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As a premium partner of the European Forum Alpbach, the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology gathered the technology community in the Tyrolean mountains through numerous activities and facilitated high-level discussions around burning issues of the future.

Times are changing. And they are changing rapidly. The world is facing numerous major challenges, for example in terms of climate change, digitalisation and geopolitical upheavals, and must undergo transformations that are vital for survival. The European Forum Alpbach, which has been bringing together the brightest minds in Austria, Europe and the world each year since 1945, is also changing and has moved out of its traditional format - instead of the previous individual discussions (business, politics, technology, etc.), four thematic tracks (climate protection, democracy, security and finance) have been introduced, which ran through the entire programme. The AIT Austrian Institute of Technology is uniquely associated with the European Forum Alpbach, as it has organised the Alpbach Technology Talks together with ORF Radio Österreich 1 as an integral part of the European Forum Alpbach for more than 35 years. This year, the AIT is acting as a premium partner within the framework of this long-standing partnership and is helping to organise numerous events on the topic of technology in Alpbach.

New three-member management team of the AIT introduced itself

There are also constant changes at the AIT itself. This became clear in two ways at a press talk hosted by the Institute at the Fuggerstube of Hotel Böglerhof in Alpbach: On the one hand, AIT Supervisory Board Chairman Peter Schwab presented the AIT's new three-member management team - Brigitte Bach, Andreas Kugi and Alexander Svejkovsky - to the media for the first time. Secondly, they jointly outlined the main features of the AIT's future strategy. "The AIT has undergone excellent development over the past ten to 15 years. Now we are undergoing tremendous transformations, and the AIT must also develop accordingly. We want to help develop a climate-neutral, digitalised, competitive and resilient economy and the infrastructure needed for this," Schwab quoted from the AIT's current shareholder vision. Brigitte Bach emphasised that the AIT particularly wants to be a "change agent" that supports the transformation at different stages: "We want to climb to the next level of effectiveness: We need to adapt topics even faster, cooperate more strongly in an inter- and transdisciplinary way and approach business partners even more specifically in order to initiate pilot and implementation projects," said Bach. "The AIT is an essential link between research on the one hand and applications in industry and the public sector on the other," emphasised Andreas Kugi. In order to further strengthen its role in the innovation chain, cooperation with universities, interdisciplinarity and internationalisation - for example in recruiting - are to be intensified. Despite all the current economic challenges, the AIT remains committed to major investment projects, Alexander Svejkovsky emphasised. "Our contribution to a resilient and sustainable economy requires that we operate laboratory infrastructures to be able to develop our topics."

Traditional AIT garden party as a hotspot

A traditional fixture in the programme of many Alpbach visitors was the AIT Gartenfest - which this time, due to the rainy weather, was held as a "party with a view of the garden". This did not dampen the mood in the rooms of the Hotel Alpbacher Hof: after welcoming words by the owner representatives - Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler and IV President Georg Knill - and AIT Supervisory Board Chairman Peter Schwab, Brigitte Bach, Andreas Kugi and Alexander Svejkovsky also introduced themselves to the numerous technology community and held many intensive discussions in a relaxed atmosphere with drinks and finger food.

Digital sovereignty

AIT also provided a variety of accents in terms of content as a host of discussion events on burning issues of the future: At the invitation of the AIT and the Gaia-X Hub Austria, interdisciplinary experts from all over Europe discussed the topic of digital sovereignty in a three-day workshop during the Lab Week at the start of this year's Forum Alpbach. The focus lied on securing European values and Europe's global competitiveness in the digital space. In an open discourse, today's global data world was analysed in terms of self-determination based on European values, while at the same time releasing the best possible innovation potential in the digital space. Based on this, recommendations for the future design of the data economy in Europe were developed.

Intensive discussions in workshops and chats

At the workshop "Bold people for a bold Europe: Finding and retaining talent", experts from Forschung Austria - including Christof Gattringer (FWF President) and Antje Kückemanns (HR Development, Fraunhofer) - discussed one of Europe's greatest challenges: how to attract talented people, develop them and retain them. Because without courageous people, a courageous Europe - in line with this year's Forum Alpbach motto "Bold Europe" - is unthinkable.

The increasingly clear psychological effects of the climate crisis were discussed in the workshop "From "Climate Anxiety to Constructive Action" by a select group of discussants put together by the Federal Environment Agency and the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK): Among others, Henriette Spyra (section head at the BMK) and the two researchers at the University of Vienna, Eva Horn and Milena Bister, developed on new narratives that create hope and room for manoeuvre and motivate action - instead of being paralysed by feelings of being overwhelmed, guilt, sadness or despair.

Möglichkeiten zur Beförderung sogenannter Deep-Tech-Innovationen, wie z. B. KI, Raumfahrt, Quantentechnologie, fortgeschrittene Werkstoffe, neuartige Energie und Biotechnologie, standen im Zentrum eines Workshops, bei dem der VFFI Verein zur Förderung der Forschung in der Industriellenvereinigung wichtige Player von Innovations-Ökosystemen zusammenbrachte – von Unterhmer:innen bis hin zu Finanzorganisationen, unter ihnen Georg Kopetz (TTTech) oder Robert Axmann (DLR Quantencomputing-Initiative).

A workshop under the aegis of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) and the Austrian Science Fund dealt with trust in science and the role of science communication for democracy. Federal Minister Martin Polaschek, Johannes Starkbaum (researcher at the IHS), Helga Nowotny (former ERC President) and many others explored the causes of the - unfortunately - widespread scepticism about science and democracy in Austria and drew up positive scenarios for the future.

Transformation in focus

In addition, the AIT organised a discussion between Hannes Androsch, industrialist and former Vice-Chancellor, and Franz Fischler, former EU Commissioner and President of the Forum Alpbach. Moderated by Alexandra Föderl-Schmid, deputy editor-in-chief of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the two experienced discussants analysed Europe's role in a world characterised by technology wars and geostrategic wrangling and formulated advice on how Europe could play a more prominent role.

The participants were also provided with this year's Forum Alpbach yearbook "Discussing Technology", which this time dealt with the topic "Shaping the green and digital Transformation". (Free download)

Marie Theres Raberger (Head of Recruiting & HR Development at AIT), Oby Ezekwesili (former Nigerian Minister and Vice President of the World Bank) and Sabine Bothe (Group Head of People & Culture, Erste Bank) were among those who addressed the more than 500 scholarship holders from all over the world who enter into dialogue with established experts at the European Forum Alpbach every year: The "Talente Forum" focused on inspirations for personal development and the chances of getting a job in an exciting company.


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