How a new EIT hub in Budapest can support more innovation in Central and Eastern Europe

Hungary is a gold mine of talent and early-stage start-ups with innovative ideas.

A new community hub in Hungary officially opened its doors last week in Budapest, bringing together four of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s (EIT) Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) under one roof.

The EIT Community Hub wants to intensify knowledge sharing, business creation and acceleration and innovation partnerships in healthcare, climate, urban mobility and raw materials to support more entrepreneurs and SMEs across Central and Eastern Europe.

The EIT was created by the European Union in 2008 to boost Europe’s ability to innovate by bringing together business, education and research to find cutting-edge solutions to pressing global challenges.

It has become Europe’s largest innovation ecosystem, and in recent years its activities have played an important role in developing Hungary’s innovation ecosystem, including channelling over 40 million euros of funding and supporting over 100 promising local start-ups.

EIT community-supported ventures have gone on to bring a further 2.4 million euros worth of investments to Hungary.

Unique innovation model

According to EIT Director Martin Kern, the EIT Community Hub in Hungary exemplifies the EIT’s unique innovation model with the close cooperation of four innovation communities supporting innovators at all stages of their journey.

“Collaboration makes us stronger: students and entrepreneurs with innovative ideas will benefit from this new Hub and I look forward to seeing the results and more ground-breaking innovations emerging from Central and Eastern Europe,” he says.

The EIT Community Hub in Hungary, located in Budapest’s Infopark, will house 50 highly skilled innovation specialists representing four EIT KICS: EIT Health, the largest healthcare innovation network in Europe; EIT Climate-KIC, working on innovative solutions to battle climate change; EIT Raw Materials, the largest consortium in the raw materials sector worldwide; EIT Urban Mobility, researching solutions for smart, green and integrated transport.

The EIT Community Hub is coordinated by EIT Health, which has also made Budapest its regional headquarters in the Central, Eastern and Southern European region – known as InnoStars.

Its key regional activities include recognised start-up competitions such as EIT Jumpstarter and the InnoStars Awards.

Hungary: A gold mine of talent

Balázs Zoltán Fürjes, EIT Health InnoStars director, says that Hungary is a gold mine talent and early-stage start-ups with innovative ideas.

“Again and again we find rising stars with prospects to expand internationally,” he says. “In this phase, no matter which industry they work in, they have similar challenges: pricing strategy, a sustainable business model, a well-balanced team, and networking. We are there to help.

“With four innovation communities working together, we are able to better address start-ups’ needs and move teams to another level where they are ready to catch investors’ interest and be able to conquer the market. This is the first EIT Community Hub in the CEE, which indicates the strategic importance of the region.”

Some 40 organisations are partnering with the EIT Community Hub in Hungary, including top companies, universities and research centres in Hungary such as Semmelweis University, the University of Debrecen, MOL, GE Healthcare, Ericsson and Nokia, among others.

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