Petr Ocko: “Startups from Technology Incubation did a great job at the Ideathon in Taipei.”

Startups from Technology Incubation did a great job at the Ideathon and I believe they proved that Czechia is an excellent location for technology and innovation and that programmes like Technology Incubation make a lot of sense.

Welcome, Petr. I hope you’re doing great!

Thank you, I am. Hope you too! 

It was an honor to have you on board for our first-ever Ideathon between Taiwan and the Czech Republic. Did you enjoy it?

Yes, absolutely. I enjoyed the Ideathon very much. It was great to see the Czech and Taiwanese teams compete and cooperate at the event. We at CzechInvest support technology, innovation and startups and the event was in line with our strategy. It’s great that we could be a partner in such an event in Taipei and bring a breath of fresh startup air to the business delegation to Taiwan.

What projects caught your attention and why?

I believe that all of them brought some interesting aspects to the table and the jury had a very difficult task in picking the best one. The winning team caught our attention the most with their Business Co-pilot project. Not only did their mixed team of Czech founders and Taiwanese professionals prove that cooperation is possible and that we can work together, their solution actually worked. It took them just two days to come up with a solution that may help a lot of people doing market analysis while looking for potential clients. And that’s great. That’s why we do this!

There were several participants thanks to CzechInvest and its Technology Incubation programme. What was your impression of them?

Startups from Technology Incubation did a great job and I believe they proved that Czechia is an excellent location for technology and innovation and that programmes like Technology Incubation make a lot of sense.

Do these startups have the potential to expand to Southeast Asia via Taiwan?

Absolutely! We can see that Taiwan may be an interesting location for startups, especially those focused on hardware, but also for others. The island may serve as a great gateway to the rest of Asia, but we shouldn’t forget its potential in technology, for example in the semiconductor industry. In Taiwan, as well as in other countries in the region, the state and official institutions, such as CzechInvest, can help startups to connect with local partners, so it may make sense to use such opportunities.

We know that you were a member of the jury, but could you tell us which team was your favourite? And did they win?

I really liked Business Copilot and I truly believe the winning team won with a solution that could save many market analysts, business development managers and salespeople a lot of time. However, the other participants were also great. For example, the Dronetag team had a very bright and refreshing idea with their innovative food delivery concept. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them. And as I mentioned before, this is what ideathons should be about – pushing ideas further and providing inspiration.

Tell us more about Technology Incubation. The first call was announced last year. What are the results and numbers?

More than 400 startups have signed up for pre-incubation, a service that prepares startups to apply. The first round of the Technology Incubation programme was open from 1 July 2022 to 17 August 2022. A total of 117 of the pre-incubated startups eventually applied for support. Of those, 103 were evaluated, and their projects were in the fields of artificial intelligence, creative industries, the circular economy and mobility. CzechInvest issued decisions to provide support in the amount of CZK 98 million to 37 startups.

Will the second call be announced soon? What does a typical startup for Technology Incubation look like? What stage of development, industry or sector is it in?

The second round is just around the corner; stay tuned to our communication channels. A typical feature of the startups is that they are usually very atypical. For the majority of the startups in Technology Incubation, their stage of development ranges between proof of concept and extensive implementation, the latter being the most common. The two most “popular” fields are AI and the creative industries.

Let’s focus a little bit more on the industries that Technology Incubation supports. What are they and why does the programme support them?

Technology Incubation supports startups in the areas of mobility, AI, eco-tech, creative industries, space, tech4life and advanced tech & materials. These seven areas of innovation comprise our main focus, because that’s where Czechia has the greatest growth potential and strategic interest.

What can accepted projects get from Technology Incubation?

Projects accepted into the Technology Incubation programme receive both financial and indirect support. We connect them with experts in Czechia and abroad and help them with business development and with preparing a pitch deck for investors. They also receive support for business development and pitch-deck preparation, as well as assistance with finding grant opportunities and investors. They gain access to events, conferences and trade fairs so that they can find potential customers and partners. In addition to that, they receive support for the use of patents and technologies, social-media promotion and participation in domestic and international startup and space events. Incubated startups can take advantage of Czechia’s entire incubation network, which facilitates the development of their business.

