Pardubice Partner Profile
Pardubice lies on the river Elbe, app. 100 kilometres east of Prague. It has a strong manufacturing sector including the Synthesia chemical factory (manufacturer of Semtex, a plastic explosive) and automotive and electrical engineering plants (former Tesla Pardubice invented a passive radio locator TAMARA).
It has a population of 90,352 and the unemployment rate is 2.4%, amongst the lowest in the EU.
About The City
- 97% of all companies are small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
- Key local employment sectors include chemical manufacturing, mechanical and electrical engineering (radio locators cluster, invented passive radio locator TAMARA), food processing and civil engineering.
- Services make up around a quarter of employment.
- The city continues to attract foreign direct investment, partly due to its geographical location and good accessibility via road, rail and air. There is a sense however that FDI opportunities are running out.
- The city is home to a regional university with nearly 8000 students.
- ICT, innovation and R&D are seen as important drivers for future economic growth
About the policy context
The good practice will be transferred within the following policy contexts:
- At national level Tech Revolution is aligned with the RIS3 Strategy and the National Innovation Strategy (2012-2020) both of which prioritise excellence in research and innovation.
- At regional level, the Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization and the Integrated Territorial Investments Strategy both prioritize more capacity building and cooperation within the innovation landscape.
- At local level the project is linked to the Strategic Development Plan (2014-2025) which includes relevant priorities around entrepreneurship & cooperation with the University.
- National RIS3 Strategy
- Regional Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization
- Strategic plan
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Tradition in electrical engineering and chemical industry as well as R&D
- Technical university (chemistry, transportation, IT, electrical engineering) and technical secondary schools (electronics, electrical engineering, chemistry, IT)
- Indigenous companies with own products, research and development and global markets (explosives, radars, machinery)
- Large foreign investors looking for local suppliers
- Location in the centre of the Czech Republic, app. 100 km from Prague
- Lack of qualified workforce for expansion of existing companies
- Low level of entrepreneurship among young generation
- Unfinished highway connection (missing bypass roads) and traffic congestion within the city
- Immature business infrastructure
- Lack of business properties and accommodation capacity
Opportunities & Threats
- Development of Pardubice Airport will make the city more attractive for expats and graduates from other EU states
- Development of business incubator and its cooperation with university
- Progress of local production facilities of foreign investors – start of research and development activities in Pardubice
- New financial tools after 2020
- Brain drain (Prague is nearby and young graduates are attracted to work there)
- Potential loss of political support to economic development issues (such as business incubator)
- Competition from Technological Centre in nearby Hradec Králové
- End of current EU funding programmes after 2020
- Poor image linked to manufacturing sector
A description of the Good Practice challenge
The city wants to gain new knowledge and skills to develop its co working and incubation offer and, more specifically, to inform the development of its newly opened city centre incubation building (P-Pink). Every other region in the Czech Republic offers co working or incubation space for start-ups. There have been 2 previous attempts to create an incubation-type facility for city start-ups (in 1991 and 2008).
Both failed and this is thought to be because they provided little other than a physical space for small businesses with no wider start-up support or community offer. P-Pink opened in March 2018 and, against a slightly nervous backdrop, has clear plans in terms of occupancy and community.
It has recruited a wide network of mentors and opened its doors to start-ups in June 2018, following a few months focusing on branding and marketing. Since 2016 the city has also been involved in the development of a Smart Accelerator, led by the Region, and focusing on creating the conditions in which innovation and entrepreneurship can flourish.
