EIT Digital met with Aleš Filipenský, Business Innovation Manager at JIC, innovation partner of EIT Digital in Czech Republic. The country is part of ARISE Europe, EIT Digital's implementation of the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS). ARISE Europe is designed to stimulate regional growth in EU countries where EIT Digital is not physically present with a Node. Its objective is to connect local and regional innovation centres and their ecosystems to EIT Digital's innovation and education ecosystem.
For over 14 years, JIC has been fostering a nurturing environment for innovative businesses in South Moravia, and empowering people to create and grow companies that change the world. JIC provides entrepreneurs with services - from the initial idea, through startup, up to a fully developed business. JIC‘s activities contribute to improving the competitiveness of South Moravian businesses that offer high quality and stable job opportunities in the region.
EIT Digital: Can you tell us more about JIC?
Aleš Filipenský : As a Business Innovation Manager at JIC, I help scaleup CEOs to identify issues to be improved to increase the performance of their company. We jointly work on preparation of an Innovation Roadmap where we set priorities and schedules. Then we work together to choose the right external expert, who will advise the company on the most critical innovation challenges to be dealt with.
The most frequent innovation issues that companies are facing include: internationalization, strategy and marketing, human resources, management, internal processes and new technology development.
All of this is done within the framework of JIC PLATINN. Our program for SMEs is designed to help successful companies grow even more, and succeed in foreign markets. If we want to create global players from Czech Republic, then we need to foster companies’ growth in EU.
EIT Digital: Can you tell us more about the services you provide to entrepreneurs?
Aleš Filipenský : Our vision involves empowering people to create and grow businesses that change the world. JIC provides entrepreneurs with services - from their initial idea, through startup, up to a fully developed business.
We offer five different programmes, and manage one of the oldest and largest accelerators in the Czech Republic. Our services are intended for founders who want to verify if their commercial idea has the potential for bringing a company to life, to CEOs of successful startups who are wishing to grow and identify new opportunities in foreign markets.
Our Alumni include, for example, companies like GINA, Skypicker, Videoflot and Reservio.
The Centre runs three incubators in Brno. The immediate proximity of Brno University of Technology allows an effective transfer of the latest useful scientific knowledge for businesses.
In the fourteen years since our establishment, the Centre has supported more than 250 technology companies and currently takes care of more than 60 tech companies with over 300 employees.
We also have received the BIC accreditation, which is granted by the European Business & Innovation Centre Network (EBN) on behalf of the European Commission.
EIT Digital: How has JIC worked with EIT Digital since 2016?
Aleš Filipenský : The long-term goals and mission of JIC involve empowering people to create and grow innovative businesses. We realised that we needed to complement our services to provide the companies we work with full support for exploring and entering new foreign markets, and helping them become global players. Our expertise, services, and capacities are limited, so finding the right partner with expertise, know-how, sources and knowledge of foreign markets became a priority.
At the beginning of 2016, our partnership with EIT Digital began when we responded to an open call, and EIT Digital chose us to develop all ARISE activities in our region.
For the long-term success of our collaboration, it was important to agree on a common approach and a view of entrepreneurship in Europe.
Thanks to our partnership with EIT Digital, we can now offer proper support to our clients when they are entering foreign markets. Another important benefit of our cooperation is access to the know-how and expertise of people who have direct experience with specific markets in the EU and the US.
We fully believe that our startup cooperation will have a long-term effect, and we will jointly help companies from the South Moravian region, as well as other regions of the Czech Republic, to penetrate foreign markets and support their rapid growth.
Another great added value for our clients is their interaction and networking with companies from abroad, which we are doing mainly through events we jointly organize. One of the biggest events that we organized with EIT Digital and INiTs was an official side event of the Pioneers Festival in Vienna named “Connecting Industry 4.0. “ During one of the biggest startup events in Europe, we succeeded in bringing startups, investors, business developers, and corporations from the ecosystems of JIC, EIT Digital and INiTs together. We believe that such action will help our clients think European-wide and gain inspiration from entrepreneurs across Europe.
EIT Digital: How do you see the future of entrepreneurship in Europe?
Aleš Filipenský : In a recent interview Gonçalo Amorim from BGI in Portugal said “if you are an entrepreneur, you have to always be positive and see the future as the bright side. “ We can only agree with him. Entrepreneurs face a lot of obstacles and problems, and we help them to deal with it and to move further.
There is no time to think only locally. We have to move our mindset into global thinking, and start to remove all the obstacles and barriers that prevent startups from scaling up on the European market. There is also space for improvement in the use of innovative technologies, and in the transfer of university research results to the private sphere.
I believe that the cooperation of local centres such as JIC, INITS, and BGI with an organization such as EIT Digital will help us to internationalize the European market and enable entrepreneurs from our ecosystem to grow rapidly across Europe.
Also, this cooperation will accelerate the change of mindset in Europe. Compared with other countries, we are still conservative and not so many people have the skills or the will to become entrepreneurs. Seminars about entrepreneurship in companies, universities and high schools can change the perception of business. What entrepreneurship means? What are the plusses and minuses? What to expect? How to be prepared? These activities delivered to students, through our collaboration with universities, are key to creating a future market of new European entrepreneurs.