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Description of the National Laboratories
29 January 2021
Last modified: 23 March 2021
Reading time: 44 minute(s)

Consortium leader:
Institute for Computer Science and Control

Consortium members:
Széchenyi István University
Budapest University of Technology and Economics

Thematic area:
Industry and Digitisation

Brief description:

By concentrating the forces of the domestic professional and scientific community in the field of mobility, the National Laboratory aims to provide effective and innovative solutions for research tasks, relying on the available expertise, technical equipment and relevant research results in an integrated way with a focus on road vehicles, aircraft and mobile robots. Its activity is directed towards mobility research, development demonstrating functional and cooperative operation, the facilitation of knowledge transfer, preparation of publicly funded and industrial projects, and education. The generated research results and know-how not only help to increase the added value of the domestic automotive industry but, through the communication of the results and the promotion of closer collaboration between industry and academia, it will also raise public confidence in autonomous vehicles.

The Autonomous Systems National Laboratory is interested in integrating academia, the industrial sector, micro, small and medium enterprises and educational institutions into the Hungarian innovation ecosystem and boost Hungary’s competitiveness.

Central to the activity of the National Laboratory is mapping and continuously updating the national competence map. The competences of the founding members are already known, but the national competence map and the needs of economic stakeholders suggest that it is necessary to expand the portfolio of funding schemes towards more interdisciplinary fields in law, telecommunications and cyber-security, aligned with industrial needs. The digitisation of industry (Industry 4.0) leads to the challenging questions of autonomy and the design and operation of autonomous but connected production systems.

Research and development in cyber-physical production systems made up of autonomous elements focus on the following research activities:

  • autonomous robotics, including in particular human-machine interaction and collaboration;
  • internal logistic system comprising autonomous vehicles;
  • digital twin models and integration of the above systems;
  • industrial data analysis;
  • reliability identification and control of autonomous systems using the stochastic methods of machine learning;
  • setting up a production and logistic lab organised from autonomous elements.

In the above fields, research is motivated by practical industrial needs, so the Laboratory intends to develop evidence-based solutions to complex problems such as the people-centred automation of production systems, human-robot collaboration, autonomous internal logistics, supported by digital twin modelling, and continuous adaptation through industrial data analysis. The facilitation of increased cooperation is a key factor in the production and logistic system of autonomous elements.

The digital twin models of the consortium enable real-time monitoring of processes, identification and forecast of events, and (re)design of tasks to be performed. The innovative solutions are demonstrated in the cyber-physical production system labs in Budapest and Győr, which are open to both the industry and the academia. The solutions that require special expertise and computational infrastructure are made widely accessible to domestic SMEs in the form of cloud services.

The National Laboratory considers it a mission to widely propagate its technical, economic and social research results in connection with autonomous systems, and more generally, the ecosystem approach.

Implementing entity:
Biological Research Centre in Szeged

Thematic area:
Health

Brief description:

The primary objective of the Biotechnology National Laboratory is to develop uniquely competitive technologies and therapeutic procedures using cutting-edge biotechnology in Hungary.

The first strategic objective is to develop effective protection to combat drug-resistant bacteria. Partly because of the genetic properties of bacteria, partly as a result of the widespread, excessive use of antibiotics outside human medicine in recent decades, today we are facing a number of new versions of bacteria that are resistant to known, approved antibacterial agents. Such multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria very often become resistant to drugs and multiply in hospitals and other health facilities which further aggravates the situation. Thus, MDR bacteria have posed a serious health issue and are responsible for a large number of deaths throughout the world. It is extremely worrying that with the current trends, according to WHO measurements and estimates, multi-drug resistant infections will cause more deaths than cancer by 2050. The Laboratory aims to develop and sell new antibiotic molecules and bacteriophage-based therapies.

Another common way to combat serious infectious diseases is vaccination. Widespread vaccination in the past half century enabled humanity to effectively restrict smallpox, measles, polio and many other infections. Despite this, vaccination based on conventional methods and the vaccines so produced have several disadvantageous properties. Traditional vaccines containing attenuated pathogens or the purified proteins of pathogens are often not sufficiently effective and even carry security risks. In addition, the preparation and testing of traditional vaccines is a lengthy process and is, therefore, unsuitable for addressing sudden outbreaks of diseases such as Ebola, Zika or the coronavirus. However, recently developed mRNA vaccines offer revolutionary new opportunities in this area. The production of RNA vaccines is fast, cheap and safe, therefore, RNA vaccination looks promising new way of addressing sudden pandemics, as well as fighting off local outbreaks. The Laboratory aims to introduce this method in Hungary.

Although, in aggregate, the so-called “rare diseases” constitute a serious health problem, due their low frequency of occurrence by disease type they are treated as a stepchild in the highly profit-driven, modern pharmaceutical industry. Genetic modification enables the creation of authentic animal models of human diseases, which can speed up and cheapen the filtration of pharmaceutical molecules. The Laboratory aims to develop new animal models for unknown rare diseases and use them to find drug molecules suitable for the treatment of rear diseases.

