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The Central Bohemian region considers taking interesting in investors in the region to be of key importance and therefore held a panel discussion together with the Association for Foreign Investment (AFI) and the Central Bohemian Innovation Centre on Wednesday, 24 November. In the course of the discussion, all parties agreed that active support for investors is essential for the region’s development.
Together with Pavel Jovanič, director of the Central Bohemian Innovation Centre, Věslav Michalík, deputy governor for finance, subsidies and innovation, held a panel discussion with members of the Association for Foreign Investment on the topic of A Systematic Approach to Improving the Business Environment. In the course of the discussion, they focused primarily on the issue of support for companies that are investing in the area of industry and services in Central Bohemia. “Companies comprise an important segment for the general development and prosperity of not only municipalities, but ultimately the region as a whole. Supporting their business is absolutely essential for us. The Central Bohemia region wants to be a partner that offers assistance and participates in the search for and subsequent implementation of solutions for problem areas. For this reason, I welcome such discussions and meetings, thanks to which we can learn about the specific problems that companies in Central Bohemia are facing and seek out solutions together with them,” says Věslav Michalik, deputy governor for finance, subsidies and innovation. Representatives of the Association for Foreign Investment familiarised those in attendance with the results of a nationwide survey among investors that mapped, among other things, the issues of labour, future investment plans and investors’ current problems not only in the Central Bohemia region. Nearly 71% of respondents stated that local governments are not interested in their companies’ activities and possible support for them. Conversely, the Central Bohemia region wants to take a helpful approach to investors and resolve the problems that may currently be affecting their development and operations. “We welcome the fact that the Central Bohemia region is taking a helpful approach and is looking for solutions, which we at the AFI are pleased to help with. From today’s discussion, we have seen that companies want to cooperate, but they don’t have an opportunity to do so. This fact is underscored by one of the results of the AFI’s survey, in which 83% of investors in Central Bohemia and Prague stated that local governments do not cooperate with them,” says Kamil Blažek, chairman of the Association for Foreign Investment. Referring to transport infrastructure, Blažek adds: “Central Bohemia and Prague are interconnected. They depend on each other and their interconnectedness in terms of transport without any obstacles is vitally important. Public investment in mass transit, the completion of the motorway network around Prague and the completion of the Prague ring road are necessary for unleashing Central Bohemia’s potential.”
With respect to the workforce, Central Bohemia and Prague have a solid base for trained workers in skilled positions and in manufacturing. However, investors in this area are also dealing with a labour-shortage problem, though not to such an extent as other regions of the Czech Republic. They agree that there is a lack of qualifications among workers, which, according to company representatives, should be resolved through long-term support aimed at raising the attractiveness of vocational schools and technical universities, closer cooperation with companies and the updating of fields of study. “Companies also see a solution in the hiring of workers from abroad. In order to do that, however, it is necessary to simplify the employment of foreigners. Recruitment can be accelerated, for example, by digitalising the immigration process, i.e. by submitting and processing all applications electronically via data boxes,” says Gabriela Hrbáčková, member of the AFI Steering Committee.
“Investors in Central Bohemia and Prague lack the same positions as investors in the rest of the country, namely IT developers, electricians, welders and design engineers. Recruitment for manufacturing jobs is generally a major problem for employers,” Gabriela Hrbáčková adds.
“The Central Bohemian Innovation Centre can primarily offer existing and new investors in the region in-depth knowledge in the area of regional research and development. Thanks to that, large companies can establish new partnerships with researchers, who can help them with innovating their products and services. Our clients are mainly small and medium-sized companies that we have already assisted with, for example, the development of an IT system in logistics and a new technology for industrial measurement of material corrosivity. Such cooperation can be beneficial, for example, for large companies that are facing new technological challenges or development issues,” says Pavel Jovanovič, director of the Central Bohemian Innovation Centre, adding: “Another possibility is to involve corporations in Central Bohemia’s innovation ecosystem through networking in our business community. Or by using our more than 150 proven experts and consultants throughout the Czech Republic, whom we share with other innovation centres within the Ynovate network. At the same time, we are preparing new services that may appeal to large companies with respect to their development or as investors in promising technology startups and spinoffs.”
These are among the conclusions of the panel discussion involving companies from Central Bohemia and Prague and representatives of the Central Bohemia region and the Association for foreign investment.