The university’s role in economic development

2018. December 03. - 16:23 Extending its existing cluster network further, the University of Debrecen aims at cross-border cooperation. The networking efforts may also contribute to regional economic development. These were some of the topics discussed at the three-day international conference recently held in Debrecen.

In recent decades, aiming to make its technology transfer activities more efficient, the University of Debrecen undertook a role in the formation and operation of five clusters. As a knowledge centre and innovation source, the institute set to itself such goals as ensuring the practical use of research findings, the establishment of partnerships serving the extension of innovation processes in the region, as well as the successful operation of these partnerships.

The pharmaceutical industry was the first area in which the university organised its partners into a structured form, followed by the food industry, thermal and health tourism, sports and energetics, as well as information technology. All of the university-affiliated clusters are accredited in Hungary, and in recent years several of them also obtained international accreditation. The institution considers energetics, as well as the pharmaceutical and food industries as areas of strategic importance, to which it contributes by way of highly trained professionals, a developed education background, and a comprehensive innovation system. In these cluster organisations, the University of Debrecen works together with hundreds of companies, but actually has links with many more, approximately 1,500 corporate partners.

“For an ideal cluster structure, there is a need for industrial companies, for the University of Debrecen operating as a source of innovation and an educational base, for a city that provides the conditions for attracting industry, and as a new element, for financial institutions. This is how innovative innovation systems are formed, such as those in the clusters of Ile-de-France or the Silicon Valley earlier, around Standford University,” emphasised Zoltán Szilvássy, rector, at the first Hungarian-Romanian international cluster conference.

The rector of the University of Debrecen emphasised that in recent years, some giant multinationals have also started to appear in the environment of the clusters, including General Electric, Rosatom, Thyssenkrupp, Krones and the Ganz group.

Balázs Greinstetter, the deputy state secretary at the Ministry of Finance responsible for the implementation of economic development programmes, called Debrecen the flagship of the cluster system at the international conference, since this is where the largest number of accredited clusters operate in the entire country.

“Debrecen has proved that joining forces by the industrial operators and the university as an innovation knowledge base is an efficient means of economic development. The emphasis today is no longer on the launching of such forms of cooperation, but on the supporting of clusters also with international visibility. Our priority aim is to have at least one top cluster in each of the industries of high significance in the national economy, which could bring together the most important players in the value chains of the given industry. This is supported by the Economic Development and Innovation Operational Programme,” said the deputy secretary of state.


Also aligned with the efforts of the government, the University of Debrecen aims to establish cross-border cooperation as well, in order to ensure that, using the opportunities inherent in the industrial parks of Debrecen and Oradea, joint Hungarian-Romanian start-ups could be formed.

At the joint event of the Ministry of Finance and the Romanian Cluster Association, representatives of the clusters in the Hungarian and Romanian border region could inform themselves on opportunities for cooperation, as well as on the cluster strategy of the European Union, and could also learn about best practices from Spanish, Italian and Austrian experts.

One of the priority topics of the conference was the roles undertaken by universities and research centres. The research and innovation efforts and opportunities of the University of Debrecen were discussed by József Tőzsér, vice rector responsible for health industrial innovation and training development, in his lecture given to the international audience. 


Press Office