Abgeschlossene Projekt

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The “hasty” digitalization: Reflecting on the boost on digital transformation during the COVID-restrictions at TU Graz

The restrictions, some of them massive, required as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic have led to a worldwide surge in digitalization. However, this digitization has been "hasty": all of a sudden, work processes had to be administered via digital channels which until recently were just one option among others. Austrian universities and their members were no exception in this regard. For the organization, this meant that virtually all work processes are being carried out exclusively via digital technology. For its members, this meant home office, communication via teleconferencing, limited access to non-digital work resources (library, laboratories etc.) and an increasing urge to handle teaching obligations via online platforms.

The aim of the project is to gather experiences as they arise in the course of using digitally supported work processes at Graz University of Technology, especially during this time which is very unusual for everyone. Through interviews and participant observation in a variety of settings, the project attempts to reveal strengths and weaknesses of digitized working processes and bring into focus effects of digitalization that have so far been overlooked.

This research project has been commissioned by TU Graz’s Vice-Rectorate of Digitalization and Change Management.

Duration: June 2020 to April 2021

Contact at the STS Unit: Assoz. Prof. Dr. Bernhard Wieser

ELSA-GEA - Ethical, legal, and socio-economic aspects of genome editing in agriculture

ELSA-GEA investigages possible ethical, legal, and socio-economic aspects of genome editing in agriculture. The overall aim of the project is to inform the public debate and to improve the knowledge base for policy decisions. TU Graz is in charge of stakeholder engagement on technical, scientific, legal, and socio-economic aspects of gene editing.
Staff member
Project Manager at the Organizational Unit
Armin Spök
Dr.phil. MSc
Funding sources
  • Julius Kühn-Institut, Bundesforschungsinstitut für Kulturpflanzen, JKI
  • Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF
External Partners
  • Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Institut Technik-Theologie-Naturwissenschaften (TTN)
  • Julius Kühn-Institut, Bundesforschungsinstitut für Kulturpflanzen, JKI
  • Leibniz Universität Hannover, Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences - CELLS
Research areas
Start: 31.12.2017
End: 30.10.2019

Zukunftswerkstatt - Organization and documentation of a future-workshop "Energy of the Furture"

One-day conference on "Conception, implementation and documentation of a future workshop".
Staff member
Project Manager at the Organizational Unit
Günter Getzinger
Ass.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.phil.
Research areas
Start: 14.04.2018
End: 30.05.2018

Modelling Health (MH) (8008) - Computer Modelling for Better Health

Client: Zukunftsfonds Steiermark

Projekt-Leader: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Kurt Zatloukal (MUG)

Partner: Medical University of Graz

Duration: 2017- 2018

Content: The centerpiece of the project is the design of a health avatar that can model the health of a person. In the future, such a "health twin" could be used to simulate biophysiological processes on the basis of medical parameters, environmental conditions and behavioral variables.

As an interface technology, health avatars create a new basis for medical action. A variety of parameters, including data from sensors, clinical data, molecular data, etc., can be evaluated integrally, the efficacy of treatments can be tested, and possible risk reports can be displayed for a targeted disease prevention. The potential of this technology is enormous and is developed and analyzed in this project in the context of "Healthy Ageing and Assisted Living".

The vision of comprehensive medical modeling through complex information technologies is a large-scale innovation project and also involves sensitive areas of life and privacy. Within the scope of the project, expert profiles and scenario workshops are used to characterize user profiles and to identify acceptance potentials as well as critically reflect them. On the basis of this, national and international R & D strategies are developed and innovation targets are formulated for Styrian companies. Through the interdisciplinary collaboration of social sciences and natural sciences, a knowledge base is to be provided, on the basis of which comprehensive medical modeling in silico can be tackled.

Further Information: http://modelling-health.at/

Contact:  Bernhard Wieser

FoTRRIS - Fostering a Transition towards Responsible Research and Innovation Systems

Client: Europäische Kommission: Horizon 2020, Rahmenprogramm für Forschung und Innovation

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Belgium (coordination)
European Centre of Studies and Initiatives (CESIE), Italy
European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN), Belgium
European innovation-driven business consultancy (LGI), France
Environmental Social Science Research Group (ESSRG), Hungary
Universität Complutense Madrid (UCM), Spain

Duration: 2015 - 2018

Content: The main objective of FoTRRIS is to develop and introduce new governance practices to foster Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in research and innovation systems. FoTRRIS will, more specifically, focus on new governance practices to co‐design transdiciplinary RRI‐projects that are attuned to societal needs, values and opportunities and that connect and mobilise relevant stakeholders.