Accordingly, the Biotechnology National Laboratory intends to start its activity by organizing three sub-programmes: 1) Development of new antibiotics and alternative molecular therapies against antibiotic-resistant pathogens, 2) Foundation of the first domestic research centre suitable for developing mRNS-based vaccination methods; Development of African swine fever vaccines (ASFV), and 3) Mapping of the genetic causes of rare diseases and development of therapeutic solutions by creating authentic preclinical models and screening approved drug panels. The drug development procedures introduced by the sub-programmes of the Biotechnology National Laboratory will potentially boost the long-term competitiveness of Hungarian innovative pharmaceutical production.

Implementing entity:
National University of Public Service

Thematic area:
Secure Society and Environment

Brief description:

Due to its national security duties, the National University of Public Service engages in basic research of national strategy importance to address challenges such as migration, energy security, cyber security, disaster prevention and climate protection. Following the National Security Strategy of Hungary (Government Decision 1162/2020 (IV. 21.)), the Security Technologies National Laboratory is a country-wide research hub for programmes aimed at the integrated research of the three pillars of technology-based security (institutional security, settlement security and cyber security) and related innovations. According to the Government’s strategy, “The multilateral – political, economic, financial, social, technological, environmental, health, military, law enforcement, IT and cyberspace – safety and security of Hungary and Hungarian citizens is a fundamental value.” The National Laboratory operates as a comprehensive, open research framework for security technology research that increases the potential of domestic research projects to join European research and partnership programmes, and provides the necessary scientific background and academic infrastructure for this.

Consortium leader:
Eötvös Loránd University

Consortium members:
University of Miskolc
National Archives of Hungary (from 2021)
ELKH Humanities Research Centre (from 2021)

Thematic area:
Culture and Family

Brief description:

We have been witnessing two parallel and closely related trends in the first decades of the 21st century in culture, science and education. First, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is refashioning and even replacing established research methodologies at an unseen pace, and second, the digitisation of cultural heritage and the production of “born digital” materials in increasing volumes and proportions are creating data spaces and networks of unseen magnitudes. It is obvious that the change of research methodology (including not only scientific research, but also market-focused activities, such as market research, PR or even political analysis) is also restructuring the subject matter of research and education: if the volume of digitally available primary or secondary textual and audio-visual resources exceed by several times the absorption capacity of professionals (researchers, lecturers, end users) who formulate conclusions based on the sources, and if it has become impossible to even roughly review such sources without computer help, then publication, accessibility, research and the digital education of future generations must already reckon with the new situation created by the emergence of Artificial Intelligence.

In order to make large amounts of materials containing Hungarian texts, whether historical sources, press releases, media outlets or web 2.0 sources (blogs, forums, chat, etc.) understandable even at semantic level for humanities, social science or market-focused research and education and for the public in general, currently available services and algorithms must be improved at multiple levels, e.g. by creating more extensive and better teaching materials, inventing higher quality programming architecture, and developing standardised, internationalised inputs and outputs. This requires a coordinated effort from computational linguists, digital scholars and IT professionals, as well as close cooperation between public collections, research sites, universities and private sector operators at institutional level.

The main mission of the Digital Heritage National Laboratory is to develop the methodology for the AI-based processing, research and education of national cultural heritage, as well as for ensuring the widest possible accessibility thereof, while also creating best practices for the commercial exploitation of new methodologies, tools and expert competency development.

Major duties:

  • Development of language processing algorithms optimised to Hungarian language to open up space for text-based education, research and market applications.
  • Prioritised integration of Hungarian cross-border corpora into Ai-based services to overcome the current imbalances.
  • Provision of wide smart access to digital cultural heritage for research purposes through Artificial Intelligence. Acceleration of digitisation with AI, machine keyword tagging of the results of mass digitisation, automatic recognition of manuscripts to greatly increase the volume of cultural content that is available, sensibly selectable and widely accessible.
  • The web harvesting of the online sources of Hungarian and cross-border Hungarian communities for research and innovation purposes, and archiving and publication of “born digital” content to save an extremely valuable and vulnerable segment of the Hungarian national culture.
  • Participating in international research networks that formerly lacked Hungarian contribution to enable two-way knowledge transfer and the involvement of new public and private funds.
For more information visit MILAB's official webpage: https://dh-lab.hu/

    Implementing entity:
    ELI-HU Nonprofit Ltd.

    Thematic area:
    Industry and Digitisation

    Brief description:

    In 2020, the National Laboratory Programme was extended with the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) project which is an integral part of the planned and currently developed generation of Europe’s large research facilities of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). The ELI is the world’s first facility to enable the examination of interaction between light and matter at unprecedented intensities, even in the so-called ultrarelativistic range. This will open new doors in physics and can lay the foundations of new technical developments, such as relativistic microelectronics and compact (desktop size) laser particle accelerators. ELI will have a significant impact on many areas of materials science, medicine and environmental protection.

    Legal grounds of funding:

    Government Decision 1016/2020 (I. 31.) on government measures necessary for setting up the ELI European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ELI ERIC)

    Consortium leader:
    University of Pannonia

    Consortium member:
    Ecology Centre for Natural Sciences

    Thematic area:
    Secure Society and Environment

    Brief description:

    In addition to exploring the causes of climate change and their natural, economic and social impact, the Climate Change National Laboratory also performs research and development in technological, economic and social adaptation as follows.

