Q Foreign companies seem to be showing quite a lot of interest in Hungary as a location for research and development, more so than for other countries in the region. Why do you think that is?

A The first thing worth calling attention to is the variable capacity of biotechnology – we are not just focusing on research and development. We discovered vitamin C, and there are at least three important locations in Hungary where this [type of knowledge] is concentrated: Szeged, Miskolc and Budapest.

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In the next couple of years, the Hungarian state itself will invest millions of euros to boost this industry. We need private corporates because we do not want to spend the money, but would like to invest and we need a partner who is ready to take the risk together with us.

Q Apparently there are some skill shortages in the sector, partly due to the success in attracting more companies. How can you boost skill levels, or make sure that you have enough graduates trained in these disciplines, to satisfy the demand?

 

A We are continually improving the quality and increasing the capacity of our universities. For example, we are hosting more German students now at our medical universities because our price and value is more favourable than in neighbouring countries and than in the US. We have sufficient and well-trained human resources available.

Q There is concern in the EU about an ‘innovation gap’ with the US. Do you share that concern and if so, what can you do about it?

A Unfortunately, yes, I share this concern. It is mainly because of the lack of the corporate consciousness. I can share with you my experience in Hungary. Today the budget investment in innovation, research and development is not lower than in Italy or Austria, but in Austria and Italy the companies’ spending exceeds more than twice the government spending. In our case, the companies are not making the effort to equalise the situation. If you compare the situation with the Far East, the US and Europe, you might find a similar situation.

Q Apart from biotech, in what other sectors do you think Hungary has a competitive advantage when attracting foreign investors?

A Logistics, logistics, logistics. Hungary is the meeting point of the Russian railway, which is a wide-track railway, and also of one of the most important motor routes in our region. We are developing three or four airports, and not just in Budapest; these are primarily for cargo purposes. And we have doubled the total length of our motorway network in the past few years.

We are continuing this process and we are starting big construction on the Hungarian railway system. If I were an investor in this sector and if I were looking for the opportunity to invest and to find a good place to establish in Europe, I would be very interested in this kind of development.

CURRICULUM VITAE

FERENC GYURCSÁNY

2004 Government of Hungary, Prime minister

2003 Government of Hungary, Minister of children, youth and sports

2002 Government of Hungary, Senior adviser to the prime minister

1992 Altus Ltd, CEO