Preface by Austria

Austria places high emphasis on the societal role of higher education institutions as a proactive and stimulating innovation force through the promotion of a broad entrepreneurship definition. This includes the institutions’ identities as well as their teaching and research activities. In view of the fast changing world of work, high professional qualifications are a necessary prerequisite, but also key competences such as initiative and entrepreneurial skills, creativity, innovation and willingness to take risks, as well as the ability to organize and execute projects in order to achieve concrete goals, are rapidly gaining in importance.

Governance of higher education institutions – including public universities, universities of applied sciences, university colleges of teacher education, and private universities – plays an important role here. Discussions in the European University Business Forum have been monitored closely in Austria since the beginning and the resulting initiatives and support measures have been exploited actively. For example, the Federal Ministry recommended the use of the HEInnovate Tool for self-evaluation in the performance agreements with the public universities and requested each university to present their own concept of the entrepreneurial university. In 2016, Austria hosted a University Business Forum, which was organised in cooperation with the European Commission and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. The showcase examples presented there attracted great interest among the international participants. Austrian higher education institutions are also successful in participating in Knowledge Alliances.

As a logical consequence of the activities described above Austria took part in the HEInnovate country reviews last year and the publication, which you are reading online or holding in your hands right now, is the result. Fourteen higher education institutions have agreed to face the questions and discussions with the review teams, and readily exchanged their views with Austrian representatives from industry and research. Some interesting facts were discovered about the performance in the area of innovation and entrepreneurship on the individual level of the institutions, as well as for the entire Austrian higher education system. The focus of this review is on leadership and governance, entrepreneurial teaching and learning, and preparing and supporting start-ups in higher education. We are pleased that good practices were found in all three areas, but we will also thoroughly analyse the recommendations for further improvement and development. The dissemination of the findings in this review will lead to further activities, and, consequently, to their integration into the steering of higher education institutions and the whole higher education system.

The HEInnovate Country Review Austria complements the analysis presented in the OECD Reviews of Innovation Policy: Austria 2018 and will provide valuable input for current discussions on the new Austrian Strategy for Research, Technology and Innovation.

Many thanks to the higher education institutions for their active engagement and valuable contributions as well as to the review teams, the national steering group, the OECD, the European Commission, and to my colleagues and employees in the Federal Ministry.

Austrian higher education institutions are aware of their comprehensive tasks and the necessity to be active participants and important drivers for a successful economy and society. Together with the institutions, we will integrate the findings and suggestions of the report into the higher education institutions’ missions of research and teaching and support them in fulfilling their societal and economic responsibility.


Elmar Pichl

Director General IV Higher Education

Austrian Federal Ministry of Education Science and Research

Preface by Austria