The University of Debrecen signed a consortium agreement on the creation of a Knowledge Park aimed at the strengthening of the innovation activities of companies in the region.
"The number one 'product' of universities used to be their graduates; however, in addition to the education of professionals, the utilisation of the knowledge generated in the institute has also become a key question," emphasised Zoltán Szilvássy, the rector of the University of Debrecen, at the press conference held on the occasion of the signing of the consortium agreement.
With their joint grant application titled "The Creation of a Knowledge Park in the City of Debrecen, in the pharmaceutical and food processing industries, as well as the prioritised areas of IT and electronics", the University of Debrecen, the Municipality of Debrecen, the Hajdú-Bihar County Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and INNOVA North Great Plains Regional Development and Innovation Agency have secured funds in excess of HUF 580 million for the purpose of strengthening the R&D&I activities and the economic competitiveness of the region.
As Zoltán Szilvássy, the rector of the university, underlined: it takes much knowledge, many stakeholders, and a coordinated process in order for the industry to be able to utilise the knowledge generated at the university.
"The technology transfer offices at the university were not able to produce the expected results; therefore, we have created an organisation that would properly coordinate the flow of knowledge between the university, the industry and the municipal government," Szilvássy added.
, mayor of the city, called attention to the fact that this is the first written agreement on the topic of innovation in which all major stakeholders are involved as contracting parties. According to the mayor, the creation of the Knowledge Park is an important step from the point of view of the future of Debrecen, as its well-organized, structured, and future-oriented concept will determine the innovation power of the city and is expected to become the engine of economic development in the next period.
"Nowadays even the traditional industries are no longer competitive without innovative solutions. In this programme, the food processing and the pharmaceutical industries, as well as IT and electronics will receive special attention. We are preparing development strategies for these areas, designed to encourage investment, with the clear objective of putting the tripartite unity of research, development and innovation with the participation of the university, industry and the government," Papp emphasised.
The mayor also announced that they will establish an incubation centre related to the programme, which will be the strategic hub of the city's innovative economic development programme in the upcoming years. Among other things, Hungary's first start-up expo centre would be located here, where the region's start-up companies and other economic players could meet.
, president of the Hajdú-Bihar County Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the close cooperation formed in Debrecen between the university, the municipal government and industrial stakeholders is watched with envy in other parts of the country.
"It is important that we raise the interest of the small and medium-sized enterprises toward innovation to ensure the competitiveness of an increasing number of Hungarian companies on the markets of the future," Miklóssy pointed out.
As Orsolya Gregán
, the managing director of INNOVA North Great Plains Regional Development and Innovation Agency explained, the aim is to give enterprises a better access to grants in the current programming period ending in 2020, since our participation is still very low in European comparison, with few Hungarian companies receiving grants.
In response to a question, Zoltán Szilvássy, rector, said that 3 or 4 pilot projects will be launched in the food processing and pharmaceutical industries, as well as in IT and electronics, and by the end of the period they would like to see 1 or 2 developments that could become commercially viable products or services within a foreseeable time. As Zoltán Bács, chancellor of the university added, the Knowledge Park is not only important due to its direct objectives, but can also serve as the foundation of further projects and investments related to the university's knowledge environment.