Bay Zoltan Nonprofit Ltd. for Applied Research (BZN) is Hungary’s largest and most successful public applied research institution. Its mission is to support the sustainable competitiveness of Hungarian companies through innovative services and technology transfer. The foremost objective of BZN is to provide state-of-the-art solutions to its national and international partners. With 160 researchers and other staff at four different research institutes, BZN offers complex scientific and technical solutions to achieve an efficient and fruitful operation for its clients in Europe. BZN offers the capability of exploiting the synergies between innovative services with a high level of experience for small- and medium-sized enterprises and science, applying results gained from these different areas, and fostering cooperation between waste management, waste-processing, material sciences, and biotechnology.
The Division for Biotechnology in Szeged is fully devoted to industrial, agro-industrial and environmental biotechnology, and is able to self-sustain itself from this activity. Other sectors of biotechnology are represented by various institutions as well, but at present the Division for Biotechnology is the most significant center for industrial and environmental biotechnology in Hungary. The division forms a technological bridge between the phases of basic research and experimental development within the biotechnological sector. Due to the flexible approach and comprehensive professional background in the research area, the division can provide creative and innovative solutions and answers to the biotechnology-related problems and questions arising at its partners’ sites.
The main aim of the Department of Biomass Production and Valorization and the Division for Biotechnology is developing methods for direct industrial use. Key activity areas are:
• Agro-industrial developments including the selection of microbial strains, which are able to increase the stress tolerance of the plants or have antagonistic effects on phytopathogenic bacteria and fungi;
• Algal biotechnology (algae biomass production technologies, experiments on laboratory and pilot scale; carbon dioxide absorption with algae biomass; algae-bioreactor planning; and algae-based product (fertilizer, feed) development);
• Valorization of biomass side streams (www.agriforvalor.eu/sidestreams; biogas production and animal feed production);
• Molecular biology diagnostics and methodology development; and
• Supporting vocational education, which considers the need of producers and small and medium-sized business enterprises in the field of agriculture and food industry.
BZN will lead the assessment of the water retention methods within the innovative sustainable water retention and management measures of the WATERAGRI project. It will coordinate the application, testing and further development of an organic water retainer product, in order to build an enhanced water retainer concept on it. BZN’s aim is to connect all relevant WATERAGRI activities to their contribution to improve soil health. It will be involved in the assessment of causal links between nutrient retention capacity and microbial background, and analyse the microbial composition of systems applied at the case study sites by molecular biology methods (PCR, DGGE and sequencing). BZN will also participate in business planning activities and sustainability analyses related to the key WATERAGRI solutions.
Ákos Koós (male), Head of Department of Biomass Production and Valorization, Division for Biotechnology He graduated with an MSc in chemistry at the University of Szeged in 2004. He worked as a researcher until 2010 at the Reaction Kinetics Research Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, where he conducted a study of heterogeneous catalytic processes using sophisticated analytical techniques (e.g., XPS, MS and GC). Meanwhile he started to investigate the utilization of spectrophotometric analysis coupled with microfluidic technique. He has been working for BZN since 2010. His main research areas are algae biotechnology, developments in the field of agricultural biotechnology (algae and plant growth promoting bacteria biotechnology, fermentation technologies) and strategic development of regional bioeconomy. In the last five years, he established several national and international cooperations with SME and universities in Hungary and internationally.
Nóra Hatvani (female), Research Fellow, Department of Biomass Production and Valorisation, Division for Biotechnology She graduated with an MSc in biology, specializing in molecular biology and biotechnology in 1996 at the University of Szeged. She worked at Bay Zoltán Foundation for Applied Research (predecessor of BZN) as a PhD student until 2000, and obtained her PhD in environmental biotechnology in 2001. After having worked for five years for an oil industry maintenance and building company as an Environmental Protection Manager, she started to work for BZN in 2010 as a research fellow and project manager. She is responsible in particular for the planning, management and coordination of research and development projects of the Division for Biotechnology. She has been active also in the bioeconomy-related strategic development activities of the Department of Biomass Production and Valorisation.
Attila Komóczi (male), Analytical Group Leader, Department of Recycling of Secondary Raw Materials, Division for Biotechnology He graduated with an MSc in chemistry in 2010 from the University of Szeged, Faculty of Science and Informatics. He worked as an analytical chemist at several workplaces including Fumoprep Kft. (environmental analysis), Heves Megyei Vízmű Zrt. (waterworks: organic- and inorganic micropollutants in water, soil, sediment and wastewater) and at Synlab (Division of Environmental Analytical Chemistry), as an analytical chemist and deputy laboratory manager. He has been working for BZN since 2017 as an analytical group leader. He is responsible for the quality of chromatographic and other measurements as well as traceability of laboratory results. He actively participates in projects where instrumental measurements are needed.
Attila Hargitai (male), Research Fellow, Department of Biomass Production and Valorisation, Division for Biotechnology He graduated with an MSc in biology, specializing in molecular biology and biotechnology, at the University of Szeged in 1995. He has been an environmental consultant for 8 years, taking part in remediation, water and waste management projects. He spent 6 years at the regional environmental authority as an environmental inspector. During these years, he took part in permitting procedures and site inspections of environmental and water management projects. He has been working for BZN since 2013 as a research fellow in the fields of environmental protection, and (more recently) in agriculture-related projects. He has a license to work as environmental expert in the fields of soil and water protection and waste management.
Gabriella Urbán (female), Research Fellow, Department of Biomass Production and Valorisation, Division for Biotechnology She graduated with an MSc in biology, specialising in molecular biology and genetics, at the University of Szeged in 2001. She has been working for BZN since 2012 as a research fellow. Her main research area is characterization of microbial (bacteria, cyanobacteria, fungi, algae and archaea) communities, identification of individual microbes from natural environment (soil and water), industrial plants (algae cultivation system, sewage and biogas fermenter) and laboratory samples using DNA-based molecular biological methods (PCR, qPCR and DGGE).