The high-profile audience from politics, business, and administration had the opportunity to witness the outstanding research projects from Salzburg on June 29 in Vienna. “We can only address the numerous challenges of our time through cutting-edge research. It provides the foundation for solutions in all areas, whether ecological, medical, or digital. Our researchers have demonstrated today that we are doing exceptionally well, especially for a small location like Salzburg. Strong cross-institutional collaborations and substantial support from the state of Salzburg are crucial for this success. As an innovation agency that initiates and supports these processes, we are particularly proud of how effectively Salzburg operates,” said Walter Haas, Managing Director of Innovation Salzburg.
New Josef Ressel Center at FH Salzburg
A significant success for Salzburg is the newly opened Josef Ressel Center. Such centers are awarded by the Christian Doppler Society and provide substantial financial support for basic research aligned with the needs of businesses. The new center at FH Salzburg is expanding Salzburg’s strength in the field of cybersecurity, focusing on intelligent and secure industrial automation. Stefan Huber, the center’s director, is convinced that Salzburg is well-suited to be the “Silicon Valley of industrial automation.” The Josef Ressel Center, with a 5-year plan, collaborates with industrial partners B&R Industrial Automation, COPA-DATA, and SIGMATEK. It is funded with 2.5 million euros from corporate partners, the Christian Doppler Society, and the state of Salzburg.
Researching the Therapeutic Use of Endogenous Cell Particles
Great things can be achieved with tiny cell particles. Scientists at the Salzburg EV-TT Center are researching how. EV-TT stands for the Transfer Center for Extracellular Vesicle Therapies. These vesicles are the aforementioned tiny cell particles, which act as messengers distributing tasks and information within the body, even crossing natural barriers like cell walls. This property makes them interesting for two areas of research in Salzburg: as carriers for medicines, potentially enabling drugs to reach precisely where they are most effective, and for regenerative medicine, where vesicles from stem cells, like stem cells themselves, have healing and repairing effects when guided to the right place with the correct instructions. Mario Gimona, the head of the EV-TT Center, presented this research in collaboration with Nicole Meisner-Kober, project leader at the University of Salzburg. The EV-TT Center has already established several international partnerships, with Boehringer Ingelheim being a significant partner, as emphasized by Guido Boehmelt, Head of Research Beyond Borders at Boehringer Ingelheim, who highlighted the importance of vesicle research and the excellent collaboration with Salzburg institutions. The PLUS, PMU, and the University Hospital Salzburg combine their expertise in the EV-TT initiative.
Reducing CO2 Emissions with Concrete
Sustainable construction plays a significant role in reducing CO2 emissions, as the construction sector is responsible for one-third of all CO2 emissions. At the WISS Roadshow, Salzburg Wohnbau, Deisl-Beton, and Christian Ehrensberger GmbH presented multiple projects aimed at making the construction sector more sustainable. For instance, the construction of the Wals and Anif elementary school uses recycled concrete, reusing concrete debris from existing structures. The “CO2 max” research project takes this further, focusing on sequestering CO2 in recycled concrete. A novel CO2 mineralization process used at the concrete recycling plant in Salzburg-Sulzau captures locally generated CO2, such as from pulp production or wastewater treatment plants. This initiative involves Salzburg Wohnbau, led by Managing Director Roland Wernik, Deisl-Beton from Hallein, Christian Ehrensberger GmbH from Tenneck, the Building Technical Research Institute of Salzburg (bvfs), Innovation Salzburg, and the Swiss Greentech startup Neustark.
In the “R70” project, the construction of the Golling senior citizens’ home combines the use of recycled concrete with digital methods for CO2 storage. “The building was digitally modeled in advance to analyze the exact locations of materials and how they can be deconstructed for maximum recycling potential.” This approach can further increase recycling rates in the future.
Thinking in Circles: From Brewer’s Grains to Edible Plates
Reusing, processing, and recycling materials and resources, replacing fossil resources with renewable ones—circular economy is becoming increasingly important, not only in the construction sector. Creativity and innovative thinking are essential in this regard. The Center for Smart Materials, a collaboration between the University of Salzburg, the Center for Human Computer Interaction, and FH Salzburg, researches alternatives to petroleum-based plastics. Nicole Hüsing, Vice-Rector of the University of Salzburg and head of the center, along with Alexander Petutschnigg from FH Salzburg and co-leader of the center, presented a foam made from tannin, a molecular component of wood, suitable for insulation or even as a fertilizer.
Christian Pöpperl, CEO of Stiegl Brewery, demonstrated how a product lifecycle can be transformed. Together with FH Salzburg and HBLA Ursprung, Stiegl developed a new use for brewer’s grains, which are malt residue. Normally used as animal feed, brewer’s grains and wheat bran were turned into an edible disposable plate that can be further used as animal feed after its primary purpose. This extends the lifecycle of the byproduct brewer’s grains, turning it into an entirely new material.
Salzburg Startups Leading the Way
Numerous Salzburg startups are also driving innovation forward. At the WISS Roadshow, Fabian Kirsch from sproof and Manuel Dorfer from solbytech were present. sproof enables the legally binding digital signing of documents while preserving security features like watermarks, making documents verifiable and authentic. Moreover, sproof’s solution is GDPR-compliant. Recently, Linde Verlag made an investment in sproof, planning to use sproof’s digital signature across the entire corporation in the future. The sproof software allows companies to securely and easily digitize previously paper-intensive processes.
solbytech, on the other hand, is at the forefront of technology, developing communication systems for photovoltaic systems. Environmental factors often lead to disruptions in data transmission from photovoltaic systems to monitoring systems. solbytech’s software enables secure and stable data transmission and visualization of energy generation data, making energy utilization efficient and avoiding disruptions.