The Czech Republic is a supporter of the African-European Innovation Partnership. The Czech representative of JIC will be cooperating with an incubator from South Africa
In Nairobi, Kenya, an initiative called the African-European Innovation Partnership was officially launched last week. Its objective is to support and connect innovation and technology incubators between the two continents. Among the ten European incubation centres, the Czech Republic was represented by the South Moravian JIC, which has signed a cooperation agreement with the South African incubator Softstart BTI.
“The partnership with the South African incubator consists primarily in the exchange of experience. We’ll also be making efforts to connect our clients with their clients and search for business opportunities for them,” says JIC’s Jindřich Weiss about the substance of the cooperation, adding that Softstart BTI provides services similar to those of JIC. “In addition to shared office premises, they also provide their clients with access to specialised equipment and with consultations and advice.” According to Weiss, South Africa was chosen because it has significant market potential (as the second largest African economy) and is an Anglophone country, eliminating a possible language barrier.
The two-day event in Nairobi, Kenya, on 12 and 13 September was the initiative’s very first activity. The partnership is a joint effort of the European Union and African Union to establish closer ties in the field of innovation and technology. Its main tool is the interconnection of regional and national ecosystems, which are represented by innovation centres from both continents. Through them, companies get support in their efforts to enter African or European markets. The partnership also complies with one of the priorities of the recently elected president of the EU, Ursula von der Leyen. Her plans also include preparing a “Comprehensive EU Strategy for Africa.” In recent weeks, von der Leyen has emphasised the need for a sustainable investment plan to stimulate innovation and competitiveness. Africa is a continent with numerous social and environmental challenges, which also bring business opportunities. “I believe that business can be an important tool in addressing global challenges,” adds Petr Chládek, Director of JIC, in support of Weiss.
A total of 21 centres are taking part in the initiative. The ten European representatives were selected by the European Business and Innovation Centres Network (EBN), which also had its own delegation in Nairobi. In addition to JIC as the Czech representative, selected institutions included GTEC (Germany), Imperial College London (UK), Incubateur Descartes (France) and the Poznan Science and Technology Park (Poland).
The partnership project is funded by the European Commission and there will be six additional events connecting European and African incubation centres to be held by May 2021.