“There’s no research without money, but money alone is not enough. It is very important to use funds efficiently, so really competitive development and innovation projects must be financed through a selection system” he said. He added: the only way to gradually improve innovation performance is to fund targeted development projects and innovative businesses in a balanced and predictable system of competitive calls. To this end, the NRDI Office has created a portfolio of calls open not only to innovative companies and businesses but also to young researchers, prominent scientists and research institutions for their basic research, development and innovation projects, and the calls are specifically designed to promote cooperation between businesses and researchers.
József Pálinkás explained: innovation performance is measured by statistical data reflecting a state that was recorded years earlier, so the impact of the current abundance of funds and the schemes providing targeted funding to specific applicant groups is not indicated in the recently published statistics which reflect innovation performance in the previous years.
The Hungarian RDI landscape is expected to change significantly as a result of the portfolio of calls promoting businesses’ innovation activities with a total budget of over HUF 400 billion (EUR 1.3 billion), half of which already awarded between 2015 and the first half of 2017 and to be utilised in the next four years. He added: the 2021-2022 Hungarian data should definitely show that we are spending much more on research and development now than we did before 2014. The impact is further enhanced by funding schemes that incentivise business innovation in a targeted way.
According to József Pálinkás: if the unprecedentedly large amount of funds made available in 2016 and 2017 in the form of RDI calls is used efficiently, Hungary’s innovation performance will increase and Hungarian innovative businesses will become substantially more competitive in the global arena in a few years’ time compared to the period between 2007 and 2015 when much less money was spent on innovation – as we can see from the 2015-2016 performance data.
Speaking about the recently announced results of the NRDI Office’s 2017 calls for discovery research project proposals, the President highlighted: 400 researchers and research projects (around 30% of the submitted project proposals) were selected in 2017 for funding, in a total amount of more than HUF 11.5 billion (EUR 37.5 million) within the framework of calls promoting basic research. 40% of the funds were awarded to researchers under 40 years of age. The Office also launched a new excellence programme which provides funding to leading researchers belonging to the top 10% of the international scientific community based on their achievements in the last 10 years. Researchers awarded in the “Frontline – Research Excellence Programme” receive up to HUF 300 million (nearly EUR 1 million) in funding for a period of five years – József Pálinkás said, adding that in his opinion this funding programme can incentivise internationally outstanding Hungarian scientists to establish research groups and research centres in Hungary with a huge competitive potential.
He also emphasised that eight industry-university consortium partners will have the opportunity to implement RDI projects from EU and domestic funds. Centres for Higher Education and Industrial Cooperation were established in Győr, Kaposvár, Miskolc, Kecskemét and Debrecen from a funding of HUF 26.8 billion (EUR 88 million) provided by the EU’s Structural Funds, and three Central Hungarian consortia operating at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME), Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) and Szent István University (SZIE) were founded from HUF 8 billion (EUR 26.5 million) provided by the NRDI Fund.
The aim of the centres is to adapt university research programmes in applied science and innovation to industrial needs – József Pálinkás said adding that he rarely sees brilliant research ideas translated to new products in a short period of time; it is much more common that industrial businesses look for solutions to answer specific problems. Centres for Higher Education and Industrial Cooperation contribute to ensure that the existing and future research infrastructure is able to serve industrial needs from small to large businesses. Thus, the centres open up opportunities for SMEs otherwise unable to engage in costly research and development activities.
József Pálinkás also noted that more than EUR 140 million (HUF 42 billion) was awarded to Hungarian institutions and businesses under the Horizon 2020 (H2020), the European Union’s framework programme for research and innovation, in directly accessible calls. This success rate ranks Hungarian researchers among the top performers in their region.
Source: Budapest, 14 July 2017 Friday (MTI)