We are so happy to have you as the main partner at the DUMPLINGS HACK! What made you decide to join this spectacular event?

As an innovation agency  of Ministry of Industry and Trade, CzechInvest is the main organisation supporting startups in the Czech Republic. Innovation can lead to advancements in various fields, which can improve relationships between countries and leads to improved quality of life and economic growth.  Because of that, CzechInvest is willing to join those positive disruptors that have a shared vision and goals. We felt that the Dumplings Hack Ideathon, an event for startups in Taiwan, can’t happen without CzechInvest on board. The fact that it happened as part of the biggest-ever business mission to Taiwan made it even more special.

What roles did you play in the event?

We had our colleague Matouš Kostlivý as a mentor on board for the ideathon and I served as a member of the jury. These were the most on-site roles in which we were active. Other than that, CzechInvest placed one of the challenges on the ideathon table. The participants had an opportunity to discuss and brainstorm throughout the event and we enjoyed every minute of it. Personally, I was amazed that during the Taiwan mission I had a lot of enriching meetings with people from startups who are looking for ways in which we can further cooperate and help to develop both the startup ecosystem and close cooperation with Taiwan in the area of innovation.

What are the specifics of the Taiwanese work ethic? What can Czech participants expect from their Taiwanese colleagues?

They should expect a slightly different work ethic, as well as cultural differences. Asian culture is generally based more on the establishment of trust and building relationships. Cold mailing may not work and, at some point, personal contact is a must. It is good to be aware of that, but cultural differences shouldn’t scare you off, as the rewards can be bountiful. The Taiwanese government provides strong support for startups from Czechia, whether that involves support from the Taiwania Capital CEE Investment Fund or the possibility to take part in startup fairs. The are many opportunities and now could be the right time to explore them.

Conversely, what do you think Czech startups will bring to the table?

Czechs are generally very keen to collaborate in the fields of innovation and technology. Czechs are known for being creative, a lot of inventions originated in our country, and in some of these aspects we can be complementary to our Taiwanese counterparts. Taiwan is really strong not only in chips, but also in hardware manufacturing. Czechia is perhaps stronger in software development, but we also have other strong areas, such as a great base of AI experts and strong sectors like life sciences, nano- and biotech, aerospace and many others. As such, Czechia and Taiwan are very complementary, and that’s something to build upon.

Thank you! We hope you enjoyed this event as much as we did! Now let us turn our attention to you. How long have you been with Czechinvest?

This is my second time working at CzechInvest as an authorized CEO, and, given my position at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, I have been working with my colleagues at the agency for quite some time. Over the past 12 years, I have always been close to CzechInvest and I can say it is a great agency with a dynamic and friendly, but also result-oriented spirit.

What brought you there? Do you still remember your first day?

As I mentioned, my role at CzechInvest is a bit specific, so actually it is not trivial to say what my first day was like.  However, I have always been keen on new technologies and innovation, and CzechInvest is a key Czech agency in the area of promoting new technological trends and supporting the innovation ecosystem. So, my long-term partnership with CzechInvest is simply logical.

We are Startup Kitchen, so we have to ask, what’s your favorite food?

It’s hard to say, but Czech sweet dumplings, especially blueberry, are something that I never say no to. I also have some Polish and Hungarian roots, so meals like bigos and perkelt are always nostalgic for me.

And what’s the craziest food you have ever eaten?

It’s difficult to pick just one. But as I revealed during the Dumplings Hack Ideathon, my name means “eye” in English, so I always feel a bit strange eating a Czech dish called “fish eyes” (rybí očka), but eating a rib-eye steak is a bit thrilling for me.

Thank you and I hope to see you again soon!

Thank you too!

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