    The causes of climate change and their natural and agri-economic impact:

    1. Aerosol particles from combustion have a significant impact on the climate because they affect the amount of radiation energy reaching the surface. Soot particles are especially important in this regard as they not only have serious adverse health effects but also very efficiently absorb radiant energy from the sun. The Laboratory tries to explore the so far unregulated sources of soot particles, particularly by estimating the extent of illegal municipal waste burning, determining the chemical and absorption properties of the particles and quantifying their energetic contribution to climate change, as well as to participate in industrial combustion technology development aimed at minimising soot emissions.
    2. The Laboratory will examine how global warming affects the amount, productivity, species and size composition of planktonic organisms and macrophytes living in Lake Balaton, as well as their annual trends, and how climatic effects influence chemical communication taking place in aquatic ecosystems.
    3. In the field of conservation of biodiversity, the Laboratory examines how climate change affects the diversity of flora and fauna, ecosystem functions and environmental services in fresh water. The researchers assess changes in land use, the quality and connectivity of habitats and the spatial and temporal dynamics of the populations of invasive species, as well as the expected impact of climate change on the dynamics, taxonomic and functional diversity and ecological functions of populations of native species.
    4. The effects of climate change must also be monitored in an integrated way at the level of ecosystems. Not only individual organisms or species, but also the relations between organisms, the structure and operation of the systems are vulnerable to climate change. The Laboratory uses simulation models to examine the vulnerability of complex ecological systems. The model forecasts are tested in experimental mezocosm systems. The Laboratory integrates useful system indicators into the Balaton monitoring system to provide a consistent picture of the state of the lake and its vulnerability to climate change.
    5. Climate change will bring about significant changes in fish farming. With the currently used technologies Hungarian fish farming is not effective in the long run: completely new approaches will be needed. For this reason, the Laboratory is developing environmentally friendly fish-farming techniques that are better adapted to changes than the current methods. Research focuses on the following two main areas: 1) increasing tolerance against pathogens by means of repeated heat treatments in specific developmental periods; and (2) the development of a sustainable, environmentally friendly animal nutrition technology.
    6. Research in agronomy, horticulture, ecology, genetics and animal science focuses on adaptation to climate change, more specifically the impact of reduced precipitation on ecosystems, in order to prepare for adaptation. Research activities further focus on the drought tolerance and water utilisation coefficient of ornamental shrubs, pear, pepper and vines; the development of technologies enabling eco-friendly farming and improved soil water management; mycotoxins of endophytic fungi on drought tolerant grass species that poison ruminants; the exploration of the cytological or genetic background of animal and plant stress responses; and the development of cytomic and genomic tools for breeding.

    Research and development of solutions supporting the mitigation of climate change and the adaptative capacity of technological, economic and social systems:

    1. In order to identify the challenges of climate change and potential ways to address them, the Laboratory performs analyses with data and system science tools and develops decision support solutions which can be used to determine the climate change sensitivity of settlements, improve environment and social resilience, and develop the ability of individuals, settlements, supply networks and communities to adapt, change and learn. Big data, artificial intelligence (machine learning), network analysis, geographic information systems and systems science will be used in an integrative way to achieve these aims. The innovative development of this toolset and the expansion of the analytical potential of the entire project and, more broadly, the international scientific community engaged in climate change are secondary objectives.
    2. The Laboratory aims to develop the Water 4.0 research infrastructure system to manage water supply problems expected to result from climate change, which will allow the automation of, and remote access to, a variety of water treatment and water management tasks both in new and existing water technology systems.
    3. The impact of climate change on economic and business life is examined from the perspective of local economic development and food waste, the level of CSR activities, individual consumption (lifestyle, attitude) and responsible marketing.
    4. The social effects of climate change are investigated in respect of their communication and educational aspects, from global to regional level, taking into account the possibilities of mitigation and adaptation.

    The main research focus of the Laboratory is the responsibility, interest and involvement of different social groups, institutions and economic and cultural actors in climate change and the effective action against its effects.

    Implementing entity:
    HCEMM Nonprofit Kft.

    Thematic area:
    Health

    Brief description:

    In 2020, the National Laboratory Programme was extended with the HCEMM Teaming project.

    The Hungarian Centre of Excellence for Molecular Medicine (HCEMM) is a research and innovation programme co-funded by Horizon 2020 Teaming. The Centre of Excellence is managed by the Szeged-based HCEMM Nonprofit Kft, founded by the Biological Research Centre in Szeged and Semmelweis University.

    The HCEMM project aims to create an independent Centre of Excellence for Molecular Medicine, which places great emphasis on translational medicine, the promotion of the clinical application of basic research results and the provision of scientific excellence based on international evaluation. An additional aim is to make the centre a regional hub for scientific excellence, training and employing highly qualified researchers and engaged in cutting-edge research in molecular medicine.

