A Report on the 16th Forschungsforum der österreichischen Fachhochschulen
Under the motto “Connecting Research”, this year’s Forschungsforum was dedicated to research’s ability to connect. In 6 thematic tracks, approximately 350 researchers from all Austrian universities of applied sciences gathered at the St. Pölten UAS to exchange their views on the matter.
As part of the conference, the St. Pölten UAS organised a programme item by and for students and introduced its Center for Artificial Intelligence.
Research as a Connecting Element
It connects questions and solutions. It connects people: researchers from various disciplines, young talents and senior experts, developers and users, experts and citizen scientists. Also, research connects across country borders. In approximately 150 presentations and 13 interactive formats, the participants of the conference discussed how this can be achieved.
“We are happy that the Forschungsforum der Österreichischen Fachhochschulen is hosted by our UAS in St. Pölten in collaboration with the Austrian Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (FHK) for the first time. This shows the excellence and variety of applied research at the Austrian universities of applied sciences. It renders important work visible – which is indispensable for responding to societal questions and solving social problems in the coming decades – and, at the same time, highlights the important unity of teaching and research and the great potential of knowledge transfer in close connection with society, economy, and other research partners throughout Europe. Against the background of this performance exhibition, it is even more regrettable that the new development and financing plan of the BMBWF in no way acknowledges the significance and success of research in the UAS sector”, says Hannes Raffaseder, CEO of the St. Pölten UAS.
“The enthusiasm and high motivation of our researchers, especially the junior researchers, impress me and fill me with pride again and again at every Forschungsforum. From the FHK’s perspective, it is therefore also important to ensure those framework conditions that our many motivated and committed researchers deserve. The current development and financing plan for the UAS sector suggests that the BMBWF is not responsible for research – which is entirely unacceptable against this backdrop. We will therefore continue to campaign for the sustainable funding of research, for attractive career outlooks in research, and the associated structural measures including the establishment of independent PhD programmes at the universities of applied sciences”, emphasises FHK president Ulrike Prommer.
Diverse Programme and International Keynotes
The 6 thematic tracks of the conference were dedicated to the topics of society, regions, sustainability, technology, business & innovation, and talents. One of the panel items was the presentation of European Universities. Among them is the alliance E³UDRES² (Engaged European Entrepreneurial University as Driver for European Smart and Sustainable Regions), which is coordinated by the St. Pölten UAS. Other panels addressed data science, smart farming, sustainable mobility, security in artificial intelligence, and health topics.
The keynotes were held by John Edwards, Secretary-General of EURASHE (the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education) on the role of UAS for “Smart Specialisation”, and Jens Schneider, Vice President of TU Darmstadt and designated President of TU Wien from October 2023, on the topic “Regional bis global: Zur Gestaltung von integrativen Innovations-Ökosystemen um Universitäten und Hochschulen“.
Panel Discussion on Security of Universities of Applied Sciences
One panel discussion addressed the future and financial security of universities of applied sciences.
- FHK president Ulrike Prommer;
- Viktoria Weber, Vice-Rector for Research and Sustainable Development at the University for Continuing Education Krems;
- Eva Werner, Vice President of AQ Austria;
- Karim Khakzar, President of Fulda University of Applied Sciences;
- Elmar Pichl, Head of the UAS Section at the BMBWF, and
- Eric Veulliet, Vice President of the Bavarian Universities of Applied Sciences and President of Hochschule Weihenstephan.
- The panel was moderated by Karin Bauer from the newspaper “Der Standard”.
Center for Artificial Intelligence
Within the framework of the Forschungsforum, the St. Pölten UAS presented its new Center for Artificial Intelligence, which combines the UAS’ expertise from various disciplines and develops AI solutions from the basics to their practical application. The new centre covers a wide range of fundamental AI methods to the implementation of innovative AI-based applications across the boundaries of disciplines. Research is conducted in these five topic focus areas: Human-Centred AI, Trustworthy AI, Multimedia AI, AI Engineering, and AI Economics.
“Through our work, we strive to promote AI research and use innovative approaches to generated noticeable advantages for individuals, companies, society, and the environment“, says Torsten Priebe, head of the research group Data Intelligence and one of the new centre’s coordinators.
“Our central approach is to establish a mutual understanding through collaborative learning of humans and AI, thereby creating trust in AI and transparency. In addition, we want to adopt a critical attitude towards AI and focus on current problems of this new and much-praised technology”, adds Matthias Zeppelzauer, head of the research group Media Computing and another coordinator of the new centre.
Programme Item by and for Students
Under the track “Connecting Talents. Forschung verbindet: Talente“, the St. Pölten UAS organised a programme item for students on the topic of artificial intelligence: The digital transformation is becoming increasingly important in our everyday lives, not only in the form of artificial intelligence. Researchers and innovators are more and more committed to digital topics and data. Application areas are manifold: self-driving cars, smart assistants, the moderation of social media sites, video games, etc. And the people working on the topic are just as diverse as the issue itself.
In this thematic thread, the young generation of scientists had the opportunity to present their ideas and research. The track was organised by students of the Department of Computer Science and Security of the St. Pölten UAS.
The next Forschungsforum der Österreichischen Fachhochschulen in 2024 will take place at the IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems.