START Programme in Austria

The fundamental aim of the programme is the promotion of young researchers with at least two and at most eight years of postdoctoral experience who have already produced scientific/scholarly work of a top international standard and whose research careers to date make it likely that they will continue to perform first-rate research in the future.

Top-class research is the result of teamwork by top-class people. The project funding, which amounts between EUR 800.000 up to EUR 1.2 Mio (around EUR 200.000 p.a.) is designed to provide financial security for a period of six years and to enable project leaders independently to build up or consolidate and lead research groups, thereby qualifying themselves for senior research positions (especially as university professors within Austria or abroad).

The programme is targeted at highly qualified researchers of any discipline. There are no quotas regulating the distribution of awards between subject areas. Priority will be given to applicants, who are in an early stage of their career and have not yet received any third-part funding in programmes with similar aims and comparable funding amounts2, e.g. „ERC Starting or ERC Consolidator Grants“.
The START-programme is one of the most generously supported research programmes for individual researches working in Austria. As such, it attracts considerable media attention and thus contributes significantly to the understanding and acceptance of scientific research by society.

What may be applied for?

The goals and methodology of the project should be precisely described.

The project should be in the field of non-profit-oriented scientific/scholarly research and it must be planned for a duration of 72 months. Non-profit oriented scientific/scholarly research is research whose value is primarily related to the importance for the further development of research (scientific/scholarly work directed at enhancing our understanding of the field).

Any aspects of a research project that go beyond basic research (results of relevance to society, to the environment or to the economy) may be mentioned, although they play no part in the assessment of whether the project should be funded.

An interim evaluation after three years gives Prizewinners the chance to adapt their research to accommodate any changes in the field.

Who may apply?

Applications for grants in the START-Programme can only be submitted by individuals (natural persons).

The call is open to any researcher with a PhD or MD degree; the doctoral degree must have been completed (award of certificate) no less than two years and no longer than eight years before the deadline for submission of applications (20th September 2018). Proven time spent raising children will be considered as interruptions to scientific/scholarly activity and up to three years will be allowed per child cared for by the applicant. Proven time spent on compulsory military or civilian service, time required to obtain corresponding specific qualifications in the relevant field (e.g. for receiving clinical qualifications) and long-term illness, will also be taken into account.

The project supported by the project money must be carried out in Austria or under the responsibility of an Austrian research institution. The Austrian research institution must confirm that the necessary infrastructure to perform the research will be available for the entire duration of the project.

Applicants must have the necessary scientific/scholarly qualification (postdoctoral experience), to perform the project. All applicants are expected to submit evidence of independent scientific/scholarly activity as well an outstanding track record in the form of publications in international journals and/or internationally recognised contributions to the development of field. In general, a period of at least one year’s research abroad is also necessary and applicants should have already acquired competitive third-party funds independently since earning their doctorate.

The applicant's qualifications to carry out the research work should be demonstrated by publications in internationally recognised journals (the number of which should correspond to the stage the applicant has reached in his/her career). The following criteria are decisive in the assessment of the applicant's research qualifications and determine whether a review procedure is initiated:

  • Number: The number of publications should be commensurate with the applicant's career to date, but in any case it should meet the high requirements of the programme. Applicants should review the profiles of previous START recipients ( or ERC Starting Grantees ( for guidance in this regard.
  • Independent scientific/scholarly activity: The applicant's independent contribution to each publication should be clearly recognisable. In the case of multiple authors, it must be clearly visible that the applicant's contribution was equal to that of the other authors. In the case of unequal contributions, the applicant must be listed as the first author, last author or corresponding author.
  • Peer review: All the publications listed (or more than half in the case of the humanities) must have been subjected to a quality assurance procedure in line with high international standards, normally meaning that the journals should be listed in the Web of Science, Scopus or the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). In the case of journals not listed in those databases, or monographs, edited volumes or contributions therein, or other publication types, the peer-review procedure must be documented on the publisher’s website to which the applicant should provide a link. In the case of monographs, edited volumes or contributions therein, or other publication types where the policy is not documented on the publisher’s website, or journals not listed in the Web of Science, Scopus or the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) the onus is on the applicant to provide evidence of the outlet’s quality assurance policies.
  • International orientation: In the natural sciences, life sciences and social sciences, the majority of the applicant's publications listed must be in English. In the case of the humanities and cognate fields a majority of publications must have wider than national reach.

