“A Hungarian-German working group is to be set up to reinforce research and innovation cooperation between the two countries”. Minister for Innovation and Technology László Palkovics announced in Berlin on Wednesday following talks with German Federal Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek.

In a statement to public media, Mr. Palkovics recalled that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Chancellor Angela Merkel had agreed to raise cooperation to a higher level at their meeting in Berlin last summer.

Based on the agreement reached with his German counterpart responsible for innovation, the working group will draw up the details of joint plans “very rapidly”, the Minister told the press.

The parties also agreed on the main elements, including supporting cooperation between institutions and the possible joint operation of major research and innovation infrastructures, Mr. Palkovics explained, adding: “It is not out of the question that we will be establishing a fund into which both countries will be placing a suitable amount in the interests of encouraging joint research projects”.

They also discussed ways to encourage the innovation activities of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with relation to which “we can learn a lot from Germany”, the Minister said.

As he explained, he and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politician also spoke briefly about the case of the Budapest-based Central European University (CEU), with relation to which he confirmed that the Hungarian Government is supporting the proposal put forward by Bavarian sister party Christian Social Union (CSU) politician and the European People’s Party (EPP) top candidate for the European Parliament elections Manfred Weber concerning the involvement of Bavarian partners, car manufacturer BMW and the Munich University of Technology (Technische Universität München).

The idea “conforms to legal conditions, but those involved must still work out the details”, Mr. Palkovics highlighted.

He added that the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) was also discussed, with relation to which he said that the goal is the establishment of a research institute network “the structure of which conforms to the otherwise outstandingly operating German research institute network”.

Anja Karliczek accepted the information according to which there is no question of any kind of bad intent, and in fact the Government would like to establish a significantly better and more prepared research institute network”, Mr. Palkovics said.

With relation to this, the Minister also stated that on Tuesday he had attended an event in Munich to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the German research institute network, the Fraunhofer Society (Fraunhofer Gesellschaft - FhG), adding that the Fraunhofer research network is planning to expand its Hungarian activities, and negotiations are currently ongoing on ways to develop forms of institutional cooperation to support the automotive industry in cities that are important to the sector, including Győr, Kecskemét and Debrecen.

“Thanks to the efforts of recent years, the performance of Hungarian development engineers and the Hungarian research & development ‘ecosystem’ are now of a world class standard, thanks to which not only are automotive industry enterprises that want to establish a production base appearing in Hungary, but also companies that want to perform research and development activities, such as Continental and Jaguar”, he pointed out.

The Minister said that at the event in Munich he had held talks on the MTA with the head of the Leibnitz Association (Leibniz-Gemeinschaft), a union of non-university research institutes, to whom he said: “We are doing nothing more than what the German Government also did following the country’s reunification, in 1991-1992, namely that they reviewed whether or not the East German academy, which had a similar structure to the Hungarian one, was working effectively”.

The result of this analysis was that the institutional system that had developed under the years of socialism was “in effect totally reorganised over the space of a year”, thanks to which Germany now has “one of the world’s best research systems” he explained.

Mr. Palkovics highlighted that at the end of their meeting the head of the Leibnitz Association offered to participate in the development of Hungary’s research institute system with advice, and later possibly also in a different kind of role.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)