Royal Technology Mission-IVA-2011
CASE STUDY IVA
From promoter of Nordic companies in the Czech Republic to a practical vehicle for building Czech-Nordic business relations: how the Nordic Chamber of Commerce took an active part in organizing the technology mission of His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences in the Czech Republic in 2012.
Since 1984 delegations from the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) have visited 19 countries all over the globe. His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, who is IVA’s patron, participates in these excursions. The main purpose of IVA’s technology missions is to provide representatives from Swedish top business and academia with the opportunity to visit and learn about important and interesting growth areas, businesses or organizations, under the best possible conditions.
2. Destination Prague
In late 2011 IVA chose the Czech Republic as destination for its 20thtechnology mission abroad. The reason was that IVA wanted to gain insight into strategies, initiatives and opportunities in an EU country that has an industrial, technological and academic tradition similar to Sweden’s. Another important factor was that the Czech Republic, after Poland, has become Sweden’s largest trading partner among the EU’s “new” members. More than 200 Swedish companies are present in the country.
The 30-member Swedish delegation, which in addition to His Majesty the King included high-level representatives of the universities in Stockholm and Luleå, the Royal Technological Institute, the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems, the state Medical Products Agency as well as a number of top business leaders, arrived in Prague in the second week of May 2012 for a four-day stay in the country.
One of IVA’s main objectives during its Czech mission was to learn how the country was transforming the industrial structures inherited from the Communist era into a modern knowledge economy. Prior to the visit IVA signalled that it would focus on four key areas: IT, nanotechnology, health care and the Galileo European navigation system. Another stated intention was to forge new contacts that would lead to an increased exchange of ideas and commercial opportunities for both Sweden and the Czech Republic.
The organizers of the IVA mission were thus facing a rather complex challenge: they were not only to identify a number of Czech companies and research institutions that would give the IVA delegates an exact picture of the situation in the given area. To ensure that the Swedish delegation members during their relatively short visit received a maximum of relevant information, they also had to handpick the businesspeople, researchers, civil servants and politicians with whom they were to meet.
4. The Nordic Chamber’s Role
As an umbrella organization of 150 Nordic companies, almost half of them Swedish, the Nordic Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic was asked to provide local support during IVA’s four day-long stay in the country. As a result, the Nordic Chamber became a co-organizer of the technology mission’s business part, alongside IVA’s main partner, the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. In addition, the Swedish Embassy in Prague arranged meetings with leading political representatives of Czech Republic.
The work with organizing IVA’s mission to the Czech Republic started in late January and lasted practically to the end of the delegation’s stay. By using its knowhow of Czech economy and its wide net of local contacts, the Nordic Chamber’s administration managed to set up over 9 business meetings and 5 visits to companies and research institutions for the Swedish delegation. In this work the Chamber’s co-operation with the Czech Confederation of Industry played an essential part.
The Nordic Chamber was also instrumental in organizing a one-day excursion to Pilsen, where the IVA delegation visited Škoda Transportation, one of Europe’s leading producers of tramways. To give the Swedish delegates an unvarnished lecture about the business climate and the prevailing trends in Czech economy, the Nordic Chamber also arranged a presentation and panel discussion with a group of prominent economists and analysts. In work load, the Chamber’s Executive Director dedicated ca. 30 full working days to the preparations of the technology mission.
5. Practical implementation
Broadly speaking, each day of the IVA delegation’s stay was dedicated to one of the technology mission’s focus areas.
During the first day, the Swedish delegation visited the Institute of Botany of the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic at Průhonice Park, where the Swedes were informed about the Institute’s varied scientific activities. This part of the program also included a visit to the Biomedicine Centre of the Academy of Sciences and Charles University in Vestec. Afterwards, the technology mission lunched with the Czech Air Force Commander, Brigadier General Jiří Verner.
The second day started at the premises of the Confederation of Industry, where leading figures in the business life outlined the Czech Republic’s industrial structure and presented a number of promising research initiatives that are underway, for instance within nanotechnology. The IVA mission was also informed about the EU’s Global Navigation Satellite System Galileo, which is headquartered in Prague. After visiting Aero Vodochody, one of the key companies in Gripen’s offset programme, the Swedish delegation met with representatives of the Research and Development Council and its chairman, PremierPetr Nečas. The day was rounded off at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic with a broad presentation of Czech research facilities and their potential for international co-operation on academic and business level.
