Euronews explores how the success of the JIC business hub helped reinvent Brno from a former textile city, into an innovation ecosystem
Brno was once famous for its textile industry. But its subsequent decline in the late 20th century meant the Czech Republic’s second-largest city had to reinvent itself.
Twenty years ago, a new business hub was set up in Brno. JIC (the South Moravian Innovation Centre) was one of the first technological incubators in the eastern part of the European Union.
Today, its success has made it a magnet for entrepreneurs and companies with an international perspective.
In the history of JIC, a couple of hundred companies going through our services... have a turnover of some €700 million," said Michal Veselý, Chief Marketing Officer at JIC.
IDEA StatiCa started from scratch at JIC 12 years ago. Experts in concrete and steel connections, they are now one of the world leaders in their sector, with more than 6500 customers.
"JIC helps you get going," Juraj Sabatka, CEO of IDEA StatiCa told Euronews. "What's more valuable and comes later on when you work with JIC is the advisory [aspect]. That means, talking to the community and [using the] specialised services JIC provides, that means they are able to review your business plan, they will review your go-to market model, they will review your development operations and help you to do it."
JIC has contributed to the creation of more than 3500 skilled jobs since 2003. Its total budget exceeds €12.5 million, of which 72% has been funded by the European Cohesion Policy.
One of the group's mottos is 'entrepreneurship for a better world'. JIC supports start-ups such as Tierra Verde, which specialises in environmentally friendly cleaning goods. They started by selling organic soap. They now sell 250 products.
Tierra Verde's CEO, Jan Čillík told Euronews that "at the moment, JIC is helping Tierra Verde with two projects. One is focused on automatisation, and the second one is focused on sustainability. And JIC is helping us with opening, let's say, [the] European market for Tierra Verde."
In a bid to encourage and increase entrepreneurial awareness, JIC is now providing training sessions for future business leaders. Workshops and activities are held in cooperation with Czech universities and hope to encourage young people in the region to develop ideas that will make a positive difference in the years and decades to come.
“What kind of values do we bring to students? I think it's a courage," said Veronika Rejšková, a team leader with the JIC Student Development team. "It's also a freedom like their own choice, what they will do, and also maybe creativity, that they really can bring up something very new, which nobody heard about before”.
As a sign of recognition for their success so far, JIC was nominated for the 2022 REGIOSTARS Award – which celebrates the best of Europe’s EU-funded projects under the cohesion policy.