2016 was the year of successful grant applications – Secretary General Ádám Török’s report

In his report on the work of academic research units in 2016, the Secretary General of the MTA provided information on the general data of the institution network, scientific achievements, publication and citation indexes, and the developments aimed at improving research conditions. He said that the number of workers in all the institutions of the MTA chapter grew slightly in 2016, and the budget conditions were similar to those of the previous year. He highlighted that participation in both domestic and international calls for tenders brought outstanding success for the Academy’s institutions.

31 May, 2017

The number of patent protections also increased last year. Infrastructural developments are aimed at improving the conditions of research work. Construction of the MTA Research Centre for Human Sciences was completed, the MTA Agricultural Innovation Centre project has been initiated and a decision regarding the construction of a new research building for the MTA Institute of Experimental Medicine was also made in 2016. The Academy’s participation in higher education increased and more and more of MTA’s leading researchers are becoming leaders of doctoral schools.

Domestic and international grants are an outstanding success

In his speech, the Secretary General reported on outstanding results regarding calls for tenders. Since the 2012 reforms, 2016 was the most successful year for the MTA research network in this respect. Last year, at the most prestigious EU Horizon 2000 collaborative call for tenders, the ‘Teaming’ research programme of excellence, Hungarian researchers were the most successful. There were 169 applications from 27 countries and of the ten winners, an MTA research unit is participating in two consortiums.

2016 was also a highly successful year for Hungarian researchers, including Academy professionals, in the area of European Research Council (ERC) calls for tenders. Twelve Hungarian researchers won support of 1.5 to 3.5 million euros each from this tender, which is considered a standard of researching excellence. This has been the best result for Hungary since the launch of the programme in 2007. Nine of the winners work in the academy research network, six of whom are former winners in the MTA Lendület (‘Momentum’) programme. The achievements confirm the efficiency of this programme and the targeted assistance grants in the light of Hungarian researchers’ tender success.

The domestic call for tenders announced at the end of 2015 with the help of EU funds provided a great chance for the institutions of MTA to gain new sources of research funds, especially through Economic Development and Innovation Operational Programme tenders.

Index numbers of scientific performance

In 2016, the academic research institute network produced slightly fewer scientific publications than in 2015. Compared to the data from one year ago, the number of publications was basically the same in the field of life sciences, but dropped by 10.5% in the humanities and social sciences, and by 7.5% in mathematics and natural sciences. While the index numbers regarding scientific performance and the publication and citation data indicate something of a decline compared to those of the previous year, in the long term there is stable growth with regard to publications published in journals with an impact factor. In the humanities and social sciences, considering the number of publications released in foreign scientific journals, an increase can be seen. The ratio of publications by international co-authors is above the EU13 average in almost every field of science.

The management of the Academy identifies the background of the processes in publication activity through a long-term assessment of research centres and independent research institutes, which was started in 2015, and also through targeted analyses.

Finished investments, starting investments

As the Secretary General reported, the MTA Research Centre for Human Sciences was completed, providing a new home for five institutes of the MTA Research Centre for the Humanities and for all the institutes of the MTA Centre for Social Sciences. Soon two more institutes of the Centre for Economic and Regional Studies will also be moved here.

In Martonvásár, work has started on the new Agricultural Innovation Centre, which will incorporate the new research building of the Centre for Agricultural Research. Two MTA-ATK institutes currently operating at different sites, the Institute for Soil Sciences and Agricultural Chemistry and the Plant Protection Institute will also be moved into the new centre, next to the Agricultural Institute. The government is supporting the construction with 6 billion HUF, and the research equipment with 3 billion HUF. The investment further includes a project financed from support of 800 million HUF, that is, a visitor centre and the reconstruction of the surrounding Brunszvik Garden. In 2016 the organization unit responsible for the execution of the entire project was set up within the framework of the research centre, and the project charter was signed. The geodetic survey of the entire project area was carried out, as were the marking off of valuable plants to be protected in the project area and the preparation of the open call for tenders concerning the research building.

Also in 2016, a decision was made that the government would support the construction of a new research house on the current, obsolete site of the MTA Institute of Experimental Medicine with 3.5 billion forints. The investment is part of the Academy’s programme of completing governmental support from its own resources, as a result of which institutes currently located on properties with high operational costs can continue their work in modern buildings designed for research. According to the plan, researchers can move in at the end of 2019.

Development of research infrastructure

In 2016, within its research network, the MTA supported infrastructure development ensuring the conditions for outstanding scientific activity with 1504.7 million HUF. Altogether, eight MTA institutions received support exceeding 100 million HUF: the Institute for Nuclear Research; the Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences; the Centre for Energy Research; the Centre for Ecological Research; the Institute for Computer Science and Control; the Biological Research Centre of Szeged; the Research Centre for Natural Sciences; and the Wigner Research Centre for Physics.

Stronger cooperation with higher education

In the execution of its public duties, the Academy still considers universities important partners, as stronger cooperation is beneficial for both parties. The number of researchers from the research institute network teaching in higher education grew significantly in mathematics and natural sciences, and remained unchanged in the other two scientific area groupings. In 2016, 40.5% of researchers from the research institute network taught in an institution of higher education (in 2015 the ratio was 38.6%). The number of doctoral schools with leaders from the MTA institute network rose from 21 to 25.

After the Secretary General finished his report, the General Assembly, in a decree, approved the report on the scientific activity of the academic research units in 2016, the concept of the report to the Hungarian National Assembly titled ‘Report on the Activities of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and on the General State of Hungarian Science (2015–2016)’, and the report on the 2016 activities of the Council of Academic Research Institutes, which supervises the academic research network.