether 15 doctoral can-

Hannes Androsch, Research Board

Member: “If Europe does not want to

be marginalised in the twenty-first

century and sink into insignificance,

political leaders need to increasingly

involve foresight experts in the

decision-making process.”

didates and 50 graduates to ensure researchers in the future.

In order to be able to guarantee these future experts in

innovation economics and education at the highest international

level, the students receive AIT expert mentors in

addition to intensive support from internationally recognised

scientific advisors from the University of Economics.

Moreover, those who would like to write their diploma thesis,

master thesis or dissertation within the framework of

“Innovation Economics Vienna” are also supported financially.





/// Politics and the economy are more and more often faced with the fact that the

systems that they should regulate are becoming more dynamic and complex. This

makes completely new methods and models for monitoring and analysis necessary,

especially foresight processes, simulations and network research. They should provide

the answers to the challenges of the future to keep a country internationally

competitive. The AIT team of experts centred round Josef Fröhlich is one of the best

in Europe in this field. ///



science and research. Information and communications

technologies are a pertinent example. They have led to a

fast-paced acceleration of information exchange and

therefore to the creation of new knowledge. The dynamics

of the systems, however, makes it more and more

difficult for political decision-makers and company management

to apply the correct measures in a timely fashion.

There are three factors in particular which are responsible

for the increasing complexity of the systems to be regulated.

Firstly, the number of players in a system is continuously

rising. Among other things, this leads to those

involved being more differentiated and concentrated

on specific functions that they fulfil in the system. The

increasing number of players is accompanied by new

and/or additional playing rules in the systems to be regulated.

These are justified by more and more new challenges

that our economy and politics are faced with.

Thirdly, the individual systems are growing together geographically

– which is expressed in the globalisation of

business and/or research and development.



The measures that have been used so far to regulate simple

systems, can no longer be applied to current issues.

“The main challenge for politics and the economy lies in

discovering and utilising new methods and models,” is

how Josef Fröhlich, Head of the Foresight & Policy Development

Department at AIT Austrian Institute of

Technology, explains the starting point of his research

work. The Department deals with innovation and sustainability

research regarding the great challenges of our

time, for example resource scarcity, climate change or the

effects of globalisation. This is based on scientifically

proven methods to describe and analyse the respective

complex systems involved. In addition, new regulation

Josef Fröhlich:

“The main challenge for

politics and the economy is

detecting and utilising new

methods and models to

decode complex systems.

We support this process

with our expertise.”


and governance models are needed. In combination,

they should contribute to the effectiveness and efficiency

of measures in politics and the economy being raised.


The AIT Department Foresight & Policy Development

currently employs 47 staff coming from the most varied

scientific disciplines, from natural sciences to engineering

and formal sciences to economics and social and political

sciences. Research is both transdisciplinary as well

as interdisciplinary, and every year there are between 120

and 180 both national as well as international co-operation

partners who work on scientific projects and/or publications.

“We use this network, which will be extended

by another 20 graduates and doctoral candidates, both

for expanding competences and achieving new findings,”

specifies the Head of Department. “An on-going assessment

of our scientific knowhow takes place by means of

publications in expert journals relevant for the impact

Photos: Krischanz & Zeiler, SXC_HU

factor. Two pieces recently published in such periodicals

– one by Michael Barber and Thomas Scherngell in “Papers

in Regional Science” as well as one by Karl Heinz

Leitner and Andrea Kasztler in the “Journal of Intellectual

Capital” – received the prize for the best article of the

year,” states Josef Fröhlich, delighted about the international

recognition of his team’s research performance.

This scientific competence receives additional dynamic

impulses by being confronted with customers’ problems.

Especially for innovation and sustainability research, the

Department’s focus, the combination of science and

practice, is an essential advantage. Among other things,

it has led to the Department belonging to the “Top 3 Organisations”

in Europe in the field of network research.

The Department has also been recognised by the European

Commission for its work in the field of methods

and models for foresight processes by being awarded the

co-ordination of the European Foresight Platform. The

purpose of this platform is to support foresight activities

in Europe and to connect them with other global players

in order to exchange new developments. But not only

Europe is interested in the Department’s research activity:

A memorandum of understanding has recently been

concluded between the Department and the Chinese

Academy of Science and Technology for Development.

The aim is the exchange of scientific findings and to conduct

joint foresight projects.


“In order to optimize the support for customers from politics

and the economy,” says Fröhlich, “the Department

has orientated its three business units on the most important

customer segments. The RTI Policy Business Unit

deals with research, technology and innovation policies

and in this way supports the EU Commission as well as

the respective ministries in Austria and abroad. The Regional

and Infrastructure Policy Business Unit focuses on

the significance of innovation and sustainability for the

development of new infrastructures as well as regional

development, climate protection and climatic consequences

research. The Technology Management Business

Unit concentrates on the challenges facing companies in

connection with innovation and sustainability. The combination

of theory and practice utilised by the Department

provides our customers in the field of RTI, regional

and infrastructure policies and those in the field of economics

with completely new perspectives.”


The work by the Department’s staff concentrates on two

areas – so-called “research fields”. Monitoring & Analysis

Technology-Economy-Environment deals with the

development of methods and models for the specific

evaluation of data from the interface of technology, economics

and environment. Modelling is an essential prerequisite

to estimate future developments. For instance,

new models for local climatic modelling have been developed.

This is necessary, since the effects of climate

change on the individual regions are at times entirely dif-


ferent due to Austrian topography. A downscaling of the

results of global climate models to individual regions in

Austria is therefore not possible due to mathematic reasons

alone. Thus, the AIT Department is working on local

climatic models, for which global climatic models

provide the basic atmospheric conditions. Only in this

way is it possible to estimate the effects of climate change

in Austria – regarding areas and/or residential areas used

for touristic and agricultural purposes – and set measures

to meet the challenges in this connection. The consequences

of these measures for certain sectors, for instance

the field of energy, can be estimated using such

models. In this manner, important prerequisites for climate

protection and climatic consequences research have

been fulfilled in the Department.

In this research field, methods are also being developed in

order to estimate the dynamics of technological development.

A focus is set on recognising emerging technologies

in the economy and politics. “Today we have the issue,”

states Fröhlich, “that we are confronted with an enormously

high degree of information density. That makes it more

and more difficult to select relevant knowledge from the

variety of sources distributed across the planet. Without

highly specialised knowhow, it is not possible to have an efficient

gatekeeper function – deciding which information

is really relevant. Alone due to this, it is easily derived that

the process of creating knowledge becomes the bottleneck

of our actions. We therefore need new methods and models

to develop special filters to reduce the flood of information

in a qualitative way.”

In order to detect emerging technologies from the abundance

of technical literature, the Department’s experts

have developed scientometric, or quantitative methods,

to conduct scientific research, bibliometric processes,

with the help of which such a detection of new technologies

becomes possible. “A substantial part of new technological

advances are combinations of existing technologies.

We therefore also deal with how individual fields

of technology are related to each other in order to combine

them in new ways, which then, in an ideal case, leads

to a technological breakthrough,” is how Fröhlich describes

the work of his “gatekeeper”.



The second research field is dedicated to the fields of foresight

and governance, a range of topics that is generally

not conclusively and sustainably predictable from the

understanding of dynamic processes. “Sometimes,

though,” the Head of Department emphasises, “the predictions

are right. That is a typical phenomenon of complex

systems that behave like simple systems for an unpredictable

period of time and are then easier to predict.

But even the smallest unsuspected changes cause disequilibrium

in the system and all predictions are then off.

Today decision-makers in politics and the economy are

therefore not interested in predicting the future, but having

possible scenarios presented to be able to react accordingly.”

In order to provide such a spectrum of potential future

developments, the experts of the Foresight Department

utilise simulation models that are based on intelligent

agent systems. “For the biotech region of Vienna, we have

posed the question, for instance, which interventions

could have which effects in this region. In order to be able

to provide an answer, the sector information system

was modelled with an intelligent agent system. Using this

model, it should be possible in the future to estimate the

effects of various political measures in the biotech system

and to derive recommendations for politics on this basis.”

Which political measures are an efficient and effective

intervention in a sector innovation system is to be investigated

using a further simulation in the field of aviation

in Austria. “In this system, it is above all interesting

which contribution Austrian RTI policies can make to increasing

the competitiveness of Austrian companies that

are principally suppliers of large, internationally active

aviation companies,” is how Josef Fröhlich outlines the

scientific challenge.


Using foresight processes, the focus on the investigation

of various development scenarios is set in order derive

measures for the specific development of steering activities.

The basis is provided by scientific input in the fore-


Thanks to its EUPRO database, the AIT Foresight & Policy Development Department

has a comprehensive source of information that describes all European research,

including its numerous R&D networks.

sight process. The spectrum of methods is extremely diversified

and utilises social and economic science methods

as well as the aforementioned biblometrical, scientometrical

or statistical processes. By including relevant

stakeholders in foresight processes, they can be characterised

as transdisciplinary research activities. This leads

to findings not only providing courses of action for RTI

policies and – in the case of corporate foresight – for the

decision-makers in the economy. By means of results

produced in a participative fashion, a common understanding

of the customers involved in foresight processes

is also gained. The latter leads to an orientation of complex

systems based on stakeholder’s decisions in their respective

fields from jointly achieved results in the foresight


The team centred round Josef Fröhlich has conducted

more than 50 such foresight projects over the past few years,

most of them for the European Commission. Moreover,

the Department has more than 5,000 descriptions of

comparable projects conducted in Europe with the coordination

of the European Foresight Platform.