Where one or more of the above conditions are not met, the applicant must make a case for exemption to the rule which will then be considered by the FWF Executive Board.

Principal investigators must mention the ORCID persistent digital identifiers ( in the application forms.

What types of funding may be requested?

Funding is provided for project-specific costs only, i.e., personnel and non-personnel costs that are essential to carry out the project and that go beyond the resources made available from the “infrastructure” of the research institution. With the exception of projects submitted by independent researchers (see Appendix I), no personnel costs may be requested for project leaders.

The amount of funding requested must be between EUR 800,000 and EUR 1,200,000 for the entire funding period.

Notwithstanding the undertaking that an application with an identical content will be submitted to the ERC (see Appendix I, p. 8), double funding is not permitted. In other words, a project for which support is being requested may not receive full support from another funding source or under a different FWF Programme. Grants relating to the theme of the application that have been requested from or awarded by other funding agencies (e.g. the EU, ministries etc.) must be mentioned (see application forms).

How should applications be placed?

Deadline: Applications must be submitted to the FWF (Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung - Austrian Science Fund) in English by 20th September 2018.

All parts of the free-form application, the abstracts and the enclosures (responses to reviewers etc.) must be submitted in 11pt type, line spacing 1.5.

A complete application must include the following parts:

  • One-page academic abstract in English comprising no more than 3,000  characters incl. spaces(no formulas or special characters). The academic abstract will be used to inform potential reviewers about the project. Applicants are therefore asked to address the following points as concisely as possible: 1) research questions/hypotheses, 2) scientific/scholarly innovation / originality of the project, 3) methods to be used, and 4) main researchers to be responsible for the project;
  • Two one-page abstracts for the FWF's public relations (PR) work: one in German, one in English. These abstracts are also subject to the limit of 3,000 characters incl. spaces and should contain the following information: 1) project title, 2) content of research project, 3) hypotheses, 4) methods, and 5) an explanation indicating what is new and/or special about the project. The language of the PR abstracts should be comprehensible to non-specialist audiences and contain as few technical/specialist terms as possible;
  • Completed forms (necessary: application form, cost breakdown; programme specific data, optional: national research partners, international cooperation arrangements).
  • Form Co-authors with the names (and contact details) of all persons who have made substantial scientific/scholarly contributions to the application, either in its conception or composition. A brief description of the nature of each contribution should be included. In cases where no co-authors are involved, it is necessary to indicate this explicitly in the form.
  • A free-form application (A4 with numbered pages) composed of:
    • the project description: no more than 25 pages including tables and figures, no more than 11,250 words (including headings, footnotes, captions, etc.), but not including the table of contents;
    • the list of literature4 relevant to the project incl. list of abbreviations (no more than 6 pages);
    • the applicant’s academic curriculum vitae (no more than 3 pages) a complete publication5 list of the applicant and a separate list of the 5-10 most important publications5 of the applicant.
  • Letter of recommendation6 from the head or the group leader of the research institute where the research project will be hosted.
  • Enclosures (see Annex ‘Explanations and Definitions for the START-Programme’)

The submission must be made online.

In order to submit applications online, users are first required to register at the address shown above. All of the necessary forms must be filled out online; additional files such as the free-form application, etc. can be uploaded. For additional information, please see the user's manual available at the address shown above.

