Speeches

23. 9. 2019 20:09

Leading by Example: The Czech Republic's National Innovation Strategy

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš at the 2019 Concordia Annual Summit in New York, 23 September 2019.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš at the 2019 Concordia Annual Summit in New York, 23 September 2019.
Speech by Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Andrej Babiš at the 2019 Concordia Annual Summit in New York.

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear guests,

I value the opportunity to share with you the experience of the Czech Republic and our vision of implementing the current National Innovation Strategy. The Czech Republic and its many beautiful cities, including Prague, are well known for their rich history and stunning architecture. But what really paves our way to the future is innovation.

As one of the most industrialized countries in Europe, we must innovate to maintain our competitiveness. Although we have a successful economy that ranks among the most stable ones in Europe, we have been urgently aware of this need. That’s why we have formed a vision together with the best scientists, entrepreneurs and managers. This vision has been transformed into the National Innovation Strategy 2019–2030, introduced by my government in January 2019.

The response to this initiative has been overwhelmingly positive. We are continuously introducing measures that support innovation. Our ultimate ambition is to be included among the innovation leaders of Europe by the year 2030. We are also rebranding the Czech Republic as the Country for the Future, which captures the technological excellence of our country.

The Strategy is divided into nine thematic pillars. These pillars define the objectives and instruments of both financial and non-financial nature. Their implementation will improve quality and efficiency of the environment for the development of innovative business. The pillars of the Strategy, starting with the support of the start-up and spin-off environment, are being developed into concrete action plans.

These plans will lead to achieving the objectives of this Strategy, through the development of strategic management, promotion of education and research to the development of digital and other modern technologies and skills.

The scope of the Strategy thus encompasses a broad spectrum of the society and tackles all key issues. It can have an immense impact through the strengthening of polytechnic education, even developing creative thinking, technical imagination and problem-solving or simply contributing to our information society. Innovation as approached in the Strategy also links strongly to areas of smart investment and smart infrastructure. Seeing innovation as linked to the complexity of our economy and even society has allowed us to adopt this robust approach that should help us become an innovation leader.

An important tool for a significant part of the strategy is The Country for the Future Program. It will provide financial resources to support emergence of innovative companies, development of digital services, and deployment of innovations based on the results of research and development.

The program also focuses on the internationalization of start-ups and will be, among other things, a complementary instrument of the upcoming community Digital Europe Program.

The focus on research and innovation needs to be driving us forward. But we are not building this initiative just on our vision, we have already a robust scientific base that serves as a launchpad for our future endeavors. Excellent research in the Czech Republic is carried out especially in natural sciences, engineering and technology, and medical and health sciences.

We have a number of research infrastructures that are operated on the principle of open access, thus for use by all their potential users. Dozens of newly built or substantially extended research infrastructures have the most modern equipment and cutting-edge research facilities. For example I would like to mention the research infrastructure ELI Beamlines in Dolní Břežany near Prague which operates in the area of laser technologies. In fact, the world's most intense laser ELI Beamlines is a part of the ELI project.

In the field of key technologies, one of the most potentially interesting is to be pointed out, and that is Artificial Intelligence. Our national AI strategy aims to utilize the top Czech research in this breakthrough technology as a key tool for the future of our state.

However, we do not perceive our country as an isolated unit. Indeed, our vision extends beyond our borders and one of the main objectives of the Czech Republic is to engage in AI activities at the EU level. The first such step is to work towards building a coordination center in Prague for one of the networks of European Centres of Excellence in AI.

But we are not stopping at the priority research sectors and at the National Innovation Strategy. We are taking our innovation focus beyond these initial steps and we are projecting our innovation concept into the prepared National Economic Strategy 2030.

The absolute focal point will be Smart Economy which links strongly to our education system and advanced technologies. We are setting goals for the key elements of our economy, including industry, agriculture, energy sector, transport and trade. But we are even including topics like smart landscape, labor market and regional development.

If we want to truly advance our economy, we must follow this all-encompassing view.

Innovation is a starting-point and research is the solid base to build our smart economy strategically. But we believe that this organic approach is the key.

Our goals are nothing but ambitious and we need to keep working hard and steady. But in the Czech Republic, we have adopted a complex approach and a plan to get to that goal.

We are up for the challenge to become an innovation leader, to be the Country for the Future.

Thank you for your attention.

Andrej Babiš, Prime Minister

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