A further instrument to steer complex systems is network

research. Social networks – especially within the scientific

community – are therefore the main research topics of the

Department. Such combinations have arisen in Europe because

of the EU research programmes introduced several

years ago. They received their original importance from the

utilisation of various resources for research and development

in the individual member states of the European Union.

In the meantime, close-knit European R&D networks

have been established by the research projects of the currently

seven Framework Programmes.

Thanks to its EUPRO database, the Department has a

comprehensive source of information that describes all

European research, including its numerous R&D networks.

The network research of the AIT experts on the

basis of this EUPRO database therefore provides valuable

tips for the efficient and effective design of RTI policy

measures in Austria. Its utilisation could also serve all other

EU partners, though, as a basis for new findings in order

to be at the head of the global R&D competition. ///




/// In the light of rapidly changing requirements and properties of research,

technology and innovation processes, RTI policy concepts and instruments have

to be adapted to new conditions and/or developed anew. ///

NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN SOCIETY lead to new requirements

for research, technological developments and innovation.

Due to growing dynamics and complexity, uncertainty

in RTI policies also increases. In order to be able to

act effectively and efficiently in terms of providing sustainable

solutions to social and economic problems –which

requires process, behavioural and technological changes to

be made –not only current trends have to analysed; in addition

future developments have to be anticipated in the

context of foresight processes and corresponding strategies

have to be developed to deal with them.

In order for RTI to be able to contribute to these solutions

and its innovative potential for the future to be unfolded,

effective and well-co-ordinated organisation structures,

Matthias Weber: “Our research

questions are aimed above all at

the basic structures and conditions

of innovations.”

Photos: Krischanz & Zeiler, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology,, BMVIT


governance processes and policy instruments are needed to

shape the future. In doing so, it must be taken into account

that the specific challenges for RTI policies stem above all

from the growing openness and connectedness of innovation

processes, from the organisation and promotion of cooperative

research, and from the internationalisation of

technological development. “Innovation systems are the

result of interactive processes with lots of players – universities,

research institutions, companies, but also those who

finance research, such as banks and venture capital firms,”

emphasises Matthias Weber, Head of the Research, Technology

& Innovation Policy Business Unit in AIT’s Foresight

& Policy Development Department. “Our research questions

are above all related to fundamental structures and

conditions of innovation as well as to the organisation of

Austrian RTI policy and the comparison with the RTI policies

of other countries, in order to be able to detect possible

development paths or to identify alternative institutional

settings, for instance, how well universities are positioned.”

Seasoned research and project experience flows into

foresight and strategy processes regarding the structural

challenges of RTI policies. And “by monitoring, analysing,

comparing and evaluating regional and national research

and innovation systems, we derive recommendations for

RTI policy,” is how Weber outlines the spectrum of his research

services, whose customers are above all stakeholders

in government and in the RTI policy field at the national

and European level.


“Over the last five years, the focus of national and European

RTI policies has shifted from a sole orientation on economic

utility to the so-called “grand challenges”, i.e. towards

large societal challenges with which our societies will be faced

in the years and decades to come. Joint technology projects,

competitiveness and the economic benefit of research

and development are still important, but economic goals are

no longer the only benchmark. That means, too, that the foresight

perspectives extend well beyond the five-year time

horizon. And this raises the question where today’s decisions

intervene in these paths,” Weber explains.

He sees RTI policies in Austria at a crossroad: “In some

fields, Austria is advanced, for instance in the case of energy

systems and mobility. Other topics associated to the

grand challenges have not been raised yet in research policy.

For instance, in the field of health care there is the question

of what the health care system will look like in the future,

and what kinds of new technological solutions will be

needed. Similarly, in the field of governance, issues of coherence

have been raised recently, with major implications

for the co-ordination of various policy areas.” In Weber’s

opinion, a clear positioning is a central issue for a small

country. But: “Sustaining strengths is not enough; it is just

preserving the prevailing structures. Along with the positioning,

a sustainable portfolio has to be created that - by

applying a mix of bottom-up and top-down mechanisms -

provides a sufficient source of new ideas from fundamental

research whileat the same time allowing concentration

of efforts guided by demand-driven research and thematic




At the heart of the strategy process “Vienna thinks about

the future”, which has recently been scientifically supported

by Weber’s team, was the question of which strategic

orientation based on existing challenges would be best

suited to secure the continuous development of Vienna as

a Central European capital of research.

Four expert groups were working in parallel on the topics

“Economy – Research, Technology and Innovation in Business”,

“Science – Research Priorities and Knowledge Transfer”,

Society – Science and Society” as well as “City – City

Development for the Research Location of Vienna”. Special

consideration has been paid to the respective cross-cuttingg

subjects of gender aspects, human resources, politics

of the European Union and (international, regional, city)


Based on the results of the expert groups, challenges and

fields of activity were identified and appropriate specific

measures were formulated for the years to come, set within

the frame of an overall vision of the “Research, Technology

and Innovation Strategy of the City of Vienna” They

concern the fields of “human resources”, “thematic priori-


ties”, “communication, learning and the public”,

“Vienna as a greenhouse for research

and innovation”, as well as “Vienna as an international

network node”. Most of the

measures recommended have been implemented

in the meantime.

Their expertise in foresight has also brought

the scientists into the EU project “FarHorizon

– Use of foresight to align research with

longer term policy needs in the European

Commission”, the objective of which is to

contribute to a better co-ordination between

innovation and research policies and sector

policies as well as between national and European

policy levels by means of foresight

methods. “Within the scope of a further EU

project, we are conducting foresight processes

for nine sectors, amongst them the textile,

construction and automotive industries,

biotechnology, for knowhow-intensive services

as well as for aeronautics and space industries,”

adds Weber.



Intensive co-operation and exchange of information

in the field of foresight processes

has been agreed between the AIT Department

and the Chinese Academy of Science

and Technology for Development (CASTED) by means of

a memorandum of understanding concluded in Beijing on

18 October 2010.

The starting point was a meeting organised by the Chinese

Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the

Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology

(BMVIT), where the role of foresight processes for RTI

policies was discussed.

CASTED is the main research institution for the Chinese

RTI policy and deals with the development of strategies for

research and technology policies as well as promoting regional

policy processes. Over the last two years, it has conceived

and implemented all Chinese technology foresight

processes of the Ministry and conducted a project on organisational

forms of co-operation between science and

industry with the AIT Foresight & Policy Development


Four focal points are foreseen in the memorandum for the

co-operation between Austria and China: exchange of information,

which is ensured by a joint newsletter and web

platform, annual conferences, joint research and work projects

as well as exchange programmes for scientists.



Co-operations between the science and the industry sector

are one of the main elements to stimulate modern innovation

processes. Public aid programmes – from European

Framework Programmes to regional initiatives – are aimed

at stimulating co-operative research. On behalf of the

BMVIT and Ministry of Science and Technology in China,

the experts for the field “Analysis & Evaluation of R&D Cooperation

Networks” created a comparison study on organisational

models for the co-operation between companies,

universities and extra-university research institutions.

“The special challenge for the co-operation between companies,

universities and extra-university research institutions

in China and Austria lies in companies having different

logical reasoning than universities,” comments Project

Head Thomas Scherngell. “Universities want to publish

their newly produced knowledge quickly, since it has an effect

on their ranking. Companies sometimes think differently.”

For co-operation, institutionalised models are therefore

important, “where it is specifically stipulated who

can publish what.”

With the competence centre COMET, Austria has such a

model, which – just like the Chinese version of the Strategic

Alliances of the MOST – was analysed in the study according

to various aspects, for instance the corporate governance

structure, strategic orientation, generation and

distribution of knowledge or the functioning of research

and finance management. “We have worked out the differences

in the two models and derived implications for Austrian

and Chinese technology policies. From the Chinese

point of view, one of the main conclusions was to ensure

that the alliances are continuously promoted by authorities,

as is the case for the COMET Programme.” From the

Austrian point of view, a more intensive combination of

infrastructure and RTI policy is stimulated – on the basis

of the experiences with the Chinese programme.

Thomas Scherngell: “Co-operations

between the science and the industry

sector are of crucial importance in

modern innovation processes.”



The R&D networks established by the EU Framework Programmes

at the level of thematic programmes were investigated

in detail on behalf of the Institute for Prospective

Technological Studies, IPTS, of the European Commission.

To analyse R&D co-operation networks in Europe, F&PD

set up the EUPRO database, which contains systematic and

standardised information on all projects, participating organisations

and their connection from the first to the Seventh

Framework Programmes. The database is therefore

a unique resource in Europe to empirically analyse network

structures and dynamics, for instance in various topics or

from a geographic perspective.

“Networks are a new type of structural indicator for R&D

co-operations, regarding the number of projects, participations

and position of the players in the networks, where, in

the case of the latter, the combination of performance and

proximity to the main players is of importance,” explains

Matthias Weber.

How Austria is positioned in the European R&D networks

within the Seventh Framework Programme is examined by

AIT expert Barbara Heller-Schuh, where her attention is on

the connection to organisations that create structures in the

network. “As our interim report demonstrates,” explains

Heller-Schuh, “Austria has an above-average participation

in most topics in the Framework Programmes, is very well

connected and well positioned in the backbone area of the

European R&D networks. That permits considerations of

which promotional measures at the national level are sensible

as a complement to European measures.”

