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In partnership with world leaders

The University of Debrecen and the Budapest headquarters of GE Healthcare have been given an opportunity to participate in the introduction and implementation in Europe of the methodology of the Catalyst programmme of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

It was 7 years ago that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed its unparelleled training programmme with a view to creating and supporting health research projects. The objective of the Catalyst programme is to bring about a paradigm shift in terms of approach to research and the training of future researchers to ensure that the end result of research is more likely to be utilised outside the field of academia, making a real impact on our world.

- This programme focuses on enabling typically young researchers who want to make a difference with their work to think differently when formulating their research proposals, considering the real societal needs of their research. We have an opportunity to establish a historic partnership with the University of Debrecen under the auspices of the Ministry of Innovation and Technology to launch the Catalyst programme in 2020, Martha Gray, Professor at MIT, told Portfolio in an exclusive interview. She added that MIT believes in the power of joint research and discovery, and the positive impact of collaboration. During their two-day visit to Hungary they were satisfied that the Hungarian partners were also open to this.

- In Hungary, MIT’s Catalyst will establish one of its European training centers in Debrcen, and the University of Debrecen will play a leading role in the European implementation and application of the MIT Catalyst methodology, linking the Debrecen ecosystem with the R&D and innovation centers in the Boston region. In Europe, the University of Debrecen will work with two other higher education institutions: the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen University and UPM Madrid University, Ernest Lara informed the University of Debrecen.

The manager for MIT Catalyst Europe said: Catalyst is a scholarship programme often referred to as a methodology or platform. EIT Health has awarded a grant to a consortium of European universities, hospitals and companies, with MIT involved, to help launch the Catalyst Europe program.

Ernest Lara further explained that Catalyst Europe is a new addition to the EIT Health's portfolio of fellowship programmes and we are working closely with not only EIT Health but also its members, where many synergies may occur. Support from EIT Health has played a key role in launching Catalyst Europe and creating a groundbreaking structure that provides fantastic new opportunities such as expanding the consortium to include the University of Debrecen.

Zoltán Szilvássy, Rector of the University of Debrecen, and Endre Ascsillán, Vice President of GE Hungary, talked about the introduction of the Catalyst methodology and establishing the training center in the evening programme of M1 Ma este after consulting with MIT experts.

- The University of Debrecen has been implementing its projects in harmony with the needs of industry for many years, and this is what we have built our operations on. We examine what problems the industry wants to solve relying on university knowledge, and this is what we base our industry cabinets on. Research agreements and evaluations are already being carried out by these panels of academia, government and industry.This model has proved to be so successful that over the years we have succeeded in making a prestigious university like MIT become interested in our operations - said Zoltán Szilvássy, Rector of the University of Debrecen.

Discussing the Catalyst program, Endre Ascsillán emphasized that there are many problems to be solved in health care that require the focused use of diverse resources.

- The Catalyst program is designed for the health and related medtech industry. What is crucial in this industry is the reaction time and speed at which we are able to decide on an ecosystem, research programme or project.The most important point in the process is the selection criteria that a researcher needs to fulfill to be admitted to the programme.  I believe that with the participation of MIT and the University of Debrecen, we will be able to select the most talented young Europeans at a world-leading level in order to implement the ideas and innovative procedures that we need, GE Hungary Vice President stressed .

University leaders have commented on collaboration with MIT

The vertical organisation of the University of Debrecen and the cooperation between related  industry networks and cabinets played a definite role in the decision of MIT,  Rector Zoltán Szilvássy and Chancellor Zoltán Bács told the University TV.

- Strategic partnerships, industry and university clusters, and the active involvement of companies in the full education and research coordination - these are the factors that convinced MIT - listed Zoltán Szilvássy. The Rector of the University of Debrecen added that General Electric, a strategic partner of the university with a close relationship with MIT for many years, played a key role in the agreement.

Chancellor Zoltán Bács underlined that the MIT Catalyst program will involve the university with another major international cooperation, the European EIT Health program.

- We have previously explored the opportunities offered by EIT Health, and now through Catalyst, we have joined the programme and participate in health industry research. We believe that the University of Debrecen, as a centre of excellence in the health industry, will clearly define itself in Hungary. It was years ago that the institution identified the health industry as a strategic focus area for the institution, which is now taking on a special meaning in international cooperation as well. We have succeeded in building an innovation ecosystem that can accommodate such collaborations, placing us in the vanguard of Hungarian higher education, ”said Zoltán Bács.

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