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AIT Alpbach 2023

AIT – Premium Partner of the European Forum Alpbach

The AIT Austrian Institute of Technology is a leading Austrian research institute at the highest international level that focuses on technological developments in the "grand challenges" with an emphasis on infrastructure topics of the future. In doing so, the AIT supports the economy and society in particular with technological competences as well as with research and development in the areas of climate protection and digitalisation. With our research, we succeed in advancing socially relevant, future-oriented infrastructure topics in order to make the world a safer and more sustainable place.

The AIT is uniquely associated with the European Forum Alpbach as a current premium partner, 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. Within the framework of this long-standing partnership, the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology has undergone the major transformation steps that have now led to the dissolution of all the individual talks into a superordinate whole, the European Forum Alpbach with four modules. The current positioning as a premium partner describes the new relationship between the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology and the European Forum Alpbach. The AIT is Austria's largest research and technology organisation.


Formats hosted by the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology at EFA 23

Bold People for a Bold Europe: How to attract and retain talent

Monday, 28. August, 9.00–12.00 pm, CCA, Hayek Saal 

supported by Forschung Austria

The EFA23 annual theme "Bold Europe" suggests that Europe must contribute to shaping the world with more courage. A bold Europe requires bold people. How do we attract, develop and then retain these talented people?

Irmela Kofler (Area Manager „Decarbonisation and Sector Coupling”, K1-MET GmbH)

Christof Gattringer (President, Austrian Science Fund FWF)

Antje Kückemanns (Head of department, HR-Development, Fraunhofer)

Moderation: Siegfried Reich (Director, Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft m.b.H.)



From "Climate Anxiety" to climate action

The psychological effects of the climate crisis are becoming increasingly apparent in society: Feelings of being overwhelmed, guilt, sadness or even despair are summarised as Climate Anxiety. In order to be able to act again, we need to regain control of the situation. How can stories be told to create hope, scope for action and motivation to act? In short: How can Climate Anxiety become climate action?

MOnday, 28. August, 2.00 – 3.30 pm, Hotel Post, Seminarraum 

supported by Environment Agency Austria and Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology

Milena Bister (Postdoc-Researcher, University of Vienna)

Henriette Spyra (Head of Innovation und Technology, Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation & Technology)

Eva Horn (Professor for Cultural and Literacy studies, University of Vienna)

Jan Kamensky (Artist, Visual Utopias) 

Moderation: Verena Ehold (Managing director, Umweltbundesamt - Environment Agency Austria) 



Deep-Tech-Innovation – Shaping Europe's Future

Tuesday, 29. August, 9.00–10.30 am, Alphof – Speisesaal

supported by VFFI Verein zur Förderung der Forschung

Deep-tech innovations such as AI, space, quantum technology, advanced materials, novel energy and biotechnology will have a decisive impact on our future. In the global race for technological leadership, Europe must consistently focus on developing key technologies, accelerating deep-tech innovations and bringing the latter to market faster. To this end, strong multi-stakeholder ecosystems are crucial to combine the forces of cutting-edge science and research, business and venture capital.

Thomas Klem Andersen (Allianz Manager, DeepTech Alliance)

Daniela Buchmayr (CEO, Sarcura) 

Isabella Hermann-Schön (Managing Partner, CFO Round2 Capital Partners)

Georg Kopetz (Co-Founder,Supervisory Board, TTTech Computertechnik AG) 

Robert Axmann (Head of, DLR Quantencomputing-Initiative)

Moderation: Markus Wanko (Founder and Managing Partner, xista)


Building Trust In Science And Democracy – The Role Of Science Communication

In the face of disinterest and increasing scepticism towards science and democracy, it is necessary to ask what can be done to restore trust in these factors that are crucial for our society. The results of a recent study by the Institute for Advanced Studies on the causes of scepticism about science and democracy will be discussed along the role of science communication.

Tuesday, 29. August, 2.00–3.30 pm, Alphof - Speisesaal

supported by Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and Austrian Science Fund

Sylvia Kerschbaum-Gruber (Research Scientist, Medical University of Vienna) 

Martin Polaschek (Federal Minister for Education, Science and Research, Republic of Austria) 

Johannes Starkbaum (Leading Scientist, Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS))

Helga Nowotny (Former President, European Research Council)

Markus Blume (Bavarian Minister of State for Science and Arts)

​Moderation: Christof Gattringer (President, Austrian Science Fund FWF)



Technology and Geostrategy: Bold Europe 

As the current crises prove, innovations are more important than ever to address our major challenges, from decarbonisation to digitalisation and demographic change. At the same time, technology has become a geostrategic instrument: Those who lead the way in future technologies leave their mark on the world. Europe is wedged between the major power blocs USA and China, who are forcefully pushing development. The central question is how Europe can leverage its strengths and consolidate its position in the world.

