Innovate Czechia: Czech business innovators combat coronavirus through virtual hackathon

A new project from CzechInvest aims to support and unify the country's fight against coronavirus through new business innovation

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky
Published on 08.06.2020 06:00 (updated on 08.06.2020)

czechinvest

During the coronavirus crisis in the Czech Republic, new innovations like Corovent’s low-cost crowdfunded ventilators and the Czech Health Ministry’s eRouška Smart Quarantine mobile app have made both national and international headlines.

But these won’t be the only innovations to come out of the crisis. CzechInvest, in cooperation with the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade and other partners, has launched a virtual hackathon over the past two months that seeks to support and unify the country’s fight against coronavirus by putting new ideas from Czech regions, schools, businesses, and associations into accelerated development.

Called Hack the Crisis, the initiative has drawn submissions from some of the Czech Republic’s top innovators that seek to develop new ways to help bring the Czech Republic out of the coronavirus crisis. In the following weeks, fifteen projects will be selected by a jury of experts and put into advanced development with support from the state. In addition to receiving support and mentoring, eight of the projects will also receive financial aid.

“We are not creating anything entirely new. We value the private initiatives that are already operating here and we do not want to interfere with them. However, we want to provide support where it is needed and where there is interest in it,” says the Czech Republic’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Karel Havlíček

“We have seen that this works abroad, for example in Estonia, Poland and Germany, where we found inspiration, and we would like to offer support from the state also in the Czech Republic. In addition to that, we are in contact with our counterparts from Poland, with whom we have agreed to share examples of good practice and, where appropriate, to interlink our mentor networks.”

SmartGuide wants to revive the travel industry in the Czech Republic with domestic tourists
SmartGuide wants to revive the travel industry in the Czech Republic with domestic tourists

The Hack the Crisis hackathon is operated under the Czech Network platform, which links local businesses, entrepreneurs, and state institutions and facilitates offers and requests for available capacities, materials and services between them.

“We want to match our country’s needs with the tremendous energy and volunteering in the IT segment and other sectors,” adds Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Petr Očko.

“We would like to give this activity a longer-term character and prepare other forms of support. In the future, this could aid the response to similar threats or any other threat to the state, citizens or information. One of the variants under consideration is the preparation of an incubation programme for start-ups and spin-offs that would also work with some of the ideas that come out of this hackathon.”

CzechInvest and the Czech Ministry of Trade and Industry seek to support companies by providing solutions for problems such as a shortage of financing, a lack of contacts, know-how and capacities, and long, drawn-out processes.

By overcoming these and similar issues faced by small businesses and entrepreneurs, Hack the Crisis aims to put promising new projects from Czech businesses into practice as soon as possible with help from the state as well as private experts and visionaries.

Hunter Games seeks to transform distance learning into something attractive and entertaining
Hunter Games seeks to transform distance learning into something attractive and entertaining

“We want to use not only contacts and capacities of project partners, but also companies from the database of the Czech Network platform. We will use the database to the maximum extent and thus bring together even more of those that are not only offering but also requesting capacities. For example, we can help a company that needs an IT expert to engage such an expert,” says Patrik Reichl, CEO of CzechInvest.

“Due to the fact that we are standing at the boundary between the public and private spheres, we have contacts to investors, small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups, as well as various institutions and people across the state administration. We are thus able, for example, to help accelerate the product-certification process, as we did with the CIIRC CTU respirator.”

Established by the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade in 1992, CzechInvest is the Czech Republic’s official business and investment development agency. The agency plays a key role in providing support for local businesses and foreign investors in the country, as well as promoting the Czech Republic abroad.

One of the primary goals of CzechInvest is transforming the Czech Republic into one of Europe’s leading innovators.

For more information about CzechInvest’s Hack the Crisis project, visit the official website.