You are here: For the applicantsFunding schemesCalls to foster RDIArchived calls“Frontline” – Research Excellence Programme (KKP_17)
“Frontline” – Research Excellence Programme (KKP_17)
Date of announcement: 12 june 2017
Next deadline for submission:
Deadline for E-submission: 31 august 2017 17:00
31 august 2017
Deadline for application via post office: 12. September 2017. 18:00
Submitter of proposal
Budgetary institution, Non-profit organisation
Beneficiary groups
Institution of higher education, Institution of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS/MTA), Other budgetary research institution, Non-profit research organisation
HUF 3 000 000 000
Number of applications
10-15 pcs
Funds available per project
HUF 150-300 Mn
Project duration
60 months
Field of research activity
Fundamental research
Evaluator of proposals
NRDI Office
Date of publication of the call: 12 june 2017
Deadline for submission: 5 September 2017

The “Frontline” – Research Excellence Programme (KKP_17) provides targeted funding to world-class researchers – i.e. the best performers (belonging to the top 10%) in their respective fields of science according to the call – in their most dynamic and creative career phases enabling them to help bridging the gap between Hungary and the developed countries by implementing promising research projects as pioneering leaders in the forefront of international research. By promoting the most outstanding discovery research projects the funding scheme finally fills the gap that could not be filled by the calls facilitating domestic discovery research (K_17, FK_17, NN_17, PD_17 etc.) due to their nature, volume of available budget or the maximum amount of funding per project.

The KKP_17 call is only open to basic research projects without thematic restrictions provided that the applicant’s professional CV and research plan meet the requirements set out in the call. Applicants have the highest chance if they have achieved internationally outstanding scientific results in the past five years and can be reasonably expected to continue this world-class performance on the basis of their research plan.

The call is financed from the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund.

Submission of project proposals

Project proposals can be submitted electronically through the Online Application Portal of the NRDI Office by 4:00 p.m. on 5 September 2017 in line with the Guidelines for Applicants. The submission is successful if the proposal was finalised electronically by the applicant and approved by the head of the host institution by the deadline for electronic submission, and if all required documents, provided with original signatures and seal, were sent by postal mail to the Customer Service of the NRDI Office by 12 September 2017 (date of posting). Proposals may not be submitted only electronically or in person.

All proposals must be submitted in English irrespective of the field of science.

Who can apply:

Researchers (leading researchers) with Hungarian or foreign nationality must apply jointly with the host institution which must be

  • a higher education institution, research centre, research institution, budgetary organ or an institution thereof having legal personality if it qualifies as a research facility under the RDI Act.
  • a non-profit organisation pursuing research and development as core activity

domiciled in Hungary and having legal personality.

At the time of application and throughout the entire implementation period the leading researcher must be a full-time worker of the host institution under an employment contract, civil service contract, works contract or other contract aimed at performing work.

Requirements for leading researchers

  • The leading researcher must have a PhD/DLA degree and must belong to a Hungarian host institution.
  • Leaders of projects selected for funding in this call may not apply for funding from the Researchers' Thematic Applications Programme in the first 36 months of the funding period.
  • Leading researchers must fall within the top 10% of their respective fields of science (for the detailed criteria of research, publication or application performance and international embeddedness see the call for proposals).

Eligible objectives and actions

Those actions are eligible which aim to achieve the key objectives developed on the basis of the research and work plan specified in the “Frontline” – Research Excellence Programme (KKP_17) call and set out in the research project plan submitted to the NRDI Office.

Available budget

The total budget earmarked from the NRDI Fund for the implementation of the programme between 2018 and 2022 is HUF 3 billion (EUR 9.8 million), including HUF 600 million (EUR 1.9 million) to be disbursed in 2018.

Maximum grant per project

The maximum amount of grant for the maximum duration of 60 months is HUF 300 million (nearly EUR 1 million) per project (an annual average of HUF 60 million i.e. EUR 0.2 million) as non-refundable funding. Maximum grant intensity is 100%.

Duration of the project

The project must start no earlier than 1 January 2018 and must be implemented within 60 months from the start date. Eligible project costs can be declared from the start date specified in the grant agreement.

