The basis of the FORTE programme
The Defense Research Programme primarily serves the preservation and expansion of the military capability to innovate. As opposed to the current research scheme within the ÖBH (commissioned research and department internal research), FORTE is conducted as a classic research promotion programme in the range of competitive research – with the distinctive feature, that the programme responsibility as well as the financing lies with the BMLRT, whilst the BMLV provides the thematic expertise. Therefore, FORTE presents a joint implementation task for the BMLRT and the BMLV.
This results in a broad research spectrum, from security and threat analysis to finished products, services and consultation offers for military threat prevention and defense.
The annexation of the Krim by Russia, the constant instability in the Middle East and a renewed arms race between the USA and China in the Pacific ruined every hope of a global disarmament in the near future after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The European Union reacted to this realization by implementing the European Defense Fund – EDF, which, starting 2021, will support joint defense projects of Member States in the field of Research and Development.
Austria, too, has recognized the need for the development of improved military capacities through research. FORTE, therefore, on one hand should increase the number of Austrian research contributions in the field of defense technology and on the other hand improve the chances of Austrian participants at the EDF.
The term „FORTE“
FORTE stands for “FORschung & TEchnologie” (Research & Technology) and therefore represents the intention to increase Austrian defense readiness and to improve military capabilities through research contributions.
Programme responsibility and Programme management
The programme responsibility for the Austrian Defense Research Funding Programme FORTE lies with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism (BMLRT). The BMLRT assigned the programme management to the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG).
Goal 1: Increasing Austrian defense readiness by means of research contributions in the field of defense technology to improve military capabilities. The Austrian Defense Research Funding Programme ensures contributions that are relevant to research, primarily in the field of defense technology, supporting the military task fulfillment.
- the specific military needs for future resilient armed forces are covered
- the creation of the necessary defense policy knowledge to further increase the innovative capability of the ÖBH is driven forward
- an increase and acceleration (parallel instead of sequential) of militarily requested research-output is ensured
Goal 2: The positioning of the Austrian Armed Forces as partner of economy, as well as RTO/ university research institutes.
The Austrian Defense Research Funding Programme positions the BMLV and the ÖBH as partner of economy for research, innovation and technology development beyond KIRAS.
- The expansion of the mutual knowledge base and the development of other networks are achieved
- A contribution to the strengthening of defense research in regard to excellence is accomplished
- The expansion of the mutual appreciation and an increase in the foundation of trust with civil research actors is pursued
Goal 3: Improvement of the chances of Austrian participants in the international competition concerning defense research (EU research programmes).
Due to the defense research programme the national defense-research-competences (amongst others because of the establishment of defense-research-clusters (DRC)) are enhanced in a way, that keeps or rather makes national research institutes competitive on the international level in defense research (EU research programmes).
- An active participation of national research institutes within the newly set up national defense research clusters,
- An increased creation of defense research projects and
- A more intensive participation by national research institutes in the international programmes, which are relevant for defense research (e.g. PADR, EDRP, EDA …) are aimed at.
The projects funded in the course of the FORTE-programme should support, in the long run, the creation respectively the securing of qualified jobs in Austria and contribute to the Austrian value chain.
The Defense Research Programme FORTE focuses solely on military core research areas and covers all those security policy relevant research topics, which cannot find consideration within the national Security Research Programme KIRAS. Therefore, FORTE is complementary to KIRAS and should be implemented that way, funding projects
- whose topics have firmly been excluded by the KIRAS programme paper (KIRAS has a civil programme focus with a clear differentiation from military and defense research) or
- where the ÖBH, as the military user and carrier of expertise, has a topically unique feature, which is not of priority interest to other security-relevant essential users, but nevertheless, is of pivotal importance to the ÖBH.
The mandatory inclusion of the essential end-user BMLV/ÖBH for joint project fulfills the requirement of application orientation of the funded defense research projects.
The first funding period of the defense research programme lasts until 31.12.2020.
All submitted project applications are evaluated by means of an efficient and transparent evaluation procedure, which allows for regulated handling of classified data. For every funding instrument, specific evaluation criteria are developed and published in the course of the call.
The separate instruments
The national Defense Research Programme FORTE is currently using the following funding instruments, which support each other:
- Cooperative Research and Innovation Projects
The goal of the cooperative research and innovation projects with a focus on "Industrial Research" is the creation and reinforcement of skill in research, technology and cooperation by funding strategically relevant cooperative R&D projects.
In the course of the cooperative research and innovation projects with a focus on "Experimental Development" the results of the research projects are implemented and validated for their operational fitness in the respective fields.
- R&D-Support Actions
Studies and comparable concepts within the current focus are funded within this instrument. Main target groups are end-users in a broad sense.