Since the year 2000, the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), via its Austrian National Committee for Alpine Research, has been involved in the scientific cooperation and coordination of research in the Alpine region. The national committee has joined other international leading academies and research institutions to form the International Scientific Committee on Alpine Research, ISCAR, with its headquarters in Berne, Switzerland.
The Austrian National Committee for Alpine Research is co-funded by the Federal Ministry of Science and Research and supports projects with innovative contents and methods and interdisciplinary networking. Among the first of these projects was RAUMALP –- Spatial and Structural Problems in the Alpine Region. It was an interdisciplinary effort by a group of seven Austrian research institutions, coordinated by the ISR – Institute for Urban and Regional Research, then led by Axel Borsdorf, at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW).
The varied and sometimes trail-blazing results of this research project, together with an atlas presenting “A new look at Austria” (Das neue Bild Österreichs), a web-based interactive information system on the Alps, numerous diploma and doctoral theses, as well as a post-doctoral thesis (Habilitation), plus significant media presence (on TV, in the printed press, in popular science magazines) and in international scientific journals persuaded the Academy to institutionalize this research focus.
The choice of site fell on Innsbruck, a city in the very heart of the Austrian Alps, where two institutes of the Academy were already based. On 1 April 2005, the "International Mountain Research" was set up as a working group and installed in the newly completed ICT technology park.
In addition to RAUMALP, the ÖAW has substantially supported the GLORIA project (Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments), which is based at the University of Vienna, as part of the research carried out within the context of MAB and IGBP. Initially developed within the 5th European Research Framework Programme, GLORIA today is one of the few global monitoring networks in operation which studies the effects of climate change on biodiversity. To secure a long-term perspective for GLORIA, it was integrated into the IGF as a separate section based in Vienna. It is governed by a cooperation agreement on the GLORIA project between the ÖAW and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna. You can find the full history of GLORIA on www.gloria.ac.at.
Following a decision of the full Academy, the working group was upgraded into an independent Research Unit on 1 April 2006. Professor Axel Borsdorf was appointed as director, professor Georg Grabherr as deputy director. On 1 April 2009, it became an Institute of the ÖAW. Axel Borsdorf was confirmed as its director, with Georg Grabherr and Johann Stötter as deputy directors. In its meeting on 31 October 2012 the Academy Council passed a resolution to grant the continuation of the institute for an unlimited period of time, thus creating a permanent basis for the work of the IGF. This decision goes hand in hand with a renaming of the institute, which is now Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain Research.
Together with the University of Innsbruck (Institute of Geography) and the alpS – Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Technologies, the IGF forms the Innsbruck Mountain Competence. Activities of the three partners include organizing the conference Managing Alpine Future every four years.