In its first year in operation, the CzechAccelerator project has already assisted ten Czech firms which, thanks to the project, could spend three months in the spaces of the Plug & Play Tech Center in California’s Silicon Valley. These firms’ representatives thus had a unique opportunity to meet with investors, discuss their business plans with specialists in the American market and legislation, and participate in dozens of networking events. The success of CzechInvest’s pilot programme, which opened in April last year, persuaded the Ministry of Industry and Trade to expand the programme to several other countries.
“Through the CzechAccelerator project, we do not want only to bring a few Czech firms to world markets. Its value lies primarily in the fact that it helps to increase the overall competitiveness of the Czech Republic thanks to practical support for innovative firms,” says Martin Kocourek, Minister of Industry and Trade.
“CzechAccelerator helps to draw the attention of Czech firms to markets and opportunities might otherwise seem too exotic and thus these firms perhaps would not have considered them. However, the successes achieved by the first ten participants indicate the exact opposite,” says Petr Očko, Director of the Section of EU Funds, Research and Development at the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
“Participants in the CzechAccelerator pilot project in Silicon Valley have recorded noteworthy successes which could have been difficult to achieve from the Czech Republic or for which they would have had to wait much longer. Our chosen method of assistance has proven itself and met our expectations. For us, the evidence of this consists in the further development of the firms that have already taken part in the programme, new experiences and contacts, and even the conclusion of contracts,” explains Miroslav Křížek, CEO of CzechInvest.
The first three firms – BoldBrick, Cognitive Security and Imagemetry – flew to California at the end of March last year. Three months in Silicon Valley brought them a range of new experiences and, mainly, new contacts. They also met with representatives of some of the world’s most important firms, such as Microsoft. Imagemetry reported that it was also able to uncover its own weaknesses thanks to meetings with potential investors and partners.
Another company, which thanks to CzechInvest received an opportunity to penetrate the American market, is E&S Software, which spent the summer in the United States. The company presented its product to eight hundred venture capitalists, IT directors of large American firms and the American media. Its presentation even appeared in a programme on CBS, the third-biggest American television network. At the DEMO 2010 conference, the most prestigious event in Silicon Valley during which promising firms present their products from the area of new technologies and innovations, E&S Software was the first Czech firm to give a presentation when it introduced the latest version of its e-mail client called, appropriately, eM Client. Representatives of Devmasters (Ontheroad.to), Dinasys and Kertak Nanotechnologies were active in California from October to December 2010. With the exception of Dinasys and Kertak Nanotechnologies, so far all of the participants have been ICT firms. “Overall, I consider operating in the United States to be very beneficial. Our stay in Silicon Valley helped us to greatly advance the Ontheroad.to project, primarily thanks to which we gained invaluable contacts, partners and experience for expansion to the American market. The Plug & Play Tech Center turned out to be a good choice; I value the good organisation and above-average quality of services. Cooperation with Lenka Kučerová, CzechInvest’s representative for the American west coast, was also outstanding,” says Michal Bláha, founder of Ontheroad.to.
At this time, other programme participants – COEX, AdvaICT and Cosect – are returning to Silicon Valley. “The road to Silicon Valley brought to our company primarily an understanding of the American market and the opportunity to test the preparedness of our products and services. Based on the contacts and experience we gained, we are planning to open an American branch in the very near future. Thanks to acquired experience and information, the entire focus of our overseas operation is clear to us. We are now converting the contacts we gained into strategic partnerships,” Jakub Vejmola, manager of AdvaICT.
The CzechAccelerator 2011-2014 project supports promising Czech small and medium-sized enterprises in the commercialisation of their products abroad. The pilot phase of the project was realised at the Plug & Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley, which hosts more than 250 start-up firms particularly in the areas of the internet, mobile and wireless technologies and social networks. The world’s most important IT firms, such as Google, Sun Microsystems, Oracle and Microsoft have their headquarters or key development centres in the Silicon Valley area. The project is now being expanded to other countries and will be financed from the Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovation. Only firms based outside of Prague can register for this phase of the programme. To register in CzechAccelerator, it suffices to complete a simple registration form which is available for download at www.czechaccelerator.cz.
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