In order to stress that responsible research and innovation is a collaborative activity from the very beginning—collaboration starts ‘upstream’, from the definition of the problem or challenge, continues with the analysis of the problem, the projection of potential solutions, the design of a research and innovation project that aims at realising a solution, and goes on during its performance and monitoring—FoTRRIS adds the prefix ‘co’ to the acronym RRI. Moreover, because important present‐day challenges are (at least partially) of a global nature, but manifest in ways that are influenced by local conditions, FoTRRIS focuses on ‘glocal’ challenges, i.e. local/regional manifestations of global challenges and on ‘local’ opportunities for solving them.

FoTRRIS will perform a transition experiment to support the transformation of present‐day research and innovation strategies into co‐RRI‐strategies. It will design, test and validate the organisation, operation and funding of a co‐RRI‐knowledge‐arena. This knowledge arena is conceived as a small organisational unit that will function as a local one‐stop innovation platform that encourages various knowledge actors from science, policy, industry and civil society to co‐design, ‐perform, and –monitor co‐RRI‐projects that are attuned to local manifestations of global sustainability challenges. The co‐design of co‐RRI‐projects, facilitated by the proposed knowledge arenas, will be tested and evaluated in 5 member states (Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Italy and Spain), and policy recommendations to implement co‐RRI will be provided.

Further information: http://fotrris-h2020.eu/

Contact: Armin Spök

Facilitation of a Capacity Building Workshop on Socio-Economic Considerations of Genetically Modified Organisms (SEC-GMO)

Client: University of West Indies as part of the UNEP-GEF Regional Project for Implementing National Biosafety Frameworks in the Caribbean Sub-Region, No. GFL/2328-2716-4C20

Partner: University of West Indies

Duration: 2015-2016

Content: Explicit consideration of socio-economic issues of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in policy making is a relatively novel topic. While still a lot of work needs to be done in scoping socio-economic considerations, clarifying approaches, methods, and the legal status in the context of international law, an increasing number of countries have already implemented policies which allow the consideration or even routine assessment of socio-economic issues. In the light of the subject´s novelty and the challenges it is facing, experience on how to introduce this topic into capacity building has been very limited so far.

In the course of this project a capacity building workshop was designed, organised and conducted on 23-25 November 2015 in St. Vincent/Grenadines and upon completion, a detailed workshop report was compiled. Additional experts from the European Commission GMO Socio-Economics Bureau, the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Argentina, the University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia, Agroecology and Food Systems, Spain and the Haut Conseil des Biotechnologies, France were involved across these steps. Representatives of governmental authorities and member of the academia from eleven countries in the Caribbean Sub Region participated in the workshop.

The workshop aimed to familiarize participants from the Caribbean Region with the key aspects of SEC and make them aware of possible requirements, options and constraints of considering socioeconomic aspects in GMO policy–making. Thus the presentations and group discussions  focused on (i) the various dimensions of socio-economic issues, together with impacts and approaches as well as challenges in assessing these impacts, (ii) the different options and challenges to include these aspects in policy making, of (iii) possible facilitating and hindering factors in international law; and of (iv) possible options and constraints for their country context.

Contact: Armin Spök

Colon cancer - Therapy precision to be improved

Partner: Medical University of Graz, Graz University of Technology

Duration: 2012-2014

Content: 200 tumor tissues samples are analysed to determine whether a tumor is a homogeneous cluster of cells or a mosaic of different highly-differentiated tumor cells. For this purpose new sensory analysis and visualiziation techniques are applied. According to Karl Kashofer from the Institute of Pathology, Medical University of Graz, the goal is „to predict the response to therapy in a better way“.

IFZ contributes with its interdisziplinary expertise. In such a way different perspectives of pathologists, oncologists and patients should be brought together to promote mutual understanding.

The project is funded by the Styrian funding line „Human – Technology – Interface: Sensor for Medical Application“. Results will be available within two years. 

Contact: Bernhard Wieser

More information


GMP Two Year Safety Testing (G-TwYST)


Sponsor: European Commission, 7th Framework Programme

Duration: 4/2014-3/2018

Partner: Roger Alison Ltd (UK), Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) (Spain), LIS CONSULT (The Netherlands), Julius Kühn-Institut (Germany), University of Bratislava (Slovakia), SDLO-RIKILT Wageningen UR (The Netherlands), University of Veterinary Medicine (Germany).

