Brno is a city of innovation. The whole region is also nicknamed the Czech Silicon Valley and within the available data it can be compared with experienced “sharks” abroad. New modern technologies and smart solutions are emerging here, which are often unparalleled elsewhere in the world.
Both research and innovation centers, as well as local universities, as well as other institutions, which have succeeded in building a functioning innovation and business ecosystem, have a share in this. Technology parks are a major element in the development of regions around the world. And the one in Brno who celebrated thirty years since the signing of the memorandum of its origin this year has caused a significant amount of this in the Czech Republic. So let’s take a brief look at its history.
The Czech Technology Park project was established in 1993 as a joint venture between Bovis Limited, the statutory city of Brno and the Technical University. It was created on more than 120 hectares to provide commercial, research and production facilities for rent to technology companies. However, it is also important that it stands close to the university campus and not only has attracted dozens of major technology companies, which subsequently settled in the city.
At the time of its construction, the CEO of Bovis Limited was Sir Frank Lampl, a Czech emigrant who worked in uranium mines in 1948 and after his emigration developed into a manager of one of the largest construction companies in the world.
In 2000, even Prince Charles considered one of the cornerstones of Building I, today’s headquarters of Y-soft. However, the list of famous names associated with the area does not end there. The prominent British architect Peter Foggo, who led the Arup Associates team that designed the first phase of London’s Broadgate development in the 1980s, also took part in planning the design of the park.
Jan Kaplický was also approached in the 1990s, who designed the main building of the Technology Park, which, however, never came into being because the investor decided otherwise.
“The Technology Park is a unique project in Central Europe that helps companies develop and innovate. Its focus on technology and the main competitive advantage in the vicinity and cooperation with universities contribute to the innovation culture in the South Moravian Region and together with JIC and CzechInvest form an ecosystem of business development.”Jitka Sládková, park director
It is also a demonstration that PPP (public-private partnership) projects can work and make money. The company’s accumulated profit has been more than 937 million crowns since 2003, so the park has generated almost a billion in net profit in less than twenty years and is now in the hands of the city with one BUT priority share. This is mainly due to the aforementioned Sir Lampl, who, as a manager in Brno, applied a model that works. The company not only generates profits and turnover of over two hundred million a year, but also generates infrastructure for almost forty companies that contribute their revenue to the city.
For example, Y-Soft, Vodafone, IBM, S.A.B. Aerospace, Respilon or Red Hat. The companies that operate here employ more than seven thousand people and their total turnover exceeds twenty billion crowns with assets exceeding eighteen billion.
All this has a significant impact on the entire development of the region and the innovative business ecosystem. In addition, up to thirty percent of the local employees come from graduates of Brno universities. There are six BUT faculties in the locality, specialized research institutes CEITEC and AdMas with more than 550 scientists and also the South Moravian Innovation Center. “The whole region benefits from the existence of the park. This is also the main reason why these parks are popularly built mainly to the west of us, “adds Sládková.
However, its focus is also interesting at the Technology Park in Brno. These are technologies and IT, ie mainly innovation and business with high added value. “Previously, they were mostly electron microscopes, today they are space technology, IT, robotics, but also innovations in the field of food or currently anti-epidemic elements. The park thus has a great deal of credit for making Moravia a dynamic regional economy, ”acknowledges the park’s director.
The fact that the park is owned by the city can then provide benefits in terms of development and completion of the area, which should lead to the town of Medlánky. The company has a valid permit for another three buildings and the scope of the planned investment exceeds an estimated one billion crowns.
The whole area could then generate one and more turnover and income. And there would be about three hundred new housing units, both for local employees and those for sale to private individuals. There will also be new paths for walks and, ideally, an extension of the tram line is also planned.
Harvard Professor Michael E. Porter, for example, has been talking for many years about the benefits of geographical proximity in business. According to him, today’s economic map of the world is dominated by what he calls clusters. They were not areas where unusual competitive success in specific areas is concentrated in one place.
Places such as the Brno Technology Park employ a large number of people and, in a broader context, benefit everyone, from employees and their families to the cities in which they are based, to the state to which they contribute to the coffers.
In general, they can be said to significantly increase their standard of living. Italy, for example, is the first in the world to know how to start building their equivalents at the end of the nineteenth century. And it is Milan today that is where a completely unique technology park for the whole of southern Europe is currently being created – the Milan Innovation District.
Other important parks in Europe are Ørestad Innovation City in Copenhagen, Technology Park Ljubljana or Parque Tecnológico de Andalucía in the Spanish city of Málaga, where more than 600 companies are based and which is almost seven times larger than the Brno park.
These parks are characterized by a connection with the university, good cooperation with the municipality and a high standard of working life, as well as quality architecture, modern technology and ecology. This is the environment of the 21st century, which is also perceived as a benefit by the European Union.
Therefore, the construction of technology parks is often integrated into strategic local development plans. Parks can thus greatly contribute to the development and construction of new transport links, equipment, education, medical and sports facilities and the availability of new housing.
All this is reflected in Brno as well. In recent years, there has been an extension of tram line No. 12, revitalization of BUT sports grounds and / or the construction of a unique CEITEC scientific complex, which is equipped with unique technologies in Central Europe. And last but not least, the newly planned residential area and civic amenities are on the agenda.