Germany is one of Hungary’s most important international partners and by far its most important trading partner; German companies are the most important investors in the automotive industry and the ICT sector. Hungary also offers an excellent research landscape to support these two fields. Excellent starting points for research cooperation also exist in the fields of biotechnology, medicine, chemistry and pharmaceuticals.
Research cooperation between Germany and Hungary has a long tradition. Bilateral cooperation in science and technology is based on an agreement on scientific and technological cooperation that was concluded between the governments of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Hungary on 7 October 1987 (in force since 7 October 1987). In addition, a bilateral agreement on cultural cooperation with Hungary was concluded on 1 March 1994. Increased cooperation in the field of research and technology and sustainable research cooperation was agreed in the joint declaration made by the research ministries of the two countries in Budapest on 15 September 2004.
In June 2013, the Hungarian government adopted a new innovation strategy entitled "investment in the future". This research and development (R&D) and innovation strategy for 2020 has three main objectives:
Six parallel goals have been identified alongside these, including “smart specialisation” in the regions, tools for sustainability and equality and a stable financial framework.
Increasing R&D expenditure, which was most recently above 1% and is showing signs of rising slightly, remains a central goal in Hungary's research policy (2012: 1.29%; 2011: 1.21%, 2010: 1.16%: Source: NIH/Eurostat). The benchmark figure set out in the framework of the innovation strategy for 2020 is 1.8% by the end of the decade.
The allocation funds for the EU funding period 2014-2020 comes under the remit of the "Széchenyi 2020" plan. Out of the 11 thematic goals, two are focused on education and research:
Hungary actively participates in building up the European Research Area (ERA). During its first EU presidency in the first half of 2011, Hungary worked on central issues relating to economic growth and innovation at European level. For instance, the efforts to establish an EU patent were intensified and the EU macrostrategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) was adopted, the third priority of which is to promote education, research and innovation. Hungary served as the chair of EUREKA between July 2011 and June 2012. In its role as chair, Hungary was committed, among other things, to strengthening the Eurostars Programme and increasing the number of industry-driven projects.
The German-language Andrássy Gyula University was opened in Budapest in September 2002. The university was founded by, in addition to Hungary, the Republic of Austria, the State of Baden-Württemberg and the Free State of Bavaria. Since 2002 the postgraduate Andrássy University has received support from the DAAD and the German Foreign Office with guest lecturers and grants. To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the “Ulm Declaration” which founded the Andrássy University, the funding pledges were renewed by Germany, Austria and Hungary as well as by the states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria in a “Joint Declaration” on 15 April 2011. The financing commitments were extended for another five years for the master’s and graduate programmes at the three departments of the Andrássy University as well as for the research activities of the Danube Institute. The Federal Republic of Germany is contributing EUR 1.8 million to the increased funding.
The Bay Zoltán Foundation for Applied Research (BZAKA) was founded in 1992 with the aim of building a network that would function as a bridge between university research centres and industry. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supported the creation of the foundation and its first three institutes over several years, by engaging experts of the Fraunhofer Society and by supporting bilateral collaborative projects. At the end of 2011, the Bay Zoltán Foundation was converted into a non-profit, private organisation ("Nonprofit Kft."). Bay Zoltán Nonprofit Kft. is made up of four specialist institutes (Biotechnology, Logistics, ICT and Materials Science) and a department for International Relations. It also operates an Innovation Park (BAY-INNO).
In the joint ministerial declaration of 15 September 2004, German Federal Minister Bulmahn and the Hungarian Minister for Education Magyar came to an agreement to install joint research bases as a new instrument of cooperation. Work on the first German-Hungarian research base “Ambient Intelligence” got underway back in autumn 2004. The BMBF provided funding for this cooperation project until 2008. The project brought together the expertise of the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering (IESE) in Kaiserslautern and the Bay Zoltàn Foundation for Applied Research in Budapest. Since its establishment, it has supported the development of seven German-Hungarian research bases. One of the most recent examples is the cooperation between the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) and the Computer and Automation Research Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (SZTAKI). In May 2010 the partners established a project centre – Production Management and Informatics (PMI) – in Budapest (www.fraunhofer.hu).
Within the scope of the regional call for proposals "International Cooperation in Education and Research – Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe", 19 projects involving Hungarian participation have been successfully completed since 2004. The projects run to date have taken a key focus on the topics of environmental protection and ICT. On the whole, the goal of these cooperation projects is to submit joint project proposals to the BMBF funding programmes or the European Union’s 7th Research Framework Programme. Most recently, the University of Kassel and the Eszterházy Károly College for applied sciences in Eger entered a collaboration in the field of renewable energy in May 2013.
A bilateral call for proposals from Hungary's National Innovation Office (NIH) for bilateral science and technology projects led to the submission of 17 project proposals in 2013. For projects starting in mid 2014, the central focus will be on health and nutrition, with eight projects being launched in this field.
As part of the first announcement by the BMBF on the Danube Region in 2013, Hungary emerged as the most popular partner country out of the Danube countries. With 19 project contributions, Hungary has the largest proportion of funded projects, with six of these focussing on the key topic of climate, environment and sustainability.
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National Research and Development and Innovation Strategy (2013-2020) (URL: http://www.bmbf.de/_media/investment-in-the-future-RDIstrategy2020.pdf)
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