Tuesday, 29. August, 6.00–7.30 pm, Böglerhof

Hannes Androsch (Vice-Chancellor, ret., Industrial) 

Franz Fischler (EU-Commissioner, ret.) 

Moderation: Alexandra Föderl-Schmid (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

AIT Gartenfest

Meet the Technology Community

The AIT Austrian Institute of Technology in Alpbach traditionally invites guests to the AIT Gartenfest every year. Under the motto "Meet the Technology Community", this event is an annual fixture in the calendar of numerous politicians, researchers, heads of research institutions, representatives of innovative companies and top representatives in administration, funding institutions and interest groups.

Alpbach-Yearbook “Discussing Technology” 2023

Shaping the green and digital transformation 

As a scientific prelude to the debates at the European Forum Alpbach, the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology is publishing the yearbook "Discussing Technology" - now for the seventh time. This year the yearbook is dedicated to the topic "Shaping the green and digital Transformation".

The world is undergoing a profound transformation process. The EU has coined the term "twin transition" for the digital and "green" transformation that is currently taking place in parallel. The aim is to reduce CO2 emissions and resource consumption while at the same time enabling a more sustainable and efficient way of living, working and producing through digitalisation. This entails complex changes and requires numerous innovations.

In contributions by Hannes Androsch, Gudrun Haindlmaier, Wolfgang Hribernik, Martin Kugler, Karl-Heinz Leitner, Helmut Leopold, Alexandra Millonig, Petra Schaper Rinkel and Matthias Weber, in addition to general aspects, numerous specific areas are discussed in which the transformation manifests itself - from the "energy turnaround" and intelligent urbanisation to new forms of mobility and production and topics such as the circular economy, geopolitics and the role of the sciences and the arts. In particular, current development trends and the possibilities for shaping the transformation will be illuminated.


Service: Main Focus of Contents 


In the prologue of the Yearbook, Hannes Androsch argues that a successful ecological and digital transformation is a central prerequisite for resolving the "tragedy of the planetary commons" - i.e. for taking care of the planetary commons (such as the atmosphere, oceans, water supply, forests, etc.), without whom there is no global common good. Currently, there is no one who cares, beyond self-interest, about the overall interests of the planet. Geopolitically, the world is currently marked by a struggle between China and the USA for supremacy. For Europe, a successful "Twin Transition" offers the chance to consolidate or even improve its role in the world. Technologies are of crucial importance here - on the one hand, because they have potential for solving many global challenges, and on the other, because technologies are increasingly becoming an object of geopolitical conflict: Whoever is technologically ahead today will leave their mark on the world in the future.

Read the whole prologue here


Dynamics and governance of transformations

Innovation researcher Matthias Weber explains that transformations always occur when the tensions between different social developments - such as technological, economic or social - become too great. This can either manifest itself in massive system disruptions or even collapses, which in turn force major changes in the social and economic system or allow a readiness for structural changes. Or one can consciously and with foresight try to adapt systems structurally and institutionally in such a way that system disruptions do not occur. It is not possible to keep transformations under control and manage them in detail. But you can define certain guard rails between which there is room for dynamic development in which new things can emerge.

Read the full interview here


Urban transformation

Urban spaces play a major role in transformations. In the eyes of urban researcher Gudrun Haindlmaier, this is because it is relatively easy to reach critical masses for change in cities - whereby direct contact between people and a corresponding pressure to act are essential. The goal must be profound changes at the process and structural levels. To support urban transformation processes, a whole range of instruments has been developed in recent years, at the core of which is the participation of a wide variety of stakeholders and actors. For success, it is crucial to integrate multipliers and gatekeepers for specific target groups.

Read the full interview here


Energy transition

In the ongoing transformation of our energy system ("Energiewende"), the next important step, in the eyes of energy researcher Wolfgang Hribernik, is to look at the many different sectors together. In addition to the decided phase-out of coal and oil, the current need to get out of natural gas also brings with it a strong electrification. On the one hand, this is a challenge for the development of renewable energy sources and the corresponding infrastructure. On the other hand, there is more intensive sector coupling - for example between electricity and heat (via heat pumps) or between energy and process materials (such as hydrogen or the utilisation of CO2). In all areas - from transport to buildings to industry - major interventions in existing infrastructures are necessary. In large research projects, such as the NEFI (New Energy for Industry) innovation network, concrete technologies are currently being tested and roadmaps or transformation paths are being developed.