Content: G-TwYST aims at developing guidance for conducting and interpreting long-term animal toxicity studies with genetically modified maize (NK603, MON810) and analyses the relevance and scientific value of such studies for the risk assessment of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Animal studies in GMO risk assessment have been at the heart of several controversies within and outside the scientific domain. Although normally a purely scientific endeavour, these studies will, therefore, be opened for stakeholder scrutiny and input by making available to all interested parties research plans, draft results and conclusions, as well as raw data and by engaging stakeholder and external experts in planning and interpreting these studies and in drawing general conclusions. G-TwYST will, moreover, investigate the normative issues linked to the science in these conflicts and will use these results as inputs in the participation process.

The project is coordinated by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover; STS is Work Package Leader for the participation process and Task Leader for the analysis of the conflicts on animal studies.

G-TwYST is linked to other FP7 projects presently ongoing at STS. GRACE conducts toxicity studies on animals in a participative setting, whereas PreSto develops a research agenda and implementation plan for a multinational research programme in the field of GMO risk assessment. This research programme will be implemented as an ERA-Net in the context of Horizon 2020.

Contact: Armin Spök

CFCR – Climate Friendly Climate Research

Client: Joint Research Initiative „Climate“, BMWFW 

Cooperation: University of Agricultural Sciences, Vienna (project coordination), Vienna University of Economics, University of Salzburg

Duration: 2013-2014

Content: Climate reseach and research funding support society to cope with the uprecedented challenges of climate change. Paradoxically, the research and research funding sector has even developed a CO2-intensive and thus climate-damaging work style – fueled by rising expectations of international cooperation, cheap flights, and use of recourse-intensive infrastructure.

However, the success of scientific communication goes hand in hand with the credibility of the research, the research process as well as the outsomes. If researchers do not act in accordance with their own findings, their credibility may be compromised in public. The project has set itself on the objective of contributing to a clean research through the reduction of the CO2 footprint in the research system and thereby increase the credibility of science in society.

The project Climate Friendly Climate Research supports the Alliance Sustainable Universities of Austria in the framework of the European Joint Programming Initiative JPI CLIMATE, funded by the BMWFW and in cooperation with the CCCA – Climate Change Centre Austria , in the learning process to a more climate-friendly research and research funding. The project is conducted by scientists of University of Agricultural Sciences (project director: Helga Kromp-Kolb, Adam Pawloff, Dominik Schmitz), the Vienna University of Economics (Tobias Kirchhoff), the University of Salzburg (Bernhard Zagel, David Röthler) and the Alpen-Adria-University Klagenfurt (Günter Getzinger)

More information on the project can be found here.

Contact: Günter Getzinger

Preparatory steps towards a GMO research ERA-Net (PreSto GMO ERA-NET)

Duration: 9/2013-8/2014

Client: European Commission, FP7 (CSA)

Partners: ABI – Agrobioinstitute (Bulgaria), ANCS – The National Authority for Scientific Research (Romania), ANSES – Agence Nationale de Sécurite Sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail (France), BMBF – Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Germany), BMLFUW – Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (Austria), CRAG – Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (Spain), DLO – Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek (The Netherlands), ENEA – National agency for new technologies, Energy and sustainable economic development (Italy), EVD – Eidgenössisches Volkswirtschaftsdepartement – ART Reckenholz-Taenikon (Switzerland), FERA (The Food and Environment Research Agency) (United Kingdom), FORMAS – The Swedish Research Council (Sweden), Genius GmbH – Biotechnologie Beratung und Kommunikation (Germany), IHAR – The Plant Breeding and Acclimatization Institute, National Research Institute (Poland), INRA – Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (France), JKI – Julius Kühn-Institut Bundesforschungsinstitut für Kulturpflanzen, Institute for Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology (Germany), JKI – Julius Kühn-Institut Bundesforschungsinstitut für Kulturpflanzen, Data Processing Unit (Germany), JÜLICH – Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH (Germany), TUBITAK – The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (Turkey), UCSC – Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Italy), UNEW – University of Newcastle upon Tyne (United Kingdom), UNIPR – Universita degli studi di Parma (Italy), UNOTT – The University of Nottingham (United Kingdom), VURV – Crop Research Institute (Czech Republic).

Content: The objective of the PreSto GMO ERA-Net project is to map out the steps needed to create and successfully implement an ERA-Net that will coordinate transnational research on human and animal health, environmental, techno-economic, and socio-economic impacts of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The focus will be on GMOs intentionally released into the environment and/or used immediately in feed and food applications. PreSto GMO ERA-Net brings together ministries, agencies, and funding bodies from different Members States and the scientific community to jointly prepare a strategic plan and roadmap for the implementation of the ERA-Net. In addition, the ERA-Net will explicitly take into account the wider views of a diversity of stakeholders and end-users (e. g. industry, farming organisations, civil society organisations, EU and national competent authorities, funding organisations, academia). This is intended to strengthen ownership of the ERA-Net among stakeholders in order to encourage participation of different scientific communities in the future joint transnational calls, to enhance collaboration between actors and to increase the accountability of research trajectories and outcomes.

