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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 8 May 2014

Reversing the Brain Drain: Major investment for EU scientific research hub in Hungary gets the go ahead

Today the European Commission has approved an investment of € 111 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the building of the third part of the cutting edge pan-European Laser research hub "Extreme Light Infrastructure"(ELI). The project will provide a major boost to Europe's research capacity: attracting hundreds of scientists to Hungary and forging valuable links between business and the scientific world.

The project, which uses super-short laser pulses, involves the installation of state-of-the art technology at the facility to be built near the University of Szeged in Hungary. The two first facilities of this pioneering European research consortium are currently being built in the Czech Republic and Romania and are expected to be completed at the end of 2015.

The research centre will enhance Hungary's competitive edge, putting it on track for smart growth and helping it to meet its European research and development (R&D) targets. The project approved today is known as "Attosecond Light Pulse Source (ALPS) of the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI)", ELI-ALPS. It will focus on the generation and application of super-short (“attosecond-range”) laser pulses with very high repetition rates. This highly innovative technology, with applications in research and development will also have a huge impact on the industry in the field of biology/biophysics, chemistry, material science, energy research and medical science. It's expected 250 scientists will be involved in the project by 2020.

Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, who signed the decision, said “This third pillar of ELI - the pan-European laser research hub –is fully in line with EU Regional Policy's main objective to invest in sectors with great growth potential like research and innovation. We have very high hopes for Hungary's ELI-ALPS project. Through it, Hungary, like Romania and the Czech Republic, has a chance to put itself firmly on the map of European research, to retain highly-specialised workers - reversing the 'brain drain', attracting new companies to the region and giving Hungary's young and more established scientists alike new and exciting opportunities."

Hungary is currently investing 1.3% of GDP in R&D across the public and private sector. It has a Europe 2020 target of 1.8% of GDP, in the context of an EU-wide headline target of 3%. ELI-ALPS is expected to give a much-needed boost to research and development in Hungary, helping the country to bridge the innovation gap and foster knowledge and technology transfer.

Hungary was allocated €25.5 billion in EU Cohesion Policy funding for 2007-2013. For 2014-2020, Hungary will receive €21.9 billion in Cohesion Policy funding.


The EU part of the ELI-ALPS investment comes through the ERDF co-financed programme "Economic Development" under the priority axis "R&D and innovation for competitiveness".

Today's decision approves the ERDF contribution for the 1st phase of the ELI-ALPS facility under the programming period 2007-2013. The total costs of the project (including national contribution) amount to €130.5 million. The second phase of this project concerning the instalment of the scientific technology will be financed by the EU during the 2014-2020 programming period. The research hub is expected to have its full research capacity by 2018.

This is a so-called "major project", of which the total investment (VAT included) is above €50 million and thus subject to a specific decision by the European Commission, whereas other types of projects are approved at national or regional levels.

ELI-ALPS is one part of the "Extreme Light Infrastructure"(ELI), which was identified in 2006 by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) as one of the top priority projects of research infrastructure for Europe. It is the third pillar of the ELI pan-European Laser facility. The Commission approved €236 million in funding for the first ELI pillar in the Czech Republic in April 2011 and € 180 million for the second pillar in Romania. A fourth pillar will be built in a location that still has to be determined.

ELI will involve 40 research and academic institutions from 13 Member States. During the implementation of the ELI project, representatives of the host countries (Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary) constitute an international non-profit association under the name of "Extreme-Light-Infrastructure Delivery Consortium International Association (ELI-DC)". ELI-HU Research and Development Non-Profit Limited Liability Company represents Hungary and ELI-ALPS in this ELI-DC, which was formally established on 11 April 2013. It is the first pan-European multidisciplinary network to research the potential of state–of- the art laser technology.

More information:

EU-funded 'Major Projects'

Project website

Website of the ELI consortium

Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 (Hungarian)

Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 (English)

EU Cohesion Policy in Hungary 2007-2013 (Hungarian)

EU Cohesion Policy in Hungary 2007-2013 (English)

EU Cohesion Policy in Hungary 2014-2020 (Hungarian)

EU Cohesion Policy in Hungary 2014-2020 (English)

Contacts :

Shirin Wheeler (+32 2 296 65 65) - (mobile : +32 460766565)

Annemarie Huber (+32 2 299 33 10) - (mobile: +32 460 793 310)

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