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Hungary Launches New Business Promotion and Development Campus in D.C.

By Chiara Vercellone

On Nov. 15, the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Hungarian Business Promotion and Development Campus (BPDC) took place on the grounds of the former Hungarian Embassy on Shoemaker Street to foster innovative partnerships between the U.S. and the Central European nation.

"We are just doing the groundbreaking today, so this is really only the beginning of this process. Hopefully, by some time this spring, we will have the center itself ready that we can present to you," said Ambassador László Szabó at the site, which is where the Hungarian Embassy stood until it moved to its new location at the Brodhead-Bell-Morton Mansion on Rhode Island Avenue last year.

The plans for the new BPDC have been in the works for a several months. The embassy wants to create an innovation incubator to host events and other collaborative efforts to help Hungarian startups in the U.S. as well as those based in Hungary looking to crack the U.S. market.

Memorial

Hungarian State Secretary for Economic Development and Regulation László György, right, hands Hungarian Ambassador László Szabó the official plaque commemorating the launch of the Business Promotion and Development Campus (BPDC). Photo: Tony Powell

The BPDC is a continuation of Hungary's legacy of scientific discovery and innovation, according to the ambassador. Among the inventions that have Hungarian roots are the carburetor for the stationary engine, the modern electric transformer and the first version of Microsoft Word. Prominent Hungarian innovators include Leo Szilard, who co-patented the concept of a nuclear reactor in 1934; John von Neumann, a mathematician whose work helped lead to the age of digital computers; and Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Albert Szent-Györgyi, credited with being the first person to identify and isolate Vitamin C. With 19 Nobel Laureates, Hungary is a leader among nations in Nobel Prizes per capita.

The goal of the center is also to expand U.S.-Hungary relations and promote Hungary as a key transit point for startups in Europe, especially in the wake of the bad press Hungary has received for severely cracking down on migration and turning against the West with its embrace of nationalism and "illiberal democracy."

The center will be a centerpiece of the embassy's efforts to strengthen business ties with the U.S. This "landing house" for innovation and technology will allow the embassy to assist startup companies looking for a foothold in the competitive U.S. high-tech sector.

"We are here to create mutual and beneficial business which will help America be the first, and which will help us, Hungarians, also to increase our value worldwide," said Dr. László György, Hungary's state secretary for economic development and regulation at the Ministry for Innovation and Technology.

"The companies joining us for this event represent only the tip of an innovative outreach that will bring Hungarian businesses to the United States, encourage American businesses to bring their companies to Hungary, and increase business cooperation between the U.S. and Hungary," added Szabó.

Cuban

One of the startup ideas featured at the BPDC groundbreaking ceremony was Hungarian pianist Gergely Bogányi’s newest creation, the Bogányi Piano. The piano is one of the first major developments in piano history since the 19th century, with innovations like the agraffe system and its carbon composite soundboard that contributes to its unique, sustained and airy tone. Photo: The Washington Diplomat

Some of those companies were present at the groundbreaking. The diverse array of startups included Conduit Sports, which creates headphones that send sound waves through cheek bones to the inner ear, leaving the ear canal open and entirely free to hear what's happening around you while still listening to your music. Another company, SignAll 1.0, enables spontaneous communication between deaf and hearing individuals via automated ASL translation technology. Meanwhile, LARA is a free augmented-reality app that adds 3D content to pictures on your smartphones or tablets to provide a new visual experience.

"[There are] plenty of things to do here, but this is only a taste of what's coming. So, I'm very glad to see that you are here, at the birthplace of these wonderful initiatives," said Szabó.

For more information about the embassy and the BPDC, visit https://washington.mfa.gov.hu


Chiara Vercellone is an editorial intern for The Washington Diplomat.

 
 

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