According to László Palkovics, the high quality of the proposals confirmed the legitimacy of the programme and also made it necessary to increase the budget. The Ministry for Innovation and Technology (ITM) originally calculated with 100 winners out of the 529 proposals. Innovation expenditures play an important role in putting the Hungarian economy on the winning side in the upcoming years – the minister said as an explanation to the increased budget. Hungary, he added, has made up for much of its earlier backlog in recent years by more than doubling its expenditure on research and development (R&D) since 2010, exceeding HUF 700 billion last year. Expenditures on R&D grew by HUF 48 billion last year alone, and may reach 1.8% of GDP by the end of this year, he said. Of the most important expenditures, the minister underlined this year’s HUF 14 billion budget for national laboratories, and the HUF 22 billion extra support for the Eötvös Loránd Research Network in 2021. Besides financing, László Palkovics also called it important to unify the research network and the funding system, and to stimulate cooperation between the academia and the business sector. Both the industry and the service sector are increasingly open to high-tech solutions, while Hungary has moved up many places in international innovation rankings, he added.
The President of the National Research, Development and Innovation (NRDI) Office stressed the significance of researcher recruitment. According to Zoltán Birkner, the Cooperative Doctoral Programme has been designed precisely to enable new professionals to join university projects. With the programme, the ITM and the NRDI Office primarily aimed to encourage science and technology professionals to engage in research, as they are the most susceptible to leaving the academia after gradation since they can easily leverage their knowledge in the private sector, he said. Zoltán Birkner made clear that they did not wish to compete with employers for the best professionals, but rather tried to offer a solution from which the future employee, the employer, the university and ultimately the state can all benefit. In his opinion, such substantial funding for the promotion of cooperation between the academia and businesses is unprecedented in Hungary, and he also added that the NRDI Office will further facilitate synergies between communities creating and utilising knowledge in the future.
The Cooperative Doctoral Programme supports winning applicants’ doctoral studies with HUF 400,000 per month for up to 48 months. What is more, not only the grantees, but also the host doctoral schools, the supervisors and the corporate experts involved in the projects receive funding. The call for proposals was announced for the first time this year and is expected to continue in the coming years. Two-thirds of this year's winners will take part in technology projects but the share of health sciences and agriculture is also significant. Two-thirds of the projects are implemented in collaboration with a business partner.