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Defence innovation helps security

Text: Vendel Teszler | Photo: Gábor Nagy |  17:14 March 6, 2024

Brigadier General Dr. Imre Porkoláb hopes that more and better-capitalized Hungarian companies will apply for this year’s grants of the European Defence Fund (EDF) than before. Speaking at a professional workshop organized for the representatives of large enterprises in Budapest, the MoD ministerial commissioner for defence innovation said that he hoped that Hungarian companies would undertake to become lead members of applicant consortia.

Védelmi Innovációs Kutatóintézet NZrt. (VIKI)_KG

In delivering an opening speech at the joint event of the Defence Innovation Research Institute Nonprofit Ltd (DIRI) and the Ministry of Defence, Brigadier General Dr. Imre Porkoláb reminded those present of the geopolitical challenges to Hungary and the ensuing importance of planning and preparation.

“Wearing a uniform, I don’t have to emphasize that we are living in quite difficult times. There is an ongoing war in our neighborhood, and the situation in the Balkans is not calm at all. The migration pressure, too, is one of today’s problems, as another major wave can start any time” – he said.

The ministerial commissioner invited the representatives of large enterprises to participate in collective thinking and application, in a form of cooperation that is advantageous to all.

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“Challenges do not start in the theatre of war. Our task is to ensure the organizational, technological, training and infrastructural environment which enables defence innovation to provide the soldiers with such technologies and applications that can guarantee the security of Hungarian citizens” – he stated.

Deputy Minister Csaba Latorcai, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration and Regional Development also encouraged the representatives of Hungarian large enterprises to actively respond to European calls for tenders and proposals. He noted that these companies have the opportunity to finance their research and development projects from several other EU fundings besides the European Defence Fund.

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The dual, military-civil use of these funds may provide them with a basis for drawing down money from multiple sources. The government of Hungary aims to make sure that Hungary can have a significantly bigger share than before of the available funds of the European Union, and that Hungarian players can have an increasingly crucial role in the application processes – said the state secretary.

The applying international consortia can draw down €8 billion through the European Defence Fund during the current seven-year EU funding cycle. As compared to the €6 million in 2022, Hungarian small and medium enterprises already received €8 million from the EU budget in the year 2023.

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On the part of the Ministry of Defence, Dr. Levente András Balog, Hungarian National Focal Point (NFP) of the EDF and Head of the Hungarian delegation to the EDF Programme Committee gave a presentation on the legal regulation of the EDF life-cycle, as well as the relevant governmental organizational framework and mechanism in Hungary.

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, alternate EDF NFP and EDF expert Colonel Mihály Bárány informed the interested ones about the details of the application process.

If need arises, organizations other than DIRI can also join the management of applications with Hungarian involvement. Of them, among others, the representatives of EuroAtlantic Business Consultancy Plc. spoke about the consulting opportunities on their offering at the workshop.

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“Incorporated in 1996, our enterprise is a Hungarian consulting company that maintains the largest office in Brussels among market-based consultancy firms operating in Hungary”, told us Áron Fellegi, Chairman of the Board, EuroAtlantic Consulting & Investment. Utilizing its presence in Brussels, this firm can provide assistance with drawing down money from the European Defence Fund and, first of all, with establishing a network of international connections as a prerequisite.

The professional workshop has demonstrated that thanks to DIRI’s almost yearlong active organizing work (as well), the conditions are becoming ideal for Hungarian market players to receive more and more financial support from the European Defence Fund. Getting the support grants is about much more than improving the Hungarian Defence Forces’ potential for development, as it provides financed research projects for domestic research centers, creates jobs for Hungarian employees and opportunity for the development of civil-use technologies, thereby strengthening Hungary’s EU integration.

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