Speaking at the launch of the Zala County Top 100 Companies 2020 publication, the Minister of Innovation and Technology said that Hungary is one of the European countries that recovered the fastest from COVID-19. In 2020, labor income growth in Hungary was the highest in the EU, the investment rate more than doubled. and economic growth is expected to reach 7 percent, he said.
The global car industry is suffering from a shortage of materials, while the Hungarian economy has been less impacted. The unemployment rate was 3.6 percent last November, close to a record 3.1 percent, while employment also rose, approaching 73 percent. However, the labor market is in transition, moving away from sectors affected by the virus into science, information technology and construction, he said.
Palkovics also said that in the next 5–10 years, the food industry and the automotive industry will be priority sectors in Hungary, but significant sums are also being earmarked for the development of energy backup systems. He identified the rise of artificial intelligence and the hydrogen industry as key technologies of the future, with the latter representing a new sector for fuels and energy storage.
He pointed out that Hungary currently has the largest battery production capacity in Europe, which is attracting further automotive investments.
The minister recalled that by 2020, budget spending on innovation in Hungary had doubled to over HUF 150 billion. The current 1.6 percent of GDP spending on innovation is planned to be increased to 3 percent by 2030. He cited the example of 38,000 researchers working in Hungary in 2016, rising to nearly 60,000 by 2021.
According to László Palkovics, Zala County is an example of innovation, specifically noting the Zalaegerszeg automotive test track. He pointed out that its development alone would not have been enough, so a complex ecosystem is being built around it, including a university campus, research institutes and sites for companies related to the industry. Rheinmetall is building the world’s most modern tank factory with a separate test track, AVL is setting up a development center, TÜV Rheinland is testing batteries and agricultural machinery in the Zala county seat, and Bosch is laying the foundation stone for a new development center.