Innovation Research and Technology Policy in Austria
Modern innovation research focuses on the complexity and the endogenous character of technical change. Carriers of technical change are business enterprises which are tied by feedback mechanisms into a network of suppliers, clients, research institutions, regulatory agencies and domestic and foreign competitors. In this system, innovation activity is the driving force determing competitiveness. The innovative strength of a small industrial country is not only determined by the quantity and quality of production of knowledge, but more so by the capability of enterprises to absorb internal and external research and development results and transform them into new processes and products. For this reason the major technology policy orientation for Austria must be a diffusion strategy which aims to increase the rate of distribution of existing knowledge and the absorptive capacity of (especially) small and medium-sized enterprises. Suitable instruments are a strategic orientation of technology policy, upgrading of the technological infrastructure, improved coordination of the relevant policy institutions, the opening up of information channels between the different actors in the national innovation system and the creation of appropriate incentives. The instruments have to take account of international R&D and cooperation programs. In addition, Austria needs to develop mechanisms which analyze the effects of technical change on man, society and environment and which enable the participation of larger population segments in the formulation of technology policy and programs. Austria's enterprises specialize in medium-technology products, with a number of high-tech niches. University research is very broadly based and achieves international acclaim in a number of fields, but it is fragmented. Extra-university research organizations are only beginning to coordinate their activities. Technology policy resources in public administration require strategic orientation and a clearer assignment of competencies. Instruments of technology policy applied in Austria are mainly of the traditional variety, putting heavy emphasis on innovation project-oriented financial aid. Recently, however, a number of new instruments have been applied, and modern management and control mechanisms installed (e.g., program management, reporting, compulsory evaluation of institutions and programs). Austria's technology policy agenda will have to direct its strategies towards the requirements of society and economy, to bundle existing resources in an efficient way, to link up with international innovation systems and to apply innovative instruments in an imaginative way.
Technologieforschung und Technologiepolitik in Österreich; Innovation Research and Technology Policy in Austria
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