This year, HUF 6 billion will be available for bilateral science and technology calls or Horizon Europe and other booster calls, while a further HUF 5 billion in the Government’s own resources will be used to help higher education institutions that are discriminated by the EU to stay in the international mainstream.
According to the latest data of the European Innovation Scoreboard, Hungary has moved up one category from emerging innovators, now ranking in the mid-pack of the European Union, but our strategic goal is to be among the top 10 innovators in Europe by the end of the decade. To increase competitiveness, value-creating cooperation between researchers and the market, networking and international integration of domestic actors should be encouraged. The National Research, Development and Innovation Office (NRDI Office) provides all available tools, practical, professional and financial support to facilitate this goal.
This year, the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund (NRDI Fund) will provide a total of HUF 6.1 billion of domestic funding to support calls aimed at involving Hungarian actors in international projects. Some of them stimulate participation in Horizon Europe projects and other co-funded initiatives and partnerships by supporting consortium building or providing the necessary national contribution. Others encourage researcher mobility and specific research and development projects through bilateral science and technology cooperation (Hungary currently has such agreements with 37 countries), or allow Hungarian researchers to use costly international research infrastructures. In recent weeks, several such calls for proposals with an international dimension have been launched or reopened, and decisions have been taken to support previous calls for proposals with a similar purpose.
To help our researchers and innovative businesses compete internationally, the seven-year Horizon Europe framework programme for research and innovation offers more opportunities than ever before and an excellent platform to do so: competitive direct-access funding, with a EUR 95 budget, which is much larger than that of previous EU Framework Programmes. In the previous seven-year framework programme, Hungarian organisations received around EUR 367 million in Horizon 2020 funding through 1,479 successful project proposals, but this represents only 0.6% of the total programme budget. “The common goal is to multiply this achievement. We want Hungary to get a much bigger slice of this cake than before, in proportion to the country’s population, and we will do our utmost to ensure that Hungarian actors can win at least 2.18% of the total budget through a much more conscious and systematic application process. To achieve this, we need to increase the willingness and success of Hungarian organisations to apply for funding,” emphasised Dr. László Lengyel, Vice President for Science and International Affairs of the NRDI Office. He added that the NRDI Office, as the national coordinator of the Framework Programme, plays a key role in this: it operates a national network of outstanding experts, runs a continuously updated Horizon Europe portal to present the opportunities, launches information campaigns, holds information days, and organises personalised consultations, free training and mentoring to develop the competences of applicants.
A priority task is to support higher education institutions that have changed their model, because they are currently prevented from international participation by a discriminatory decision of the European Commission. Despite the discrimination, the key issue is to keep researchers and students involved in collaborations. On the NRDI Office’s website, a new direct information channel, Horizon Legal Aid, will help the institutions concerned to keep up-to-date and manage individual cases, while participation in international consortia will be financed by the Governmental Interest Fund, which was set up in March 2023 with a budget of HUF 5 billion from the NRDI Fund, following the practice in Switzerland and the UK.