“Brno has all the ingredients an economy needs to be innovative.” AmCham Vice-President Ondřej Krajíček of Y Soft posited to sum up our recent discussion with the author of The Country for the Future vision, Karel Havlíček, Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Parliament of the Czech Republic. “What we need now is the confidence to bet on our abilities and a higher commitment to cooperate with each other to achieve our goals.”
Krajíček was one of five companies that presented to Mr. Havlíček their technology development plans that could make Brno a major center of European technology creation. VUTB Rector Ladislav Janíček and the head of science at CEITEC Pavel Tomančák also outlined how they are raising the standard of scientific research at their respective institutions.
Petr Střelec of Thermo Fisher Scientific began the morning by outlining the company’s plans to expand its technology in electron and ion microscopy enables nano processing, metrology, and visualization of objects on an atomic level. Already intricately working with VUTB and CEITEC, Střelec predicted that both the quantity and quality of that cooperation will expand. Thermo Fisher Scientific provides some of the key microscopes to onsemi, and onsemi’s increased development activity opens up new possibility of joint scientific inquiry.
Y Soft is making a major bet on robots equipped with the AI to enable it to work in multiple environments. Krajíček also sees the potential for larger and more ambitious joint research projects with VUTB and other local universities.
Josef Švejda of onsemi gave a progress report on the major investment onsemi would like to make in the region. The investment would expand both development and production of silicon carbide semiconductors, as well as increase the scientific search for new materials which may one day replace silicon carbide.
Tomáš Szaszi of Honeywell described Honeywell’s goal of developing the next generation high power fuel cell for aviation. At the moment, the consortium which Honeywell leads cooperates with universities outside of Czechia, and the goal is to bring some of those projects to universities here.
Yveta Germano of AT&T outlined the first major research investment the operator of the famed Bell Labs has made outside of the USA. “We want to use big data analytics, deep machine learning, genetic algorithms, neural networks, reward infrastructure and high performance computing to simplify, improve and automate telecommunication processes,” Germano explained.
Libor Urbanec of Garrett Motion reminded Mr. Havlíček that the timeline for making the shift to sustainable technologies may be shorter than governments and the public understands. “Our deadline is three years away,” Urbanec elaborated. “That is a pretty short timeframe for developing a product based on a few technologies that do not exist today. We are going to have pretty hard every day to get where we need to go.”
The team of researchers at Garrett in Brno are focused on three product lines: fuel cell compressors for hydrogen vehicles, e-powertrains for electric vehicles, and e-compressors for electric vehicles. He says there is a wide scope for cooperation with universities, including research into the reduction of the amount of rare earths needed.
Pavel Tomančák of CEITEC has an interesting proposal to raise the scientific standard of the country. His idea, which is inspired by a program run by the Max Planck Institute in Germany, would create several stipends to support a handful of top young researchers from around the world to move to Czechia to pursue their science here. The work done at CEITEC drives the quality of the ideas and outcomes of the science conducted in Czechia. Opening the doors of the institution to the ideas of young minds from around the world increases the potential for top level science. If that top level science is aligned with the technological capabilities and research needs of companies like Garrett Motion, Thermo Fisher Scientific and AT&T their efforts would then flow into new jobs shaping new products that generate new and premium revenue for the county. That is how virtuous cycles are constructed.
At a second session, Brno Technology Park and CzechInvest explained how they plan to improve the physical for breeding and expanding innovative businesses.
Mr. Havlíček promised that his party would support the efforts to increase technology creation whether in opposition or in the government. AmCham argued that active support of all political parties was essential for the decades long ambition to become an innovative economy. Subsequently, Havlíček agreed that AmCham should work with his economic team to ensure that all the advances of the last two governments will be pushed further if his party wins the elections and forms a government in the future.
Mr. Havlíček will visit Alliance Laundry’s research center to learn how the Green Deal is spurring their research into sustainable industrial dryers and travel on to onsemi on January 31 to discuss their proposed investment into the development of semiconductors.
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