CzechInvest Technology Incubation project sees successful launch

The state agency will support up to 250 innovative startups with CZK 850 million over the next five years. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 20.09.2022 11:45:00 (updated on 20.09.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

The state agency CzechInvest accepted 114 applications for its Technology Incubation project in its first call, which was open to startups focused on mobility, creative industries, ecology, and the circular economy, or artificial intelligence. These are four of the seven sectors that the Technology Incubation project focuses on.

Of these applicants, 92 percent of the companies are less than three years old. Over a third of applications fall into the field of artificial intelligence, closely followed by creative industries. The largest number comes from Prague and the South Moravian region. CzechInvest plans to issue two to three calls for the Technological Incubation project per year.

These applications will now be evaluated. "This will be followed by work with startups, which mainly consists of intensive mentoring and mediation of suitable contacts, at the end of which we expect the successful launch of a startup with a finished product," Petr Očko, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, who is currently in charge of managing the CzechInvest agency, said.

Each startup will get help that reflects its specific needs. "Our main goal is focused support in strategic innovation areas in which the Czech Republic has the greatest growth potential or strategic interest," Očko added.

In total there were 320 interested parties that applied before the Aug. 17 deadline, but the majority did not complete the application process.

"With the others, we continue the pre-incubation process, which includes working with the company before submitting the application itself. We consider pre-incubation and the opportunity to be in contact with interested parties even before submitting an application to be a great asset of Technological Incubation," Tereza Kubicová, CzechInvest's deputy for technological development, said.

But there is still room for more startups to get involved. Over the next five years, the project should support up to 250 innovative startups with approximately CZK 850 million.

One project goal is to build up the Czech Republic’s international standing as an innovation hub.

“CzechInvest’s largest-ever project will help the Czech Republic to rank among innovation leaders. It is the result of many years of work and builds on the experience of previously implemented projects, in particular the very successful ESA BIC space business incubator project,” Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Petr Očko, who is currently in charge of CzechInvest, said.

The European Space Agency Business Incubator Centers (ESA BICs) is an international program to support aerospace research in Europe. The ESA BIC in the Czech Republic operates in cooperation with CzechInvest to support space research in Prague and Brno. ESA BIC is still going on, and new projects are accepted.

“We have also drawn on foreign experience from countries successful in innovation. We will focus on the different areas we support and would like to create real communities around them. Connecting to potential partners is one of the biggest benefits for the supported startups,” Očko added.

Among the hundreds of startups helped by CzechInvest bike manufacturer Festka, among whose clients is the actor Orlando Bloom, Czech startup Vrgineers developed their virtual reality headset XTAL in cooperation with US Air Force and Czech Startup MyCello.

Sound of Silence performed on Silent electric cello from Czech Startup MyCello by US musician and performer ElenkaCello

The Technology Incubation project, which is also supported by the Minister for Science, Research and Innovation Helena Langšádlová, represents a major investment in the future of Czech industry. These companies, when they grow, will help to further the Czech Republic’s economic development and competitiveness.

CzechInvest perceives that high added value no longer lies in industries as such, but in technologies that are applicable across sectors. These areas are artificial intelligence, mobility, creative industries, space technologies, ecology and circular economy, and smart solutions in healthcare, pharmacy, cyber security, and nuclear physics.

Czech startup Vrgineers developed their virtual reality headset XTAL in cooperation with US Air Force.

Unlike other programs, where open communication with the applicant is prohibited, it is encouraged and recommended in the Technology Incubation project. Successful applicants will receive financial support of up to CZK 5 million to purchase services. This money will be used to develop or complete the product or service and to meet a goal set by the applicant in their project plan.

The provided support also includes an incubation package, which represents a major difference between an incubation grant and a traditional grant. A team of experts will work intensively with the company for up to two years to help it with its own business, as well as with legal services, marketing, or finance. A key area of advice and mentoring will be help with specific technologies.

Another advantage of the project is the possibility of pre-incubation, which allows for consulting on the project plan before its official submission. The aim is to prepare clients for the application process.

"So far, interest in consultation or pre-incubation is quite high. More than 300 potential candidates have already signed up, and we are gradually establishing communication with all of them. Pre-incubation is not linked to the call. This opportunity will be there throughout the implementation of the Technology Incubation project. We will announce calls two or three times a year at the most,” CzechInvest's deputy for technological development Tereza Kubicová said.

Throughout the selection process, the innovative nature of the project is assessed as well as its feasibility and scalability. The Technology Incubation project is intended to connect startups, regional innovation infrastructure, established companies, and academia in all supported sectors, similar to how the ESA BIC space incubator has functioned so far.

For the supported startups, the main benefit is the connection to potential partners and the fact that CzechInvest will work intensively with each supported company by incubating it.

This article was written in association with CzechInvest. To read more about our partner content policies see here.

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