September 14, 2020
Federal Minister Edtstadler experiences research at IST Austria
Together with researchers she discussed the role of competitive research funding
During a visit at IST Austria, Minister Karoline Edtstadler had the opportunity to look behind the scenes of the top research institute and to experience directly how EU research funds are used.
The Minister’s visit was kicked off with a presentation by Scott Waitukaitis, who presented his project Tribocharge, for which he has just received an ERC Starting Grant of 1.5 million euros from the EU. With the Starting Grants, the European Research Council (ERC) supports research work that has the potential to contribute to major scientific breakthroughs. In the Tribocharge project, Scott Waitukaitis is investigating an effect that is probably known to anyone who has been shocked by a doorknob: However, the underlying mechanism of frictional electricity – the exchange of electrical charge between objects during contact – remains a mystery, a mystery that Scott Waitukaitis would like to help solve.
After a general tour of the green campus of IST Austria by President Tom Henzinger, during which the importance of EU research funding was discussed, the tour continued to Gaia Novarino’s laboratory. The professor also holds an ERC Grant and conducts research on autism. As a neuroscientist, she investigates the genetic basis for the development of autism and is committed to improving diagnosis and treatment options in Austria as well.
Minister of the Chancellor’s Office Edtstadler was impressed by the success of IST Austria: “The corona crisis has made it clear to us that we need to push Europe even further in the areas of science and research in order to become more independent from other global players such as China, Russia, India or the USA. An important area in this respect is above all basic research, which is also being conducted very successfully here at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria. With “Horizon 2020”, the European Union has supported a large number of future-oriented projects with around 75 billion euros since 2014 – including here at IST Austria. With “Horizon Europe”, this success story is now set to continue. The aim is to strengthen Europe as a research location and thus also Austria. The European Union is to become the world’s leading innovator, and this will only be possible if we pool European know-how and prevent the brain drain from research institutions and clever minds”. President Tom Henzinger praised the friendly and interested atmosphere of the visit and emphasized once again that “IST Austria is built on the premise that independent research is best promoted by a variety of sources. This naturally includes public funding by Austria, Lower Austria and the European Union, but also funding from private sources, foundations and donors. IST Austria is an example of how successfully this concept can be implemented”.