What is precisely the mission of Hungarian Biotechnology Association and how do you implement it?
Veronika Katona: „As a pioneer among organizations within the countries that joined the EU in 2004, the Hungarian Biotechnology Association (HBA) was established by Hungary's leading life sciences companies in 2003. The main objective of the organization is to create an alliance that unites the voices and interests of companies, researchers, academic institutions and related organizations to provide them with shared services, advocacy, and help in finding success and opportunities in the field of life sciences. Through its various national and international projects, the organization also intends to improve and shape the public understanding of biotechnology, promote the safe and ethical use of biotechnological innovations and educate the future generation of biotechnology managers.
HBA carries out harmonized lobbying activity and has a good relationship with the Ministry for National Development and Economy (NFGM), the National Office for Research and Technology (NKTH), the Hungarian Investment and Trade Development Agency (ITD Hungary) and other national associations, such as the Hungarian Association of Information Technology Companies (IVSZ). The organization is also a member of the Hungarian Association for Innovation (MISZ).
In 2005 with active support and commitment from the Hungarian government, the Hungarian Biotechnology Association developed a detailed biotechnology strategy with more than 20 harmonized and well-balanced measures. The strategy was formulated on the basis of the best practices of 17 countries and the feedback of local managers for the purpose of fostering dynamic growth and overcoming all bottlenecks hindering the development of high-tech SMEs in the field of life sciences. The strategy addresses a comprehensive set of challenges from legislative issues to infrastructure (such as biotech incubators and tech-transfer offices) and work force. The aims set by the strategy opened up the possibility of organizing a Biotechnology National Technology Platform, which gives opportunity to review and update the strategy made in 2005.
The association is also recognized as a mediator between the industry and the public. HBA has a good relationship with the national media, through which it influences the public perception on innovations within the life sciences. HBA runs projects that are particularly dedicated to improve the public understanding and promote the safe and ethical use of biotechnological innovations.
Many of our members participate in HBA committees (e.g. policy and finance committees) that were set up to strengthen particular areas of the biotech industry. The committees discuss the ongoing strategic matters and make proposals to the Board to increase the benefits of biotechnological research to the society. Our members also participate as HBA delegates in a diverse number of international organizations.”
How do you assess the global potential of Hungarian biotech companies?
Veronika Katona: „It is not comparable to any of the big biotech countries (USA, China, Western European countries) however it has a strong potential to become a well-known biotech country at European level. Some of the Hungarian companies are world-leaders in their – mostly niche – markets. The country has good educational background to train more ambitious and stable companies. All of these requires a well-organized cooperation among different actors of the industry (government, companies, educational and research institutions, etc.) and we still have a lot to learn.”
What is your opinion on BioForum? Do you think it integrates the CE biotech sector?
Veronika Katona: „Yes, definitely. We do have to find as many fields of cooperation as possible, to become visible for the big biotech companies and countries. BioForum makes it possible for the companies and institutions of the CE countries to discover possible fields of cooperation, to start joint research, to offer service-packages, to exchange specialists, etc.”
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