The results of the project will form the basis for a robust ERA-Net proposal. In achieving this the project work will promote the accessibility of existing scientific information to interested stakeholders and end-users, lead to the harmonisation of research requirements and capacity building within Europe, complement international developments, contribute to a more efficient use of research funds internationally and identify how strategic collaboration can be used to respond to these future research and training needs through enhancement of durable partnerships.

The Graz unit of Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt is involved in two workpackages. It will lead a workpackage on stakeholder engagement and engage in another workpackage which will develop an implementation plan.

Contact: Armin Spök

GMO Risk Assessment and Communication of Evidence (GRACE)

Client: European Commission, FP7, large-scale collaborative project

Duration: 2012-2015

Partner: Aarhus Universitet (Denmark), Agrobioinstitute (Bulgaria), Centre de Recerca Agrigenòmica Consorci (CRAG) (Spain), Centre for European Policy Studies (Belgium), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (South Africa), Eidgenössisches Volkswirtschaftsdepartment (Switzerland), Freie Universität Berlin (Germany), Genius GmbH (Germany), Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) (France), International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) (Italy), Julius Kühn-Institut (Germany), PERSEUS BVBA (Belgium), Slovenska Zdravotnicka Univerzita v Bratislave (Slovakia), Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek (SDLO-RIKILT) (Netherlands), Sweet Environmental Consultant (UK), Technische Universität München (Germany), United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) (USA).

Content: GRACE pursues two key research objectives: Firstly, it aims to provide comprehensive reviews of the existing evidence on the health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of GM plants – considering both risks and possible benefits. GRACE’s review strategy will go beyond what has been done before. Reviews will be conducted in a systematic, transparent and inclusive way based on procedures originally developed for evidence-based medicine (systematic reviews). The results will be made accessible to the public via an open access database and other channels.

Secondly, GRACE will test various types of animal feeding trials and alternative methods without the use of animals in order to determine how suitable they are and what useful scientific information they provide for health risk assessments of GM food and feed. At present there are different views at the EU level and between Member States on the need for and scientific value of such studies. The project will also check whether extended feeding trials can improve risk assessments compared to in-vitro, in-silico and omics methods available today.

Transparency and user and stakeholder involvement and scrutiny are key features of GRACE. The project will be working closely with representatives from a broad range of stakeholder organisations as well as with professional risk assessors and risk managers. This includes planning and preparing the research activities as well as discussing the results and drawing conclusions. For this purpose, the GRACE project will organise workshops and conduct interviews and surveys and prepare feed-back reports to ensure that the information and the views of stakeholders can feed into this project.

IFZ is leading the work package for user and stakeholder involvement and will also work on the core review process.

For more and updated information see GRACE-Website

Contact: Armin Spök

A3 – fostering energy efficiency and renewable energy in Styrian architectural offices

Client: Zukunftsfonds Steiermark

Partner: Grazer Energieagentur

Duration: 2010-2013

Content: Architects play a crucial role in the construction and restoration of buildings. They influence the decision making process of real estate developers und are responsible for the quality of the planning and construction process. Architectural offices act as change agents for a sustainable lifestyle and sustainability at the work place by fostering their energy efficiency. 60 Styrian architectural offices are consulted about innovative technologies regarding energy efficient behavior and how to increase their use of renewable energy. The architects will be familiarized with future-oriented technologies and will gain advanced knowledge for their work environment.


Contact: Günter Getzinger

DESIRE - The design of the future: materials, shapes, colors and emotions for a successful product

Clients: Interreg IV Italy-Austria and the Carinthian Economic Promotion Fund (KWF)

Partners: Agemont S.p.A. and Certottica, Italy

Duration: 2010-2012

Content: The aim of this project (in cooperation with Italian partners) was the integration of design, innovative materials, color design and ecodesign in the production process of SME. The participating SME has been familiarized with the knowledge, techniques, methods and cultures of industrial design through a transdisciplinary project setting. Thereby the focus of IFZ was on ecodesign and ecological product characteristics. Three separate branches in the transborder area of Austria and Italy where chosen: knife industry (Friuli-Venezia Giulia), glasses industry (Veneto) and carpenters (Carinthia). After a detailed survey of the participating SME environmentally suitable prototypes for each of the branches has been developed. This design process has been a cooperative effort between the SME and designers from Milan, Italy.