    Legal grounds of funding:

    Government Decision 1356/2016 (VII.12.) on the provision of public funds to Hungarian consortia selected as winners in the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Teaming programme for participation in Phase 2 of the programme

    Implementing entity:
    University of Pécs

    Thematic area:
    Health

    Brief description:

    Reproduction disorder is a major medical and social problem: in Hungary, the proportion of married couples with infertility problems reaches 15% (about 150,000 couples). Extensive, innovative, integrated clinical R&D in human reproduction supported by cutting-edge infrastructure is essential for enhanced infertility treatments and assisted reproduction treatments, and thus for ensuring demographic stability.

    The versatile research of reproduction disorders dates back many years at the University of Pécs (PTE) and has received public funding many times since 2012. In recent years, PTE has produced a number of publications in D1/Q1 journals and five patents.

    Research profiles of the Human Reproduction National Laboratory and internationalisation of results: Reproductive clinical diagnostics, clinical interactions, reproductive endocrinology, immunology, genetic testing related to reproduction, microvesicle research, female and male infertility research, in vitro fertilization research, analysis of the health burden of reproduction disorders, and health economic analysis. Development of new testing protocols in these fields; elaboration of the conditions of clinical use. As a priority task, the Human Reproduction National Laboratory increases research activity within PTE with the involvement of external partners. The internationalisation and multi-country clinical testing of the clinical research results of the Laboratory are ensured by the HECRIN network, with its national headquarter also in PTE Szentágothai Research Centre.

    The research activity of the Laboratory provides the professional background for setting new health policy objectives, elaborating professional guidelines for the human reproduction industry, developing cost-efficient health action plans and improving the primary care. For research purposes, the Laboratory collaborates and shares research results with public infertility treatment organisations.

    Consortium leader:
    National Security Service

    Consortium member:
    IdomSoft Informatikai Zártkörűen Működő Részvénytársaság

    Thematic area:
    Secure Society and Environment

    Brief description:

    As a remarkable result of today’s unfolding information revolution, the development and increased symbiosis of individual technologies, in particular next generation mobile technologies (5G, 6G), artificial intelligence and quantum computing, have brought the achievement of technological singularity within reach.

    To unlock the full potential of the latest technological innovations (5G, MI, IoT etc.), and enjoy their economic and social benefits, we have to dynamically respond to new security challenges that will keep cropping up.

    The increase of threats from cyberspace is an alarming trend from the perspective of the protection of Hungary’s sovereignty, the continuity of government agencies, critical infrastructure and public services, and national security and public safety as a whole. The near real-time detection of such threats, rapid response to them, and the dynamic development of the necessary skills all have national security significance, and as such, are key priorities for the Special Service for National Security.

    To this end, it is one of the long-term goals of the Laboratory to contribute to the targeted and conscious use of the national data asset and to the creation of the necessary professional environment. The agencies of the Ministry of the Interior are committed to facilitating the exploitation of results by means of R&D in cyber-security, law and order, law enforcement, e-government; domestic AI research; and the coordination of resources.

    Main research focus:

    • connecting the semantic interoperability of technical systems relating to basic registers and national data asset registers to AI technologies;
    • connecting the middleware that enables electronic (automatic) cooperation between public administration technical systems to adaptive solutions;
    • formal description of administrative procedures and machine representation;
    • R&D required for the protection of the national data asset

    Further focus areas of the Laboratory include ICT, IT, cyber security research and the development of related competencies.

    The aim of this sub-project is to promote, based on the latest R&D results in ITC, IT and cyber security, the national security and cyber security development goals set out in the strategy of the Special Service for National Security through research that enhances service capacity and efficiency.

    Main research focus:

    • 5G related cyber defence research;
    • research of potential applications of artificial intelligence (AI) in cyber defence;
    • support of the development of cyber skills (detection, reconnaissance, response)1;
    • examination of the vulnerability of protocols and encryption algorithms, quantum communication

    Cyber security assigns special attention to awareness-raising, the establishment of appropriate resilience, and ultimately the reinforcement of Hungary’s cyber-sovereignty, that is, the reduction of the current levels of exposure. To this end, the Laboratory also engages in sensitisation and resilience building, underpinned by the methodological research activity listed among the planned activities.

    Consortium leader:
    Wigner Research Centre for Physics

    Consortium members:
    Budapest University of Technology and Economics
    Eötvös Loránd University

    Thematic area:
    Industry and Digitisation

    Brief description:

    The Quantum Information Science National Laboratory brings together domestic human resources in physics, engineering, mathematics and IT to focus them on certain rapidly developing theoretical and applied fields of quantum technology. The carefully considered and coordinated development activities of the National Laboratory can maximize the role and significance of Hungary in the emerging science of quantum computing.

    It is extremely important for the Hungarian R&D performing industries to be able to participate effectively in joint RDI programmes and to actively contribute to the dynamic development of the field. This goal is enabled by the enhanced research infrastructure and human resources provided by the Laboratory.

    The main directions of the Quantum Information Science National Laboratory programme:

    • Setting up of a regional quantum communication network that can be connected to the quantum internet planned in the European Union.
    • Development of hardware components based on atoms and artificial atoms for quantum informatics operations and maintenance of the necessary laboratory background on an internationally top level.
    • Building of a domestic base of experts with state-of-the-art knowledge in quantum computing and the ability to use quantum computers operated as large infrastructures.

