The popularity of citizen science is growing worldwide, not only on the part of research, but also on the part of society. Austria also contributes to the dissemination of the concept with the first citizen science initiative in Europe. Top Citizen Science was initiated in 2015 by the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, the Austrian Science Fund FWF und the OeAD. It funds excellent research projects, which open up to the participation of citizens.
Since 2015 more than 7,000 children, youngsters and adults have participated in various scientific projects in the science competition "Citizen Science Award“. Participants help to answer scientific questions and support researchers in their daily work. The most committed citizen scientists can win money and material prizes.
The new K1 Innovation Centre “Feed and Food Quality, Safety and Innovation” (FFoQSI) benefits from the experiences gained by the Department of Chemistry (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)’s VIRIS laboratory within the framework of the Top Citizen Science (TCS) project “IsoPROTECT Austria: Protection of regional food production in Austria by means of isotope and multi-element fingerprints” with a view to participation of citizens.
In 2016 the Naturpark Ötztal’s project “Search for the Swedish Narrow-Headed Ant” participated in the Citizen Science Award. The aim was to investigate the distribution of the Swedish narrow-headed ant with the help of citizens. During the campaign the public was made more aware of the project in order to collect important research data. Beyond that, even more positive effects were created through the participation in the award, which are of high significance for the continuation of the project.