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Innovation, Complexity and Policy

Contributions from 30 years of innovation policy research in Austria

Edited By Matthias Weber

This book brings together a set of contributions that show the breadth and depth of the scientific work of Josef Fröhlich and his influence on Austrian research, technology and innovation (RTI) policy. It is edited in honour of the occasion of his retirement as Head of Innovation Systems Department at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology. The contributors provide an overview of important issues of debate at the intersection of innovation studies and government policy, which have been pivotal for the modernisation and consolidation of the Austrian innovation system since the early 1990s.

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The Austrian Competence Center Programmes: Past, present and future? (Michael Dinges / Karl-Heinz Leitner)


Michael Dinges, Karl-Heinz Leitner

The Austrian Competence Center Programmes: Past, present and future?

Abstract: The Competence Center Programme was a major structural policy initiative since the 1990ies in Austria to support the collaboration between science and industry. The chapter investigates the strengths, weaknesses and characteristics of this specific form of co-operation in autonomous joint centers involving universities, research organisations and firms.

1 Introduction

The competence center programmes (K programmes) have been one of the most important and most prominent RTI policy instruments in Austria since the 1990s. They constituted the first significant and highly funded programmes for the structural promotion of industry-science co-operations in Austria. The driving force behind the development of competence centers was the fact that cooperation between industry and science in Austria was found in the middle of the 1990s to be distinctly weak (cf. Pichler et al. 2007); the university sector was characterised by very low levels of R&D financing from the corporate sector (1.4 % of total university R&D spending) and a low degree of internationalisation (cf. Hutschenreiter et al. 1998). The OECD (2004), for example, stated that: “Industry‐Science relations (ISR) have been identified as one of the major weaknesses of Austria’s innovation system. In fact, ISR‐related indicators show below‐average values in international comparisons.”

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