    The National Laboratory makes a significant and substantial contribution to the transformation and modernisation of the research profile in research institutes and universities in the direction of quantum informatics topics. It stabilises and increases the number of research teams representing international excellence. With this, it also stimulates researcher recruitment and the education of the domestic expert base, which is essential for the expansion of the RDI field. The outstanding, attractive environment promotes the integration of young people studying abroad in the field of quantum informatics into the domestic research and development sector.

    The National Laboratory, together with ELKH research institutes and universities, forms a strong expert base and at the same time supplies professionals for the creation and development of an innovation ecosystem in which Hungarian industry has long traditions and great achievements such as IT, telecommunications, high precision optical and microscope development and manufacturing, medical diagnostics and space industry. The National Laboratory takes on a coordinating role in this and stimulates the development of cooperation with Hungarian SMEs interested in quantum informatics-related technologies. The experimental research and development work and software development planned in the National Laboratory provide an excellent opportunity for this, as they are a natural breeding ground for technological spin-off companies and the efficiency of research goals can be significantly increased by involving already active and innovative high-tech companies. These companies can grow their portfolios by engaging in the manufacture of usable quantum hardware or software components, or by entering new area with low to moderate investment demand.

    Consortium leader:
    Institute for Computer Science and Control

    Consortium members:
    Rényi Alfréd Institute of Mathematics
    Budapest University of Technology and Economics
    Eötvös Loránd University
    University of Szeged
    Semmelweis University
    Institute of Experimental Medicine
    Centre for Social Sciences
    Széchenyi István University
    National Security Service

    Thematic area:
    Industry and Digitisation

    Brief description:

    The aim of the Artificial Intelligence National Laboratory (MILAB) is to strengthen Hungary’s role in the field of AI. The international and domestic environment of AI is characterised by particularly fierce competition for professionals, disruptive opportunities and short time to market. The European Union is making great efforts to catch up with US and Chinese development capabilities. Domestic research on artificial intelligence is currently characterised by fragmentation, competition and separation. There is no single artificial intelligence umbrella over resources that fit into application-specific large-scale programmes. Several universities/research sites have good relations with adopter businesses, but social innovation is also needed to embrace technological innovation. The consortium intends to build its domestic research on the base existing around some of the currently highly studied topics (e.g. health image processing, transport, manufacturing, logistics) and internationally outstanding Hungarian mathematical and physical researchers (graph theory, network research).

    The goals and tasks of MILAB:

    1. Financing of key basic and applied research topics (publications, patents, new industrial relations, technology transfer).
    2. Networking, building on synergies between individual actors, representation of competencies in market and international projects.
    3. Internationalisation, interconnected research ecosystem.
    4. Source multiplication, risky research and research of high societal relevance.
    5. Coordination towards market and application needs, organization of demos and conferences.

    Priority research areas (also set out in the strategy):

    • Industrial research: medical diagnostic and biometric applications, agri-food industry, transport, manufacturing, telecommunications.
    • Research on the mathematical foundations of artificial intelligence and deep learning.
    • Development of machine vision, natural language processing.
    Research on data processing technologies for the protection of personal data.
    For more information please visit MLAB's website: https://mi.nemzetilabor.hu/

    Implementing entities:
    Molekuláris- Ujjlenyomat Kutató Közhasznú Nonprofit Kft.
    University of Szeged

    Thematic area:
    Health

    Brief description:

    In 2020, the National Laboratory Programme was extended with the Centre for Molecular Fingerprinting project.

    As a result of the aging society in developed countries, the increase in life expectancy at birth, there is an upward trend in diseases of civilization, one of the key elements of which is early detection. Quality of life indicators, such as the number of healthy life years, correlate with the burden on the health care system and are therefore highly relevant to the national economy.

    The molecular composition of body fluids (primarily blood plasma) is a sensitive indicator of the physiological state of the human body. The possibility of detecting minimal changes in this complex system can be of great importance in our efforts to gain a better understanding of the functioning of the body, thus opening a new platform in medical diagnostics (the early detection of diseases).

    Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) and Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics (MPQ) in Germany have developed a globally unique technology: the measurement of the femto-attosecond resolution, high-specificity, high-sensitivity “molecular fingerprint” of the blood sample with ultrashort infrared laser pulses. The method involves the possibility of early detection of diseases. The main goal of Molecular Fingerprint Research Nonprofit Ltd. (Centre for Molecular Fingerprinting or CMF) is to further develop this laser molecular “fingerprinting” method and to validate it on a large plasma sample collected in Hungary and partner countries. Blood-based infrared molecular fingerprinting for next-generation molecular diagnostics is used to monitor the health of volunteers who declare themselves healthy and to detect various diseases (primarily cancer and cardiovascular diseases) in the context of human medical research. Research and development objectives cover several disciplines, such as:

    • The development of laser technologies underlying the molecular “fingerprinting” method and the establishment of laser laboratories for the analysis of plasma samples.
    • The formation of clinical and other collaborations that provide access to a representative population necessary for the collection of hundreds of thousands of samples; and the development of the relevant own infrastructure.
    • Establishment of a state-of-the-art infrastructure for the long-term secure storage of human samples; and storage of clinical information related to the samples.
    • Development and application of machine learning algorithms for the analysis of samples, the determination of the normal range of the fingerprint, and the early detection of diseases.