Contact: Günter Getzinger


Simulating and Evaluating of better Regulation of Converging Technologies (SEBEROC)

Client: Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management

Cooperation: University of applied Sciences Darmstadt; Finnish Environment Institute SYKE; Universiteit van Amsterdam; University of Cardiff

Duration: 2010-2011

Content: The aim of the proposed research was to test a novel robust method of response management and public engagement in the management and regulation of converging technologies, with a special view on human health and environmental impacts.

A multi-step procedure that combines NGO consultation and focus groups with consumers was deployed to one prospective and one retrospective case of converging technologies. The process design was informed by the concept of responsive regulation that pays particular attention to the ways actors and consumers respond to regulation and handle products due to the incentive structure and/or routine behaviour. The comparative approach with two converging technologies – nanotechnology and genetic engineering – in four countries generated eight cases from which lessons were drawn dialogically by researchers and NGOs.

The project addressed pillar three of the third SKEP call: “response management, including communication and public engagement”, and cross-cutting theme 3: Human health and environmental impacts. While so far no such impacts have actually been observed as an effect of converging technologies (CT), there are wide-spread concerns among experts and the broader public that the possibility of such impacts to occur cannot be ruled out categorically.

Contact: Armin Spök


HELENA – Higher Education Leading to ENgineering And scientific careers

Supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research and the European Commission

Client: EC, FP7-SCIENCE-IN-SOCIETY; Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research

Duration: 2009-2011

Partner: Siauliai University, Lithuania (co-ordinator); Fundacion LABEIN, Spain; Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan, France; Loughborough University, UK; Mihaijlo Pupin Institute, Serbia; Egalité des Chances dans les Etudes et la Profession d’Ingénieur en Europe, France 

Content: HELENA investigates the impact of innovative European engineering degree courses should be proved on the degree of student-populations’ diversity – especially on gender composition. The study will be grounded on empirical research about the implementation of selected pilot institutions of engineering education and research all over Europe. One starting hypothesis is that interdisciplinary engineering degree courses have more women students than so called traditional (mono-disciplinary) degree courses. To prove this, pilot degree courses which embed technology successfully in social contexts will be compared, evaluated and their transfer potentials proved. The aim of this project is to provide indications about how to launch such measures and monitor the obtained results.

Project objectives are:

  1. To identify and analyse relevant interdisciplinary E&T degree courses in different European countries.
  2. To analyse the student’s perception of this interdisciplinary and traditional E&T degree courses.
  3. To evaluate the effectiveness of existing pilot projects, developing and measuring indicators on the relationship between perception and study choice.
  4. To share good practice identified through this experience, producing recommendations on the reorganisation of university curricula at European level (Bologna process).
  5. To disseminate results through a ‘how to’ guidebook and monitoring indicators.

Contact: Christine Wächter


Young people develop and design gender sensitive pictures of people and technology. A participatory technology research project to compile a non-sexist image database.

Client: Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research

Participating schools:

  • HTBLVA – Ortweinschule, Graz, Styria
  • HTL Bulme, Graz Gösting, Styria
  • HLW Schrödinger, Graz, Styria 

Duration: 2009–2010

Content: The primary goal of this project is to empower high school students to analytically reflect images of people and technology. This happens through an analysis of the material regarding the represented gender dimensions in order to gain sensitivity to critically approach this sort of images.

In a first step the participating researchers and high school students will take a closer look at selected photographical material of people and technology. In the following, the high school students select their most favoured images of people in a specific context (images of technical occupations, technical products, etc.) in print media (newspapers, weekly magazines, youth magazines,…) for an in-depth analysis. In this primary analysis of images criteria on what gender-sensitive images should look like are developed.

Through continuous exchange between high school students and researchers the group acquires a common basic knowledge, enabling the high school students to perform field work with the objective to produce gender sensitive images of people and technology in a chosen context. A transdisciplinary approach will be the basis of this process, including future professional photographers who may benefit from this cooperation with the high school students by learning important aspects of gender representations for their own production of images. At the beginning of the project the high school students already have paid high attention to the representation of people, women and men likewise, and technology in images and this enables them to avoid stereotyping people and technology in their self-made images.