Customer service contacts:
phone: +36 (1) 795 9500

Personal appointments (pree-booked only): H-1077 Budapest, Kéthly Anna sq. 1. (2nd floor)

Customer Service hours of operation: Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m to 4 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. to 12.00 a.m.

Winning grants of the “Frontline” – Research Excellence Programme (KKP_17)


In the “Frontline” Research Excellence Programme elaborated and announced for the first time by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office, 12 research group leaders have won grants of HUF 150 million to 300 million (nearly EUR 0.5 to 1 million) each, of a total budget of HUF 3 billion, to be spent in the coming five years on creating or expanding their research group and implementing a promising discovery research project in Hungary.

45 project proposals were submitted, with funding requests of HUF 11.5 billion (nearly EUR 38 million) in total. 80% of the applications (both in terms of quantity and the requested funding) were submitted from the fields of mathematics, physics, chemical and engineering sciences, medical and biological sciences. Remaining applications are equally split between humanities/social sciences and agricultural/ecological/environmental/earth sciences.

Funding decisions were made in a multi-stage assessment process based on anonymous peer reviews and panel evaluation, supplemented with presentations by the applicants. Firstly, each project proposal was evaluated by four anonymous experts, amongst them at least one foreigner, invited by the NRDI Office upon the proposal of the disciplinary panels. Based on the peer reviews, an expert group proposed by the disciplinary panels evaluated the project proposals one by one against the selection criteria set out in the call for proposals, and invited twenty shortlisted applicants to present their project proposals in person. After the project presentations the expert group made a proposal for the decision. 


Funding organisation: NRDI Office
Source: NRDI Fund
Date of decision: 13 November 2017