Barbara Heller-

Schuh: “Our

research demonstrates

that Austria

is well positioned

in most topics in

the research networks

of the EU








Strategic decisions in the field of RTI are

becoming more and more difficult due to

complex and dynamic processes. Which

orientation guides does, for instance, the

BMVIT use in order to set the right steering


An important orientation framework for

our work at the BMVIT is the Federal Government’s RTI strategy. This

strategy is based on comprehensive analyses, for instance the system

evaluation we have commissioned as well as on an exhaustive discussion

amongst all those involved. Moreover, the BMVIT is involved in a number

of on-going processes at European level with the EU Commission, other

member states, the European industry and other important stakeholders,

where future trends and developments in the field of RTI are discussed in

depth and finally decided upon. In addition, the BMVIT commissions independent

studies on various future topics, reaching its conclusions based

on the on-going evaluations of its RTI programmes and has access to the

corresponding data and facts of research promotion.

In your point of view, which innovation-related strategic processes are

we more successful at, and where do we need to make changes?

Austria is in the meantime characterised by very good co-operation between

science and the economy and a high degree of innovative capability

among small and medium-sized businesses, whose products are often at

the top of the international range. This innovative power is supported by a

highly efficient and generous research promotion system.

The aforementioned system evaluation names the lack of a connection

between the educational sector and the field of innovation as one of

Austria’s essential weaknesses. We should not forget that the development

to a knowhow society and high-tech economy is only possible with

highly educated people. Thus, the growing lack of graduates, and especially

female graduates, from natural science and technical studies is a real

hurdle on our path to be listed as one of the Top 3 innovation locations in


AIT is one of the Top 3 organisations in network research in Europe.

To what degree is Austria therefore involved in EU strategy processes

due to its expertise?

AIT has excellent knowhow in the fields of network analysis and foresight

and is involved in corresponding EU excellence initiatives. Moreover, there

is a variety of fantastic research groups for various topics at AIT that are

now sustainably supported and promoted in their excellence by the new

structures and the clear, focussed strategy. Following the successful new

implementation, AIT is now on the best track to write a new success story

in the field of RTI and to become an example of an applied, extra-university

research institution. ///

Photos: Krischanz & Zeiler, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Photodisc




/// Generating and managing innovation is currently in a state of change. AIT

researchers are analysing these dynamics and formulating recommendations

for companies, authorities and political decision-makers. ///


more and more important in light of global competition.

The road from idea generation to implementation

of specific products or services is paved with changing basic

conditions. An important trend in innovation management

is the internationalisation of research and development


It comes to one’s attention, that above all, internationally

active groups as well as strong medium-sized companies

outsource their research activities more and more to the

countries where their target markets are located. A further

Karl-Heinz Leitner: “In studies, we

are trying to analyse and understand

the dynamics of innovation


trend is the increased involvement of external partners in

company processes. In the field or research, these are universities

and non-university research institutions. “In studies,

we are trying to analyse and understand the dynamics

of innovation processes,” says Karl Heinz Leitner from the

AIT Research, Technology & Innovation Business Unit. “In

a second step, we develop strategies and formulate recommendations

for our customers.” Above all customers are,

in addition to companies, the research, technology and innovation

(RTI) policy makers, knowhow-intensive organisations

and promotional institutions.


As project co-ordinator, Leitner is currently examining within

the framework of the EU project “Analysis of the evolution

of the costs of research – trends, drivers and impacts”

why the costs for research are rising so quickly. Two

contradictory theories provide possible explanations. At

first glance, rising wage levels are evident. Cost drivers

could also be the better-equipped high-tech laboratories,

stronger computers and other infrastructure. “This issue

has not been dealt with sufficiently in the academic literature

so far,” says Leitner.

By means of a survey of 2,000 companies ranked highest on

the European R&D Scoreboard, it should now be examined

how well informed they are of these topics and which measures

are set in order to regulate costs. If one compares the

field of research with highly optimised production, it can

be seen that it is substantially more difficult to record the

components of R&D costs. Tolerance for potential countermeasures

also exceeds by far simple cost controlling.

“One can hire cheaper researchers, for instance students or

graduates,” says Leitner. “In the biotech industry, lots of

standard tasks can be automated, for instance gene sequencing.

“Another possibility to steer costs is to increase output.

For instance, by setting up spin-offs or licensing patents.

The contractor of the project “Costs of research” is

DG Research which is responsible for the research, technology

and innovation agendas of the European Commission.

The results should support them when working out the

8th Framework Programme.


The oft cited increased pace of life poses special challenges

to companies. In highly competitive global markets new

products have to be launched more quickly and, at the same

time, their life cycle is getting shorter. In light of this situation,

new approaches for developing innovations are

more in demand than ever. The scientists at AIT have indepth

knowledge of current developments and future

trends owing to their experience and on-going work with

these dynamics.

“For instance, the model of open innovation presented several

years ago by Henry Chesbrough is a common widely

discussed and diffused trend,” says Leitner. “But there is also

a whole series of other new models, like network innovation,

value innovation or design innovation.”

Leitner co-ordinates the European project “Innovation Futures”

(INFU), where so-called weak signals are identified,

the first signs of innovation strategies that could one day

develop into sustainable trends. At the project Internet site, there is a twelve-minute

video that presents 19 such innovation visions in a visually

attractive way. The basis was comprehensive data research

in various Internet sources.

“The project is not about identifying new products or

technologies,” explains Leitner. “It is more the issue of how

innovation will be organised in the future.” Innovation

camps are currently very popular. Companies invite people

with varied technical backgrounds to a meeting lasting several

days, where ideas are developed jointly, working in

large and small groups, and often using unconventional

creativity techniques. A variant are condensed idea work-

Innovation camps are currently very

popular. Company management invites

people with different technical backgrounds

to a meeting lasting several days.

shops that take place for 24 hours and include persons all

around the globe. Especially enlightening are create-ityourself

shops, where customers can create their own products.

The company provides the materials and tools, and

the customers provide the ideas. Other companies, on the

other hand, are investing in calls for ideas, in which anyone

can take part. The best ideas or suggestions are normally

compensated with lucrative prizes. In the project “Innovation

Futures”, such approaches are documented and future

scenarios are then developed. What connects them is

the intention to design innovation processes by means of

the explicit inclusion of external people. By doing so, old

thought patterns can be broken and new perspectives

achieved that are often overlooked by the classical methods

of innovation generation.



A significant trend is the increased internationalisation of

research and development. AIT scientist Bernhard Dachs

deals with this and authored a background article for the


Bernhard Dachs:

„Differences between

domestic and foreign

companies can be

shown by means of

factors like size or

industry better than

by origin.”

current Competitiveness Report of the EU. Once a year, the

Competitiveness Report examines certain topics connected

to the competitiveness of Europe. Dachs’ contribution

analyses in particular the internationalisation of company

research. “I dealt with three questions,” says Dachs. “To

what extent development takes places, which strategies innovators

choose and how politics should act.” Internationalisation

is most evident due to the fact that many companies

establish R&D departments outside of their home

country. “One of the main reasons is that these countries

are becoming more important as sales markets,” explains

Dachs. “Thus, the necessity arises to adapt products to the

local markets.”

For instance, the Chinese automotive market presents totally

different requirements for a vehicle than the European

market. Cars often have to be larger and more luxurious.

But climatically different conditions also play a role.

The different fuel quality, on the other hand, requires adaptations

to fuel injection technology. It is therefore natural

to conduct specific developments directly in the country

of the sales market. That is not always considered positive,


In particular, outsourcing development to classic low-wage

countries like China or India is often seen as a potential

threat to Europe as a business location. Bernhard Dachs

puts theses perspectives into relation: On the one hand,

this development is by far not the mass phenomenon it is

often claimed to be: On the other hand, it has been demonstrated

that the willingness of companies to do research ab-

road – also in other European countries – is predominantly

a consequence of company characteristics and has almost

nothing to do with the basic conditions of the home

country. Such companies often come from the high-tech

industry, are used to being globally active and are an above-average

size. In general, differences between domestic

and foreign companies can be shown by means of factors

like size or industry better than by origin. “This is a very

important finding,” says Dachs. “Since, if it were not like

that, there would be a reason for politics to treat foreign

firms differently in order to protect one’s own location.”



In the field of measuring intellectual capital, AIT is a pioneer

in the context of innovation and research activities.

Intellectual capital reports have proved themselves as a

comprehensive instrument for taking stock of organisations’

intellectual capital, which is for instance, divided in

human capital, structural capital and relational capital.

At the end of the last millennium, AIT was the first company

in the German-speaking world to perform intellectual

capital report. The relevant know-how is also offered as a

service to other organisations. “However, it makes no sense,

if a consultant does a intellectual capital for another

company,” says Karl Heinz Leitner. “We only have a supportive

function here.” Amongst others, the Austrian National

Bank, the German Aerospace Centre, Siemens Austria

and some universities have implemented intellectual

capital reports.

Leitner emphasises that intellectual capital reports are more

than a collection of indicators. “They help to make strategies

and goals operational and their achievements measurable

and controllable. “Without indicators, it is simply

not possible. A substantial step in each customer project is

therefore selecting relevant indicators. Which indicators

are defined depends on the organisational form and strategy.

For instance, the number of scientific publications

plays a larger role for universities than for a commercially

oriented company, which typically puts more emphasis on

on patents. In such a case, it would be advisable to conduct

an additional patent analysis, which the AIT experts have

done many a time for their customers.

Intellectual capital reports should definitely not be done

just in order to document and communicate the performance

of the past year. They are more the starting point

for considerations on to what extent one is armed for the

future or should invest in human relationships or structural

capital. “However, it is difficult to say to what extent we

can measure research and innovation activities.,” says Leitner.