After being briefed by an expert panel about the true state of Czech economy, the Swedish delegates continued the third day of their fact-finding mission with lectures at the Engineering Academy of the Czech Republic and the Czech Technical University. Thereafter the IVA mission transferred to Pilsen, the traditional centre of Czech mechanical industry, to visit Škoda Transportation and Swedish-owned Diamorph HOB Certec, a world-leader in production of high-tech ceramic rollers. The visit was accompanied by a presentation about the advantages and future prospects of investing in production in the Czech Republic.
The fourth day was dedicated to health care. The Swedish delegation visited OB Klinika, a clinic for treatment of obesity and metabolic disorders, and University Hospital Motol, Central Europe’s largest health service institution. Here, Leoš Heger, Minister of Health of the Czech Republic, held a lecture about the country’s health care system. Also several other capacities held lectures for the IVA delegates about the scientific development within Czech medical research; also the International Clinical Research Center in Brno was presented.
The Nordic Chamber’s involvement in the organization of the Swedish technology mission yielded a number of positive results:
- The Chamber started a close co-operation with the Czech Confederation of Industry, the Engineering Academy and the Academy of Sciences.
- Thanks to the IVA project, the Chamber was introduced to Czech companies that are targeting the Nordic markets, among them Linet, Škoda Transportation, Elmarco, Diamorph HOB Certec, OB Klinika, University Hospital Motol. Some of these companies have later become Chamber members, others participate in Chamber events.
- The Nordic Chamber proved that it is capable of practically organizing the visit of a top-level Nordic delegation in the Czech Republic and connect its members with key persons in Czech business and research circles. The Chamber has thus developed from being mainly a promoter of Nordic companies in the Czech Republic into a practical vehicle for building Czech-Nordic business relations.
7. Lessons learnt
Prior to arriving in the Czech Republic IVA informed that His Majesty participated in the technology mission as the Academy’s patron and not as Sweden’s head of state, and asked for media embargo about his presence in the country. While the Nordic Chamber fully respected IVA’s request, our co-organizers didn’t.
As a result, the Chamber did not receive any public recognition for making the technology mission a success, and neither did it have any positive results in terms of increased interest in Chamber membership or stronger awareness about the Chamber’s existence. The Chamber was not even paid for its contribution. Idealism is a noble thing, but one might question whether such a self-effacing attitude should be repeated in connection with any future organizing of a Nordic delegation’s visit to the Czech Republic.
8. About the Nordic Chamber
In May 1995 around 30 Swedish companies established the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic. In the following years a large number of businesses not only from Sweden, but also from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland joined the Chamber. As a result, its official name was in in May 2005 changed to the Nordic Chamber of Commerce.
Currently, the Chamber has around 150 members, making it one of the larger foreign chambers in the Czech Republic. The Nordic Chamber is a non-profit organization and has no political aims. Its main interest lies in making a stable, transparent, modern, and safe business environment in the Czech Republic. It also supports a number of activities to strengthen the trade relations between the Czech Republic and the Nordic countries.
Swedish constructor NCC on fact-finding trip to Prague
The Swedish delegation started their one-day visit by meeting with Václav Soukup, Director of of the Czech Republic’s leading construction company Metrostav’s International Department, Jakub Němeček, Vice President of construction company Subterra and Jan Komáře, Deputy General Manager of construction company OHL ŽS. The Swedes were also received by Jiří Došlý, Head of Sectoral Relationship at Prague’s Public Transit Company, which is the most important urban mass transit operator in the country.
After a briefing by their Czech counterparts, the Swedish guests visited two of the largest infrastructure projects currently going on in Central Europe – the 6.4 kilometre-long Blanka tunnel and the extension of Prague’s Metro A line from Dejvická station to Motol. The combined investments in the two projects exceeds CZK 64 billion.
