“We were given the strategy, working plan and business model to pursue our goals”

IBM’s experts help local organisations, among them BME’s Centre for University-Industry Cooperation (FIEK) within the company’s international innovation knowledge transfer programme.

“These four weeks, during which we worked together with IBM’s foreign colleagues and managed to showcase the activities, present situation and future plans of our organisation, were immensely useful for us”, said László Lengyel, director of BME’s Centre for University-Industry Cooperation describing the recently concluded successful programme to bme.hu, adding that these weeks yielded innovative solutions to several professional issues about the future. He emphasised: it was an honour for BME’s FIEK to have been selected by the international corporation to participate in their first project in Hungary.

During IBM’s Corporate Service Corps (CSC) mission 14 IBMers from Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, UAE, USA, and Vietnam spent one month in Hungary. They worked together with 4 Hungarian non-profit organisations to help create value for the whole of society. An additional goal of their first mission to Hungary was to increase competitiveness and support large companies, SMEs and startups to meet the new challenges of digitalisation.

The local participants of the programme included BME’s FIEK, the ICT Association of Hungary, Budapest Enterprise Agency and Impact Hub Budapest.

IBM’s pro bono programme has reached 44 countries in the past 10 years.

“Following the successful application process IBM’s colleagues arrived in Hungary in the autumn. The opening ceremony was held at Budapest University of Technology and Economics and was attended by the university’s leadership”, said László Lengyel describing the programme launch, adding that the cooperation continued with discussions, during which he and Brigitta Bodzay, deputy director of BME’s Centre for University-Industry Cooperation, shared the 3 main goals of the FIEK project, organised with IBM’s coordination, with company representatives from the USA, Brazil, Vietnam and the Philippines: to develop a network of five laboratories (Pharmatech Model Laboratory, Modular hybrid drives laboratory, SmartPower laboratory, Micro-CHP Laboratory and the IoT test network and 5G laboratory) and expand the related researcher competencies and capacities, as well as to strengthen the FIEK model based on industry-university cooperation. (bme.hu previously reported on the establishment and mission of BME’s FIEK – Editor’s note)

During the meetings the heads of the FIEK programme, the Deputy Dean of Scientific and International Affairs and the entire BME FIEK staff discussed the elements of the sustainable industry-university model, then the IBMers provided material for outlining the internationally tried and tested method of implementation. “R&D strengthens the community and, besides this, increases staff numbers and competences, which can serve as a basis for launching other future programmes. In addition, a better use of our lab capacities can boost the faculty’s activities: for example leasing the lab facilities together with the engineers as a complete service generates revenues for the given organisational unit. Another goal is to assist the Industry 4.0 Technology Centre (established within FIEK to support SMEs in strengthening their decision-making processes and choosing the right technologies), so that their programmes will have the best professional focus, will be expanded with a business goal and can be used to generate projects involving not only SMEs, but large enterprises, university researchers and students alike”, Mr Lengyel said about their plans, adding that the Research, Development and Innovation Directorate, recently set up within FIEK, will play a crucial role in this. The Directorate will rely on the professional activities of the faculties, but will use a new approach, where research, development and innovation are organised with the aim of enhancing their efficiency and are also considered as an investment. The new organisational unit will be overseen by the Deputy Dean of Scientific and International Affairs and will work in close cooperation with the Rector's Office and the Chancellor’s Office to implement the strategic goals set by BME’s Innovation Advisory Council in order to enhance the efficiency of inter-faculty cooperation, market BME’s achievements (intellectual products) and infrastructure (patenting, company foundation, the harmonisation of the innovation ecosystem, market entry), operate the technology, as well as the R&D marketplace, manage international RDI networks (EIT KICs), attract and involve venture capital, manage interdisciplinary projects, showcase the university’s activities to the industry and offer innovative solutions to the corporate, as well as the SME and the startup sectors: in short to support BME’s R+D+I activities. (The work of the RDI Directorate will be introduced by bme.hu in more detail in the future – Editor’s note)

“IBM’s CSC volunteers spent the first two weeks of the programme understanding, analysing and evaluating the information provided by us, then used the other two weeks to prepare a roadmap and business model, share international examples and best practices with us, pointing out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks of our professional activities”, explained László Lengyel. He added that the information received from the IBMers was a great help in establishing the operation of BME’s FIEK, making it sustainable and setting its future directions by also taking into consideration that Hungary’s government aims to create a university-focused innovation ecosystem, increase GDP spending required for competitiveness (employing 55-60 thousand researchers, involving 80-85 thousand SMEs with university cooperation) and ensure an international-level R&D potential with a strong SME sector.

László Lengyel believes that “in the digital age universities can become real tangible players if they stop being reactive and start being proactive. BME’s FIEK was established with this proactive attitude in mind”.

– GI –
Photo: Ildikó Takács, BME FIEK, Budapest Enterprise Agency, IBM