Project code
Project leader
Project title
Project period (months)
Awarded funding (thousand HUF)
Project objectives
Zoltán Nusser (1968) research professor of HAS Institute of Experimental Medicine, Széchenyi and Bolyai Prize winning veterinary surgeon, biologist and neurobiologist, member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS)
Molecular fingerprints of distinct functional properties of hippocampal excitatory synapses
277 680
The major aim of the present proposal is to understand the molecular differences among synapses underlying their functional diversity. The causal relationships between the function and the amounts of proteins will be tested following genetic up- and downregulation of the proteins. This combined functional-molecular approach requires the development of new technologies, as none of the currently available localization methods is sufficient to accomplish our aims. Thus, the researchers will develop a novel molecular neuroanatomical method and analyze our results with state-of-the-art super-resolution fluorescent microscopy to reveal the molecular fingerprints of functional properties of hippocampal excitatory synapses. The researchers also aim at understanding the reasons for the differences in the strength of the synapses. By using modern in vivo two-photon calcium imaging in behaving mice in combination with in vitro electrophysiology, the researchers will test the hypothesis that the previous activity history of the nerve cells determines the strength of their synapses. 
Mihály Kállay (1974) chemist, doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; founded a research team in 2013 under the HAS Momentum call at Budapest University of Technology and Economics
Accurate properties for large molecules
150 470
Modern quantum chemistry enables the theoretical determination of numerous molecular properties. The theoretical results, because of the approximations invoked, are frequently inaccurate, and even today, quantum chemical calculations with experimental accuracy are only feasible for small molecules. The main purpose of this proposal is to develop new quantum chemical methods that are applicable to large molecules and simultaneously provide results sufficiently close to the experimental data.
Csaba Pál (1975) research fellow at HAS Biological Research Centre in Szeged, Bolyai Prize winning biologist; founded a research team in 2012 under the HAS Momentum call
Pathogen driven evolution of key molecules in the human adaptive immune system
247 310
It has becoming increasingly clear that variation in the human genome influences susceptibility to infectious diseases caused by bacterial pathogens. However, the underlying mutations frequently remained enigmatic. This proposal focuses on the major histocompatibility complex II (MHC class II) molecules that shape the immune response against pathogens and tolerance to self-peptides. The corresponding genomic region is of particular interest, as it harbors more disease associations than any other region in the human genome, including associations to infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, tumors and neuropsychiatric diseases. The research proposes that MHC class II molecules can be categorized into two major types: specialists and generalists. The researchers argue that as a consequence, geographical distribution of generalist MHC class II molecules influences genetic susceptibility to infectious diseases, autoimmunity and vaccination success rates across human populations. Therefore, the promiscuity hypothesis could be a cornerstone theory in evolutionary medicine.
András Stipsicz (1966) HAS and Rényi Prize winning mathematician, research professor at HAS Alfréd Rényi Institute of Mathematics, corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; founded a research team in 2010 under the HAS Momentum call
Knots, links and complex singularities
247 140
One of the main unsolved questions in low dimensional topology is the structure of the concordance group and its variants. Recent advances regarding a similar group (the homology cobordism group of 3-manifolds) led to the resolution of a famous problem from the 1910s (the Triangulation Conjecture), and a better understanding of the concordance group might lead to similar discoveries. Further geometric structures on 3-manifolds, and their connection to complex geometry (either through contact geometry or as links of complex analytic singularities) help us understanding their structure better. The study of various tools (such as Heegaard Floer homology, knot Floer homology, lattice homology, the theory of graded roots) therefore is of central importance.
László Gránásy (1955) research professor at HAS Wigner Research Centre for Physics, HAS Prize winning physicist, doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Modeling crystal morphology at various lengthscales: From atomic scale to biological systems
199 535
Polycrystalline materials composed of a large number of crystallites are essential ingredients of our everyday life: they include technical alloys, ceramics, minerals, medicines, and crystalline food products, and some crystalline structures formed in biological systems, such as teeth, bones, kidney stones, cholesterol crystals in arteries, frozen biological tissues, etc. In some areas, computational materials physics reached a deep understanding of the processes involved, enabling knowledge based designing of materials. In this, predictive mathematical models played an essential role. It is expected that the three stages of polycrystalline freezing (nucleation, growth and grain coarsening) show some universal features, thus the behavior observed in one system can be projected to others. Obviously, there are limits for this. In the present proposal, starting from our earlier experience in phase-field modeling of complex polycrystalline microstructures, the researchers explore how far such similarities remain valid between colloidal crystal aggregation (readily observable by optical methods) and crystallization in metallic melts (inaccessible on the nanoscale for in situ experiments), and how far one can build on similarities between solidification of alloys and biological systems.
László Orbán (1957) biologist, senior principal investigator of Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (Singapore), honorary professor of University of Pannonnia
Analyses of factors regulating fish sex, using genomic tools
230 617
In this project, researchers investigate the genetic regulation of reproductive processes in fishes and the potential effects of environmental factors, such as temperature, on them. Most of the tools to be used for these purposes are genomic methods: these approaches study the genetic material on a large scale. Instead of single genes or small gene sets, they will compare the complete genetic material of the two sexes in fish. That will enable them to analyse complex systems, where instead of a few major factors, hundreds or thousands of genetic components (possibly at different levels) will exert smaller effects resulting eventually in substantial changes. Main goals of the research will be to understand these interactions and potentially utilize them according to the needs of experiments or aquaculture production. Using this knowledge, it might become possible to predict potential effects of global warming on natural fish populations and cultured stocks. In the case of the latter, researchers may try to select lines that are more or less sensitive to temperature-induced shifts in their sex ratio than unselected ones, according to the needs of the fish farms.