    The research results so far suggest that the sensitivity, dynamic range and cost-effectiveness of the new measurement method may significantly outperform the currently available full-molecular-spectrum methods. For both common diseases and malignant neoplasms, the method looks promising based on pilot studies. If confirmed, the method’s positive effects may also occur at the societal level. CMF is further developing laser-based infrared molecular fingerprinting technology, testing and validating its efficacy against other methods for clinically relevant pathologies.
    The comprehensive, long-term goal of the research and development activity is to develop a reliable, laser blood sampling method that:

    • provides an opportunity for rapid, cost-effective monitoring of the health status of the population, and
    • early detection of signs of emerging diseases.

    To this end, the long-term goal of CMF is to combine laser physics, molecular sciences, and machine learning to create a new platform for modern medicine. CMF establishes strategic collaborations with the world’s leading specialists and institutes in the field of sample and data collection, measurement and analysis related to the molecular fingerprinting of human samples, as well as for the development of state-of-the-art infrastructure.

    Legal grounds of funding:

    Government Decision 1096/2019 (III. 8.) on the capacity allocation and the measures needed to increase the capacity allocation of the ELI-ALPS laser research centre.

    Implementing entity:
    Wigner Research Centre for Physics

    Thematic area:
    Secure Society and Environment

    Brief description:

    One of the keys to the development of a growing human population is efficient, abundant and environmentally friendly energy production. Among the physical processes known today, nuclear fusion is suitable for this in the long run. The Laboratory investigates the effects of plasmons induced by ultrashort laser pulses (collective electron oscillations) in a pioneering new way to establish the development of inertial fusion techniques. Based on preliminary theoretical studies, igniting nuclear fusion in this way may become more efficient and economical. Similar research is already underway elsewhere, e.g. in the US, France and China. The proposal of the Research Laboratory represents a new, innovative approach in this field.

    The Research Laboratory wants to utilise the plasmon generation of short but intense laser pulses. Plasmons are the common, coherent motion of many electrons, thus they represent a larger mass, which in turn increases the chance of a neutron-producing reaction. Neutron generation by plasmons has only recently been observed. These neutrons do not necessarily leave the target, but can generate heat dissipation and secondary radiation in it. This may be the physical basis for energy production even before fusion, but to a lesser extent than the laser energy invested. However, some neutrons can also be trapped in the target material, causing artificial element transformation. The probability and yield of the processes are difficult to calculate with theoretical methods, and the final word in choosing the best method is given by experimental measurements. Knowledge of the results of experimental measurements is necessary to proceed.

    During the implementation of the project, researchers will first experiment with transparent plastics that can be enriched with gold nanorode antennas to condense energy communication. Here, up to a thousand-fold improvement in local energy density is expected, targeting the fusion threshold competitively with large laser equipment. According to the plans of the Research Laboratory, if the energy of the lasers already available at the Wigner Research Centre for Physics is not enough, they will turn to the ELI in Szeged to shoot nanoplasmonic targets with stronger laser pulses. If the fusion threshold becomes available or achievable here, the Research Laboratory will achieve its main goal and start development work in the second phase in order to use these physical processes for power production.

    Consortium leader:
    National Food Chain Safety Authority

    Consortium member:
    National Agricultural Research and Innovation Centre

    Thematic area:
    Secure Society and Environment

    Brief description:

    Arable land is the most valuable conditionally renewable natural asset of our country, the preservation of which is our shared responsibility for future generations. This task has already been performed by Act CXXIX of 2007 on the protection of arable land. Pursuant to Section 32 (2), the state shall establish and operate a soil protection authority and a soil database that is free from personal data. The greatest role of this database is in monitoring soil protection and maintaining soil fertility. Based on this information, appropriate professional advice can also be provided.

    Recognising the importance of the above goals, a need has emerged for creating a soil database as the basis for the Nutrient Management Advisory System and the Digital Soil Database (Soil Web).

    The main objective of the Laboratory is to create a central database – detailed below – which can be used by both farmers and administrative bodies to perform all their tasks related to soil protection and nutrient replenishment without having to take any additional financial or administrative burden.

    • A national, central database containing the test results measured in Hungarian soil laboratories will be created.
    • A unified laboratory testing methodology will be developed with the necessary infrastructural and equipment developments.
    • A specially designed interface system will be created for public institutions, which will allow access to various databases or the download of data, and
    • The provision of quality data for state actors, which enables the development of the services discussed in the DAS, will be implemented with a web application that publishes the soil parameters derived from the database in map form, in an aggregated way on an open access interface.

    It is crucial that both producers and the state have objective and independent measurement results in order to make informed economic and policy decisions in terms of economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability.

    Another key goal of the National Laboratory is to establish a centre specializing in the developmental testing of prototypes of new agricultural machinery, equipment and input materials under development, which would significantly contribute to the innovation activities of Hungarian agricultural and machinery/input material manufacturers and strengthen their market presence.