“One needs indicators in order to even be able to begin

the discussion. The expertise consists in interpreting

them in a differentiated contexts.” ///




/// Societies and technology are closely related in many ways. In numerous

projects, AIT examines the collateral effects and sets the foundation

for decisions for research and innovation policies. ///


without a need, but always result from

societal conditions and mechanisms.

Relevant factors are, for instance, how

research and education are organised

in a country, how financing works or

whether there are markets for new


The existing basic conditions can favour

developments, but also impede

them. On the other hand, technological

developments have an effect on society

and can change it. The relationship

between technology and society is

therefore a complex circular system of

collateral dependencies. “It can be affected,

but not in terms of intentional

steering,” says AIT scientist Susanne

Giesecke. “In this system, something

unexpected can always happen, so output

cannot be precisely predicted from

input.” Due to this, foresight plays an

important role besides classic studies

and analyses.

A lot of this takes place at the European

level. Customers are normally organisations

in the field of research and innovation

policies. AIT supports them

in identifying and evaluating trendsetting

decisions and gives them a seasoned

foundation to do it.

A driver for new technologies is

changes in the societal basic conditions,

which from this perspective are

seen as challenges for technological developments.

At the top of the list of

considerations of decision-makers, but

of science, too, is the increasing age of

the population. It can be expected that

it will lead to high costs in the future if

no measures are taken. The problem is

not as serious yet in Europe as in Japan.

Nevertheless, there are national and regional

differences that cannot be igno-

Susanne Giesecke: “The relationship

between technology and society

is a complex circular system of

collateral dependencies,”

Fotos: Krischanz & Zeiler, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Fraunhofer


red. The use of resources and dependency on a reliable

source of energy are further challenges. And the issue of integrating

migrants is becoming more pressing, too.


In order to explore political scope of action, it is therefore

necessary to specify both chances and risks. AIT scientists

did this in the EU project “FORESEC”, which was concluded

this year after two years’ work. “The task was to ascertain

how similar or different the EU member states’ estimations

of security issues are,” explains Giesecke. “Here, collective,

not individual security is meant. Thus, threats that

would affect a large number of people – like wars or natural


Research took place by means of surveys, workshops and

interviews with experts from the individual countries.

Among them were representatives from NGOs, ministries

and research institutions. In addition, a Delphi survey was

conducted amongst the 270 participants. The aim of the

evaluation was to ascertain similarities and differences between

individual countries, individual expert groups, old

and new member states or a north-south divide. It was demonstrated

that the differences are not as great as one

might have expected. Due to their history or geographic location,

some countries have special focal points. For instance,

terrorism is considered by Great Britain to be a more

serious threat than by other countries.

Spain and Italy, on the other hand, emphasise the problems

of migration. “But, in general, there were not significant

deviations,” says Giesecke. “The only difference in the perception

of problems was between countries that are NATO

members and the rest.” NATO states generally emphasised

more external threats, and non-NATO states more internal

threats. While the former also have a different estimation

of Russia, the latter deal with conflicts in a more traditional

manner, often acting as mediators. The Austrian experts

named the failure of infrastructure, like street, energy,

IT and other supply networks, as the largest danger. As

there are not enough reserves, such failures could in the

worst case lead to the destabilisation of the political system.

For the European Commission as the commissioning body

of the analyses, the similarities ascertained are a thoroughly

positive result, since it makes designing measures

easier. The topics identified are now the basis for the formulation

of new research projects.



A second major topic at AIT, in the context of the relationship

of technology and society, is technology assessment.

“Traditionally, technology assessment is retroactive,” says

Giesecke. “In contrast, more participative processes are

being used today and users of and those concerned with

technology are explicitly involved.” Elements of foresight

can be included. On the other hand, approaches to technology

assessment are often part of foresight projects. In

light of rising life expectancies, the need for technologies

that allow elderly and those in need of care as independent

a life at as possible is growing.

More participative processes

are being used today and users

of and those concerned with

technology are explicitly involved.

The European Commission has coined the term “ambient

assisted living” (AAL) and is conducting a joint programme.

In Austria, the Benefit Programme of the BMVIT and

the research support company FFG cover this topic. Within

the scope of this programme, researchers from the

AIT Foresight & Policy Development and Safety & Security

Departments are working on the project “LiKeIT”.

The aim is the development and evaluation of wireless

technologies to monitor health and lifestyle parameters.

The idea is, for instance, that elderly people wear sensors

on their body that regularly measure blood pressure and

blood glucose levels. The sufficient intake of nourishment

and liquids should also be monitored, since elderly people

often forget them.

This data is then to be automatically sent to a centre, for instance

a doctor’s office or hospital. The technical development

in the narrow sense of the term precedes the collection

of conditions and requirements, since it is very important

in such a sensitive area of personal life that the market

needs are not ignored. “People want technologies that they

can control – not ones that control them,” says Giesecke.

For this reason, monitoring systems that use cameras to observe

potential falls by frail people in their apartments are

hardly accepted by potential users. The project work in “Li-

KeIT” therefore includes on-going adjustments and adaptations

between technicians on the one hand and experts

from the Foresight & Policy Development Department on

the other. Potential end users are also regularly included.


Products adapted to users

Susanne Giesecke deals in

particular with the acceptance

of care-giving staff

on behalf of the German

Ministry for Research.

On this project, she cooperates

with the Institute

for Social Research and

Social Sciences in Saarbrücken.

“One mostly

decides on a job in the

field of care because of

wanting to work with

people,” Giesecke knows,

“and not primarily out of

interest in technology,

and therefore we need

products that have a recognisable

benefit for

both staff and patients.”

It is not always sensible to

implement the technically

possible. If products do

not enjoy market success,

it is often due to the

functionality failing to

meet the needs of the

users. It is therefore important

to include the

wishes and experiences of

users in the planned product, from conception onwards

and during the development process.

This is true both for the consumer market as well as for

high-tech investment goods. AIT is examining implementation

scenarios and potential for quantum cryptography

on behalf of the European Telecommunications Standards

Institute (ETSI). ETSI would like to derive requirements for

a potential standardisation for quantum cryptographic data

transfer. “Basic research into the technology is, in principle,

finished,” says Giesecke. “But there are still many

technical questions to be answered.” For instance, the

transfer distance is still limited to a few hundred kilometres.

Users with a need for high security – above all banks,

the military or administrative organisations – also complain

that the few currently available machines are too

complex to be integrated into current security systems.

AIT is also developing user scenarios that are discussed in

interactive workshops by global experts and potential

users. Including those concerned does not just play a role

on the object level of the relationship between society and

technological development, but also on the meta level of

scientific investigations. “Research and development have

to clarify in advance the goals and desired function of the

customer in the process,” says Giesecke. It also needs to be

communicated to the experts and interest groups that a political

interest on the part of the customer is on hand. “It is

only then possible to work out realistic recommendations

that are actually implemented.” ///








Where do you see a special contribution

by AIT’s Foresight & Policy Development

Department in the discussion on science

and new technologies? Where should the contribution be in the future?

In modern societies, it is becoming more and more important to remain at

par with motivated groups and persons from various fields of society

regarding the further development of sciences and technical progress. It

is not just about explaining science and technology to the population or

striving for acceptance, but about an open dialogue on the common

aspects of the organisation of the future society – which will surely be not

less, but probably more characterised by science and technology than

today. In this dialogue, it is important to involve the knowhow of the

Department regarding foresight and the design of political processes.

Dialogue in society is currently being conducted strongly on key technologies,

like nanotechnology and synthetic biology. I expect that the “old”

infrastructure technologies will be the topic of debates more often:

energy, transport, water. It is a case of the transformation of entire infrastructures

towards sustainable development – a great challenge that will

not be conquered without conflicts, so dialogue is necessary.

Which work by the Department over the last years was especially important

in your opinion? What was the effect?

It is difficult to highlight individual contributions. I will try, by naming the

system-theoretical and system-analytical papers on knowledge networks

and knowledge audits, which have met with wide distribution. Furthermore,

I would like to point out the research on sustainable research and

technology policies, which – as far as I can see – is being very well received.

Which role does the Department fulfil at the international level?

The Department is – as far as I can tell – very actively involved at European

level, participates in a series of European research projects and takes part

in the further development of the European research and technology policies.

In which fields would you like to work with the Department?

On the one hand, it would be in the field of research and technology policies.

One could also name the innovation policies and the role of scientific

consultation in this field. On the other hand, it is the orientation of

these political fields on the mission statement of sustainable development,

which is a great challenge and where the Department is very competent.




/// hardly any expert doubts about climate change today. Researchers at AIT simulate

regional climate scenarios for the Alpine area –to explore small-scale implications

for different regions and derive measures in order to mitigate impact on population,

economy and infrastructure. ///

WITH SUCH EMOTIONAL ISSUES such as global climate

change, many sceptics arise and proclaim it to be a myth

with questionable arguments. Experts have little understanding

for that. “The climate is changing; there is no

doubt,” says Wolfgang Loibl, Deputy Head of the Regional

& Infrastructure Policy Business Unit. “This is demonstrated

by measurements as well as by comparative simulations.”

The climate researchers at AIT therefore deal with

two issues: What regional effects does climate change have

and what measures can consequences be mitigated? The

geographic focus is always on Austria, and the Alpine area.

Regional climate models are based on global climate models

(GCM). GCMs continuously simulate the atmosphere

processes in intervals of a few minutes for a grid cell raster

spanned over the globe. Since millions of simulation

steps require long processing times for each cell, even using

a super computer, the spatial resolution of the results, the

distance between the grid cells, remains coarse. The GCMs

frequently used in Europe (ECHAM5 of the German Max

Planck Institute for Meteorology, HadCM3 of the British

Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research) at best

provide results for a matrix with a cell distance of 100 km.