Sándor Katz (1975) physicist, professor at Eötvös Loránd University, corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; founded a research team in 2012 under the HAS Momentum call; awardee of the Talentum Prize and the Junior Prima Prize
Critical point of Quantum Chromodynamics
298 133
The researchers investigate what happens to strongly interacting matter when The researchers heat it up or compress it to large densities. Protons and neutrons undergo a transition to the quark-gluon plasma and under the right conditions this transition will be of second order resulting in infinite correlation lengths. This phenomenon is similar to the critical point of water: at the right pressure and temperature the water-steam system becomes opaque due to the long correlations. The researchers propose to determine the right conditions for this critical point which will guide future experiments for its discovery.
Zsolt Radák (1961) doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, professor at University of Physical Education
The enigma behind the systemic effects of regular exercise: Is it related to VO2max or molecular adaptive pathways?
222 278
Regular exercise improves mean life-span and quality of life and the function of brain, lung, heart, liver, kidney, testis and gut microbiome, despite of the very different blood and energy supply during exercise. The adaptive mechanism of this whole body response is not known. The researchers suggest that the level of VO2max could be one of the key limiting factors of the adaptive response. The researchers plane to train middle aged human subjects and animals to increase VO2max and improve the function of all of the mentioned organs, and moreover The researchers will check the effects of exercise training on the offspring physiological function and biochemical regulating pathways. The researchers will monitor how different intensity exercise training will modify microbiome and what could be the functional consequences of this. The results of this study would be important to improve public health, prevention of life-style related diseases and to improve the quality of life.
Zsolt Demetrovics (1971) psychologist, addictologist, cultural anthropologist, professor, doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, dean of the Faculty of Pedagogy and Psychology at Eötvös Loránd University
Budapest Longitudinal Study on Addictive Behaviors: Protective and risk factors in the addictive processes
298 490
The aim of the research is to investigate the process of developing, sustaining, and eventually terminating smoking, alcohol and drug use and specific behavioral addictions (video game use, gambling, social media use, work addiction, hypersexuality, compulsory buying). Although the researchers know more and more about these disorders, the researchers still have no information on the course of these phenomena and in most cases investigations are being made after the problem has arisen, thus reveal little about the causes of their onset. Our objective is the annual follow-up of two populations (5th grade adolescents and 18-34-year-old young adults). During the surveys, the researchers would investigate specific behaviors, their potentially problematic and addictive nature and different personality characteristics, as well as genetic samples from the individuals. By doing this, the research will provide answers for the question regarding what factors influence that a given behavior becomes problematic and addictive in a person, while remain non-problematic in others.
Tamás Székely (1959) professor at University of Debrecen, research professor at University of Bath, ethologist, ecologist, awardee of the Wolfson’s Excellence Award of the British Academy in 2017
Sex role evolution: testing the impacts of ecology, demography and genes
229 362
Sex roles (i.e. behavioural roles of males and females in reproduction) excites both scientists and the public, since understanding the evolutionary roots of this behaviour is challenging. For example, why do males court females and compete with other males whereas usually the females look after the young, although in a small number of species these "conventional" sex roles are completely reserved?
Attila Reményi (1973) biologist, research fellow at HAS Research Centre for Natural Sciences; founded a Momentum research group in 2013
Systems level profiling of cell growth and death promoting MAP kinase networks
299 345
Cells in our body constantly renew themselves or die. There is a fine balance between these two processes throughout life. In pathological cellular states, the balance between growth and death is offset, which will lead to unbridled cell proliferation or chronic inflammation, respectively. There are enzymes in the cell which control these processes, called protein kinases. The researchers have been studying how a special group of kinases, called MAP kinases, work. There are several type of these MAP kinase: some are involved in promoting cell growth, while others promote cell death. The researchers believe that the key in understanding how cells decide if they grow or die lies in the way MAP kinases bind to other proteins. Based on our experience coming from fifteen years of research in the field, the researchers have created “designer cells” - modified human cells – in which the researchers can selectively turn on one kinase at a time. The researchers expect that this system can be used to explore how MAP kinases bind to and activate or deactivate proteins that are directly regulating cell growth or death. This new knowledge at hand will be used to set up new, cell-based experimental systems in which the balance between growth and death in pathological cellular states can be re-established by using drugs or their combination.
Tamás Horváth L. (1967) veterinary surgeon, professor at Yale University and University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest
Hunger controls aging
299 640
Tremendous scientific progress in modern medicine and hygiene over the last century has helped solve common causes of human mortality. These developments however, have also revealed a plethora of new problems, such as chronic diseases as result of aging. Age is the single biggest risk factor for diseases. Nevertheless, the biomedical research enterprise all around the world spends equivalent of billions of euros every year to tackle each chronic disease separately. This disease focused approach has unquestionably produced new treatments, however, longevity has come with disability, where management of one age‐related chronic disease has been traded with emergence of another. Calorie restriction benefits health and extends lifespan in all species so far studies. The goal of our proposal is to develop mechanistic understanding of how calorie restriction benefits health- and life-span mediated by the brain with the long-term goal to develop mimic calorie restriction without its undesirable side effects, such as constant hunger and related stress.
3 000 000

