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History of Institute of Science and Technology Austria

The idea of creating a scientific flagship organization for research and postgraduate studies at the highest level was proposed by Austrian physicist Anton Zeilinger in 2002 at the annual technology forum in Alpbach. After several studies about the feasibility of creating such an institute, a working group was formed in the Austrian federal ministry of education and science and the four provinces of Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Styria and Vienna put in bids to host the new institute. In 2005, the council of ministers decided to build the institute in Klosterneuburg, Lower Austria.
In 2006, an international group of three scientists including Haim Harari, Olaf Kuebler and Hubert Markl were invited by the Federation of Austrian Industries to advise the establishment of the institute and create a road map for it. They published a report in June 2006 that became the foundation of IST Austria.
The federal law on the Institute of Science and Technology Austria was passed in May 2006 and an agreement between the government of Lower Austria and the Federal government of Austria was reached in July.
Positions for the first president, professors and tenure track professors were advertised in 2007. Nick Barton was the first faculty to join. On December 4, 2008 computer scientist Thomas Henzinger was appointed as the first president of IST Austria effective September 1, 2009. In November 2016, he was reappointed as the president of IST Austria for a third 4-year term.
The institute had its opening ceremony in 2009, recruited its first cohort of students in 2010 and by the end of that year reached more than 100 employees from 22 countries.
According to the law, the institute is required to undergo an international and independent evaluation every four years. In January 2011, the Scientific Board organized the first independent evaluation of the new institute. The review panel consisted of six scientists who also had considerable experience in science management. The reviewers included two Nobel laureates and former or current presidents of distinguished research institutions. The panel broadly represented the natural and engineering sciences beyond the research areas that were present at IST Austria at the time.
In March 2011, the evaluation committee came to the result that IST Austria is on its way to becoming a leading research institution with an international reputation and that the institute is about to set new benchmarks for both research and training that will not only be important on the national level but also within Europe generally and even more widely. The committee pointed out that the trajectory of development of all the elements of IST Austria is towards making an organization of clear excellence that will be recognized throughout the world, but continued governmental support is a necessary condition.
In 2015, a second evaluation was carried out by an international review panel chaired by the Nobel laureate Roger Kornberg. The panel consisted of six distinguished scientists including three Nobel laureates and a Turing awardee. The report was very positive, reading "The next years will prove crucial if the IST Austria is to achieve the goal of international distinction. The IST Austria has made an excellent start, accomplishing the difficult task of starting from scratch and laying a foundation for future development, but the next step, rising to the top, will be even more difficult.

 
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