Christian Reiner, Senior Researcher at the Lauder Business School, is participating in two recent contract research projects and has published a new paper. The first research project, a project with the centre for Social Innovation (ZSI), is financed by the Austrian Wirtschaftsservice (AWS). The aim is to evaluate and provide suggestions for improving the ex-ante project evaluation scheme of AWS. The project deals with the allocation of public subsidies for private companies, especially but not exclusively start-ups. Higher education institutions and their entrepreneurial orientation are at the centre of the second undertaking, a cooperative project together with WPZ Research GmbH funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research. The main task is to draft a background report for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which is organizing a study visit to Austria this year to interview key stakeholders at universities and ministries about higher education, entrepreneurship and innovation. Both research projects are associated with a stream of third-party research funding for the Lauder Business School and is conducted by Christian Reiner.

The publication pertains to a policy brief on the Austrian innovation performance, entitled “Raus aus der Middle Innovation Trap zum Innovation Leader Handlungsoptionen für Österreich”. The policy brief is co-authored by Brigitte Ecker, director of WPZ Research GmbH. The authors argue that Austria was quite successful in catching up with Western European countries in terms of innovation activities in the 1990s and the 2000s. Yet since then Austria’s innovation system has failed to develop into a system that is on an equal footing with the top European innovation nations. In other words, the catching-up process slowed down despite further increases in innovation inputs. This empirical evidence leads to the questions whether Austria is experiencing a “middle-innovation trap” comparable to the fate of several emerging economies which seem to be stuck in a so-called “middle-income trap”. Inferior business dynamics, a slow digital transformation and an underdeveloped focus on research excellence in the university sector are discussed as critical aspects that may have to be addressed in order to overcome the middle-innovation trap.

The main results and suggested policy options of the policy brief have been summarised and published by the Austrian Press Agentur (APA). Several statements of the LBS senior researcher are quoted verbatim in this article.

Taken together, the two research projects and the policy brief demonstrate how research with its applied economic research approach at the Lauder Business School contributes to relevant economic policy discussions in Austria. The focus on innovation in the business sector is also a highly relevant topic in all three study programs at LBS.

Vienna, January 15, 2018

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