Read the full interview here


Mobility turnaround

The mobility researcher Alexandra Millonig points out that the transformation of the mobility system ("mobility turnaround") is an immensely large task, the extent and urgency of which many people are not yet aware of. This is because the required strong reduction of CO2 emissions cannot be achieved by switching to low-emission or zero-emission means of transport alone. What is needed is a much broader view of mobility - of the questions why we travel such long distances in the first place and how we can minimise daily journeys. Numerous research projects have developed individual mobility budgets and minimum mobility standards that are in line with climate goals. In Millonig's eyes, the top priority in the "mobility turnaround" is to improve local accessibility for everyday things (including a possible shift to the virtual). The remaining need for mobility must then be met as sustainably as possible.

Read the whole article here


Digital transformation

For digitalisation expert Helmut Leopold, the ongoing digital transformation is not so much about complicated technology, but rather about shaping technology so that it has real added value. The decisive factor is therefore the design of the technology and its correct use ("technology shaping"). Leopold sees fear of change as the biggest enemy of a sensible digital transformation. On the contrary, he says, one has to deal with the technologies and build up know-how for a sovereign use of technology. This requires intensive cooperation between all participants. Such ecosystems of people, institutions and organisations with similar interests, a certain willingness to take risks and a common will to shape things are, moreover, essential innovation drivers to mitigate the existing dependence on Chinese and US technology corporations and to increase Europe's technology sovereignty.

Read the full interview here


Industrial transformation

The goals of decarbonisation make a major transformation of industry necessary. Innovation researcher Karl-Heinz-Leitner sees major differences between this and "industrial transformation" as it has been understood up to now: On the one hand, it is now about a targeted conversion of production and all processes under great time pressure - the drivers are politics and customers. Secondly, many branches of industry are being challenged simultaneously, but in different ways. Moreover, the industrial transformation requires the development of new infrastructures and the coordination of different policy fields. Leitner argues that this complex systemic change should also be seen as an opportunity to develop product innovations with the new processes, which can be used to open up new markets and finance the necessary investments. In Leitner's view, Austria's industry is well positioned for this transformation. However, one has to worry about those companies that are already hardly innovative or not innovative at all.

Read the whole article here


Role of sciences and arts

The innovation researcher and designated rector of the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Petra Schaper-Rinkel, sees an integrative understanding of the world that can be generated from sciences and arts as essential for shaping the upcoming transformations. She argues for seeing sciences (including their productive opposition) not only as a method for systematic knowledge generation, but also as creative and inventive practices to develop sustainable and democratic options for the future. Such "futures" are the basis for designing socio-technical transformation and innovation paths. Appropriate space should be given to this scientifically and artistically supported speculation. Schaper-Rinkel suggests open and public algorithmic platforms as a great help for transformation.

Read the full interview here


Yearbooks from the series „Discussing Technology“ published so far

2017 Digitalisation

We are in a time of upheaval between the industrial and digital revolutions. The new challenges posed by algorithms, big data, machine learning and robots cannot be solved by falling back on the past. What is needed are new ideas, new approaches and innovations. You can download the book as a PDF here.


2018 Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence could be of greater importance than the taming of fire or electricity, according to many experts. The development cannot be stopped, we must face it and shape the framework conditions proactively and in a forward-looking way. You can download the book as a PDF here.

2019 Cybersecurity

The more work digital technologies do for us, the more dependent we become on them - and the worse it gets when they fail, are manipulated or attacked. The publication is dedicated to cybersecurity and the relationship between security and freedom. You can download the book as a PDF here.

2020 Complex Systems

Many people perceive the world as increasingly complex and confusing. Not least the Corona pandemic showed the close interconnection of the most diverse areas, which also results in a high susceptibility to disruptions. Hand in hand with this, the major challenges for humanity are growing - such as demographic development, climate change and digitalisation. All these problem areas are systemic in nature and can no longer be tackled by conventional means. This yearbook is dedicated to new perspectives and approaches to better understand and manage complex systems. You can download the book as a PDF here.

2022 Applying AI

Artificial intelligence is no longer just a topic for the future. Rather, AI methods are permeating more and more areas of our lives and work. And they are also enabling major advances in science, research and technology development. Using numerous examples of concrete applications, including from the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology and other domestic research facilities, the book shows where we currently stand in the application of AI in various domains. You can download the book as a PDF here.