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OECD Reviews of Innovation Policy: Austria 2018

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Over the past two decades, Austria has become one of the most R&D intensive economies among OECD countries and in the world, dedicating 3.1% of its GDP on R&D in 2016, the second highest figure in the European Union. To fully harness this R&D capacity, Austrian innovation policy needs to put a stronger emphasis on efficiency in transforming R&D inputs into impacts. To achieve higher impacts, Austria also needs to steer its research and innovation system towards leadership excellence in global markets. This requires enhanced international attractiveness for top-level researchers and talent, and a conducive environment for highly innovative enterprises. Austria could also benefit from strengthening R&D and innovation to support key transitions, such as digitalisation and Industry 4.0, and to tackle key societal challenges. The STI policy mix and governance arrangements should be adapted accordingly.

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Executive summary

Austria’s innovation system has developed rapidly over the past two decades. From 1998 to 2016, Austria showed the second highest increase in R&D intensity of all OECD countries, exceeded only by Korea. The rapid growth of R&D inputs was matched by a similar increase in human resources for STI. Increased resources have helped to expand STI activities and opportunities for learning, but outputs and outcomes have not always met expectations. To become a leader in innovation, Austria faces the challenge of transforming its sizeable investment in STI into more decisive economic and social impacts.

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