László Palkovics told that the inaugural meeting discussed the government report analysing the impacts of research, development and innovation (RDI) grants. The document indicates that RDI funds are used more efficiently from both the aspect of the national economy and the companies than investments targeting other areas. Though its beneficial effects manifest slower than those of other types of grants, they are more durable and exerted on the long run.
As he described, in terms of RDI-expenditures-to-GDP, the country set a record of 1.53% in 2018, although in international comparison, it is a moderate innovator. In the past years, Hungary’s innovation performance ranked between Nos. 30 and 35 in the world and Nos. 20 and 23 in Europe. According to the Minister, public RDI expenditures are to be steadily and permanently increased up to 3% of the GDP by the beginning of the next decade. RDI grants increase the gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.3% per year and each HUF 1000 grant adds HUF 848 to its amount representing the second best result in comparison with other funding schemes.
Each HUF 1 granted increases the companies’ profit by HUF 5-6 irrespective of the extent of fund deployment and company size, he emphasised. The Minister informed that the Council has also reviewed the portfolio of calls and programme strategy of the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund (NRDI Fund) and discussed the RDI strategy and thus the preparation of the government decision can be started. The document outlines the management, organisational and financial model of the domestic RDI activities ensuring dependable operation and financing. Its development was based on wide-ranging technical consultations as more than three thousand stakeholders had commented on it at 25 locations of the National Innovation Forum or online.
The finalised strategy may be submitted to the European Commission in the first half of the year so that by the end of 2020 the related action plan could be devised together with a monitoring and an evaluation system. The government will decide on both the RDI strategy and the NRDI Fund programme strategy by taking the Council’s opinion into account, László Palkovics said. The Minister advocated for the continuation of the programme supporting bilateral science and technology (S&T) cooperation, the New National Excellence Programme, the Institutional Excellence Programme and the programme for market-driven RDI projects. To promote and support start-ups, the Acceleration Lane Programme and the SME Start Innovation programme may appear as new elements among the calls, he added. The National Science Policy Council is an advisory body commenting on the government’s research, development and innovation activities. All of its eleven members were proposed by the minister responsible for science policy and appointed by the Prime Minister for 3 years. The members of the Council are representatives from the fields of sciences, economy and the state meaning that all stakeholders of the research, development and innovation system are involved. László Palkovics emphasised that in addition to its functions, the Council is also given prominence by the prestige, expertise and the competence of its members while its international relations are ensured by Günther Oettinger as co-chair. Answering a journalist’s question, the Minister confirmed that the former EU commissioner accepted the invitation though he will only participate in the Council’s work once the investigation he is involved in will be over. The conflict of interest rules applicable to former EU commissioners require a commission investigation within 2 years of termination of term of office, but László Palkovics is confident that Günther Oettinger will be able to participate at the next meeting to be held in autumn 2020.