The Federal Minister of Science, Research and Economy is Harald Mahrer.
The Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW) creates the best possible framework for enterprises and represents at international levels the interests of Austria as a business location. One of the main objectives is to accelerate structural change by actively supporting research, technology and innovation. Below a breakdown of responsibilities by Centres and Directorates General:
Science and Higher Education
Universities, universities of applied sciences and research entities are places that attract international knowledge. They train a highly qualified and specialised labour force for business and society and are magnets of innovation and creativity. As lead institutions they shape and change their region.
International cooperation and competition are the strengths of our scientific institutions. International success is an excellent indicator for an institution’s strong positioning, networking abilities and ties with partners in research, business and industry in its own location or region.
In association with other research centres and leading enterprises of their region, our universities excel in paving the way for innovation and social development as well as for creating an attractive environment for investment.
The Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW) supports Austria’s science and research entities in developing their strategic location-specific expertise and individual profiles. We direct public investment toward scientific research and support our institutions in being attractive partners with a stake in their surroundings.
Students may access the Ministry’s website for any information which may be necessary or helpful for smoothly entering and navigating the paths of higher education – from the beginning of university courses to spending a semester abroad.
In addition to universities, the field of research and development constitutes the second major area of responsibility of the Ministry. For countries as small as Austria knowledge is all the more important an asset. Numerous projects, collaboration and particularly close cooperation with other Member States of the EU have provided a major impetus to the Austrian research sector in recent years.
At the same time, Austria participates in the creation of a European Research Area which is designed to help the Union develop sustainable and forward-looking concepts to meet the challenges of the forthcoming decades in a wide range of fields.
Economic Policy, Innovation & Technology
A key economic policy objective is to reinforce Austria's position as an attractive business location. Investments in research, development and innovation need to be enhanced to ensure continued competitiveness. The Centre also addresses competition policy and internal market issues within the European Union.
External Trade Policy & European Integration
Austria is one of the world's leading export countries. External trade policy aims to strengthen the Austrian export sector by ensuring sustainable growth, improved access to new markets and international cooperation. For this purpose the BMWFW and the Austrian Economic Chamber (WKO) have jointly launched the go.international campaign. Other portfolios based within this Centre include export control, import licenses, EU coordination, export and investment policy, international regional policy and funding, as well as multilateral trade policy.
The BMWFW seeks to provide an enterprise-friendly framework and environment, which nurture the growth of businesses, facilitate business start-ups and ensure open market access.
Central issues include improving the competitive strength of companies, safeguarding existing employment and creating new jobs, as well as updating the rules and standards under Austria's Trade Act (Gewerbeordnung, GewO). Moreover, the BMWFW is responsible for the sustainable design of apprenticeships and the introduction of new apprenticed trades. Other policy areas include surveying, geo-information and technology.
Tourism & Historic Buildings
Austria's tourist industry is a major economic factor. However, it is subject to constant change caused by new channels of distribution and marketing, and by international competition between destinations. To enable the industry to respond efficiently to these challenges, the BMWFW strives to create a first-class framework. Under the new Tourism Strategy three unique selling points (USPs) are being introduced: the Alps – the Danube – Cities & Culture.
The Ministry – through Burghauptmannschaft Österreich (an entity managing publicly-owned palaces, castles, etc.) – is also responsible for the maintenance and use of numerous significant properties of historic and touristic value. These include Schönbrunn Palace, Schönbrunn Zoo and the so-called Marchfeldschlösser, i.e. two country palaces in the vicinity of Vienna.
Energy & Mining
The Ministry aims to achieve an economically optimised supply of energy sources and raw materials, while ensuring security of supply, cost-effectiveness, and environmental and social acceptability. To switch over to a sustainable, efficient and renewable energy supply system, the BMWFW – together with the Ministry of the Environment – has devised a new energy strategy for Austria (Energiestrategie.Österreich). This energy strategy is a forward-looking concept on how to change over from the current system of energy supply to a system of sustainable, efficient and renewable energy supply. This is intended to help attain the climate and energy targets of the European Union (Europe 2020 targets).