Press Advisories

11. 3. 2019 19:06

New Innovation Strategy of the Czech Republic has attracted attention in the USA

Andrej Babiš and Karel Havlíček at the American Chamber of Commerce on 6 March 2019.
Andrej Babiš and Karel Havlíček at the American Chamber of Commerce on 6 March 2019.
During his visit to the USA, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who is also the President of the Government Council for Research, Development and Innovation (CRDI), together with CRDI Vice-President Karel Havlíček, attended a number of important meetings, also focused on cooperation in research and innovation. The central theme was the presentation of the Czech Republic’s innovation strategy 2019–2030 and the active involvement of American partners in joint projects.

In addition to the Prime Minister’s main reason of the official visit to the US – the meeting with US President Donald Trump, a number of other important expert meetings have taken place that have an immediate impact on Czech research.

The innovation strategy Czech Republic: The Country For The Future was presented in detail to members of the American Chamber of Commerce as well as to major US investors. Leaders of IBM, GE, Microsoft, Google, Honeywell, Rockwell, Merck, AT&T, Motorola, Thermo Fischer, Cisco, etc. discussed not only new government priorities aimed at supporting research, digitization or building smart infrastructure with Prime Minister Babiš and CRDI Vice-President Havlíček but also the investment policy of the state associated with investment incentives.

“We have openly told everyone that only those who will finance research, innovation and who will make a profit as a result can receive investment incentives. We are not offering ourselves as a cheap country but as a confident partner. The response of US companies was very positive. They highly appreciated that we have a clear vision. In addition, most of them already have Czech branches, know our companies and our universities and are ready to invest in our research environment”, said Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.

Another important meeting was with the National Science Foundation (NSF) headed by its director France A. Córdova. The NSF is a flagship federal office that finances nearly a third of fundamental research at US universities with a budget of USD 8 billion. Although it is developing an interesting collaboration with a number of European countries in which NSF finances joint fundamental research projects, there is no concrete cooperation with our scientific institutions due to NSF’s reluctance. That is why, in the presentation of the new innovation strategy, attention was paid mainly to the new methodology for evaluating our science. This was eventually decisive and the US partner will send to the Czech Republic program directors in agreed scientific fields, giving us historically the first chance to get funding from the NSF.

“It was extremely challenging to convince the American partners that the evaluation of our research was already different than a few years ago. We have explained in detail the essence of the new Methodology 2017+, which leaves the system based on the number of publications, and we have shown that current evaluation is based on qualitative parameters. We will cooperate with the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic, the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Education”, said CRDI Vice-President Karel Havlíček.

Significant talks took place at the University of Maryland, one of the leading American schools in the field of artificial intelligence, which was also the focal point of the meeting. The university has had a long-term cooperation with CTU, specifically with Professor Pěchouček and his team, who should become the foundation of the forthcoming European Excellence Centre of Artificial Intelligence in Prague.  Also present were representatives of the US Department of Defense and Maritime Research, who highly appreciated our scientists in collaborating with the Office of Naval Research, Air Force Research Lab, NASA and Federal Aviation Technology. Czech scientists work together with them on social simulation projects, machine learning in hostile environments, cyber security, etc.

“Americans perceive cooperation in the field of artificial intelligence from both an economic and a security perspective. Our scientists are very respected in this area, which is also illustrated by the fact that the Prague branch of the Office of Naval Research is the only one in the world in a country without a sea. We are therefore pleased that another strategic agreement on cooperation between the University of Maryland and CTU will be signed over the next few days, which fully fits into the Innovation Strategy concept”, added Karel Havlíček.

Artificial intelligence, innovation and cybersecurity were also central issues in meetings with the most important Jewish organizations. The Czech delegation gradually met five of them, including the influential American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  The attendees also discussed the conclusions of a recent visit by Prime Minister Babiš in Israel to innovation in agriculture, cooperation with the Start-Up Nation Foundation, and support for Israeli scientists to legalize cannabis in the Czech Republic.

The United States were also the inspiration for the Czech Republic’s innovation strategy to support start-ups; therefore a visit to 1776, the flagship incubator, was included in the agenda. It is a network of dozens of start-up centres all over the United States, allowing the development of nearly three thousand young entrepreneurs. The Washington branch has about a hundred microfirms that get access to facilities, mentors, training, while sharing equipment and using cutting edge technology.

“It is a great inspiration for us. Our goal is to launch CzechInvest’s national support for building similar incubators, including the involvement of the Czech-Moravian Guarantee and Development Bank, which could finance start-up projects”, said Karel Havlíček in summary after the visit to the incubator.

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