    Developmental testing of machinery and input materials should aim to increase practical value. This characteristic is not an indicator consisting of a few data, but many elements that are influenced by environmental impacts (e.g. soil and plant conditions, climate characteristics) as well as economic and social expectations (e.g. in addition to performance indicators, quality of work, health and environmental protection).

    The aim of the centre to be set up is not only to promote the development of agricultural information technology (digital production system, human-machine interface, sensor development etc.), but also the practical value that has a great impact on the competitiveness of the sector. Thus, in addition to field and animal husbandry technologies, the centre also plays an important role in the food industry, the “green industry”.

    Implementing entity:
    University of Szeged

    Thematic area:
    Secure Society and Environment

    Brief description:

    In 2020, the National Laboratory Programme was extended with the Laser Transmutation National Laboratory project.

    The management of nuclear waste is not only a technical-technological challenge, but it also has an at least as important social dimension. A special challenge in the management of nuclear waste is the storage of components with a long lifespan of several tens/hundreds of thousands of years. One solution to the problem is the so-called P&T (partitioning and transmutation). During partitioning, the various components of nuclear waste are separated and then those with long half-lives are transformed by artificial transmutation1. During transmutation, the material is exposed to gamma or particle radiation, which results in it being transformed into other nucleus(es) that are stable or rapidly degradable.

    In 2018, Professors Toshiki Tajima and Gerard Mourou initiated the formation of an international scientific consortium to create a laser-generated neutron-based molten-salt transmutator. At four conferences since then, an outline concept for the transmutator has been laid out with the involvement of the international scientific community, attracting attention from the industry. With the creation of four scientific pillars, the mapping of the main scientific and technological challenges has also begun.

    In its Decision 1096/2019 (III.8.), the Hungarian government decided to launch the (laser) nuclear waste management project to increase the utilization of the ELI ALPS Laser Research Institute. Within this framework, it supports the development of the laser neutron source necessary for the transmutation, as a national research programme, with a total of HUF 3.5 billion over three years, and has commissioned the University of Szeged to coordinate the work of an international consortium for the successful implementation of the project. The three institutions are the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, with Professor Gerard Mourou; TAE, a company based in California, whose scientific director is Professor Toshiki Tajima; and the University of Szeged. The Memorandum of Understanding signed by the parties on 5 April 2019 aims to provide the framework for the successful implementation of the project by the three institutions, including other cooperating partners.

    The basic question of the practical applicability of the method is how it is possible to produce neutrons with the required energy in sufficient number and efficiency. The process can be divided into two main stages. As a first step, the laser beam is focused on a thin layer to produce a ~100 keV accelerated deuterium beam using CAIL (Coherent Acceleration of Ions by Laser). The deuterium beam is then deposited in a tritium or deuterium-treated film where a DT or DD fusion takes place. Transmutation will be performed using neutrons generated during fusion.

    First, neutrons generated by ultrashort pulses are systematically studied at low repetition rates (single-shot mode – 10 Hz). In parallel, R&D sub-projects will be launched to develop high-repetition target systems. Thereafter, the experimental equipment will be redesigned and upgraded to high repetition rate (at least 1 kHz) and further increases in repetition rate are planned. The radiobiological use of the generated neutrons is also planned.

    The primary goal of the project is the high-efficiency generation of DD fusion neutrons through laser-based interactions, as well as the development of technological research for the high-yield production of fusion neutrons at high repetition rates (1 kHz or higher). In addition, the theoretical and practical feasibility of advanced aspects of spent nuclear waste by a laser-guided transmuter will be examined.

    The project will be implemented to a lesser extent in the laboratories of the University of Szeged, and to a greater extent with the help of equipment already operating in the ELI ALPS laser research centre in Szeged or to be launched in the future. In the latter institution, the University of Szeged and its partners will carry out the experiments as key, regular users, while contributing to the implementation and further development of ELI, in line with its scientific strategy. During the project, SZTE will further expand its international cooperation in the field of laser-based particle acceleration and call for the establishment of an international consortium for the laser-based transmuter preparation phase (ESFRI).

    Legal grounds of funding:

    Government Decision 1096/2019 (III. 8.) on the capacity allocation and the measures needed to increase the capacity allocation of the ELI-ALPS laser research centre

    1 The term transmutation itself means core transformation, which can occur naturally, e.g. by radioactive decay or in stellar nucleosynthesis; for the purposes of this description it shall only mean artificial transmutation.

    Consortium leader:
    Eötvös Loránd University

    Consortium members:
    University of Pannonia
    University of Miskolc
    Network for Regional Development Foundation

    Thematic area:
    Culture and Family

    Brief description:

    Treating social innovation as a separate system is not only justified by fundamental global and international trends but also multiple practical aspects:

    • Hungary, like other societies in the developed world, is exposed to processes defined by technological, demographic, labour market and environmental trends, which in the long term can place a huge burden on the public sector and the economy, and can influence the structure of society. Social innovation is capable of addressing these challenges effectively.
    • At the same time, technological changes and technological innovation can greatly transform people’s daily lives, necessitating the innovative use of social policy instruments and the development of new innovative solutions and methods.
    • The success and spread of new technological paradigms (e.g. artificial intelligence, smart cities, virtual reality, self-driving cars etc.) may depend largely on consumer behaviour, social attitudes, innovative community solutions and appropriate social integration.

