Debrecen is the ideal place for investment by companies that set great store by highly qualified workforce and a system of institutions with a powerful research potential. The cooperation between the Local Government of Debrecen City with County Status, the University of Debrecen, and the city’s industries is the basis of research and development and innovation processes that offer considerable further opportunities.


The Triple Helix model

The Triple Helix model is a framework system of cooperation for academia (university, research centres, etc.), government (national, county, local, etc.), and industry (big companies, SMEs, smallholders, etc.) to reach a common goal.

The strength of knowledge based regions lies in their ability to harmonise the trio of academia, government, and industry, with the focus on an area of economic development (such as car manufacturing), a regulatory task (such as the utilisation of innovation results) or a branch of science (such as pharmaceutical development).

Cooperation lies at the heart of the model. The main idea is that continuous communication between the three units makes sure all three sectors develop as these conditions are vital for developing knowledge creating regions.

A typical example of relationships is the establishment and operation of networks and institutions that ensure a flow of knowledge. An increasing number of entrepreneurial universities operating in the business sector are running science parks and incubators. Companies also carry out research but basic research projects are normally funded by government bodies while non-profit government organisations undertake business and educational responsibilities.

A development trend for the Triple Helix model is Quadruple Helix (QH) where the fourth element includes (end) users. This additional actor is involved because of the need to make sure users, for whom cooperation is maintained, are present throughout the planning and creation processes between the different sectors. For instance, in a QH model led by a government agency the fourth actor is the local community whereas in an industrial QH it is the buyer. Users can be represented in various ways: NGOs, buyers’ communities, living labs, community forums or the involvement of inter-buyer opinion leaders.


Triple Helix in Debrecen

A good example of Triple Helix in the city of Debrecen is the Pharmapolis Debrecen Innovative Pharmaceutical Cluster operated as a business, university and local government cooperation system.

The establishment of the Pharmapolis Innovative Pharmaceutical Cluster reflects the joint intention of professionals in pharmacology, a dominant industry in Debrecen, the Local Government of Debrecen City with County Status, the member companies of the Hajdú-Bihar County Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the University of Debrecen to seek cooperation in promoting industrial networking relying on the region’s conditions.

As a part of collaborations between the Local Government and the University, the name Pharmapolis first appeared in 2005, when the Local Government of Debrecen City with County Status, the University of Debrecen, and several SMEs jointly established Pharmapolis Debrecen Kft. This company is engaged in R&D especially in the field of clinical research in close cooperation with Richter Gedeon Pharmaceutical Factory as the cluster’s most significant pharmaceutical agent. Also, the name Pharmapolis is used to designate the Debrecen Pólus Program.


…that the Debrecen Science Park of National Instruments employs 300 research and development engineers, and the Open Lab offers an opportunity to develop and test the prototypes of innovation products?

…that a number of companies, including IT Services and TEVA, run an extramural department at the University of Debrecen? 

…that Debrecen’s food companies supply their products (e.g. water birds, sweet corn, etc.) to the whole of Europe?


University of Debrecen


  • Nearly 240 research groups with 908 members are now active at 14 faculties.
  • 25 PhD schools serve 1,061 students.
  • In 2013 the University of Debrecen won 366 domestic and international R&D tenders.


A wide range of corporate collaborations:

TEVA Gyógyszergyár Zrt., Richter Gedeon Nyrt., Tranzit-Ker Zrt., KITE Zrt., National Instruments Hungary Kft., IT Services Hungary Kft.

The strong and open scientific base of the University of Debrecen is suitable for industrial collaborations and as a service laboratory it makes some of its research means available to the researchers and external academic and economic partners of the university.

In terms of industrial cooperation, the University of Debrecen performs the following key strategic R&D&I activities:

  • health industry,
  • functional food development and agricultural research,
  • IT and electronics.


MTA Atomki

The Hungarian Academy of Sciences Institute for Nuclear Research (MTA Atomki) has achieved world level results in the physical sciences in terms of research, development and innovation. It is involved in a number of outstanding international collaborations. Its partners in particle, nuclear and atomic physics are research centres, including the European CERN, the Japanese RIKEN, the German GSI, and the French GANIL. In addition to basic research, researchers at MTA Atomki carry out environmental protection research, nanotechnological development, prototype manufacturing for medical imaging devices, and produce industrial vacuum technology systems to prove that scientific research and innovation are inseparable from each other.


Corporate R+D+I

Debrecen’s key sectors—pharmacology, ICT, and food industry—belong to Europe’s key sectors. In these industries established in the city, clusters, collaborations, bridge organisations, and a number of committed agents are working to make innovation a part of everyday life in almost every area.