The digital elevation model used is correspondingly coarse.

A north-south section across the Alps shows three cells

that hardly exceed 2000 m a.s.


To estimate the effects of climate change in the Alps at regional

to local scale, AIT researchers model a section of the

globe in a finer raster cell resolution, using regional climate

models (RCM). The current RCM applied by the AIT,

COSMO CLM, reflects the processes in the atmosphere

with similar equation systems such as GCMs, but with more

spatio-temporal precision: it computes the atmospheric

conditions and their effects near the ground (temperature,

sun radiation, cloudiness, rain, snow, wind, etc.) in 80-second

intervals for a 10-kilometre grid. The GCM simulations

are transferred every six hours as input to the regional

model, and the RCM results are stored in hourly increments.

The current climate simulations carried out within

the “reclip:century” project sponsored by the Austrian

Climate and Energy Funds. AIT’s partners are the Central

Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG), the

Institute for Meteorology of the University of Natural Resources

and Life Sciences (BOKU) and the Wegener Cen-

tre for Climate and Global Change at the University of


Climate simulations for 100 years applying alternative

greenhouse gas scenarios require several months of computing

time. But afterwards, various further studies can be

carried out making use of the results. A newly developed

AIT application is the software tool “Climate Twins”. By

clicking on a region in an interactive map, those areas can

be identified where today’s climate is similar to a future climate

of the selected region at a certain coming decade.

Climate twin’s results show that the Viennese climate in 80

years will be closer to that of the central Balkan Region.

The slow change of Vienna’s climate until 2100 can be observed

by following the “Climate Twins cloud” on the interactive

map – which drifts from Vienna towards the southeast.

“Climate Twins also has an educational function,”

says Loibl, “it shows that one does not necessarily has to fear

climatic change, but that local adaptation measures are

important.” However, different regions are affected differently

and react with different sensitivity.

Wolfgang Loibl: “The “Climate

Twins” tool shows that one does

not necessarily has to fear climate

changes, but local adaptation

measures are important to cope

with the effects.”

“The frequency and severity of extreme events, such as torrential

rain and flooding, can vary greatly at the local level,”

says Loibl. “in hot periods it is similar. It is likely that in

the future the East will be more affected by hot periods,

while the West will suffer from heavy rainfall.“ Disadvantages

are accompanied by advantages, though: more intensive

heat waves will impact agriculture and forestry more,

while wineries will benefit from the general rise in temperature

and may move to new regions.



A thorough assessment of climate-related effects allows regional

governments and communities to respond in time

to prevent or reduce damages. Thinking about future strategies

is particularly useful for regions whose main source

of income is winter tourism. Michael Billing, a student at

the Vienna University of Economics, examined the “Effects

of Climate Change on Winter Tourism in the Austria Alps”

in his diploma thesis. The result is sobering and shocking

at the same time. “The results show that by 2050, without

alternative winter recreation offers, a decline in winter occupancy

of 20 to 30 percent can be expected for winter

sport resorts between 1,200 and 1,600 m average altitude ;

even more in lower elevated areas,” says Wolfgang Loibl.

Nevertheless, the result needs to be explored in detail. This

concerns in particular ski areas up to 1,600 m a.s.. “Business

could run even better for a couple of decades if demand

remains stable, since there will be less competition

further down. At lower altitudes, new “cool mountains”

summer offers could stimulate demand,” says Loibl. This

academic thesis is a good example of the diploma / master

thesis and dissertation programme IEV (Innovation Economics

Vienna), conducted by AIT in co-operation with

the Institute for Economic Geography and Geoinformatics

at the Vienna University of Economics .

Further projects at the AIT deal with adaptation to climate

change (especially economic- and infrastructure-related).

In the EU project SUDPlan, the city of Linz serves as

case study how the wastewater system can be better prepared

for climate change effects. “A serious, largely ignored

problem arises,” explains Loibl. “Heavy rain events will become

more intense and might overload the frequently too

small dimensions of municipal wastewater networks. Carrying

out simulations of heavy precipitation, wastewater

network loads can be tested and technical countermeasures

can be drafted.

A special challenge for Loibl is the participation in the large-scale

project “Seestadt Aspern”, one of the largest urban

development projects in the history of Vienna. In the coming

two decades, Aspern, in the Northeast of Vienna, will

become a 240-hectare New Town for 20,000 residents and

25,000 jobs, with strong emphasis on energy efficiency and


“AIT provides climate simulation results for today and a future

reference climate in 2050 as background for further simulations,

providing the basis for energy-efficient and climate-sensitive

building plans,” reports Loibl. To do this, digital

models of the Aspern development in 5-metre and 7metre

resolution describing block layout and open space

characteristics (building heights, alignment, pavement

properties, soil type and moisture, vegetation, trees, water)

were developed for the city climate simulations. “We simulate

the micro-climate for building and landscaping alternatives

to provide hourly data on radiation, temperature,

humidity and wind, amongst others, to as input for further

building performance simulations for heating and cooling

to explore alternative building equipment and façades.” In

addition, AIT researchers examine wind conditions, urban

heat island effects as well as ventilation corridors to carry

out an assessment of the climate sensitivity of the urban design

concept. The project results will be fed directly into the

tenders for individual building lots.

While the consequences of climate change show regional

effects, climate protection – the reduction of greenhouse

gas emissions – is a global task. “Single local climate protection

measures will not induce any noticeable global effect,”

says AIT researcher Wilfried Winiwarter. “Only a

multitude of local efforts can bring a distinct change in the

trend of greenhouse gas concentrations.” AIT provides

analyses and scenarios of future emissions developments as

Wilfried Winiwarter. “Climate protection

measures set by countries individually

will not induce any noticeable global

effect. Only a multitude of such local

efforts applied together can bring about

a distinct change in the trend of greenhouse

gas concentrations.”

decision-basis for national climate protection policies and

for preparing international accords. The amount of greenhouse

gases emitted is calculated by emission factors under

consideration of the technologies used. Simulated reduction

measures allow estimating the savings effects and the

corresponding costs. In addition to national results, local

inventories for Vienna, Upper Austria and Styria have been

carried out applying the AIT models, and emission inventories

able to develop alternative emission scenarios were


Simple solutions can be expected for climate protection

only rarely. The barriers on the road to a greenhouse gas

free society are manifold. Not every household can afford

to invest in wall insulation, not every entrepreneur can

waive driving a car or flying to business meetings. “We can

describe the technical possibilities for climate protection

with rather high certainty,” says Winiwarter, “but the implementation

in society may encounter barriers. ” Climate

protection should be negotiated as part of the sensible use

of natural resources within the framework of global development.

The research work by AIT could also make a contribution

here. ///




/// For sustainable regional development and infrastructure, innovative

strategies and technologies are necessary. To do this, the necessary

capacities of innovation systems have to be stimulated, motivated and

systematically steered. ///

Markus Knoflacher: “It is

important to pose the right

questions. That is the only

way for us to find the answers

that lead us to our goal.”


change and resource scarcity to demographic and economic

development – infrastructure policy has large tasks to tackle,

which requires future-oriented strategies and technologies.

The availability of infrastructure, in particular for mobility,

energy and health, is a main indicator of people’s living standard

and the economic performance of a state and is therefore

also a main area of state financial precautions. “Regarding

sustainability, the question is posed. Which infrastructure

can fulfil the needs of society in the long run and make

the sustainable development of regions possible,” explains

Markus Knoflacher, Deputy Head of AIT’s Regional & Infra-

structure Business Unit. What makes estimating future developments

and their simulations difficult “is the fact that we

are dealing with long time periods. Processes with different

time horizons – from thirty to fifty years – have to be co-ordinated

with each other.”



Regional development strategies with their planned interventions

– for instance by means of traffic infrastructure – have

a substantial influence on the spatial development and living

conditions in a region. Due to high levels of investment and

Photos: Krischanz & Zeiler, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, BMVIT


long investment horizons, potential technological changes or

changes in the essential basic conditions have to be thought

of early and considered in the strategies.

“When working out development scenarios, it needs to be

considered based on the given information and documentation

which stakeholders can be brought together in which

form. It is just as important which questions relevant to decisions

are posed as answering them to achieve the desired results,”

is how Knoflacher describes the complex context of foresight

and strategy processes in the field of infrastructure.

The spectrum of questions, for instance for traffic infrastructure

projects, ranges from simulations of expected demand

and mobility needs in the region to spatial effects – for instance

due to settlement and network structures – up to the question

of which system and technologies make it possible to offer

a reasonable mobility service. Questions regarding the use

of land, emissions and ecological aspects need to be taken into

consideration for the problem-oriented estimation of

technical consequences

The simulation of traffic processes and the expected spatial

development as well as the modelling and evaluation of the

effects of these developments, for which intelligent agent models

are applied, also support mediation processes if the realisation

of large-scale projects experiences resistance from

the population concerned. The effects to be expected can be

verified together with involved stakeholders, by means of participative

models. Which also prevent “the danger of perspective-based

bias”, highlights Knoflacher. “Dealing with the

challenges of the future is an especially touchy point. In our

society, there is the expectation that there is always a solution

with a guarantee. Thus, conscientiously dealing with the

question of risk is important.”


Regions are continuously changing. Information on the

structure and dynamics of the change in land use is therefore

an important foundation in the evaluation of the current

and the estimation of the future regional development. AIT

heads the scientific-technical committee, “Land-Use Information

System Austria” (LiSA), where a new Austrian database

on land occupancy and use is to be created. Local land

use is recorded using remote sensor methods. The aim of the

project is to collect improved spatial and thematic information

from aerial and satellite data for the entire area of Austria

in a homogenisable, quality-controlled and updateable database.

