Executive Report

The 3rd Annual Gala of the Austrian Economics Center & Friedrich A. von Hayek Institut


For the last three years, the Austrian Economics Center (AEC), in collaboration with the Friedrich A.von Hayek Institut and other local sponsors, has organized an annual contest for Austrian students to focus attention on specific themes related to the principles of free enterprise and entrepreneurship. The contest winners are selected by a distinguished panel of judges and then recognized at a Gala event held in Vienna.

This annual event is also an opportunity to recognize the academic and/or professional contributions of a prominent defender of liberty from around the world — by honoring them with the Hayek Institut’s “Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award” and honorary membership in the Hayek Society.

Mobility for the Next Generation

The theme of this year’s contest was “mobility”. The contest requirements asked students to submit ideas on how to communicate new and innovative approaches to improving the personal and social mobility of people around the world. Submissions were accepted in any medium (audio, video or text), and the final submissions included podcasts and videos.


These students from the Amerling Gymnasium created creative safety jackets. They are joined here by their art teacher, Petra Eberl, and Walter Kral of Ruefa-Reisen. Foto courtesy of Christopher Ohmeyer.

A total of 88 Austrian students between the ages of 12 and 19 were recognized for their prize- winning submissions in the student competition. Students received prizes generously donated by the Gala event’s corporate sponsors.

These sponsors included the Capgemini Consulting Österreich AG, T-Mobile Austria GmbH, Carpima GmbH, Capgemini Consulting Österreich AG, Bundeskanzleramt, Franz Felber & Co GmbH, Fischer Ski GmbH, WKO Wirtschaftkammer Österreich, WKW, Parlamentsklub der Övp, T-Mobile Austria GmbH, WKO Wirtschaftkammer Österreich, ÖAMTC, Erste Group Bank AG, Europäisches Parlament, Wiener Börse, Staud`s GmbH, Cafe+Co International Holding, ASFINAG, Freudenthaler Institut für Managementberatung, BMWFJ, BMUKK, WIFI, Liberty Fund, Gastgewerbeschule, Triple A, Hayek Institut, Verkehrsbüro-Group, the Volkstheater and WienEnergie.


Prize-winner, Philipp Gradl, and Paul Fischer, CEO of Fischer GmbH. Foto courtesy of Christopher Ohmeyer.

The Gala’s host, Dr. Barbara Kolm, President of the Hayek Institute and Director of the Austria Economics Center, was joined by Dr. Meinhard Platzer, CEO of Liechtenstein Zweigniederlassung Österreich (LGT) Bank, and expressed their appreciation for the enthusiastic participation of so many students in the contest.

The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Manfred Kastner, Chairman of Vision Microfinance.

The Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award

This year’s Gala was also the occasion of the annual presentation of the “Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award”. This year the award was given to British historian, Niall Ferguson.

Born in Glasgow, Ferguson was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford. He is a Professor of History at Harvard University, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford. A prolific scholar, his recent books include Henry Kissinger: A Life (2012), The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (2008), Civilization: The West and the Rest (2011), High Financer: The Lives and Times of Siegmund Warburg (2010).

The Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award, jointly given by the Austrian Economics Center and the Hayek Institut, was presented to Professor Ferguson in recognition of his prolific writings and many professional contributions in defense of individual liberty and economic freedom. Professor Ferguson received the crystal “Rising Star” and was also appointed an honorary member of the Hayek Institut.


Niall Ferguson and Meinhard Platzer (LGT).
Foto courtesy of Christopher Ohmeyer.

After receiving the Award, Professor Ferguson spoke of the importance of social mobility in his own life. He spoke of the importance of the values of diligence and self-discipline that he learned from his parents. And he spoke also of the world of ideas and how the right ideas can contribute to making improvements in the world. He spoke of the influence of Austrian economics on his early academic work and emphasized, in particular, the work of Friedrich A. von Hayek which was helpful “to understand the revolution we were part of.” Professor Ferguson also addressed the young winners of the “Mobility for the Next Generation” contest, urging them to immerse themselves in right ideas and to continually seek intellectual inspiration — because “only if we feel we have the intellectual inspiration can we hope to win the battle for liberty”.

In 2011, the Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Peruvian intellectual, Mario Vargas Llosa, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010.

Location / Venue

This year’s Gala was held at the Palais Liechtenstein in the 9th district of the city of Vienna.

Impact & Follow-up

The Gala event was attended by 240 people. Among the guests attending the Gala were Dr. Josef Schuch, CEO of Deloitte; Chris Tally and Emilio Pacheco, President and Vice-President, respectively, of the Liberty Fund in the United States; DI Paul and Heidi Fischer, Fischer Ski; Mag. Christoph Mondl, Deputy Secretary General of ÖAMTC; Gerald Steger, CEO of Café+Co; and Martin Brunner of Wien Energie E-Mobility.

The entire Gala event was covered by Austrian media outlets, including Wirtschaftsblatt and Monitor TV.

After the successful event, two podcast interviews were conducted by Alasdair Macleod of the Goldmoney Foundation, an organization focused on advancing knowledge of free market economics and the idea of sound money.

The first interview was with Dr. Barbara Kolm, President of the Friedrich A. von Hayek Institut and Director of the Austrian Economics Center. In the interview (link below), Dr. Kolm discusses the relevance of the Austrian School of Economics to the problems in the Euro-zone.

The other interview was with Niall Ferguson, historian and Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award winner. In the interview (link below), Professor Ferguson discusses global politics and the prospects

of the Chinese economy amid its ongoing political transition. Among the elements he points to as vital for China’s future prospects, is the fundamental need to strengthen the rule of law, implement a program of massive privatizations and internationalizing the Renminbi.