University of Vienna – knowledge for the future

On the occasion of its 650th Anniversary, the University of Vienna took the opportunity to give the public an insight into the work at the University and therefore to show the social and economic impact and strength of this work. Based on the positive response from the public, the University sees a clear mandate to continue some of these activities in the coming years.

"To ask the right questions is essential, in particular at times when there are repeatedly new challenges arising, so that the answers and the development of society can be geared towards the future. This is why Austria and Europe need strong universities which can act with economic and political independence."

Heinz W. Engl, Rector of the University of Vienna

Important connection to society

Based on its potential in research and teaching, the University of Vienna can contribute to the development of society in many different ways: in the narrower sense, by fulfilling its core tasks, i.e. by generating new knowledge (research) and communicating knowledge (initial and continuing education), and also with the jobs and study places created in this context and the generated added value. In the broader sense, the University has the role of a store of knowledge, for instance with its libraries, makes this knowledge widely available and transfers university-based knowledge to society and the economy. The University’s work also includes active communication and interaction with the economy, society, the public and policymakers in any case.


The University of Vienna therefore wants to set new priorities in particular in two areas in the next few years:


Connecting research and teaching more closely with social commitment

Starting in the anniversary year, the University of Vienna wants to boost the activities that deal with topics relevant to society in projects and courses. To enable economic growth and social development, it is important to generate innovative ideas and also to put these into practice. In this respect a university education, irrespective of the chosen degree programme, is good preparation. After all, in addition to specialist knowledge it also teaches general competences such as analytical skills, joined-up thinking and language skills. During studies, the University already wants to strengthen the connection to society and increase the practical relevance of the study contents. It also wants to become involved in initiatives that educate people by providing a deliberate link between academic knowledge and practical involvement (service learning). Therefore, in university-based teaching.


From the innovation chain to the innovation cycle

The University of Vienna also wants to become more open towards the economy in the region and create stronger links with it. Knowledge transfer centres aim to further improve the cooperation of universities with other research establishments and, in particular, with companies and make it easier to transfer academic findings into economic practice. The University of Vienna has a leading role in the Life Science Transfer Centre in which research competences in this field in Austria are pooled together with the involvement of companies. Working together with experts in practice gives vital inspiration to the University and, in turn, this helps with the further development of basic research. The new contacts can lead to further interdisciplinary and intersectoral projects and also strategic partnerships with companies. In this way, existing linear models of an innovation chain are replaced by an innovation cycle.

Answers for the world of tomorrow & beyond – Futurelab

visitors at the Futurelab exhibition
The Futurelab was dedicated to the academic challenges of tomorrow.

As part of the Campus Festival, the University presented its research achievements. The Futurelab was dedicated to the academic challenges of tomorrow. This means that, as well as greater visibility for the University of Vienna and its role in society, the second major goal of the anniversary year – a look towards the future – was dealt with appropriately. The statements of the researchers are an invitation to immerse oneself in a world of tomorrow that is full of fascinating questions for which there are many – or in some cases no – answers available.

A time capsule for the future

Rector Heinz W. Engl locks the time capsule
Rector Heinz W. Engl locks the time capsule

The burial of the anniversary time capsule was a successful way to end an eventful and prosperous university year. In 2065 the University of Vienna will celebrate its 700th Anniversary - then our successors will open the time capsule again. In addition to a message from Rector Heinz W. Engl to the Rectorate of the future, the time capsule contains publications addressing the 650th Anniversary. These publications include "Wien 1365. Creating a University", "Die monumentale Universität", "1365-2015-2065. ‘Once there was a Student’: Other Stories of the University of Vienna" and "Sie nannten sich der Wiener Kreis".