Hungary rewards highly cited scientists with bonus grants

Source: Nature

Earlier this year, cell biologist Attila Reményi was facing his toughest decision since returning to his native Hungary a decade ago. With his generous start-up funding about to run out, should he downsize his lab?

Then, in June, the government’s National Research, Development and Innovation Office (NRDNI) put out a call for five-year basic-research grants of up to 300 million Hungarian forints (US$1.18 million) each for highly cited scientists such as Reményi. “It came out of the blue,” says Reményi at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS) Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Budapest, who learnt on 13 November that he was among 12 winners.

But for NRDNI president József Pálinkás, the Frontline Research Excellence grants are the result of years of work. They are part of a plan to create a long-term, systematic plan of grants and rewards to encourage researchers in all fields to strive for world-class publications and to tempt Hungarian scientists working abroad to return. In a country whose leaders are coming under increasing criticism for autocratic and xenophobic tendencies, scientists say that the situation for science has never been rosier.