Czech Science Diplomat in the United States
CZ – US research, development, and innovation collaboration
Czech Embassy in Washington DC partners with multitude of different
actors in the US, supporting the strengthening and deepening of their
relationships to Czech counterparts. We work with Federal and State
authorities, research performing organizations, and companies of all sizes.
Although our work was highly impacted by COVID-19 pandemic, some of our science
diplomacy efforts made it to the finish line even in 2020.
Host country government is
the most natural partner for any diplomatic mission. Even more so in the US
where multitude of research engagement opportunities comes from federal
programs. The US Department of Defense is traditionally the most active entity
in international arena.
Our lasting effort to start
the implementation of Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program in defense
research culminated in Feb 2020 with the arrival of Dr Irene MacAllister,
hosted by the Faculty of Military Health Sciences, Czech University of Defense.
Dr MacAllister’s 18-month guest appointment is first since CZ and US signed the
mutual exchange agreement in 2009, with CZ being one in only 16 program host
This is not the only
defense science engagement. In third quarter, we introduced almost 20 Czech
innovations to US military stakeholders through Foreign Comparative Testing
program scouts and organized a presentation of Czech Technical University’s AI
Center for US Army labs. Those activities are development and innovation
complements to existing opportunities in basic research, facilitated by the
(US) Office of Naval Research Global Prague office, our close partner.
Leveraging Czech Ministry
of Interior’s IMPAKT program, we managed to secure funding for 2 major projects
bringing together Czech researchers and US government labs in bioinformatics,
gene sequencing, and cybersecurity. These initiatives will start in early 2021.
The Military Health Institute and Masaryk University respectively will thus
join the group of previously successful teams, namely the robotics group of
Czech Technical University competing to great effect in DARPA’s SubTerranean
Challenge and speech processing group of Brno University of Technology.
As the pandemic challenged
the academic sector to unprecedented level, our initiatives focused
predominantly on the innovation agenda, supporting Czech start-up community in
their contacts with the US. We secured number of contacts between our
innovators and major US businesses, such as the visit of Bell Helicopter’s vice
president for innovation. Pilot collaborative projects are currently starting,
some of them with great reviews already.
In 2020, we also found US
university partners for Czech startups’ testing endeavors or supported
initiatives aimed at market entry both to the US and third countries. Companies
such as UptimAI, IDEAStatica, Datlowe or GINA Systems can serve as examples.
Not only are we able to help in the US, we also managed to connect Czech innovators
among themselves, with tangible project outcomes in laser surface treatments
for special aerospace applications and in forensic science.
Although we worked with
universities less often than in previous years, there are some success stories
to report too. One case in point is the joint team that started to work on
cybersecurity project proposal shared by Ohio State University, Masaryk University
and Brno University of Technology. Another example might be the newly
established participation of Czech Republic in MIT’s international internship
program. While this usually requires extensive programming, we managed to utilize
the opportunity to start online first, newly brought to bear by the
pandemic. First of MIT students started
her AI focused internship with Czech company in Jan 2021.
However, Covid response
efforts dominated our work for the best part of the year, supporting
negotiations on critical supplies, including PPE and testing equipment. Later,
whole Embassy’s economic section moved to certification and partnership
research for Czech solution providers. In this sense, finalizing all the above
projects represents overwhelming interest of R&D communities on both sides
of the Atlantic to collaborate beyond the current situation. Let us hope that
2021 will prove us right in thinking so and that some ambitious programs that
we have been diligently working toward since 2019 will come to fruition. Stay