The Austrian Example

10.07.2019

What Can the UK Learn from Europe's Fastest-Growing R&D Spender? A Commentary by Jürgen Janger

The UK government has set itself the ambitious target of increasing the country's research and development (R&D) rate from the current 1.7 to 2.4 percent by 2024. With the highest R&D dynamics in Europe, Austria is considered an international best practice example. In this context, the English journal "Research Fortnight" published a commentary by Jürgen Janger, deputy director of WIFO.

In his commentary, innovation expert Janger explains possible reasons for the positive development in Austria since the mid-1990s in order to discuss possible conclusions about the British goals.

As a positive factor for the Austrian increase, Janger mentions, among other things, the political ambition to increase the R&D quota, which was also supported by various political parties and social partners and became a coordination instrument for ministries for efforts in the field of research, technology and innovation. Austria's accession to the European Union brought competitive incentives for companies to invest in R&D as well as integration into international research networks, which in turn led to the professionalisation and intensification of R&D in the higher education sector. A regular strong increase in R&D funding fell on fertile ground in the form of the high share of industry in Austria.

In comparison with the UK, however, Austria lacks a dynamic venture capital scene, access to data to properly evaluate R&D subsidies or international top ranking universities such as Cambridge, Oxford or Imperial College. The UK must use these three trump cards if it is to compensate for the (serious) disadvantages of a small industrial sector and an imminent brexit in order to achieve its R&D target.

Please find the complete commentary here.

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Jürgen Janger, MSc

Function: Research staff member, Deputy director
Research groups: Industrial Economics, Innovation and International Competition
© WIFO
© WIFO