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
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.
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:
This Memorandum of Understanding (hereinafter “Memorandum”) is based on the following objectives:
The V4 countries intend to include as the priority actions under the MoU in the first instance following:
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.
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.
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.
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.
a. Organizing joint events such as seminars, conferences, workshops and pitching events.
b. Joint presentation at tech fairs in the region and abroad.
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:
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