In the future, that should provide information on the

status quo and the changes of the Austrian landscape in regular

intervals as the basis for political decisions and a more

effective administration of land use. “Using this database, we

have an important instrument to co-ordinate spatial and

temporal processes regarding infrastructure planning,” AIT

expert Klaus Steinnocher underlines the utility of LiSA.





Which areas where the BMVIT is

responsible could produce advantages

for modern infrastructure from the

connection between infrastructure and

RTI policy?

Infrastructure networks are the veins of a

modern society. They are the prerequisite

quality of life quality and wealth development

and are therefore a decisive business location factor. The BMVIT

is responsible for transport and telecommunications networks and it is its

task to ensure the sustainability of these networks. Questions regarding

the supply security for the population as well as the economy and questions

regarding ecological compatibility have priority. A combination of

infrastructure and RTI policy can decisively help to address the societal

requirements for these networks in time. Only modern and innovate

infrastructures can ensure that societal challenges in connection with

these networks, for instance the increasing age in society, resource scarcity,

climate change and a general increase in traffic, are overcome. In

particular, the BMVIT has the chance to drive this modernisation in a target-oriented

way, since both political fields, infrastructure policy as well

as research and innovation policy, are anchored in the Ministry. We want

to co-ordinate and connect both political fields in order to be able to provide

the necessary modernisation of infrastructure technologies, so our

transport and telecommunications routes do not just remain safe, but also

to sustainably meet the needs of people and our economy.

What role do the principles of sustainability play for

modern infrastructure?

These principles are a focus of ours. Infrastructure networks are closely

connected to all three fields of sustainability: a liveable society, a healthy

future environment and, last but not least, a competitive and resourcesaving

economic location. Modern infrastructure, meaning infrastructure

that integrates new and innovative solutions and technologies, for instance

electric vehicles, low-emission and low-noise methods of transport, new

and customer-friendly services or steering systems for a better traffic flow,

etc., are of utter importance for the future to expand and improve all three

fields accordingly.

Do you see a need for scientific expertise in the field of “sustainable

innovation-oriented infrastructure policy”?

Definitely! The systematic combination of RTI and infrastructure policy in its

planned form is a new challenge for us at the MBVIT. Internally, we can rely

on many years of expertise in the two political areas. But we do not have

sufficient knowhow in how to combine these political areas purposefully – in

terms of a sustainable infrastructure development – and make them even

more effectively useable for society and the economy. To do this, we need,

on the one hand, a well though out concept, meaning a strategic plan and

theoretic foundation to implement this idea. On the other hand, we also

need scientific experts to answer the practical questions regarding the cooperation

of the stakeholders involved and the use of existing as well as the

creation of new political instruments. Such economic expertise is therefore

very helpful to us. We therefore clearly support research projects in these

areas, for instance those that already take place at AIT. ///



The change in land use in the (peri-urban) suburbs of European

cities, its effects and its steering possibilities are the focus

of the EU project PLUREL (Peri-Urban Land Use Relationships

– Strategies and Sustainability Assessment Tools for

Urban-Rural Linkages), where the scientists at AIT contributed

their expertise and which runs until mid 2011. Urban regions

are in a conflict between growing and shrinking due to

their various economic and demographic developments.

In general, new settlement and business areas “in the open

countryside” mean that more natural and semi-natural areas

are being covered, which, above all, has negative effects on

the neighbouring ecosystems in the urban and peri-urban region,

but also on the life quality of residents. The project

works out regional scenarios for future changes in land use in

European city regions based on global, economic and demographic

development trends, assesses them regarding their

ecological, social and economic sustainability using models

and finally creates planning governance concepts for sustainable

development of the peri-urban areas.


Traffic networks, energy supply, information and telecommunications

as well as water and sewage networks in addition

to public building infrastructure are the veins of our modern

society and basic requirements for all human, especially

economic, activities. For these infrastructure systems to

meet future requirements – for instance in the case of resource

and energy consumption regarding damage to the envi-

Wolfram Rhomberg: “Capacities for

infrastructure modernisation need

to be stimulated, motivated and

systematically steered by RTI policy.”

ronment, safety, logistics or equipment, their expansion and

modernisation of innovative, future developments and the

co-ordinated integration of research and technology development

are necessary.

“Private investments in a sustainable modernisation are not

sufficient from an economic and socio-political perspective.

The modernisation also has to be born to a great extent by the

state. Capacities for infrastructure modernisation need to be

stimulated, motivated and systematically steered by RTI policy,”

is how Wolfram Rhomberg, Head of the project “Research

and Technology for an Innovation-Oriented Infrastructure

Policy at the BMVIT”, justifies the necessity of a

purposeful connection between RTI policy and infrastructure

policy. “The market alone is not sufficient to bring about

and implement the necessary infrastructure-relevant innova-

tions. Infrastructure providers normally buy existing technologies

from established market players that, if not modernised

and further developed, no longer optimally fulfil their socio-political

and economic functions. It is therefore necessary

to bring researchers and R&D service providers, suppliers

and administrative bodies together in co-operative projects

to work on questions regarding changing technological, legislative

and qualitative requirements and conduct pilot projects.

By doing so, systematic innovations and new developments

are stimulated and integrated.” Such an “innovationoriented

infrastructure policy” – as a complement to and in

co-ordination with instruments of current infrastructure policy

– means the strategic integration of technology- and innovation-political

agendas as well as targeted public investments

in infrastructure-relevant research and technology development.

As Rhomberg emphasises, “synergies for societal

demand for employment, ecologization and sustainability as

well as revitalisation and upward trends” arise from this. That

is how we design the future.”


The project “Freight Vision Austria”, which runs until April

2011 and is connected to the EU project “Freight Vision

Europe – Vision and Action Plans for European Freight

Transport until 2050”, sets new impulses for the European

and Austrian technology and innovation policy. The framework

of the European foresight project is a long-term vision

for sustainable goods transport in Europe against the background

of new challenges, like the reduction of greenhouse

gases by 80 percent by 2050 and dependency

on fossil fuels. Its aim is to work

recommendations for European traffic

and infrastructure policy.

“On the future of goods transport and

logistics in Austria, we lead a similarly

structured dialogue with scenarios for

2020, 2035 and 2050, the results of which

should contribute to a long-term vision

and orientation of Austrian technology,

innovation and infrastructure policy,”

explains the Project Head, Claus Seibt.

“It is not just about the sustainable modernisation

of goods transport on the

main European traffic routes through Austria, but also about

the sustainable modernisation of goods transport in and between

the metropolitan areas in Austria, e.g. distribution

transport, or construction and disposal transport.

Experts and stakeholders often tend to have excessively high

expectations for the possibilities of technological modernisation

or they are pessimistic regarding the possibilities of sustainable

modernisation in the years to come. It is our task

to demand healthy judgement and common sense from the

experts and stakeholders involved in the foresight process.

After all, the state should be well consulted in times of tight

budgets not to follow every exaggerated technological expectation

imprudently. It is necessary to achieve a joint understanding

amongst all stakeholders and a vision for practical

and cost-efficient solutions in the future.” ///




/// Using the software “BibTechMon”, AIT has a powerful tool at its

disposal to create and visualise research and technology maps.

That allows scientific findings to be identified early, from which lucrative

technologies can arise. ///


come from science, traditionally from physics, mechanical

engineering or electrical engineering. However, recently

more often from mathematics, nanotechnologies or biology.

The trend towards multi-disciplinarity favours the

creation of so-called emerging technologies. Emergence is

when something entirely new, often unexpected, arises

from the combination of various scientific disciplines. In

other words: the entire sum is equal to more than the sum

of its parts. An example is biosensors, which are a combination

of biological and electronic systems. They make it

possible to measure signals that neither the biological nor

the electronic system could detect by itself.

Due to their nature, it is in the interest of companies to recognize

the first signs of new technologies early, whether

emerging or classic. “When it is possible to recognise such

developments before the competition, one has a clear competitive

advantage,” says Edgar Schiebel, Head of the Technology

Management Business Unit. “It is therefore important

to observe developments within research exactly.”

Monitoring scientific activities is one of AIT’s strengths

and is used by firms as well as support or political institutions.

The software BibTechMon developed by Schiebel is

one of the reasons for that. The tool uses the fact that scientific

findings are documented in a clearly structured form

and are publicly accessible – by means of publications in

technical journals. BibTechMon accesses the electronic article

database, extracts the data and applies comprehensive

analytical functions to them.

An example: If one is interested in scientific works that

could be relevant for the further development of electromobility,

one enters a search word like “battery”. The result

the user receives is thousands of articles that contain the search

word. “The program can now check for every author

with whom he or she has produced joint publications,” says

Schiebel. “The results are network relationships that are represented

as graphic maps with nodes and edges.” This visual

illustration makes it easier to recognise connections

quickly. For instance, scientists with a high number of publications

and good networking are positioned at the centre

of the map, which reflects their importance within the

scientific community. Closed research clusters are also cle-

Edgar Schiebel: “When

it is possible to recognise

such developments

before the competition,

one has a clear competitive


Photos: Krischanz & Zeiler, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, MAGNA


arly visible. Groups of researchers can be displayed, depending

on how often their works are cited. “A high rate of citation

can be an indication of a groundbreaking discovery,”

says Schiebel.


