Thursday saw the official launch of the Prague Startup Centre, a new hub – backed by the City of Prague, the Czech ICT Alliance and government agency CzechInvest – aimed at helping innovative firms get off the ground.
The centre, the first of its kind in the Czech Republic, aims to bring together players from the private, public and academic spheres and provide freshly founded companies with technical and administrative assistance as well as the business expertise needed to turn their ideas into profit.
The Prague Startup Centre is very centrally located at the Adria Palace. A 1920s building in the unusual Rondocubist style, it is just a stone’s throw from the bottom of Wenceslas Square.
Speaking ahead of the opening, Prague’s deputy mayor, Petr Dolínek said major academic institutions and some of the biggest companies in the Czech Republic had expressed interest in getting involved in the centre’s activities.
One interesting aspect of the Prague Startup Centre is that it has in part been prepared as a platform for companies focused on the space technology business operating under the wing of the European Space Agency (ESA).
In its promotional materials the ESA says that its business incubation centres support selected entrepreneurs with a view to helping them start companies that apply space technology to non-space industrial, scientific and commercial fields.
The ESA and the City of Prague have each earmarked funding of around CZK 25 million to support innovative firms at the Prague Startup Centre.
At the original news conference announcing plans for the centre, the Prague councilor responsible for city assets, Michal Hašek, said it was important to allow startups the space to test out their innovative ideas and to provide them with the technical and business support required.
One aspect of the Prague Startup Centre will be a “money for ideas” programme under which companies can apply to the Prague Startup Centre for seed funding of up to CZK 100,000 with a view to investors getting on board after the initial period.
The centre’s Jana Hodboďová said last month that the programme wished to identify promising student startups. A commission comprised of experts will select the most interesting and worthwhile projects among them, she said. Winners will have the use of an office and other facilities at the Prague Startup Centre for three months.