Contact: Christine Wächter 

Assessing Socioeconomic Impacts of GMOs – Issues to Consider for Policy Development

Client: Federal Ministry for Health, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment & Water Management

Duration: 2009-2010

Content: Market authorisation in the EU of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and derived food and feed is essentially informed by a scientific risk assessment. There appears to be regulatory leeway to consider other “legitimate factors” beyond human health and environmental risks, though, these issues have not yet been addressed in the decision making process. In November 2008 the EU Council of Environment Ministers agreed to further explore the possibility to explicitly consider socioeconomic issues.

The possible assessment of socioeconomic impacts in the GMO decision making process is a new issue which has neither been explored in the scientific literature nor in policy documents. Thus, the project aimed at supporting policy development in this area in Austria by identifying and characterising key issues associated to the topic. The study investigated the role of socioeconomic considerations in national GMO regulations and international law as well as the possibilities and limitations for establishing socioeconomic assessment at the EU level. By employing and extending on concepts of risk governance the study identified and investigated possible ‘set screws’ in a socioeconomic assessment process and thereby highlighted the importance of an explicit and agreed ‘impact assessment policy’. As a particular challenge, socioeconomic impacts and the normative basis applied in the assessment process as well as derived criteria, are likely to be specific for geographical, socio-cultural and economic regions. This is illustrated by highlighting some specific characteristic of the Austrian context. Based on these investigations conclusions are drawn and recommendations for policy development in Austria are provided.

Contact: Armin Spök

Doing ELSA: an empirical study of ELSA research in practice

Client: BMWF in Zusammenarbeit mit der FFG, Forschungsprojekt im Rahmen des Accompanying Research Programme ELSA within the Austrian Genome Research Programme GEN-AU.

Duration: 2009-2011

Partner: Abteilung Technik- und Wissenschaftsforschung der Fakultät für Interdisziplinäre Forschung und Fortbildung (IFF) der Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt (Projektleitung); Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen) an der Lancaster University; Department of Health Services Research at Copenhagen University/Denmark and Centre for Society and Genomics at the Radboud University in Nijmegen/Netherlands

Content: After more than a decade of ELSA research in Europe, experts in the field now ask how ELSA research feeds into or shapes the agendas of genomics research, professional practices, policy practices and public debate. However, carrying out such engaging research means dealing with human beings who have assumptions about the research process and who react strategically or reflexively towards those who come and ask what genome research is all about. This has major methodological implications for ELSA research. It is therefore our research goal to investigate the ways in which the specific circumstances in which ELSA research is being carried out influences the research process, its findings, and the way the findings are presented. Thus, rather than choosing genome research once more as an object of study, we are shifting the focus of analysis to ELSA research itself.

With the proposed project we aim at investigating empirically the role of ELSA research in the emergence and development of genome research. More specifically, we analyse the ways in which ELSA researchers deal with expectations in their work and how they conceptualise their own part in the research process. Our study will reveal the complex conditions under which ELSA research is carried out and generates its findings and reflect that from a methodological perspective.

Contact: Bernhard Wieser

MOTIVATION – „Promoting positive images of SET in young people“

Client: EU, 7. Rahmenprogramm, „Science in Society“
Coordination Action

Partner: Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Deutschland; Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan, Frankreich; Technical University of Kosice, Slowakei; Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Niederlande; Centre d’Estudis Dona I Societat, Spanien; Aasbacka Ordtjaenst AB, Schweden;

Duration: 2008-2010

Content: Aim of the project MOTIVATION is to compile an exchange between the partner countries in Europe about different factors, which influence the image of sciences and technology. Young people often have obsolete and unattractive job images in their minds and combine these with outdated clichés, whereas their ideas and wishes of professions are not far away from SET education and jobs. Socialisation agents peer group, teachers and media influence this image and the attitudes of young people differently (through information and presentation of role models).

Contact: Christine Wächter

Plant Molecular Farming – Opportunities and Challenges – PMF

Client: European Commission Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technology Studies (IPTS), Seville

Duration: 2007

In plant molecular farming (PMF) plants are genetically modified for the production of single substances, mostly biopharmaceuticals but also other substances of industrial interests such as food supplements, food and feed additives, diagnostics, fine chemicals.

PMF offers production of pharmaceuticals that would be needed in high-volumes at lower costs than presently used production systems applying mammalian cell lines and microbial fermentation. The fact that economic benefits would be greatest if using food crops in the open field cultivation has sparked a fierce debate in the USA and Canada. In recent years a considerable increase in R & D activities and interest in this technology could be observed in the EU.

The study will review technical, policy and socio-economic aspects of PMF. It will identify the companies active and the products in the pipeline, drivers of and possible obstacles to plant molecular farming will be investigated. The scope of the study is not limited to but focussing on R & D and policy activities in the USA, Canada and the EU.

