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Development of bilateral sectoral agendas – the first experience from the Czech Republic

Report of UCA business mission to Brno, October 2022

Ukrainian Cluster Alliance (UCA) business mission to the MSV International Engineering Fair in Brno took place on October 5-7, 2022. Ukrainian delegation consisted of 18 people from 5 UCA clusters: APPAU, Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv EAM clusters, Association of Innovative Space Clusters, and Sumy Cluster of Power Engineering. The goals and objectives of this mission went beyond the usual scope of trade missions, it was about agreements with Czech partners within the framework of a broader and long-term agenda development in the field of Advanced Manufacturing and related area. In what and how the Ukrainian delegation succeeded, what new challenges UCA is now facing – the report provides details of the business mission.

Preparation for the mission

At the Zaporizhzhia Industrial Forum in December 2021 a representative of Brno Regional Chamber of Commerce invited UCA representatives to the International Engineering Fair in Brno and related Contact-Contract matchmaking event. There was also planned an incoming mission of Czech companies for Zaporizhzhian Engineering Fair in May 2022, however the war disabeled this plan, but not the willingness for mutual cooperation.
Preparations for this reported mission started in May 2022, since then regular exchanges of UCA with Czech partners (Brno Regional Chamber of Commerce and CzechInno) began. In June, the goals and objectives were formulated in the publication Development of Ukraine-Czech Republic bilateral agenda on Industry 4.0, where three specific tasks were set for the business mission participants:

  • Representation of the entire UCA and the pool of clusters of engineering, mechanical engineering and Industry 4.0.
  • Development of other collective proposals for bilateral cooperation, also taking into account the Czech side positions.
  • Completion of outsourcing engineering services offer.

As we will see later, Ukrainian delegation successfully coped with the first two tasks and, on the other hand, before the start of the visit, we did not have time to complete transfer of the proposal to the Land4Developers resource.

During July and September, the business mission was being prepared. Our strategic partner GIZ Ukraine played a big role in the final preparations – with their support the financial burden on the delegation members was eased. 

Ukrainian-Czech SmartExport forum

Actually, the issue of bilateral agreements was discussed at the special SmartExport forum, which took place on October 6. The main organizer from the Czech side, the CzechInno agency, is a key orchestrator of the Czech innovation ecosystems in a number of sectors, including Advanced Manufacturing. Thanks to proactive position of CzechInno and its head Tereza Šamanová, the Czech side was represented by speakers in three categories:

  • Three ministries: foreign affairs, trade and industry, and digital transformation.
  • CzechInvest state investment agency.
  • A number of business and innovation associations: Brno Regional Chamber of Commerce, INDUSTRY CLUSTER 4.0 and Czech Smart City Cluster, CyberSerurity Hub . There were other associations in the hall (Czech SMEs, EEN networks, etc.).

Representatives of the Czech Republic government agencies

From the Ukrainian side, the UCA delegation included 8 speakers from 4 UCA clusters, two more colleagues spoke online. The main discussions were held around four topics: Cyber Security, Industry 4.0, Smart Regions and Education – supporting SMEs. As a result of the exchanges, a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed, see details further.

The Ukrainian delegation representatives

Key insights from MSV Engineering Fair

The events on October 4-7 took place within the framework of the MSV International Engineering Fair 2022. We participated at the Contact-Contract matchmaking event, which was organized by Brno Regional Chamber of Commerce in the frame of Enterprise Europe Network activities.

MSV International Engineering Fair is a specialized mechanical engineering exhibition, the largest in Eastern Europe. MSV is truly a showcase for the Central and Eastern European industries of engineering, mechanical engineering (with a focus on metalworking), industrial automation and digital technologies for mechanical engineering. We saw a large number of different sectors and technologies, there are no exhibitions of such a scale in Ukraine, although the most similar is the Industrial Forum, which takes place in Kyiv on November.

Most of the represented businesses were from Germany, the Czech Republic and other Eastern European countries. We did not see Ukrainian stands. According to our information, they were not presented there before, and this means that Ukraine remains terra incognita for Eastern and Central European partners. UCA’s attempts to find funding organizing a joint Ukrainian stand, in particular with USAID, were unsuccessful.

Evening reception for MVS Fair delegations, organized by the Brno Regional Chamber of Commerce with the support of EEN Czech Republic

Digital technology and industrial automation sectors were powerfully represented at the exhibition – all global vendors were here, but also many local companies. 2 products attracted the attention of the Ukrainian delegation representatives:

  • is a Czech mechanical engineering marketplace that allows you to quickly transfer and place orders on any available production facilities – just send a blueprint of a detail.
  • Twinzo is a Slovak solution that allows not only visualizing production assets in 2D-3D, but also conducts considerable analytics on their condition.

