Czech Republic and North Carolina – bound by science?
A few years before the establishment of the legendary Lost Colony of English settlers who had vanished mysteriously in 1590 a Prague Jew, Joachim Gans, came to North Carolina’s coast at the request of Sir Walter Raleigh. Not only was Gans the first Jew setting his foot on the soil of the future United States but he was also an expert scientist. On the territory of today’s Manteo he established a science center – first of its kind in the New World. He launched a broad program of study, including metallurgical analysis of mineral specimens; chemical analysis of botanical specimens; and cartographic studies of landforms and maritime navigation.
Although this occurred more than 400 years ago the R&D link determines the relations of the Czech Republic and North Carolina in the present and let us hope that it will continue to shape them even in the future.
Red Hat, an innovative software company headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, chose the Czech Republic for its international expansion. The company started its activity in the city of Brno in 2004. 12 years later the company employs 900 people and more than 100 Czech students, who get their first professional experience with them. The Brno entity has got many awards including Best Engineering Site and Best Employers in the Czech Republic. Ingersoll Rand, a successful industrial manufacturing company from Davidson, North Carolina, decided to use the Czech Republic as its manufacturing and R&D hub for the European markets. Czech Republic’s location in the heart of Europe makes it attractive not only to North Carolina’s investors. North Carolina State University has its only permanent year-round international facility in Prague allowing U.S. students to get an international experience.
While progressive companies from North Carolina use the Czech Republic as its gate way to Europe, Czech companies do the same in North Carolina in order to offer their innovative products to the US customers. The Czech company Linet, one of the largest producers of hospital beds worldwide, chose Charlotte in 2010 for its investment. Thanks to the strategic location of the site, Linet is able to supply hospitals all around the USA including prestigious hospitals such as New York Presbytarian Hospital, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, UPMC etc. The company sees its future in smart hospital beds connected directly to the hospital information systems offering the patients high-quality personalized care. Czech software companies Safetica and Avast are other recent examples of investments that led to the creation of high-tech jobs in Newton, North Carolina. Among others, companies such as: Mmcité, EUHERE Sports a Grund, Holik, Elmarco, KV Final etc. are currently operating in North Carolina. The net impact of these Czech technology companies has been extremely positive for North Carolina, pumping in tens of millions in revenue and providing quality employment opportunities for hundreds of people.
Last but not least there is a Czech and Slovak School of North Carolina in Durham; and a recently opened branch in Charlotte. While the school programs are intended mainly for children and adults of Czech and Slovak descent, students of all ages and origins interested in Czech and Slovak culture are welcome.
As it can be seen the nature of our relations is maybe more intense than one from two such distant territories would expect. Moreover, I would claim that this kind of mutually beneficial cooperation based on science, education and trade represent a positive example of how today’s interconnected world should work.
After the WWII, reformers in North Carolina stressed the central role of education in the modernization of the state and economic growth. North Carolina became a champion in attracting FDI, Charlotte became one of the major banking centers in the U.S., and its Research Triangle is the largest R&D center in the whole country.
Czech Republic had to wait for such economic modernization until the collapse of the communist regime in 1989. However, because of the acceptance to enter the EU it helped with a successful economic transition and progressive growth. Last year ‘s growth in GDP was one of the fastest among the EU members. Concerning the rate of unemployment, the Czech Republic was the absolute champion. According to the research of the company Allianz, the Czech Republic is the most economically stable country in Europe beating countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. It’s no wonder that the Czech Republic is attracting so many foreign investors who praise its skilled labor, innovative potential, stable economic and political environment, and its location in the center of Europe.