Research report: ftp://ftp.jrc.es/pub/EURdoc/JRC43873.pdf

Contact: Armin Spök

MIKROREIN: Ökologische, gesundheitliche und rechtliche Aspekte von Reinigungsmitteln mit Mikroorganismen als Wirkprinzip (mikrobiologische Reiniger)

Client: Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management  

Duration: 2007-2009

Content: A novel type of detergents used for both household and commercial applications contains living microorganism as active ingredients. These products are supposed to be particularly effective e.g. in odour control and are claimed to be more environmentally sound than conventional chemical products.

A comprehensive compilation of information related to technology, active agents, relevance and prospects, ways and fields of application of these types of products was conducted. Health and environmental risks, as well as environmental benefits were investigated and the possibilities and difficulties to apply existing EU legislation to microbial cleaners were analysed.

The final report (in German language) is available from the website of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (http://www.umweltnet.at/article/articleview/80941/1/7033/). A short version of this report in English is under preparation.

Contact: Armin Spök

ADVANCE - Advanced Training for Women in Scientific Research

Client: EU, 6. Framework Programme, „Science and Society“

Partner: Donau Universität Krems, Austria (Project coordination); Spoleczna Wyzszy szkola przedsiebiorcszszi i zarzadzania, (Academy of Management), Lodz, Poland; Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland; GGeP-The Graduate Gender Programme, University of Utrecht, the Netherlands; South-West University "Neofit Rilski", Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria  

Duration: 2006-2008

Content: Studies confirm that barriers and “male” structures make the path to scientific management positions much longer for women than for their male colleagues. As a result, many women are systematically lost to science in the course of their career – a phenomenon that is known in research as a “leaky pipeline”. Women are therefore caught in a vicious circle: on the one hand, classical male-oriented structures impede promotion; on the other, there are too few role models, both in industry and in the academic sector. As an example, only around 15 percent of scientists employed in European industry are women.

Advancement of women’s careers in science and technology
ADVANCE (Advanced Training for Women in Scientific Research) is intended to counteract this phenomenon and is directed towards women both from universities and from non-university institutes. In cooperation with five partner institutes from Poland, Finland, Austria, the Netherlands and Bulgaria and also – for the first time – in interdisciplinary collaboration with four departments of Danube University Krems, a specific training programme for the participants will be developed, together with a mentoring and coaching programme. The two-year EU project is aimed in particular at women researchers from engineering and science in the pre- and post-doctoral phase. ADVANCE therefore encompasses not only the working and living situation of women active in science and research, but also the structures and conditions of scientific institutions.

Training, Mentoring, Networking
The 456,000-euro project consists of two parts. The core section is the training programme within the framework of a summer school, in which the selected participants will acquire competence in research and management skills according to their needs. A second, key factor of the project comprises the accompanying mentoring and coaching programme. The participants are assigned mentors – in other words experienced scientists – from the partner institutions. Both personal and professional development can be advanced within a mentor-mentee partnership. In addition, the candidates are offered the opportunity of networking.

Contact: Christine Wächter


Empowering Women Engineers Careers in Industrial and Academic Research 

Client: 6th Framework Programme, “Science & Society” Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP)

Partners: CDEFI – Conférence des Directeurs d’Ecoles et Formations d’Ingénieurs (Frankreich, Projekt-Koordination), Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan (Frankreich), INSA – Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon (Frankreich), Bergische Universität Wuppertal (BRD), Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt – IFF/IFZ (Österreich), Technicka Univerzita Kosiciach (Slovakei), Edinburgh University (UK), Helsingin Yliopisto (Finnland), Centre d’Estudis Dona I Societat (Spanien), University of the Aegean (Griechenland), Uppsala Universitet (Schweden), Siauliu Universitetas (Litauen), Mihailo Pupin Institute (Serbien und Montenegro), Orel State Technical University (Russland), Centro de Estudios de la Mujer (Chile), Egalité des Chances dans les Etudes et la Profession d’Ingénieur en Europe (Frankreich), Consulting Engineers Hoeborn (BRD), Schlumberger Ltd. (Frankreich)

Duration: 2005-2007

Content: The aim of PROMETEA is to develop a better understanding of gender issues in engineering and technology research settings, in order to propose effective measures and recommendations to empower women engineers careers in academic and industrial research in Europe. A technological and economical sustainable development depends on the ability to promote a diverse and creative research sector, which is a key issue both in the European and in national research policies. This project will combine existing knowledge with new in-depth pilot studies on women engineers career progression linked to qualitative research work on the experiences of both women and men working in engineering and technology research, using cross-comparison as a research strategy and a longitudinal perspective. It will bring new perspectives on engineering and technology research in itself, with a focus on:

