Hungary could be scientific centre of the region – President of the Academy and Prime Minister hold talks

Hungary, or rather Budapest, should be the scientific and innovation centre of the Eastern Central European Region. This was one of the main topics at the meeting with László Lovász, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister, on 15 June. The President of the Academy proposed several specific measures to be taken to strengthen the academic research network and universities in Hungary.

26 June, 2017

Zoltán Balog, Minister of Human Capacities, Tamás Freund, Vice President of the Academy, and József Pálinkás, President of the National Research, Development and Innovation Office also took part in the negotiations held in the Parliament building.

Mr. Lovász informed Viktor Orbán about the outstanding regional results of Hungarian researchers in international scientific programmes (ERC, H2020) and about the international science diplomacy successes of the Academy. Lovász claims that based on these achievements, it can be a realistic objective for Hungary or Budapest to serve as the scientific innovation centre of the Eastern Central European Region.

The President of the Academy pointed out that to reach this goal many more outstanding professors and researchers should be invited to Hungary. Therefore, the bureaucratic obstacles in the way of employing foreign professors and researchers or buying research equipment or literature should be removed. The Prime Minister asked the President and the Minister of Human Capacities to draw up a proposal regarding this topic.

In the President’s opinion the salaries of outstanding professors should be one level higher, which would help keep scientists in the country. Mr. Lovász also stressed the importance of stopping talented youngsters from leaving the country after graduating from secondary school, because with a lack of established relationships, they can disappear from the horizon of Hungarian science.

The President declared that higher education can be regarded as a fast developing branch of the economy in the near future. Both self-financed and scholarship-based international programmes are needed, and there are already several good examples. Foreign students would be attracted to Hungary by excellent foreign professors.

The above outlined process would strengthen the already well-established system of collaboration between research institutes and universities, which would eventually make Hungary the scientific centre of the region. However, more resources in the R+D sector and a stable career model for researchers are prerequisites. Besides MTA’s Lendület (Momentum) Programme, another decisive step in this direction is the Élvonal (Frontline) Research Excellence Program launched by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office. There is a need for a number of infrastructure investments to renovate the main building of the Academy, which houses almost a thousand scientific programmes every year, and to build a national conference centre for 8-10 thousand people.

Mr. Lovász also informed Mr. Orbán about the domestic scientific programmes – educational research, hydrology and health sciences – launched during his first presidency as well as the development of trans-border Hungarian scientific organisations. The Prime Minister promised to support these programs.

The direct industrial utilisation of academic research programs was highlighted at the meeting. Recently, the Academy has been even more active in connecting basic research with applied research than ever before. For example, the practical usage of the results reached by the Hungarian Brain Research Program was mentioned.