Analyses are not only applicable to people, but also to terms

themselves. “KO” word analyses show articles in which several

of the search words appear. The position on the map

gives valuable information here, too. If the terms “battery”,

“electrode” and “lithium ferrous phosphate” often occur

together, it is a good indicator of the relevance of this material

class in energy storage. The functional extent of Bib-

TechMon also makes it possible to observe temporal

changes and therefore identify trends.

The comprehensive results of such network analyses are of

interest to numerous customers. For the Austrian Ministry

of Infrastructure, AIT examined how high the potential of

bionics is for transport technology. “By means of this information,

the Ministry receives an important decisionmaking

foundation for working out potential support programmes,”

says Schiebel. An ideal application for BibTech-

Mon was also offered by the project “PROMTECH” (Identification

and Assessment of Promising Emerging

Technological Fields in Europe), which AIT conducted

with the Frauenhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation

Research (ISI) and the French Institut de l’Information

Scientifique et Technique du Centre National de la Recherche


Within the scope of this project, ten promising future technologies

as well as leading researchers in this field were

identified. The Pascal Database was the source of information,

with around 17 million entries is not only comprehensive,

but also has excellent key words for its articles.


In addition to the creation and assessment of networks, foresight

and road mapping projects are becoming more and

more important. “If one would like to find out in which direction

developments are moving, quantitative methods

often do not suffice,” explains Schiebel. “One also has to

find out what is going on in people’s heads and what they

do with it.” That happens in expert workshops in which the

opinions of experts can be used as additional sources of information.

On the quest for emerging technologies, AIT is

also a partner of the K2 centre XTribology, which deals with

the cross-discipline topic of friction. Traditionally a domain

of mechanical engineering, tribology is today a combination

of various technical disciplines, for instance nano

sciences, surface analytics or thin-film technology. Computer

simulation is also playing more and more of an important

role. “We support the centre in its strategic orientation,

by scanning scientific papers from round the world

for their potential relevance for tibology,” says Schiebel.

“Scientists often cannot estimate for which applications

their work could of interest – we can.” ///






How was the project “K_net”, on which

your company worked with the group

centred round Josef Fröhlich, able to

support your work?

For the partners and therefore also for

Magma, the competence network “Vehicle

Propulsion Concepts of the Future”

within the scope of the competence centre project K_ind /K_net was one

of the essential building blocks for the purposeful and extremely successful

further development of vehicle propulsions. Moving towards hybridisation,

electro propulsion with and without a range extender, as well as

battery development and solutions in the electrification of the power train.

What role did the Department play in the project K_net?

Evaluation of technology strategies and knowledge management, as well

as on-going technological monitoring, were the foundation for all development

activities for the competence network and the scientific and industrial

partners. The solutions that were worked out during the partner’s

on-going development work were complemented by additional analyses

(technological trends, patents, literature) using the monitoring system.

To what extent is the co-operation with a research institution like

AIT important for the strategy of your company – keyword “technology


The spectrum of technology development is getting broader and broader.

In a special case, the automobile industry will be faced with immense

challenges over the next years / decades (resource scarcity, environment,

demoscopic development, urbanisation, legislative regulations). Large

groups are not able – or only partially – to solve these problems alone, either.

That means that efficient R&D networks are one of the essential prerequisites

for overcoming existing questions and competent research

institutions like AIT play a very important role.

In what form is knowledge management generally integrated at Magma?

How do employees access the knowledge capital at the company?

One the one hand, Magma has to have an extremely broad foundation of

knowledge due to its product portfolio. On the other hand, the organisational

structure is mostly decentralised regarding operations. This leads

to knowledge management also being the responsibility of the respective

group, company or location and the instruments and activities within the

scope of knowledge management being different. Cross-group knowledge

management is continuously optimised and adapted to conditions by the

central department Innovation & Technology. ///




/// The success of organisations depends strongly on how adequately they

react to changing needs and can change themselves. Using seasoned

methods, AIT supports its customers in developing individual forms of

(complexity) steering. ///


do not function according to the causal principles of a mechanical

input-output model. This also concerns companies,

like clusters, networks or entire firms. Steering such organisations

is therefore very difficult. AIT offers tailor-made support

for conceptualising and implementing effective innovation

processes, on the basis of system theory as well as research

results. To do this, various models (Open Innovation,

Living LAB, etc.), interventions and methods are applied.

The specific access is the complementary innovation consultation,

which was developed by Doris Wilhelmer, an AIT

scientist. The idea is to combine expertise regarding content

as well as the behaviour and interventions of organisational

development to form an efficient consultation alliance. “Both

approaches are extremely important, but each is limited in its

scope,” says Wilhelmer. “Only their interaction makes completely

new and economically lucrative positions on the market

possible for organisations.”


Experts from various technological fields work at AIT facilitating

the task of complementary innovation consultation. In

most cases, this permits a relationship of trust from the very

beginning, which is an important prerequisite to be able to

use turbulences in the innovation project successfully to benefit

the commissioning organisation.

“Moreover, it is decisive for success to illustrate the complexity

of the organisation in its environment when setting up

the “consulting group of technical and process experts””, says

Wilhelmer. It is also important that all concerned functions

of the company are represented within the project group of

the organisation and the relevant management levels are involved

in the decision-making process. The logic of the process

itself follows in a phase model: Firstly, the project team

formulates the status quo and clarifies for itself where the

company stands exactly and where current need for action is


It is also recorded which products / services are given, how

successful they are, what infrastructure it is based on and

where the company is currently concentrating on its core

competencies (knowhow). This is followed by a mental journey

by the project group into an optimal, future world: The

desired idea of a better future serves as the joint vision for ori-

entating the further positive development of the company.

Both “case for action” and “vision” are then the decision-making

foundation for top management to limit the development

of product and service innovations within a strategic

frame of action. In the case of a company in Salzburg, this

creative process of idea generation took place in the setting of

a large group where both internal as well as external important

partners, customers and suppliers were invited. Within

a day, round 140 ideas were collected. These were then concentrated

and assessed according to specific criteria, which

led to nine specific business models that are already being

sold on the market.

Weaknesses in innovation management can often be traced

back to a lack of communication and collateral trust. The key

topic of innovation is also often positioned unfavourably in

the organisational chart, for instance in research or marketing.

This leads to the innovation department often being

considered a competitor by other departments. Mistrust arises

all the more when innovation departments (or staff

functions) have a budget at their disposal that they (do not)

allot to other departments. Current models of innovation

management therefore attempt to consciously place innovation

processes outside of the strict line-and-staff organisation.

To do this, communications architectures are created in

which the people relevant for idea development and imple-

Doris Wilhelmer:

“The idea is to combine

expertise regarding

content as well as the

behaviour and interventions

of the organisational

development to

form an efficient consultation


Photos: AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Swarovski


mentation inside or outside of the organisation are brought

together for co-operation (Open Innovation, Living LAB).

The network structures that arise connect various experts, regions

and hierarchies.


This approach has also proved itself during the project IN-

NOnetworks, which is conducted by the Swarovski Group

and AIT. The starting point was the recognition by relevant

Swarovski decision-makers that the individual business units

of the Group considered each other competitors regarding

the resources of the core process “product development and

production”. A communications deficit between the business

units and shrinking economic success on the market were the

results. A first step towards improvement was the integration

of an innovation manager in each of the four business

units. They then voluntarily formed an “INNO steering

group”, where they exchanged information regularly. “The

idea behind this setting is that each business unit can only be

successful if it knows what the others are doing,” says Wilhelmer.

After determining the framework strategy, innovation

concepts were then defined. Furthermore, portfolio management

was introduced, which made it possible for the first time

to make all innovation-related products in the Group visible

and therefore steerable. Parallel to that, large group

events with selected staff, customers and suppliers of Swarovski

are regularly organised and moderated by AIT. Specific

topics are discussed and new ideas to develop product and

service innovations are developed.

Thanks to these measures, Swarovski not only made it successfully

through the economic crisis, but currently has highly

modern and effective innovation management. As the architecture

comprised of the steering group and the customer

network is on a voluntary basis, it is very fragile and could

break at any moment. The potential of development and negotiations

based on trust and the practicability of the selected

approaches shows that it does not happen, though.


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – generally

known in many fields as the trendsetters for technological

progress – also use the expertise of the Department, since the

risks connected to cutting-edge research are normally difficult

to calculate and bear because of their size.

“Austrian Corporate Foresight” starts at this need for orientation

of SMEs: It relies on good practice methods and results

of participative, European, national and sector foresight processes

and makes them available to domestic SMEs.

The new thing about this model is the tailor-making of given

good practice foresight models, contents and benchmarks in

line with the needs and resources of Austrian SME clusters.

The goal is to make a highly efficient, practical and economically

permissive foresight action model for these sectors. By

means of intensive co-operation with SME clusters and practice-oriented

research institutions, the service innovation

ACFS is consistently oriented on the utility of SMEs. They are

supported in further strengthening their main role as innovators

in Austria.

“It does not matter whether it is a large or small company –

innovation management must never become routine,” explains

Wilhelmer. “It needs to be questioned constantly and

orientated on the current needs of the organisation.” ///







In what form have you used the

expertise of the AIT Foresight & Policy


In the field of innovation management,

we have introduced steering elements for

an overall innovation network. AIT provided

the external perspective as well as current research results, which

made the establishment possible.

Where were the cruxes in the innovation process at Swarovski originally?

The integration of the innovation culture on a new level of co-operation,

together with synergies across the business units.

How do you ensure that all staff in your four business units is up-to-date

regarding current collateral development?

This takes place through regularly held network meetings, a prominent

representation of the current issues on our Intranet and periodic meetings

of the steering group of the network.