At the Letná plain representatives of the three local construction companies gave Mr Wågström and his colleagues a guided tour of the tunnel complex including an inspection of Blanka’s control centre. Later the Swedish construction delegation transferred to Červený vrch. Here, they participated in a two kilometre-long excursion on foot in the tube of the new Metro extension, including visits of Metro stations Bořislavka and Nádraží Veleslavín.
“As experienced professionals the members of the Swedish delegation were well informed about the Blanka complex and the new Metro line in advance, but I still had the impression that they were quite impressed by what they saw with their own eyes,” the Nordic Chamber’s Executive Director Lea Turcarová says.
The Nordic Chamber of Commerce was established as the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Prague in 1995. It is an NGO that organizes almost 150 companies from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Sweden. The Chamber also actively contributes to the development of commercial ties between the Czech Republic and the Nordic countries.
NCC, which has about 18,500 employees, develops and builds residential and commercial properties, industrial facilities and public buildings, roads, civil engineering structures and other types of infrastructure. NCC also offers input materials used in construction, such as aggregates and asphalt, and conducts paving and road services. The company’s revenues in 2013 reached SEK 58 billion.
For more information about NCC’s business delegation in Prague please contact the Chamber’s Executive Director, Mrs Lea Turcarová.
Tel: 774 123 370
Femern Belt - 2013
Upcoming Construction of the Tunnel between Germany and Denmark
Opportunity for Czech Companies to Participate in the Reconstruction of Danish Infrastructure.
One of the key priorities of today’s Denmark is the reconstruction of transport infrastructure. Danish government plans to allocate funds in the amount of the equivalent of 680 billion Czech crowns for railway infrastructure and related projects till 2025. Czech companies have the opportunity to win some of these projects.
The seminar “Danish Investment in Transport Infrastructure – Opportunity for the Czech Companies” is aimed at helping Czech businesses to participate in projects implementation. The seminar will take place on 12 September from 10:00 to 13:00 at the premises of the Czech Confederation of Industry, (Freyova 948/11, Praha 9). The event is jointly organised by the Confederation of Industry and the Nordic Chamber of Commerce and supported by the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Copenhagen, Danish-Czech Business Forum (DTEF), Association of the Czech Railway Industry (ACRI) and the Czech Machinery Cluster.
The seminar is aimed mainly at companies active in the sector of transport infrastructure construction, including security and other systems related to transport. Engineering companies, building site machinery providers and steel components manufacturers and suppliers can benefit from participation, too. Related projects will provide opportunities for hospital equipment supplies and other utility sectors.
Seminar participants will obtain detailed information about the development plans of the Danish government and also advice for interested companies how to proceed in submitting their offers and become suppliers of services and products to consortiums that will be implementing the construction.
Upcoming Construction of the Tunnel between Germany and Denmark
The construction of the Femern belt, offering smooth road and railway connection between Denmark and Germany is the priority. A modular construction will be used for this project and one of the key elements will be a giant concrete plant and infrastructure, enabling production and transport of the tunnel components.
In March 2013 the Danish government approved setting up so called Railway Fund for financing renovation and upgrading of the Danish railway infrastructure. The funds will be drawn from the oil extraction in the amount of 27.5 billion DKK (approx. 93.6 bn CZK). The key objective of this project is to shorten travelling time between the four cities of Copenhagen, Odense, Aarhus and Aalborg.
A number of related projects will follow as the railway system upgrade includes modernisation and electrification of many sections of the rail track, bridges construction and further modifications. In relation to the infrastructure development other projects will occur, especially in the utility sectors.
Chance for the Czechs
Taking into account the fact that Czech businesses are able to supply high quality products and services for competitive prices, it is assumed that they can be successful in the projects participation. They can build on a good reputation from successful cooperation in construction of transport connection between Denmark and Sweden (project Őresund, connecting Copenhagen and Malmő)
The projects will be presented in detail by Mr Stig R. Winther of Femern Belt Development, an association that communicates with the relevant municipalities and supports development of the Danish region Sjaelland. A representative of Copenhagen Capacity, the official regional organisation for investment and business development will be present as well.
Seminar will take place at the premises of the Czech Confederation of Industry, (Freyova 948/11, Praha 9). Participation is free of charge, subject to registration.
Registrations are accepted by: