Universities' Third Mission

To address the growing societal and economic challenges, there is an increasing demand for universities to use their knowledge from research and teaching to fulfill their so-called "Third Mission" in society and economy. This implies taking responsibility, actively and consciously, for the society on whose behalf they are working.

The Third Mission has two key priorities:

  1. targeted use and transfer of academic knowledge to help resolve diverse societal challenges;
  2. transfer of technologies and innovations in the form of cooperation with public and private enterprises.

Third Mission activities

In the course of the project “Third Mission of the University of Vienna” we collected good-practice examples of Third Mission activities which are already being implemented at the University of Vienna. Continue reading


The Third Mission is intended to be a shared agenda of all organizational units and as many members of the university as possible. Thus, it represents an element for the specification of the university‘s profile. Continue reading

The Project “Third Mission of the University of Vienna”

At the University of Vienna, multiple activities directly relevant to the Third Mission are ongoing. However, most of them have not been formally identified as such and are not interconnected.

The aim of the project is to:

  • collectively develop a specific content-related profile for the Third Mission of the University of Vienna;

  • conceptualise an explicit framework for a sustainable implementation of the Third Mission at the University of Vienna;

  • develop concrete measures for implementing the Third Mission, including identifying and valorising relevant activities, making them visible and interconnected, and developing quality assurance measures.

The project will be implemented in coordination with research and academic teaching, with the aim of further strengthening these essential pillars of the University.


This implementation process will:

  • build on the existing expertise at the University;
  • explicitly take up the diversity of cultures within the University;
  • capture, valorise, systematically interconnect and structure existing activities (Third Mission Network).

This process may also serve to initiate and implement new activities in research and academic teaching, both in cooperation with external Partners as well as in the form of lived social responsibility.


Steps in the project

  1. Introducing the project (brochure, website, etc.) in the summer semester of 2016;
  2. Documenting existing Third Mission activities at the University of Vienna;
  3. Identifying potentially helpful support structures (at the individual and organizational levels).

In a first step, Third Mission activities at the University of Vienna were documented in interviews with representatives of organisational units to collect first examples of Third Mission activities at the University of Vienna.

Based on the interviews and defined priorities, existing Third Mission activities and projects were comprehensively documented, with the aim of making them more visible. For this purpose, university-wide online surveys took place 2017 and 2020/21.

In addition, interviews were conducted with deans and center directors as well as with young scientists, and several workshops and events were held.

  Brochure "Third Mission of the University of Vienna"