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 addition, a bilateral agreement on cultural cooperation with Hungary was concluded on 1 March 1994. Increased cooperation in the field of research and technology as well as cooperation in sustainable research particularly through the development of joint research bases was agreed in the joint declaration made by the research ministries of the two countries in Budapest on 15 September 2004.
In its medium term R&D&I (research and development and innovation) strategy for the years 2007-2013, the Hungarian government identifies its main goals as: intensifying R&D and innovation in companies; increasing annual R&D expenditure; and creating an internationally renowned research and university landscape.
The EU funding available for R&D&I was restructured by the Hungarian government at the beginning of 2011 as part of the economic growth and employment programme "New Széchenyi plan". Two of the seven priority fields established in this plan are geared towards funding innovation, particularly creating jobs with high added value and achieving sustainable economic and social development.
The calls for proposals under the sub-programme "Science – Innovation", for example, are targeted at R&D&I expertise in universities and at innovation activities of SMEs. Key areas of focus are the automotive industry, logistics and transport, the healthcare industry, information and communication technologies and energy and environmental protection. Innovation activities of SMEs are also funded through the sub-programme "Business development" with calls for proposals to set up incubators, to encourage companies to work together and to develop clusters.
Hungary actively participates in creating 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) adopted. Hungary served as the chair of EUREKA between July 2011 and June 2012. In its role as chair, Hungary promoted, among other things, strengthening the Eurostars Programme and a higher 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 alone is contributing EUR 1.8 million to the increased funding over five years.
On the basis of the conference "Sustainable Neighbourhood – from Lisbon to Leipzig through Research (L2L)" held under the German presidency of the European Council in May 2007 in Leipzig, a sustainability dialogue was agreed with Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria in 2008. To this end, the "1st German-Hungarian Conference on Research for Sustainability" was held in Budapest in June 2008.
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 BMBF supported the creation of the foundation and its first three institutes over several years: by engaging experts at the Fraunhofer Institute and by supporting bilateral collaborative projects. By 2007, three other Bay Zoltán institutes were founded, most recently the Institute for Plant Genomics, Human Biotechnology and Bioenergy (BAYGEN).
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", 14 projects have been successfully completed since 2007. Key areas of focus for the previous projects lie in the areas of mechatronics, ICT, medicine and environmental protection. The goal of these cooperation projects is generally to submit joint project proposals to the funding programmes of the BMBF or the 7th Research Framework Programme of the European Union. The University of Kassel and the Eszterházy-Károly University of Applied Sciences in Eger are currently collaborating in the field of renewable energy.
Another important pillar of cooperation is the participation of R&D networks in the initiative to promote Germany as a key location for innovation. Under this scheme, nine projects have been completed with Hungary as the target country.
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