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ISTA benefits from a new tax break for donations

ISTA benefits from a new tax break for donations

High-level research requires appropriate funding – especially if you specialize in basic research such as the Institute of Science and Technology (ISTA) in Klosterneuburg. In less than 20 years, the institute has gained international fame.

Since 2006, the number of research areas and scholars has increased, and with them the entire campus. This is possible thanks to core funding from the state and federal government, ISTA President Martin Hetzer said on Monday afternoon at a joint media event with Finance Minister Magnus Brunner (ÖVP) and State Governor Johanna Mikkel-Leitner (ÖVP). However, additional private capital is needed for special research projects. Taking advantage of this has become easier thanks to the recent change in the law at the end of last year.

Hetzer cited the work of young scientists as an example: “Young scientists often need the courage to open up completely new areas of research, and this is often not possible with public funding.” In this context, he talks about the gap created by the Non-Profit Reform Law, which was closed in December and would have hurt science in Austria compared to other major international research institutions.

Since the new regulations came into effect, it is now possible for local scientific companies to more easily “build and expand their philanthropic backbone.” This refers to voluntary private payments for a charitable purpose – in his case to an ISTA.

Private capital is not allocated for a specific purpose

According to Hetzer, legal reform has a double positive impact on funding research projects. On the one hand, it is now easier to attract private capital, which is also available for “risky research projects.” In addition, it is now possible to establish non-profit research institutions, as has long been the case in other countries – for example at Harvard and Stanford (both in the USA) or at the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel).

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It is indisputable that Hetzer's legal reform has now made the availability of private funds for research purposes more attractive. Among other things, the annual donor cap has been abolished and, on the other hand, it is now possible “that the foundation's capital need not be used in a timely manner, thus enabling the long-term accumulation of wealth, the proceeds of which can flow back into research.”

When asked whether donors would allocate their funds to specific research projects, the ISTA president answered in the negative: “We decide internally which research areas we support.”

Investing in science is like investing in business

Finance Minister Brunner stressed that investing in science – whether through the public sector or with the help of private funds – is certainly worthwhile. Every euro spent here increases GDP by six euros in the long run. This applies to both public and private funds: “Europe will never have the cheapest energy, we will never have the most raw materials or the cheapest labour. But what we can have are the brightest and brightest minds.

If you are in competition with Harvard, Stanford or the Weizmann Institute, “you need similar framework conditions,” says Gov. Johanna Mikkel-Leitner. Legal reform has now brought this with it. This will make it possible to “continue generating funds through the non-profit package and also be able to provide sustainable financing.”

However, ISTA in Klosterneuburg has grown significantly over the past 20 years – from 37 employees in the beginning to 1,000 now. The institute includes more than 80 research groups that include scientists from 80 countries. And if you look at the ever-growing campus, where more construction work is currently being done for upcoming projects, the growth may not have an end yet. Scientific institutions do not like to be measured by their size, they prefer to be measured by prizes and prizes. Secure financing is at least the basis for obtaining this.

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