In your opinion, what are the substantial benefits of consistent innovation


I would like to call it “sustainable” innovation management. This ensures

that the ideas of staff find the correct contact people, the current challenges

and problems of customers are addressed and enough good, creative

solutions are given for customers. Moreover, supportive portfolio

management allows for the efficient bundling of resources.

Which external networks do you use to develop ideas for your products?

We use expert networks as well as the numerous staff contacts to universities,

research institutions and new social media possibilities. ///

Photos: Krischanz & Zeiler, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, University of Economics of Vienna




/// By means of the joint programme Innovation Economics Vienna, AIT and

the University of Economics of Vienna want to train altogether 50 graduates

and 15 doctoral candidates over the next few years. ///


PETER, innovation has become a topic of economic sciences.

Whereas neoclassic economics deals more with the

question of allocation of capital, Schumpeter dedicated

himself as the first scientist worldwide to the description of

the essence and significance of business innovation.

In his book “The Theory of Economic Development” published

in 1911, he deals with the causes for economic

change and interprets the dominance of new combinations

– innovations – as the germ for the evolution and growth

of an economy.

Innovations are the fundamental driving force that puts the

capitalist machine in motion and keeps it going. A prerequisite

for innovation is the entrepreneur, the creative entrepreneur,

“who is capable of carefully and sensitively recognising

things that are generally not considered important,

coming to conclusions and generating innovations,”

comments Josef Fröhlich, Head of the Foresight & Policy

Development Department at the Austrian Institute of

Technology. By doing so, pioneer entrepreneurs achieve an

advantage vis-à-vis their competition. If their inventions

are successful, competitors will try to share in the innovation

benefits by means of imitation.

Innovation and imitation as constant motional processes

therefore characterise the evolutionary process of economic

development. In the 1950s, Schumpeter, who emigrated

to the USA during the Second World War, became acquainted

with the centre of the American automotive industry

in Detroit and saw for the first time large research

departments where up to 300 employees did research and

development. Under this impression, he revised his opinion

that only entrepreneurs are the source of innovations.

In one of his most famous articles in the 1950s, he formulated

that research departments would automate technical

progress. Hence, that systematic considerations and working

out ideas are the catalyst for innovations.

15 doctoral candidates and 50

graduates within the next five years,

starting with 2009, will be trained

in co-operation between AIT and the

University of Economics of Vienna.



“In the meantime, we know that there have been five generations

of innovation models since Schumpeter’s time in

the 1950s – from technology push, where basic research

and technical development are the prerequisites for innovation,

to market demand, according to which the market

demand leads to new services and products, to the fifth model

of system integration: Here, one starts with the stakeholders

and observes the exchange of knowledge between

various players within a company, but also with other players

as a main element of innovation,” is how Fröhlich outlines

the history of innovation research. “This development

to examine innovations from a scientific perspective

is not anchored in traditional economics, but has it origin

in evolutionary economics.

This segment is poorly represented regarding universities

in Austria at the meso and macro level, which is strongly

politically oriented. With the exception of the Department

for Socio-Economics at the University of Economics of

Vienna and there, above all, the Institute for Economic

Geography and Geoinformatics,” emphasises Fröhlich,

who like Matthias Weber has held lectures on innovation

economics at the institute.


Innovation economics ties into Schumpeter’s ideas and essentially

deals with the basic analytic questions. For example,

how innovation processes run and how they are to be

understood and explained. Also with normative questions,

like how should innovation processes be organised and

what (basic) conditions are suited to stimulating innovations.

In order to get to the bottom of these questions, innovation

economics uses theories and heuristics from various

scientific disciplines, like industrial economics, economic

geography, sociological technical studies, political sciences

or industrial sociology. As innovation systems demonstrate

properties, structures and development paths of complex

systems, a research trajectory has recently been developed in

innovation economics that is rooted in complexity research

– and therefore in natural and formal sciences – and develops

explication patterns for innovation processes from the

structure and dynamics of complex systems.

For innovation agents, for example, but also public administration,

this knowledge of how innovation systems

function and what type of measures achieve as large an effect

as possible is “elementary. It becomes even more important

if it deals with the connection of national politics

with European activities in research technology and innovation




These considerations led to AIT’s Foresight & Policy Development

Department making the BMVIT a suggestion to

establish a diploma / master thesis and dissertation programme

on the topic of innovation economics. In September

2008, the co-operation agreement between the Department

for Socio-Economics at the University of Economics

of Vienna and AIT was concluded, in which the parties obliged

themselves to jointly train 15 doctoral candidates and

50 graduates within the next five years, starting in 2009.

Josef Fröhlich: „In order to be able to

guarantee education at the highest

international level, the students receive

intensive personal support from

AIT and the University of Economics

of Vienna.”

The “Knowledge and Talent Development Programme”

(IEV) is born by altogether five network partners that are

also of great importance for the financing of the programme.

Besides the BMVIT, these are austria wirtschaftsservice”

(AWS), Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft (FFG),

Wissenschaftsfonds (FWF) and Wiener Wissenschafts-,

Forschungs- und Technologiefonds (WWTF). The partners

are involved in the form of so-called network meetings


that take place once or twice a year where graduates and

doctoral candidates present their completed papers.

A three-person programme committee, comprised of

Manfred M. Fischer, Head of the Institute for Economic

Geography and Geoinformaticis, Matthias Weber, Head of

AIT’s Research, Technology & Innovation Policy Business

Unit, and Josef Fröhlich, Head of AIT’s Foresight & Policy

Development Department, is responsible for the organisation.

Annually there are two calls within the framework of

the IEV programme. Students that would like to write

their diploma / master thesis or dissertation within the framework

of Innovation Economics Vienna have to make a

proposal and include a résumé. The proposal is considered

by the programme committee and the candidates with

the best proposals are invited to a hearing. If the hearing

goes well, they receive approval for the financing of their diploma

/ master thesis or dissertation. This subsidy

amounts to 350 Euros a month for diploma and master

theses for a maximum of six months, in the case of publication

in the “Innovation Economics Vienna” series seven

months, for dissertations 1,500 Euros per month for a maximum

of three years. The scholarships are awarded in the

form of a freelancer contract. Moreover, a student loft with

fully equipped work stations in the Department is at the

disposal of the graduates and doctoral candidates.

In order to be able to guarantee education at the highest international

level, the students receive intensive support. All

graduates and doctoral candidates are allotted an expert

mentor from the AIT Department and an advisor with an

international scientific reputation by the University of Economics.

Within the framework of the accompanying graduate

and doctoral candidate seminar, Innovation Economics

Vienna, which takes place at the University of Economics,

the students have to hold a presentation that is also

attended by the expert mentor. What is special, as Fröhlich

comments, is “that they are not only involved in the scientific

discussion with the auditorium, but also with the

members of the auditorium on this occasion.” The high

qualitative benchmark and the very effective expert support

of graduates and doctoral candidates guarantee the

best career perspectives, since “students who have published

their diploma thesis or master thesis in our series of

publications,” says Fröhlich, “normally find a job immediately,

either with a network partner, a research institute or at

the University of Economics.”

The topics are suggested by the expert mentors of the Department,

discussed in the programme committee, possibly

adjusted, and then publicly announced. They are strongly

oriented on the research areas of the Department and

concern foresight and foresight methods, issues of steering,

like simulation, but also the development and application

of methods for the analysis of innovation systems and/or

for sustainability research.

For instance, a diploma thesis developed a model to study

the effects of climate change on Austrian ski regions. Another

worked out an analysis model for the connection of copatenting

networks and co-operation networks in the field

of research and development. All this in connection with

the education programme, in which 19 graduates – of

whom seven have completed their papers – and nine doctoral

candidates have received financing. ///








Do you think that the term innovation is

used excessively?

Undoubtedly. The exaggerated use of the

term of technical innovation has various

causes, but in the end is connected to the subjective innovation term apparently

being dominant in general language use.

How can “true” innovations be stimulated?

The interactive model of technological change emphasises that technological

innovations are not just the result of systematic R&D activities, but also that

of complex business interactions. From the point of view of innovation economics,

networks in general, and interactions with the scientific system, in particular,

play a central role, since they support the sole-company innovation

intensity and speed up the distribution of inventions. In order to stimulate the

innovative behaviour of the economy, it would therefore be advisable to better

connect university basic research as well as application-oriented research

with product development, to make the co-operation with the economy more

attractive at universities and to provide sufficient investment funds for

research and development as well as education. In light of the rigorous budgetary

restrictions, it must be difficult for universities to harmonise their traditional

core tasks of knowledge production and education in the accustomed

quality with their role as an integrating element of the national innovation


The “Innovation Economics” programme for graduates and doctoral candidates

implemented in co-operation with AIT has been running for two

years. Can you draw a first interim conclusion?

The co-operation with the Foresight & Policy Development Department at AIT

has led to the Department for Socio-Economics at the University of Economics

of Vienna – with financial support from our network partner organisations

– being able to realise a qualitatively valuable educational focus on

“innovation economics”, measured using international benchmarks. By

making students familiar with theories, models and methods at the front end

of scientific research and working on diploma theses and dissertations whose

findings are highly relevant for the political practice.

Moreover, we aspire to involve our network partner organisations – BMVIT,

AWS, FFG, FWF and WWTF – in the IEV activities.

In the first two years the programme ran, ten diploma theses were completed.

Six further graduates and seven doctoral candidates are currently working

on their diploma theses or dissertations. The diploma theses that have

been completed successfully have led to the colleagues being able to start a

career quickly and being offered interesting jobs. ///

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