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PolandCzech RepublicSlovakiaHungary

Memorandum of Understanding for Regional Cooperation in the Areas of Innovation and Startups


Between the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Poland and of the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic, which represent the Visegrad Group


1. INTRODUCTION


The Member States of the Visegrad Group (hereinafter “V4”)—the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Republic of Poland and the Slovak Republic—are aiming to position themselves as innovative economies with a vibrant startup ecosystem. While governments of the V4 countries have launched individual programs to support global expansion of local startups and fast-growing innovative small and middle sized enterprises (hereinafter “SMEs”) and strengthen their national innovation ecosystems, limited activities have been carried out in coordination and cooperation across the Visegrad region.

For the purpose of increasing such cooperation, the Slovak Republic (as the former Presidency of the V4) has established the “V4 Innovation Task Force” initiative in November 2014. Main policy making bodies for startup support from the V4 countries (Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic, Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, the National Research, Development and Innovation Office in Hungary, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, Investment and business development agency CzechInvest, Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Poland, Polish Agency for Enterprise Development—PARP and the Polish National Center for Research and Development—NCBR) launched this initiative and participate on a regular basis at the Task Force’s meetings. Four coordination meetings of the Task Force have been already held: two in Bratislava, one in Budapest and one in Prague.

2. RATIONALE


Enhanced regional cooperation across different aspects of innovation policies and support of startups and fast-growing innovative SMEs will increase the visibility of the Visegrad region globally, and thus create a solid basis for further economic growth based on incremental innovation.


The benefits of closer cooperation of the V4 countries in these areas are:

  1. A coordinated regional approach is the most effective way to promote V4 startups and to attract potential partners, investors and customers for Visegrad startups in an extremely competitive market due to stronger backing and due to the mutual support of globally-competitive projects (scale-ups);
  2. More cost-effective resource management through sharing expenditures on presentation, attendance at fairs and conferences as well as for support of Visegrad startups;
  3. Promotion of the Visegrad region as an innovation hub internationally and the readiness of the V4 countries to cooperate in order to achieve global economic success;
  4. Joint activities will strengthen interaction and cooperation between young entrepreneurs of the V4 countries and provide greater match-making opportunities with investors;
  5. Possibility to share best practices of regional cooperation in the area of innovation and startups from other parts of the world;
  6. Potential for a V4 leadership in strategic areas in EU led policy-making and for common regulatory initiatives related to innovation and startups.


3. OBJECTIVES


This Memorandum of Understanding (hereinafter “Memorandum”) is based on the following objectives:

  1. Increasing visibility and attractiveness of the Visegrad startups and fast-growing SMEs in global startup centres in order to increase their market share and market value;
  2. Supporting entrepreneurial activities and market access of Visegrad startups and fast-growing SMEs to foreign markets in order to boost their growth potential (e.g. in Silicon Valley);
  3. Providing a possibility for interaction among young innovative entrepreneurs from the V4 countries and their potential business partners, including investors;
  4. Contributing to the convergence of policies in the Visegrad region related to innovation and startups through sharing informationand best practices among the V4 countries;
  5. Identifying joint V4 interests related to the innovation and startup agenda;
  6. Organizing common networking and education events in the region and abroad in order to enhance the creation of cross-border teams and deals as well as to raise awareness and support capacity building of startups, investors and other stakeholders of the startup and innovation ecosystems;
  7. Facilitating easier access to finance and attracting foreign investments to the Visegrad region;


4. PRIORITY ACTIONS


The V4 countries intend to include as the priority actions under the MoU in the first instance following:

1. Matchmaking tools:


a. Manage and regularly update the already existing Facebook page “We4Startups” so that it becomes the main contact point among regional startups, key policy-making stakeholders, incubators, investors, venture capital funds and R&D organizations in order to enable the establishment of a functioning regional innovation system, natural ties and professional V4 relationships. It should also provide a media monitoring platform of success stories related to regional startups, events and breaking news in the global and regional startup ecosystem.

