It all began with the vision of a true Central European: thanks to the commitment of Austrian politician and diplomat Theodor von Hornbostel, the "Research Institute for Issues of the Danube Region" was founded in Salzburg in 1953. As co-founder and first chairman, Hornbostel recognized the need for scientific exploration of this region to "contribute to a better understanding of the intrinsic political, cultural and economic forces of the Danube region and their significance for a peaceful and united Europe." However, there was still a long way to go before a united Europe would become reality: because peoples and countries in the Danube region were divided by the Iron Curtain following World War II, countries were rebuilt under very different political and economic conditions.
For more than thirty years the institute was the only Austrian organization that devoted itself entirely to research on the Danube region – both within and beyond the border. Starting in 1956, detailed research results and consequent discussions were published in the institute’s own scientific journal, “Der Donauraum”. In the same year, the institute was relocated to Vienna.
In 1995, Erhard Busek replaced Norbert Leser as chairman of the institute. With this change in management came a new focus on consolidation and cooperation that led to a renewed motivation to work. Under the new name “Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe”, activities were extended to include all of Central and Southeastern Europe as well as parts of the Black Sea region.
Today, IDM is a non-university research institution based on associations and consisting of individual and corporate members.
Since April 1, 2011 IDM has been a strategic partner of the University for Applied Science (BOKU) in Vienna.
Our areas of responsibility are constantly evolving, and the European Union itself has recognized the paramount importance of the development of the Danube region for the peace and stability of Europe as a whole. This is especially evident in the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR). Although our role continues to grow, our efforts are often hindered by financial limitations. For this reason, our longstanding network of cooperation partners, friends, and supporters is all the more important to us!The institute is funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, the Federal Chancellery, and the Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection, and by the Provincial Government of Lower Austria, Wien Kultur, individual provinces and cities, the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, the Federation of Austrian Industry, the Austrian Central Bank, and private sponsors.