“We started out with just a student project. Thanks to JIC and its programmes, however, we have developed a professional company and now have 30 employees. Our technology has been used by private companies as well as international humanitarian organisations. GINA Software is helping save lives in the Czech Republic and dozens of other countries.”
As a student of the University of Technology, Zbyněk Poulíček was thinking of a topic for his diploma thesis. Initially he wanted to program map software for use in tourism, but then he and his friends Boris Procházka and Petra (Bačíková) Černá happened to see some footage from Haiti on TV. It was 2010, and the Caribbean country had just been struck by a devastating earthquake. Reporters were discovering survivors in the debris, but there was nobody around who could help them. It was instantly clear to Poulíček and his friends that the new software GINA (Geographical Information Assistant) could offer help to rescuers and the security forces.
Not winners, but praised by Bill Gates
They refashioned the original software into a map application that would enable navigation and communication among teams in the field. On the same map, users could see their current positions and get information about the condition of roads, making it possible for them to arrive sooner. Valuable minutes can mean the difference between life and death.
The team of friends from the Brno University of Technology entered their project in the competition Imagine Cup organised by Microsoft. The competition aims to motivate students to come up with practical solutions to global problems by means of modern technology. GINA won the national round. In the international round it didn’t make the final eight, but caught the attention of the BBC and was praised by Bill Gates. The humanitarian organisation Hands for Help put it immediately into practice to help improve the situation in the aftermath the Haiti earthquake. “At that moment we tested our idea in the real environment and discovered that it worked. Subsequently we established our company, called GINA Software, and continued its development,” says Zbyněk Poulíček, CEO of GINA Software.
GINA helps rescuers, fire-fighters and international organisations
The system is used by rescue teams in various regions across the Czech Republic. Now part of the integrated rescue system, it’s helping fire-fighters and rescuers coordinate joint operations. Mobile hardware, such as tablets, use GINA software to connect response units and localise people and vehicles in the field. The system has also been utilised in various humanitarian operations. The company has been cooperating long-term with the United Nations (UN), which is a recipient of its product.
Once without experience or knowledge, today an effective and professional start-up
During the company’s earliest stages, the three founders also got assistance from the accelerator JIC STARCUBE. In the course of the one-year programme, the student project was transformed into the successful company GINA Software. The entrepreneurs remained at the JIC building and cooperated with experts from the JIC Master and JIC Platinn programmes. GINA Software was also the first company in which JIC Ventures, a subsidiary of JIC, invested. “Because our system’s scope of application is so broad, we could take this investment and use it to help us expand into foreign markets. We could also regularly consult with JIC guys about our decisions. They supported our first negotiations with investors, and with partners such as Motorola and the South Moravian Fire Rescue Service,” says Poulíček.
countries around the world use GINA software
is the fraction of response operations whose response times have been reduced by GINA
vehicles with installed tablets from GINA Software
GINA Software has been developing a map system for mobile devices to facilitate navigation in challenging terrains, coordinate teams and to effectively exchange geographical information. The developers closely cooperate with operators in the field – rescue workers, people from the security sector, environmentalists, as well as topographers. Owing to this cooperation, GINA Software exactly corresponds to their needs.
The flagship product of the company is GINA System, which is available all over the world. The system has won a lot of awards, perhaps the most prestigious being its victory in the national round of the competition Imagine Cup, organised by Microsoft.
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