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Innovation diplomats reviewed their work in the countries of their secondment

Four Slovak innovation diplomats, who have been active in China, Finland, USA, and Israel since July last year, arrived in Slovakia and met with Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic for Investment and Informatization Richard Raši to report on and review their activities. These countries are among the world leaders in terms of research, development and innovation. All diplomats have agreed that establishing partnerships and cooperation is crucial for penetration to foreign markets.

“We have sent these innovation diplomats to missions with the aim of helping Slovak research institutions, universities and entrepreneurs establish contacts, launch important cooperation with the innovation environment abroad and find partners. I am very pleased that they have been successful in achieving this goal, as they are establishing partnerships and cooperation with major institutions. That happens to be crucial for the development of innovations and for the support of Slovak entrepreneurs,” explained Deputy Prime Minister Richard Raši. He also stressed that the countries in which diplomats operate represent markets with the best innovative ecosystems.

Innovation diplomat Peter Šesták, based in the USA, is actively seeking opportunities to fund our research from US sources, whether federal or from private foundations. An important activity is establishing cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which aims to support science and research. It was the innovative diplomacy of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic for Investments and Informatization (ODPMII) that was responsible for the creation of a common fund of start-up capital with this institute. It is intended to fund scientific and research projects, while some of the MIT faculties will work together with the Slovak partner. Peter Šesták is currently working on signing the contract and launching calls for joint scientific projects.

“In the early months, my work as an innovation diplomat was in the spirit of getting to know the innovation ecosystem, including networking, both in the private and public spheres. All gained contacts have and will continue to have the potential to support and open doors for Slovak innovation companies,” noted innovation diplomat Peter Šesták.

Israel, where diplomat Milos Bikar operates, is considered a start-up country. In addition, many of them have established themselves on international markets in sectors such as communication systems, biotechnology, and digital printing. Israel has shown great interest in working with our universities, the Slovak Academy of Sciences, and private companies. The priority for Slovak companies is participation in conferences, exhibitions or fairs that offer the best opportunities to identify potential partners for cooperation. The second step is an internship of Slovak experts in the selected company and the third is a joint innovation project, which has the potential to become commercially viable.

Miloš Bikár was able to organize a professional workshop with the president of Shirat Enterprises Ltd, with the participation of Slovak entrepreneurs. The main topic was a presentation entitled “From Start-up to Smart-up” explaining Israel’s evolution of the hi-tech industry or innovative ecosystem.

“Israel primarily supports science and research through the Israel Innovation Authority, where there is room available for Slovak companies to work with Israeli firms. Through the calls of the Slovak Business Agency or individual commercial interest, companies can participate in them opening the door to the Israeli business environment. There are almost 400 R&D centres, half of which are American, which is an incredible basis for the development of many innovative ideas and solutions that are sold worldwide,” said Milos Bikar.

Miloš Koterec operates in Finland. Over the past decade, the country has developed a sophisticated mechanism to support science, research and innovation, and is a role model and inspiration for countries such as Slovakia.

For example, the city of Espoo and its Espoo Innovation Garden is the largest innovation hub in the Nordic countries. 5 000 researchers, 25 R&D institutions and 16 000 strictly selected Aalto University students work on area the size of four square kilometres. Finland is the ninth best country in the world for the creation and existence of start-ups, according to the Bloomberg ranking of 2019, and Espoo is its showcase.

In the context of innovation diplomacy, a pilot project is being prepared to educate Slovak start-ups at the Aalto Startup Center and Miloš Koterec is also developing negotiations on cooperation between the Slovak University of Technology (STU) and Aalto University. This will mainly involve the exchange of know-how in several areas of graduate training to transform ideas into business projects. Aalto Startup Center could become a strategic partner of Slovak Startup City at STU in spring this year, which would bring sustainability and cooperation with a top foreign partner. Cooperation with the Finnish National Technology Research Center is also under development with Slovak scientists in the field of quantum computers.

“Cooperation with Finnish partners, but also the transfer of the Finnish know-how, has the potential to significantly help our innovations and start-ups to succeed globally,” said innovation diplomat Miloš Koterec.

In China, where Tibor Buček operates, there are many programs through which Slovak companies can be introduced to the Chinese innovative market. Cooperation with Innoway State Center may be the most effective one. A proposal for an incubation program for Slovak companies that will be able to come to China and implement their solutions in this centre will be prepared in the near future. There is room for areas such as new materials, IT, Smart cities, Blockchain, or nanotechnology.

“State support in China, directing strong capital towards creating innovative solutions, and especially the rapid application of new technologies to production, is a challenge for our companies to work together. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, through its pilot project and direct representation of the innovation diplomat, creates very good conditions for the entry of Slovak innovation entities to this desired market,” explained Tibor Buček.