Updated: 19 December 2018
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To ensure value-based professional evaluation of proposals arriving in large quantities from the fields of discovery and applied research and innovation, to assess professional reports of funded projects and to prepare policy opinions, the NRDI Office intends to expand its expert pool in all fields of expertise.

Professionals who have registered in the database of the NRDI Office can become responsible contributors, as independent peer-reviewers, to the evaluation process in which the professional quality, novelty content and commercialisation perspectives of the proposals as compared to the requested funding should be assessed as core considerations.

The registration process can be initiated through the registration form of the NRDI Office’s website. Registration is continuously open.

Requested data within the expert registration form include:

  • personal data, contact details (necessary for contracting review assignments);
  • classification of professional skills and competencies and research areas (to get review invitations fine-tuned to your field of expertise);
  • topics of the previously reviewed proposals;
  • present and past jobs, interest networks (in order to pre-screening of conflicts of interest in a given rview assignment), education, scientific titles, most important publications and intellectual works demonstrating your professional experience;
  • language skills.

Professionals once registered in the database of experts may be invited by the NRDI Office to review submitted proposals, to assess professional reports of funded projects and to contribute to policy opinions.

Each proposal is reviewed by several independent experts at the same time. Experts selected from the database to review proposals, to assess professional reports and facilitate expert opinions will be contracted by the NRDI Office on a case-by-case basis. When concluding such a contract experts must declare that the review assignment is not obstructed by any conflict of interest whatsoever. Depending on the competition type, written expert reviews must be prepared in 15-28 work days and submitted electronically via the online review portal of the NRDI Office.


For further information contact at phone +36 1 795 9500 or email at

The timing and the budget of the RDI funding schemes of the EU-financed operational programme (Economic Development and Innovation Operational Programme Plus - EDIOP Plus) has been approved by the Government within the Annual Development Plan (ADP), upon the proposal of the NRDI Office.

The 2022 calls for domestic RDI proposals financed from the NRDI Fund are set out in the annual Programme Strategy adopted by the Government.
(Government Decree 1414/2022. (VIII. 18.)

The table below shows the calls announced for the period 2021-2027 and their amounts, broken down by year.

(Bn HUF)

(Bn HUF)

Economic Development and Innovation Operational Programme Plusz
136,670 - 5 -
National Research, Development and Innovation Fund
189,384 - 143,8293
ITM (2021) Ministry for Innovation and Technology (2021) 11 - - -
RRF Recovery and Resilience Facility 153,141 - 39,750 -
490,195 - 188,5793 -

NRF= non-refundable
RF= refundable

Calls for proposals
(Bn HUF)

(Bn HUF)



