Palkovics outlines innovation progress, key future challenges


Minister of Technology an Industry László Palkovics (left) with AmCham president Zoltán Szabó

The American Chamber of Commerce in Hungary (AmCham) held a business forum on Monday featuring Minister of Technology and Industry (MTI) László Palkovics, who outlined the government's innovation, defense, energy, and economic policies for the upcoming cycle, while also reflecting on the progress made in these fields in the past decade.

Palkovics highlighted the performance of the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (ITM), the predecessor of MTI, which he had also headed. 

"The ITM was the largest ministry of Hungary and the government, and we had four very good years before the crisis hit us only at the end," he noted. 

One of the cornerstones of ITM's work in the previous cycle was the reorganization of the university ownership structure.

"The experiences so far are good," the minister argued, noting that the financing universities receive the equivalent of about 2% of GDP, which Palkovics claimed is "outstanding in the European Union."

He also referred to Hungary as a high-tech country, noting that industrial production in the field stands at around 70%, "the same as in Germany or Denmark."

Reflecting on the importance of the transportation industry, he said, "The bus strategy we generated seems to work; we have four bus manufacturers producing in Hungary, they are able to produce different kinds of buses." He added that Hungary would continue with its rolling stock development program. Another critical aspect of the Hungarian economy is the defense industry.

"We had it before the political changes in '89, then it went in a totally wrong direction," Palkovics argued, noting that crucial developments such as the Rheinmetall factory and the Airbus helicopter plant were handed over recently.

"With the right technological partners, if you have a willingness, you will be able to do so [carry out developments], and this is just an example of what we have done and we are going to continue doing," Palkovics said.

Energy a key challenge

Energy security has become one of the most burning issues on the entire continent after the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, and the minister also recognized that the situation poses new challenges.

"So far, we talked about affordable, accessible, and green energy; we'll be talking about energy security as well," he explained.

Regarding sacrificing climate goals for energy independence, he acknowledged that doing so might be a possibility, but only temporarily, as Hungary has to harness the potential of green energy, "Because we don't have anything else," he said, referring to the lack of natural resources in the country.

Palkovics reaffirmed the government's commitment to sustainability, noting the "Circular economy is not just a thing we should think about, but one we have to realize."

Citing research by Big Four firm KPMG, he also praised the country's progress towards achieving carbon neutrality, as Hungary ranked 13th in KPMG's Net Zero Readiness ranking.


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