    In Hungary, there is currently no focused framework, legislative and funding background for the development, systemic management of the social innovation environment and the addition of social issues to economic and technological innovation processes. Therefore, the National Laboratory for Social Innovation has been set up with the following tasks, research and innovation activities:

    • develop and introduce a single conceptual framework; create a legislative framework;
    • develop social innovation models and guidelines;
    • identify areas of social innovation; develop development tools;
    • achieve the necessary consistency with funding schemes and international links; develop a concept of a targeted national framework to support social innovation (law, funding, organisation, training);
    • identify tools for attitudes towards international and global trends;
    • research, development, innovation and education (RDIE).

    The objectives of the Laboratory are achieved on two levels at the same time: on the one hand, a horizontal framework and methodologies are established, and on the other hand, thematic forums generate new research and innovation projects with a participative approach.

    Social innovation is the development and implementation of new ideas (products, services, processes) that:

    • aim at improving well-being and the quality of life;
    • respond to social needs;
    • create new social relations and cooperation;
    • are innovations that not only benefit society, but also strengthen the active participation of citizens.

    Pilot projects will be developed and implemented through thematic collaborations within the above defined framework, which can be tested in several dimensions.

    Potential focus areas of the laboratory include (without limitation):

    • Health, demographic change and wellbeing
    • Social challenges induced by digitisation
    • Food production, supply, sustainable agriculture, bio-economy
    • Clean, efficient and safe energy
    • Smart, green and integrated transport
    • Climate change, environmental protection, resource efficiency and raw materials, circular economy
    • Inclusive, innovative, changing and cooperating societies and communities
    • Secure societies – protection of the security of Europe and its citizens

    Implementing entity:
    University of Pécs

    Thematic area:
    Health

    Brief description:

    The worldwide threat and spread of infectious diseases pose a serious social and health risk to all nations. In addition to solving local problems, joint national and international cooperation is needed to address the situation. In recent years, new infectious diseases (e.g. West Nile fever virus, heart and skin parasites, Usutu virus etc.) have appeared or spread in Hungary, posing a significant social threat. Therefore, the aim of the National Laboratory is to increase the research performance and R&D activities of the complex virological laboratory unit within the framework of the Szentágothai Research Centre of the University of Pécs (PTE SKK), while at the same time participating in the work of research networks at national and international level. The complex virological research unit involved in the project is the only one in Hungary, since it has laboratory facilities at all biosecurity levels (BSL). Accordingly, it can perform laboratory activities at BSL 2 and BSL 3, as well as BSL 4 as a single university-maintained laboratory. This opens up a unique opportunity in Hungary in the fight against infectious diseases. The Laboratory can become a unique research facility not only domestically but also internationally, which, by joining the international network, can significantly increase its weight in both tender and research development cooperation.

    The primary field of research of the PTE SKK Virology Research Group is the study of so-called zoonotic diseases that can spread from animals to humans. In most cases, these pathogens are capable of causing serious, even fatal infections, which is why the tests require a very high level of professional competence and adequate laboratory infrastructure. Nevertheless, the number of studies in this direction has also increased considerably at international level, as the emergence of new diseases has also become more frequent, which can be mainly due to the combined effect of environmental and human factors. In addition to basic research, the research team is also involved in a number of applied research projects aimed at developing and testing tests and potentially antiviral active substances that can be used in human diagnostics, medical and patient care practices. As the laboratory has a unique level of biosecurity, it can also participate in applied research in this direction, thereby raising the Hungarian R&D directions in the field of microbiology. In recent years, the research team has been committed to RDI, as confirmed by a number of ongoing R&D activities involving industrial partners. The virological laboratory not only conducts basic and applied research, but can also participate in the work of the Hungarian defence and security bodies.

    The aim of the National Laboratory is to scientifically develop the virological laboratory unit of the PTE SKK, as well as to increase the RDI activity and strengthen the international role of the laboratory. The activities of the National Laboratory are based on three closely related pillars:

    1. detection, identification and fully virological and molecular biological description of new pathogens;
    2. complex testing of Risk Group 3 and 4 viruses under laboratory conditions BSL 3 and BSL 4;
    3. establishment of an education and training centre at national and international level for the next generations of researchers.

    The results of the National Laboratory can be unique in many respects. The international emphasis on virological research contributes to an increase in the number of collaborations, so the Laboratory can play an important role in international projects and in the development and implementation of research strategies. In addition to the international outlook, national interests would also be at the forefront, since the National Laboratory could be an active participant in the Hungarian training and further training of researchers. Since the staff of the PTE SKK laboratory have acquired BSL-level teaching qualification in special international training, they are able to integrate this knowledge into the Hungarian undergraduate/postgraduate training. In addition to the courses in Hungary, the Laboratory offers the possibility to participate in international training.

    Updated: 23 March 2021
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