József Pálinkás, President of the NRDI Office says about the call: “We wish to provide internationally competitive conditions in Hungary to leading researchers of the scientific forefront being in their most dynamic and creative career stage so as to establish Hungarian research centres of worldwide reputation. This action is expected to produce the next frontline generations on the long run.”
Future winners of the “Frontline” research excellence programme (KKP_19) may receive funding up to HUF 300 million for the next five years (HUF 60 million i.e. EUR 0.2 million annually) to establish or expand their research group and carry out a promising discovery research project in Hungary. This scheme intends to increase the number of research groups producing achievements of global impact and to secure their sustainable financing. Funding available under this scheme means a reasonable alternative within the global spectrum of programmes offering funds for frontline research: nearly EUR 1 million for each awarded project of the most outstanding researchers will provide sound perspectives to create a research centre in Hungary. It is a long-term expectation that these incentives help increase the success rate of Hungarian research groups when they run for funding with their European competitors in the most prestigious discovery research calls announced by the European Research Council (ERC). Awarded researchers do commit to submit such ERC application in the course of the project period. Funded under the “Frontline” programme in 2017, a project conducted by Zoltán Nusser won an ERC Advanced Grant in 2018.
Similar to last year’s call, the “Frontline” programme is open to proposals with no thematic restrictions. Researchers in their most dynamic career stage who achieved internationally renowned, outstanding scientific results and contribute to strengthen the young researchers’ community pioneering their field of science are all welcome to enter. Leading researchers wishing to apply must qualify within the top 10% of their respective fields of science, and need to have significant research and project leading history. This will be assessed on the basis of impact records of scientific publications released in the last 10 years, which must meet reference and citation criteria as set out in the call for proposals. If the characteristics of an applicant’s particular scientific field warrant a different way of consideration than international citation indices, that requirement should be fulfilled by proven success records in Hungarian and international excellence programmes.
Out of projects launched in 2018 the first ones to win such funding were leading researchers of 12 internationally renowned basic research projects, with fields ranging from brain research through mathematics and psychology to cell biology. Projects to be selected now will receive funding for the five-year period of 2019–2023, and after the expiry current beneficiaries may only win further funding in an open competition with new aspirants.
The “Frontline” research excellence programme is part of the comprehensive system of competitive calls the NRDI Office designed in the last few years to promote discovery research, from supporting researchers in their early career years up to funding individual research groups. From HUF 7.9 billion (EUR 26 million) back in 2015, the total budget allocated from the NRDI Fund for calls fostering discovery research, including that HUF 3 billion for the “Frontline” programme, reaches over HUF 16 billion (EUR 52.5 million) this year, so the new schemes tailored to various career stages significantly widen funding opportunities in the area of discovery research.