The perspectives of cooperation with Ukrainian developers was discussed with the both manufacturers.

Ukrainian delegation members at the Bosch Rexroth stand

Many exchanges were held by UCA management at the French stand of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. This is also a result of previous exchanges with the CIMES cluster from this region. We met and discussed opportunities for cooperation with the leaders of the delegation from this region (#1 in France’s industrial potential), as well as met with four firms, SMEs.

Reception at the stand of the French region Rone-Alpes

Separately, and as part of the Contract-Contract matchmaking event, onsite meetings were held in a separate B2B meeting area. This event has been organized by Brno Regional Chamber of Commerce within the Enterprise Europe Network for many years. Contact-Contract allows an online pre-registration of bothexhibitiors and visitors, selection of the most interesting potential partners and fixing meetings for a certain time. UCA management held 8 B2B meetings – in addition to the above-mentioned firms and clusters, there also were representatives of the VDMA – German leading association in mechanical engineering, French Enterprises, Isitec and Devejo, Czech EEN, FANUC Czech. Information on other Ukrainian delegation meetings is being clarified.

Agreements with Czech partners

The signed Memorandum of Cooperation fixes up the area cooperation. In addition, the parties concluded the next action plan on 2023:

  1. The list of partners from the Czech Republic has expanded – in addition to CzechInno, the INDUSTRY CLUSTER 4.0, the Cyber Security Hub (eDIH) and the Czech Smart City Cluster are joining the cooperation.
  2. Accordingly, for this group of participants, we are planning wider exchanges and events on the following topics:
  • Participation in the Czech BRNO INDUSTRY 4.0 conference – January 2023.
  • Conference on the topic “Smart regions” (including cyber security) – for April-May 2023.
  • Participation in the MSV exhibition and Contact-Contract and conference in the field of Engineering and Mechanical Engineering (Industry 4.0) – October 2023.
  1. Partners will jointly apply for participation in I4MS/Horizon Europe/Digital Europe projects. In particular, active exchanges of matching participants of our EIF program have already started.
  2. Within the framework of the proposed measures, partners are looking for funding, and the Czech side is already engaging its ministries. Moreover, now is a very good moment – the Czech Republic is the EU President.
  3. The parties will continue cooperation at the sectoral level – regular online exchanges on the topics specified in point 2 will be held on a monthly basis.

Signatories of the Memorandum of Cooperation

In summary, we have achieved our goals set out in the initial proposal from June. These plans are the basis of long-term relations and development in bilateral cooperation of Industry 4.0 (Advanced Manufacturing). These agreements open a new page in the development of Ukrainian Industry 4.0. Taking into account the UCA potential, such a format of collaboration can be easily adapted to other industries in the Czech Republic, as well as in other countries of Eastern Europe and the EU. In particular, UCA plans to deploy a similar scenario in Poland already at the beginning of 2023.

Conclusions and next steps for UCA clusters

UCA delegation visit to Brno clearly demonstrates our course: we should be fully integrated into European manufacturing value chains and innovative ecosystems, but enter there with own resilient and sustainable value added chains. This is the essence of Ukrainian Cluster Alliance activities.

No matter what direction we take, it is now all about cooperation on three levels:

  1. Interregional cooperation projects and multilateral agreements (example – joint entry with the Czech Republic into the format of the Danube Region Programme).
  2. Bilateral agreements and development of relations by target sectors (example – joint projects with the Czech Republic in the development of Industry 4.0, Smart Regions and Cyber security).
  3. Integration of our enterprises into European chains, B2B exchanges (example – cooperation of our IT-Enterprise in the development of technological ecosystems with Czech and Slovakian Twinzo).

Several months of work of many UCA managers in preparing proposals for cooperation was important, and “Top 10 UCA proposals in Advanced Manufacturing” is now our main offer for international partners. We plan to issue similar documents in other areas.

Separately, and within the framework of UCA Emergency Support Centers, we are already starting detailing and profiling of initiatives in 4 key areas: Smart Regions, Cyber-security, Asset (Safety) Management and projects within the framework of Horizon Europe/Digital Europe. The number of experts and enterprises ready to cooperate in these areas is sufficient. 

On behalf of UCA clusters, we sincerilly thank to all Czech partners, namely Brno Regional Chamber of Commerce with Enterprise Europe Network and CzechInno, for the excellent organization of meeting and the overall hospitality at meeting in Brno. 

Alex Yurchak, head of the UCA

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