As the commitments made in previous years posed a substantial burden on the relevant resources, the 2019 calls could only be announced once the free resources had been made available. First a solution was needed to secure the fundamental research calls of this year and the next year.
The principles and the assessment process of OTKA calls aimed at individual researchers and research groups correspond to the similar call types of previous years; however, there have been many changes aimed at increasing the flexibility of the use of funds and reducing the administrative burden. In order to ensure that the competing applicants are in the same stage of their research career, eligibility is assessed based on the time of obtaining the PhD degree, rather than the age of the applicants, similarly to several other European research funding systems.
It is important to note that:
- With a total budget of HUF 5.8 billion, the OTKA thematic research programme will be open to experienced researchers and research teams led by them. This programme will include the so-called “K” type calls, which have many years of tradition, and the calls for proposals implemented in bilateral Hungarian–Austrian (ANN) and Hungarian–Slovenian (SNN) cooperation.
- Talented early career researchers will be able to apply for two different calls – postdoctoral (PD) and young researchers (FK) – with a total budget of HUF 4 billion.
As a major change compared to previous years, to fit with research career stages, eligibility is not based on age but on the time since obtaining the doctoral degree. This time is up to 5 years for postdoctoral (PD) calls and up to 12 years for young researchers (FK) calls.
The maximum amount of researcher wage that can be awarded has been increased and the rules of income supplement have been simplified for all three call types, and the cost estimate may also include material expenses in addition to wages in postdoctoral projects. It greatly reduces the administrative burden that cost shifting within a year and between years no longer requires an amendment of contract, it is sufficient to justify the difference in the financial report. As another positive change, both the restrictions on participation in other projects and the terms of involvement of students and technicians in projects have been eased.
Importantly, these positive changes also apply to running projects, so that present OTKA beneficiaries can also use capacities more efficiently to reach their scientific goals.
Not only individual and team research projects will be funded. Parallel to the freshly announced individual OTKA calls, the assessment of funding requests submitted by institutions earlier to the Thematic Excellence Programme is already underway. The expert opinions are currently being drafted to help the work of the panels which will make the recommendations. The panels will soon make their professional recommendations which will be followed by the funding decisions (expected in April). In addition, in continuation of the Higher Education Institution Excellence Programme launched by the Ministry for Innovation and Technology and the NRDI Office in 2018, altogether 13 higher education institutions will be able to receive HUF 15 million in total in 2019 as well. The institutions will use the new funds to carry on with their three-year research topics started last year. The RDI calls targeting businesses and universities will be announced continuously with the primary aim to support market-focused development and innovation. This goal will be pursued by the specific funding programmes as well: SME Start Innovation, Market-Driven RDI, Open Innovation and Industry-University Cooperation.
Budapest, 05 April 2019