Budapest, May 4 (MTI) – Jozsef Palinkas, who has just completed his six-year term as president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA), said in an interview to MTI that under his leadership the academy had reformed its research organisation, implemented important infrastructure projects and launched a successful programme to encourage Hungarian scientists living abroad to return to their homeland.
Palinkas told MTI that at the time he was elected president the institutional system of the Academy was far too fragmented, and both its buildings and equipment were obsolete. “The MTA is a unique institution, being both a scientific body and manager of the country’s largest professional research network; we had to coordinate those two functions,” he said.
Palinkas said that between 2008 and 2014, MTA’s assets had grown from 74 billion forints to 112 billion, with such developments as a scientific research centre built with 9.5 billion forints or the CERN Wigner Data Centre built from 8.5 billion accounting for the growth. Noting a third facility serving arts and social research built during the past 6 years, he said that the magnitude of development was “unprecedented in a period hit by economic crisis”.
Palinkas spoke about MTA’s Momentum Programme which offers opportunities to Hungarian scientists currently working abroad, as well aiming to stop others considering emigrating. He said the programme had been launched in 2009 with an annual budget of 250 million forints to finance 5 research teams, adding that in 2014 the scheme was running nearly 100 teams with a budget of 3.7 billion forints. Palinkas added that the teams, working also at Hungarian universities, were offering salaries and research conditions comparable to those in western countries.
The Momentum Programme also seeks to employ 5-8 well-known foreign scientists in Hungary each year. “It will not do that Hungarian researchers work in other countries and nobody comes to Hungary,” Palinkas insisted.
Concerning the reform of research institutes, Palinkas said that 43 such facilities have now been integrated in 10 centres and 5 new institutes to ensure cost-effective operations. As an example of the benefits, Palinkas mentioned that MTA’s administrative costs have been reduced by an annual 500 million forints.
“I can say without boasting that I will hand over the Academy to the next president in a better state than it was when I was appointed to the post,” Palinkas said.