  • Gender dynamics of male and female careers, comparisons between different fields of engineering and their interrelations, recruitment, full-time and part-time, survival curves and tenure, vertical segregation, pay gap, school to work transitions, work-life balance, double careers patterns.
  • Differential effect of organisational cultures on male and female careers.
  • Recognition of excellence in engineering and technology research, impact on female and male careers: the gate-keepers and gate-keeping in research funding committees, women’s and men’s success rates in research funding, analysis of scientific publishing and publicity, patents, experiences of “excellent women” at the top of technological research, prizes and awards in technology and engineering.
  • Identification and evaluation of good practice.

The results will inform the funding bodies, scientific and technological societies, industrial R&D departments and other stakeholders towards greater gender awareness and fairness in recognizing scientific excellence in engineering and technology.

Contact: Christine Wächter

Risk-assessment policies: differences across jurisdictions

Client: GD Joint Research Centres, Institute for Prospective Technology Studies, Seville within the European Science and Technology Observatory (ESTO)  

Partner: Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex; Biotechnology Policy Group, Open University, Milton Keynes; Women’s University Kyoto

Duration: 2005-2006

Contact: Armin Spök

Engineer your Future – Women shaping Technology

Client: Zukunftsfonds der Steiermärkischen Landesregierung

Content:The project aims to support the future potential of Styrian companies by increasing the proportion of highly qualified women in technical occupations. With a mix of methods based on quantitative and qualitative methods, inhibiting and supporting factors for successful female engineering careers are examined first and, based on this, measures developed and implemented in the company. The company is involved in this process right from the start. The success of the project depends not least on the commitment of the company involved. There are win-win situations for both sides, the company and the engineers. By expanding the workforce to highly qualified female engineers, innovation potential and competitive opportunities of innovative Styrian companies are increasing. On the other hand, improved operational conditions for technically qualified women create interesting career opportunities in the region. The project is conceived as a pilot project in the context of the Automobile Cluster, and the experience gained in it will subsequently be made available to other Styrian companies as well.

Partner: AVL List GmbH

Duration: 2003-2004

Contact: Christine Wächter

WomEng - Creating Cultures of Success for Women Engineers

Client: 5th  EU-Framework Programme, Main focus »Improving the Human Potential and the Socio-economic Knowledge Base (IHP)«  

Cooperation: CDEFI Paris (Coordination); INSA Lyon; Bergische Universität Wuppertal; University of Stirling; Technische Universität Kosice; EDEM; WiTEC, Finnland

Duration: 2002-2005

Content: Women are currently under-represented in all areas of engineering and many years of effort to attract more young women into engineering careers have met with only limited success. This project aims to identify and compare the personal, educational and socio-cultural factors that influence women’s and men’s choices towards engineering at key stages in their lives, and their success or lack of persistence. Qualitative and quantitative methods have been applied to investigate hindering and supporting factors for successful engineering careers of women.

Contact: Christine Wächter

Übersicht: Auswahl abgeschlossener Projekte

Modelling Health (MH) (8008) - Computer Modelling for Better Health

FoTRRIS - Fostering a Transition towards Responsible Research and Innovation Systems


Colon cancer - Therapy precision to be improved

GMP Two Year Safety Testing (G-TwYST)

Preparatory steps towards a GMO research ERA-Net (PreSto GMO ERA-NET)

GMO Risk Assessment and Communication of Evidence (GRACE)

Ahoch3 – fostering energy efficiency and renewable energy in Styrian architectural offices

DESIRE - The design of the future: materials, shapes, colors and emotions for a successful product

Simulating and Evaluating of better Regulation of Converging Technologies (SEBEROC)

HELENA – Higher Education Leading to ENgineering And scientific careers


Assessing Socioeconomic Impacts of GMOs – Issues to Consider for Policy Development

Doing ELSA: an empirical study of ELSA research in practice

MOTIVATION – „Promoting positive images of SET in young people“

Plant Molecular Farming – Opportunities and Challenges – PMF

MIKROREIN: Ökologische, gesundheitliche und rechtliche Aspekte von Reinigungsmitteln mit Mikroorganismen als Wirkprinzip (mikrobiologische Reiniger)

ADVANCE - Advanced Training for Women in Scientific Research


Risk-assessment policies: differences across jurisdictions

Engineer your Future – Women shaping Technology

WomEng - Creating Cultures of Success for Women Engineers