Pardubice & TechRevolution
Pardubice wants to use TechRevolution to…
- Contribute to the development of an effective start-up ecosystem – a functional system of business incubation
- Inform the development and operation of a business incubator (P-PINK) with a strong community and start-up support offer, an incubation programme and co-working space
- Explore opportunities to move P-Pink into a position where it might be financially independent of public sector support
- Better understand the tech and digital sector so as to support the growth of tech entrepreneurship and higher value local jobs, linked where possible to manufacturing
- Better understand the ‘customer’ and how to develop effective and meaningful relationships and networks with them and other ecosystem stakeholders
The URBACT Local Group (ULG)
The ULG’s objectives include:
- A collective approach to the development and delivery of actions based on learning from Barnsley
- Ensuring the sustainable development and stability of the P-Pink business incubator
- A collective insight into a complex topic
- Development of a productive and fruitful working environment within the group as well as with politicians and other stakeholders
- -Full and meaningful engagement of all key stakeholders
ULG membership will include: the Municipality, Regional Development Agency, P-PINK (Business Incubator), CzechInvest (Investment and Business Development Agency), Chamber of Commerce, University of Pardubice, DELTA (High School of Infomatics and Economics). It would also be useful to bring a ‘customer’ into the group (a start-up).
Assets for, and barriers to transfer
The city is committed to delivering a new business incubator – P-PINK – and has already developed a strong partnership around this with regional funding of 3 million CZK per year. P-Pink will offer space, mentoring, capacity building and networking events as well as support with business thinking and development. Being the only hub of its kind in the whole region, there is no local competition, although start-ups may of course choose to move elsewhere in the Czech Republic. There is strong political support from the Mayor as well as the President of the Pardubice Region, peppered with an understandable concern from some politicians who link P-Pink to previously unsuccessful projects. The P-Pink team seems to be very clear and realistic about what is achievable and what is not. It will however be important for this not to materialise as a perceived lack of ambition.
Pardubice also has an ambitious plan to strengthen its educational offer linked to science and technology, which may be relevant to TechRevolution. Having education stakeholders in the ULG will help with this aspect. It is also clear that start-up support, innovation and the growth of higher value knowledge based jobs are priorities at national level. This is a helpful context in which to transfer elements of the Barnsley good practice and deliver P-Pink. Linked to this CzechInvest brings a wealth of knowledge, learning and experience from other Czech cities and regions (and beyond) which will be useful in the local context. CzechInvest also has useful experience of transferring good practice from Scottish Enterprise.
However the city lacks an entrepreneurial or start-up culture and needs new skills, resources and capacities to support innovation and change. In addition:
- There is a concern that the duration of the TechRevolution network may not be sufficient to fully unpick the good practice and transfer all relevant elements.
- It is clear that the quality of the start-up support and community offer to be provided at P-Pink will depend on the people. At present there are just 2 members of staff and a network of volunteer mentors who may suffer from a lack of time.
- It has been difficult to establish need / demand for P-Pink in advance of opening, it might be time consuming but Pardubice strongly believes this can be achieved
- Pardubice is seen by some as a low wage, manufacturing place. FDI has peaked. The challenge is to use manufacturing as a starting point from which to grow linked knowledge-based jobs.
- For Pardubice it is useful to have other cities they can really relate to in the TechRevolution network – this will contribute to a belief that change is possible.
- A vibrant start-up scene is a long way off and it will be important to dare to dream, to take informed risks and to believe in the art of the possible.
- Some local stakeholders (particularly politicians) link P-Pink to previously failed projects, which may affect perception and branding. However this is unlikely to affect how entrepreneurs and start-ups feel about the space.
Practical steps to transfer
Pardubice is interested in using the following techniques to transfer the good practice:
- Really getting under the skin of the good practice e.g. through visits, staff exchanges, intensive support and advice to and from the Barnsley team
- Learning practical lessons from failure and success elsewhere
- Having an opportunity to ask honest questions and discuss local problems and challenges within a supportive, safe and knowledgeable space throughout the development and deliver of P-Pink
- Effective communication within the project team and with wider stakeholders.
- Setting clear and realistic aims around what to achieve, exploring how this can be done against a clear time line and then delivering systematic work on specific actions and tasks.
- Draw up an action plan for 2020+
- P – Pink
- Czech Invest
- University of Pardubice
- Pardubice News
- The Pardubice Region
- Regional Chamber of Commerce of the Pardubice Region
- Delta Skola
- Secodonary Technical School of Electrotechnics and Higher Technical School of Pardubice