Once the application has been completed, a PDF cover sheet can be generated. This cover sheet must be signed, stamped, and sent to the FWF by conventional mail by 20th September at the latest (date of postmark). The application is not officially considered to be "submitted" until the FWF receives the cover sheet. Alternatively, the signed/stamped cover sheet can be scanned in, signed using the applicant's qualified electronic signature8 (e.g. Handysignatur) and sent to the FWF by e-mail ( at 20th September 2018. Please note that a signed/stamped version of the cover sheet without a qualified electronic signature will not suffice!

International review is performed on the basis of the narrative text. All decisions are taken by the Board of the FWF based on recommendations of the International Jury for the START and Wittgenstein Programme. In order to enable this international peer review, applications must be submitted in English.

Note : Where additional funding applications are submitted to other FWF Programmes, those applications must differ substantially from the planned START project in terms of research questions and objectives. Applications which include work already proposed for a START project and are excessively similar to the START will not be considered by the FWF Board. The sole exception to this rule is the Elise Richter Programme, where an application which is substantially similar in content as long as the programme-specific guidelines are observed.

The project description must address the following points:

Scientific/Scholarly aspects

  • aims (hypotheses or research questions)
    • relationship to the international research work in the field (international status of the research)
    • explanation of how the project could break new ground (innovative aspects)
    • importance of the expected results for the discipline (based on the narrative text)
  • methods
  • work plan, time plan as well as strategies for dissemination of results for the first three years and a brief sketch of the plans for the subsequent three years
  • cooperation arrangements (national and international)
  • Where ethical issues have to be considered in the proposed research project: All potential ethical, security-related or regulatory aspects of the proposed research project and the planned handling of those issues must be discussed in a separate paragraph. In particular, the benefits and burdens arising from the experiments as well as their effects on the test subjects/objects should be explained in detail. Applicants must also provide a brief explanation in cases where no ethical issues have to be taken into account.

Human resources

academic qualifications of the researchers involved

importance of the project for the career development of the applicant

Additional aspects (if applicable)

  • implications for other branches of science
  • effects with implications beyond the specific research field.

Financial aspects

  • information on the research institution:
    • available infrastructure
    • available personnel not financed by the FWF (usually the project leader and co-applicants);
  • information on the support requested:
    • justification for the personnel to be assigned to the project (type of position[s], description of nature of work, length and extent of involvement in the project)
    • concise justification for non-personnel costs (equipment, material, travel and other costs)

Academic curricula vitae (CV) no more than 3 pages and complete publication list of the applicant

The following information must be provided:

  • Personal information, address(es) and, if applicable, web site
  • Main areas of research
  • Description of academic career and positions held to date (with brief description of reasons for any career breaks)
  • (where applicable) Highest academic recognition received (no more than 5 in each of the following categories: most important invited lectures; most important academic awards received; most important peer review activities, most important editorships and/or most important memberships in academic organizations)
  • (where applicable) Most important research projects funded in the past (no more than 5)11
  • (where applicable) Names and institutions of key international cooperation partners in the last 5 years.
  • List of all published or accepted scholarly/scientific publications (journals, monographs, anthologies, contributions to anthologies, proceedings, research data, etc.), broken down into a) peer-reviewed publications and b) non-peer-reviewed publications;
  • Separate listing of the 5-10 most important scholarly/scientific publications
Application date
20 Sep 2018
6 years
Europe Austria
Humanities Anthropology & Ethnology Archaeology Architecture Art & Art History Classical Studies Digital Humanities History Linguistics Literature Media Studies Music & Musicology Philosophy Religion & Theology Social sciences Business and Administrative Sciences Communication Sciences Demography Economics Environmental Sciences Gender Studies Geography International Relations Law Pedagogic & Education Research Political science Psychology & Cognitive Sciences Social Anthropology Sociology Other Agronomy Biology Chemistry Computer science Engineering Mathematics Medicine Physics
Required post-doc experience: 
between 2 and 8 years
Grants available
Award granted
€ 800.000-1.200.000