Support of business RDI activities
Stimulating business research, development and innovation
GINOP Plusz-2.1.2-21
136,67 - - -
Targeted R&D services Targeted R&D services to businesses, research sites, and research and knowledge-dissemination organisations
GINOP Plusz-2.2.1-22
- - 5 -
Energetics Calls The implementation of developments for the recovery, storage or market-based use of waste heat through innovative storage or conversion technologies
5 - - -
The implementation of developments promoting innovative electrochemical storage of surplus carbon-free electricity
6 - - -
Practice-oriented higher education Infrastructure and skills development for practice-oriented higher education
81,476 - - -
National Laboratories Establishment and complex development of the National Laboratory
71,765 - - -
Higher education courses and services adapted to the core activities of adult education institution Institutional innovation of higher education courses and services adapted to the core activities of adult education institutions and strengthening of adult learning activities in higher education
RRF-2.1.3- 22
- - 39,750 -
Innovation Sub-fund
Support for market-driven RDI projects Support for market-driven RDI projects
2020-1.1.2-PIACI KFI; 2021-1.1.3-PIACI KFI
59,06 - 40,4673 -
KKV Start programme KKV Start Innovation
2020-1.1.1-KKV START
12 - - -
Fast track programme Fast track
2020-1.1.5-GYORSÍTÓSÁV; 2021-1.1.4-GYORSÍTÓSÁV
3 - 12,85 -
Intellectual property Support of activities fostering the domestic and international protection of intellectual property with the aim of facilitating the utilisation of such intellectual property
2020-1.1.3-IPARJOG, 2021-1.1.1-IPARJOG
0,4 - 0,3 -
University Innovation Ecosystema
University Innovation Ecosystem
2019-1.2.1-EGYETEMI ÖKO
2 - - -
International programmes 2019-2.1.3-NEMZ_ECSEL (2021); 2019-2.1.2-NEMZ (2021); 2020-1.2.1-GYAK (2021); 2021-1.2.1-EIT-KIC (2021); 2021-1.2.4-TÉT (2021); 2021-1.2.5-TÉT-IPARI-RU (2021) 2019-2.1.7-ERA-NET (2021. 2022); 2020-1.2.3-EUREKA (2021, 2022); 2021-1.2.2-EU_KKV (2021. 2022); 2021-1.2.3-EU_KP (2021, 2022); 2021-4.1.2-NEMZ_KI (2021, 2022); 2021-1.2.6-TÉT-IPARI-MA (2021), 2022-1.2.4-EUREKA (2022); 2022-1.2.6-TÉT-IPARI-TR (2022); 2022-1.2.3-GYAK (2022); 2022-1.2.2-TÉT-IPARI-UZ (2022), 2022-1.2.5-TÉT-IPARI-KR (2022) 3,5 - 6 -
Centres of excellence
Establishing and developing centres of excellence2022-1.1.1-KK - - 20,7 -
Startup Programme Startup Programme - - 8,5 -
Investment in the future Fund Investment in the future
7 - - -
Development of an applied research network Participation in the National Network of Applied Research Institutes
1,63 - - -
Research Sub-fund
Thematic Excellence Programme 2021 Thematic Excellence Programme
75 - - -
New National Excellence Programme New National Excellence Programme – Call for Research Scholarship Applications for Undergraduate Students
ÚNKP-21-1; ÚNKP-22-1
0,60 - 0,828 -
New National Excellence Programme – Call for Research Scholarship Applications for Graduate Students
ÚNKP-21-2; ÚNKP-22-2
New National Excellence Programme – Call for Research Scholarship Applications for PhD Students
ÚNKP-21-3; ÚNKP-22-3
1 - 1,2 -
New National Excellence Programme – “Power Up Science!” Call for Research Scholarship Applications for Doctoral Candidate sand Postdoctors
ÚNKP-21-4; ÚNKP-22-4
0,832 - 1,052 -
New National Excellence Programme – Call for Scholarship Applications for Bolyai+ Higher Education Teachers and Researchers
ÚNKP-21-5; ÚNKP-22-5
1,40 - 0,70 -
New National Excellence Programme – “Power up your Talent!” Call for Research Scholarship Applications for New Higher Education Students
ÚNKP-21-6; ÚNKP-22-6
0,168 - 0,22 -
Postdoctoral and Young researchers’ excellence programme and Call for thematic research projects Postdoctoral and Young researchers’ excellence programme and Call for thematic research projects (OTKA)
PD_21, FK_21, K_21, ANN_21, SNN_21
PD_22, FK_22, K_22, ANN_22, SNN_22
12,9 - 13,5 -
Patronage Programme Science Patronage Programme
1 - - -
Forefront – Research Excellence Programme Forefront – Research Excellence Programme
KKP_21, KKP_22
3 - 3 -
Cooperative Doctoral Programme Cooperative Doctoral Programme
4,894 - 2,832 -
Strategic R&D centres Strategic R&D centres
- - 3 -
Development of the Selye János Student Lab Network Development of the Selye János Student Lab Network - - 2 -
National Laboratories Sub-fund
National Laboratories Establishment and complex development of the National Laboratories
- - 26,6 -
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