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From 2005 to 2010, Hungary featured a national biotechnology strategy which intended to foster dynamic growth and help overcome the bottlenecks encountered by high-tech SMEs in the field of life sciences. The strategy comprised 20 harmonized measures and was developed by the Hungarian Biotechnology Association based on best practices from 17 countries and the feedback from local biotechnology players. However, the strategy does not specifically mention industrial biotechnology.
The 2011 New Széchenyi Development Plan whose purpose is to improve Hungary’s competitiveness and create no less than one million new jobs within ten years along seven “economic policy breakout points” – including biotechnology for the development of a green economy.
Who is there?
Hungary has strong tendencies towards healthcare biotechnology due to its established and well-developed pharmaceutical industry.
Hungary has a series of well-established sugar processing companies such as Magyar Cukor and Hungrana which are looking for additional applications and diversifying their product range by going beyond starch and syrup production and generating products such as animal feed and bioethanol.
In addition, one of the largest bioethanol production facilities in Europe is located in Dunaföldvar: Pannonia Ethanol, part of Ethanol Europe Renewables. The biorefinery runs on corn feedstock to produce ethanol and high protein animal feed. Another similarly sized facility is planned in Mohacz.
Research and Academia
- The Hungarian Institute of Agricultural Engineering has a certain focus on the utilization of biomass for renewable and green energy, green chemicals (pharmaceuticals, industrial raw materials, biopesticides and bioherbicides), functional food and feed
- The objective of the Bay Zoltan Nonprofit for Applied Research – Institute for Biotechnology (BAY-BIO) is to implement targeted projects in terms of methodological and technological development to meet industrial needs. Industrial biotechnology relevant aspects include:
- biorefinery: valorization of industrial byproducts and wastes
- biocatalysis: design and integration of catalysts to chemical industry technologies (malic acid, carotenoids)
- Algae biotechnology: algae-based product development and design of algae reactors
Newly launched BAY-BIO projects in the Industrial Microbiology department include the bacterial conversion of CO2 to methane and the operation of microbial fuel cells.
- Key research activities of the department of Applied Biotechnology and Food Science in the Budapest University of Technology and Economics include:
- Anaerobic digestion, fermentation of lactic acid, of ethanol and xylitol, enzymatic hydrolysis of pretreated biomass to obtain fermentable sugars, enzymatic bioconversion of 1-3 propane-diol
- The Faculty of Natural Resources Management and Rural Development of the Karoly Robert College has eight research units working on biomass and fermentation of organic materials, but also focuses on the research and development of liquid biofuels (biodiesel and bioethanol)
- The University of Pannonia has a department of bioprocess engineering which focuses on:
- Lignocellulosic bioethanol production
- Microbial production of organic compounds (e.g. succinic acid) with more functional groups
- Biofuel production from microalgae
- Biogas research
Associations and Clusters
- Hungarian Biotechnology Association (Magyar Biotechnologiai Szövetseg) – This industry association has played an important role in the development of the 2005-2010 biotechnology strategy which was fully supported by the Hungarian government. The Hungarian Biotechnology Association also had an active role in setting up the 2013 edition of BioForum, the annual even gathering entrepreneurs and scientists in the biotechnological, pharmaceutical and veterinary fields from the Central and Eastern European region.
- Biogas and Biorefinery Cluster
- Hungarian Bioethanol Association
Examples to watch
Several years ago, state owned Nitrokémia’s sub-company Hunest Biorefinery has initiated the technical design and prepared the associated detailed feasibility study for the construction of a biorefinery to be located in Balatonfüzfö. The biorefinery is designed to produce biodegradable polylactic acid, nutrition gluten, lactic acid, as well as ethyl and butyl lactate solvents from wheat starch. The annual input capacity is of 25 000 tonnes of wheat and can be expanded to 100 000 tonnes in the future. The facility is to be supplemented with a biogas plant which processes the waste water. However, there is currently no available information as to what the state of development of the project is. The most recent news state that in 2011, the project was waiting for permits and possible investors.
Pannonia Ethanol plant producing annually up to 280 million litres of bioethanol and 160 000 tons of Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles (DDGS), a high protein animal feed, from corn feedstock.
No information available.
Hungary has potential for the development of the industrial biotechnology sector because it has a high availability of biomass. However, there seems to be a lack of financing and investment, as exemplified by the Hunest biorefinery project in Balatonfüzfö.
Hungarian Biotechnology Association