JIC Innovation Park: A catalyst for innovation and growth in South Moravia
An ERDF-funded business support programme has evolved to become the largest business incubator scheme in the Czech Republic.
The JIC Innovation Park project was established in Brno in 2003 in response to a severe economic downturn in South Moravia that had led to the closure of several factories in the region. For over a decade the programme has helped to reverse the region’s fortunes by successfully promoting enterprise, skills development and the commercialisation of research.
The main focus of the JIC Innovation Park is to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship in the fields of IT, software engineering, computer security, machining, bio-technology and robotics as well as other high-technology fields.
Access to support and seed capital
Start-ups as well as young small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are provided with work, office and/or laboratory space, and access to support facilities at the Innovation Park, which – with its 7 000 m2 of space – has enough capacity to provide accommodation for 60 companies at any one time. To qualify for access to the programme companies have to have been established for no longer than three years and must have an annual turnover of under CZK 10 million (around EUR 400 000). Companies from abroad wanting to start a business in South Moravia are also welcome to use the scheme.
Participating companies are given accommodation in the Innovation Park for up to three years, during which time they receive tailor-made advice on formulating or refining their business plan and how to develop and grow their business.
The customised consultancy advice is provided both by the Innovation Park’s in-house team of experts as well as through a network of external mentors. The mentoring programme covers areas such as marketing, branding, legal issues, human resources and public relations and each year involves the organisation of numerous workshops, educational, research and networking activities.
Companies in the JIC Innovation Park also have access to seed capital through the JIC Fund which aims to help young innovative start-ups that would otherwise be neglected by the Czech financing institutions.
Hub for cooperation
The project also aims to bolster co-operation between companies, universities and other firms in the region and this policy has been particularly successful in the fields of information technology security and telecoms. The aim here is for the Innovation Park to act as a hub that harnesses and brings together the innovative potential of local research organisations, students and entrepreneurial young people on the one hand, and experienced local entrepreneurs (mentors and potential investors) on the other side.
The ambitious targets of the programme include helping to create at least five global leading companies by 2015, the creation of at least one company with a turnover of more than CZK 1 billion (around EUR 38.7 million) by 2020 and the creation of 2 000 highly qualified jobs.
Since its launch in 2003 more than one hundred companies have been incubated at the JIC Innovation Park and the majority of these successfully established themselves in business after leaving the programme.
In 2012, companies involved in the programme launched 53 new products or services and generated turnover of nearly EUR 21 million. In the same year, seed capital invested in programme companies amounted to EUR 1 264 000 and the proportion of people employed at the park in full-time research and development positions rose to 44% of the park’s total workforce of nearly 300.
“The mission of the JIC Innovation Park is to empower people to create businesses that change the world. Its impact is embodied in the success of the 100 plus companies that benefited from its business support services. Ten years after the establishment of the park, demand for a place is so high that only one in twelve applications from new companies can be accepted. This enables the project to strengthen its impact by choosing the best of the best to work with.”
- Jiří Hudeček, Chief Executive Officer, JIC Innovation Park
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “JIC Innovation Park” was EUR 12 518 873 of which the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 9 025 736 from the “Industry and Enterprise” Operational Programme 2000-2006 and the “Enterprise and Innovation – Prosperity” Operational Programme 2007-2013.