“55 research areas of 26 universities and state research institutes will be receiving 14.6 billion forints (EUR 44.8 million) in funding within the framework of the 2019 Subject Area Excellence Programme, of which the Semmelweis University has been awarded 1.75 billion (EUR 5.4 million), Minister for Innovation and Technology László Palkovics said in Budapest on Monday.

“Next year’s budget will include an additional 32 billion forints (EUR 98.4 million) compared to the current 133 billion forints (EUR 409 million) for innovation and research & development”, the Minister said, adding: “The Government would like to further increase this sum in 2021”.

“The Ministry for Innovation and Technology was set up a year go with the goal of making the Hungarian innovation and research & development system more efficient”, he highlighted.

Mr. Palkovics recalled that the Ministry has transposed the European Union R&D system, which has three pillars: excellence funding for outstanding researchers, excellence funding for subject areas, and an innovation pillar.

With relation to the Subject Area Excellence Programme, he said the planned research had to fit into four research areas: healthcare, culture and the family, safe society and environment, and industry and digitalisation. The field of healthcare received the most funding, within which the Semmelweis University received one of the highest amounts.

Rector of Semmelweis University Béla Merkely highlighted that fact that thanks to the funding the University will be able to continue towards the realisation of its Healthcare Industry Biotechnology Science Park.

As he explained, during the course of the tender they concentrated on areas that are most determining in the current age, with relation to which the University’s researchers already have experience, and which are extremely important because of existing and future industrial relations. He added that the University’s successful tender application has four pillars: bioimaging, bionics, digital biomarkers and translation biotechnology. These are linked by research and development on artificial intelligence.

“The application of artificial intelligence will open a new era within the field of medicine and healing, and Hungary and its leading medical university must be a frontrunner within this field”, he emphasised.

“The some 1.7 billion forints awarded to the University is a unique opportunity for us to become a determining player at regional level, in view of the fact that the development of the health industry, the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology and medical devices clearly benefits the quality of training, and through this also the quality of healing”, he stated.

As he explained, with the help of the funding won the University will realise 11 sub-projects at its clinics and three faculties, meaning a bridge will be built between basic and clinical research.

From among the projects, he highlighted those that lead to the early diagnosis of diseases that are the main causes of death, including the development of nanoparticle contrast material that facilitates diagnostic imaging with relation to the vascular system, the creation of an artificial intelligence-based cardiological decision support system and digital assistant, and the development of an algorithm to increase the effectiveness of cancer therapy. Goals also include the development of a system to enable the optimisation of patient routes in the Healthcare Manager Training Centre.

“The research for which the University has won funding is permeated by the criteria that these should appear directly and as soon as possible in clinical medicine and the treatment of patients”, Dr. Merkely emphasised.