Leoben - a research site of international importance

On the occasion of the visit of the Austrian Science Fund (German: FWF), a press conference was held on 14th June 2017 in Leoben focusing on the vital role Montanuniversität and its research centres play in the Austrian research landscape. Styrian Minister of Science MMag.a Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, president of FWF and professor Klement Tockner, financial director of the city of Leoben Willibald Mautner, board member of voestalpine and member of the University Council Dr. Peter Schwab, CEO of MCL Reinhold Ebner, CEO of PCCL Univ.-Prof. Wolfgang Kern and rector Wilfiried Eichlseder presented impressive figures showing that Montanuniversität, the Upper Styrian elite university, enjoys a special status.

It is the university's extraordinary fields of study along the value-added chain – from raw material to the finished product through to the recycling process – that shapes the unique research portfolio of Montanuniversität. Rector Wilfried Eichlseder briefly explains why Montanuniversität is proving so successful: "We conduct basic research, are an integral part of the scientific community and at the same time we apply the results of our research. We are very proud of the fact that the knowledge and outcomes gained from our research is instantly provided in the lectures. Thus, our students benefit directly from the researchers' achievements."

"The purpose of the FWF is to support such efforts and we are happy to make a significant contribution to the success of Austria's universities," comments Klement Trockner, the president of FWF.

A unique university in Styria

The Styrian Minister of Science MMag. a Barbara Eibinger-Miedl considers Montanuniversität a unique university. "The idea of Archduke John (German: Erzherzog Johann) to establish this university has proved to be revolutionary and sustainable. Montanuniversität has accepted the challenges of a global networked economy and its expertise in teaching and research has allowed the university to fill a niche position. That this effort has been rewarded with international renown is clearly shown by its ranking as the 7 th in the world as far as materials are concerned, with five American universities and the University of Cambridge being among the Top 6. Together with the competence centres located in Leoben, Montanuniversität essentially contributes to making Styria one of the most innovative regions in Europe with a research and development intensity of 4.87%."

Willibald Mautner, financial director of Leoben, thinks of Montanuniversität and its research centres as a highly important business incubator. He states that it is thanks to the excellent work of Montanuniversität that large companies such as RHI and AT&S have its research centres or headquarters in Leoben. He adds: "As well as that, the university’s spinoffs help to establish new companies in the area of Leoben."

Becoming competitive through research

Peter Schwab, board member of voestalpine and member of the University Council, emphasizes the fundamental importance of research for Austria's industrial development. "Universities play a crucial role in advancing our country's development and competitiveness. Therefore, every euro invested in education, research and development is a euro invested in the future."

The Materials Center Leoben (MCL) is one of the most successful research centres in Leoben and has only recently been awarded another four-year contract by the programme Comet-K2. "Projects of the FWF are amongst the most popular projects at MCL. However, it is very difficult to enter a partnership with the FWF. Sometimes you have to apply several times. As those partnerships are designed as projects, we are able to approach issues which are closely related to basic research. And this is something that we can benefit from in the long term," says the CEO of MCL Univ.-Prof. Reinhold Ebner.

The Polymer Competence Center Leoben (PCCL) is part of the programme K1 and serves as role model for excellent research. "With a staff of 100 people, the PCCL is Austria's leading centre for cooperative research in the field of plastics and polymer engineering and amongst the best of its kind in the world," declares Chief Research Officer Univ.-Prof. Wolfgang Kern.