2. Organization of the V4 Innovation Task Force:


a. V4 Innovation Task Force consists of representatives from the main policy making bodies dealing with startup support from the V4 countries mentioned in the text above. The V4 Innovation Task Force will remain open for other relevant policy making bodies to join in.

b. Regular meetings of the V4 Innovation Task Force will be held at least 3 times a year in order to progress on future cooperation in innovation policies and initiatives. The role of the Task Force would be to:


i. share updated developments in startup and innovation related policies on national level;
ii. discuss strategies for innovation and startup support;

iii. identify joint V4 interests related to the innovation and startup agenda (including cooperation of the task force with other EU Member States);
iv. discuss efficient methods of attracting investors to the Visegrad region;

v. exchange information on grants and international programs that can be utilized for financing the activities of the Task Force;
vi. organize common networking and awareness raising events.


The task force will aim to share positions and experiences with other similar regional groups.


3. We4Startups—V4 Coordination and Representation in the Silicon Valley


a. Continue the activity of the We4Startups cooperation, which was established in respect to the Tech Match event in April 2015 in Silicon Valley. Provided that the Slovak Republic and Hungary will post and/or contract their national representatives in Silicon Valley, in cooperation with representatives from Poland and the Czech Republic they shall interact, discuss and cooperate areas, where mutual interest can be identified.

b. The primary roles of We4Startups are to:


i. support entrepreneurial activities and market access of regional startups in Silicon Valley;
ii. draw attention to the Visegrad region as an innovation hub through country representatives in the Silicon Valley;
iii. maintain and further develop a wide network of local professionals;
iv. cooperate with local investors, incubators, accelerators and startups and connecting those with regional V4 stakeholders.

4. V4 representation in other countries


a. In case of an interest from the V4 countries and demand from startups, Visegrad cooperation in supporting early stage startups can be expanded to other countries besides the United States.

5. Common events in the region and abroad


a. Organizing joint events such as seminars, conferences, workshops and pitching events.

b. Joint presentation at tech fairs in the region and abroad.

5. FINANCING


The expenses incurred in connection with the cooperative activities under this MoU are to be covered in accordance with terms to be mutually agreed upon by the Participants. They are subject to budgetary availability of the Participants and anything in this MoU does not provide for any obligations of either Participant in this respect.

To achieve the objectives and accomplish the priority actions listed in the memorandum, the Participants may seek financial resources through European, international and national sources, especially through:

  1. International Visegrad Fund—the objective is to achieve a sustainable co-financing of the V4 Innovation Task Force activities through a separate chapter in the IVF budget as well as through existing grant schemes administered by the IVF.
  2. Horizon2020—the V4 Innovation Task Force is eligible for applying for financial support from the Horizon2020 as a demand-driven innovation platform providing greater resource efficiency and critical mass, synchronisation of developments and availability of tools.
  3. European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) allocated to each of the V4 countries from the European Union for supporting innovation, research and development, under condition the supported activities are eligible for support from relevant operational programmes and calls for project proposals.
  4. Necessary public resources of each of the V4 countries (e.g. from state budget) with an equal distribution of costs – covering the remaining duly justified financing gaps on top of the financing possibilities mentioned above on an equal basis and properly treated with regard to applicable national budgetary rules and processes. These sources could be provided only supplementary to other sources of financing and on voluntary basis.
  5. Fundraising activities among private stakeholders, business associations and chambers of commerce in order to co-finance these activities from private sources with their active involvement in advising on the guidelines for the task force.
  6. Status of the Memorandum of Understanding—The Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Poland and of the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic acknowledge that the provisions of the Memorandum are not legally enforceable but rely on the spirit of mutual cooperation in further areas.
  7. Review of this Memorandum of Understanding—Activities covered by this MoU may be altered, based on the future decision of the Signatories.
  8. Counterparts and Language—he Memorandum is made in four counterparts in English language. Each of tthe Signatories shall receive one counterpart.




Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary

Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Poland


Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic



Source: Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic


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