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24 June 2024

Biggest and Booming: America is close to us technologically

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After nearly two years, another Czech business mission set down on the North American continent towards the end of April 2024. Participants appraised it with presumptuous adjectives like “the biggest” and “the most successful”. COPS Solutions Co-CEO Ondřej Dvořák was among the roughly 70 representatives from Czech companies.

As observed by the present Czech Minister of Industry and Trade, Jozef Síkela: “Dozens of companies successfully linked up, moving existing projects forward and breaching new topics. Our companies and startups have something to offer in fields like innovation, IT, cybernetic security, and biotechnologies, and I’m glad to see so much interest in them both in the USA and Canada.”

A tech mission across the pond

Alongside the Minister, the business delegation made up of representatives from companies and universities was led by the President of the Confederation of Industry, Jan Rafaj. This time around, the mission focused on information technologies, science and innovation, cybernetic security, and biotechnologies. Co-CEO Ondřej Dvořák took the helm for COPS Solutions, which acts as a Venture Studio for Startups and Scaleups, among other things. “By joining the mission to the USA and Canada, we had the unique opportunity to meet actors from the startup and investors scene and expand our scope of activity across the Atlantic,” explained Ondřej Dvořák, Co-CEO of COPS Solutions. “Flying in the government’s special aircraft was in and of itself an amazing experience, and then you have to add meeting countless interesting people, non-traditional experiences like being rescued from a stuck elevator in a skyscraper, unrivalled catering, and informal conversations during evening drinks.”

Together with the Czech Minister of Industry and Trade, Jozef Síkela, and the President of the Confederation of Industry, the entrepreneurs visited several centers of technology overseas during the following seven days: Boston (Massachusetts, USA), Toronto (Ontario, Canada), Chicago (Illinois, USA), and Seattle (Washington, USA). They spent about 24 hours in each location, effectively using their time until the very last minute.

The schedule included networking activities and pitch events accompanied both by the minister and American and Canadian partners, visits to global companies and research centers from the tech field, technological incubators, accelerators, and innovation centers, as well as a meeting with the ambassador and other Czech representatives in the USA and Canada.

Every participating company had a chance to introduce themselves or their startup during several of the pitch events as part of the Czech Startup Days in each city.

Boston: meeting with the apex of technology

Massachusetts is #1 in the world for its sheer number of academic articles and the amount of spin-offs from the R&D institute. In particular, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the famous Harvard University are responsible for these incredible numbers. MIT graduates founded more than 320,000 companies worldwide, with total profits of around $2 trillion per year and approx. 4.6 million people employed. And Harvard can boast having the most laureates of the Nobel Peace Prize in the world.

That meant that the Czech Startup Day in Boston took place in a highly competitive and professional environment with experienced investors sitting on the panel, right on the grounds of the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC).

During their ten minutes each, every company presenting here found themselves under fire with well-aimed questions. Networking also took place here at Venture Cafe Cambridge, the cradle of countless promising partnerships and innovations.

Thriving tech development in Canada

In past years, Canada has experienced a tech boom and gained recognition around the world. Toronto and others are successfully competing with the usual suspects of Seattle, Washington, and San Francisco. But this wasn’t the first time Czechs have come to see the fastest-growing tech company scene. For instance, Czech startups attended the Collision conference in 2019.

This time around, Toronto welcomed the delegation to the largest municipal innovation center in North America. MaRS is a registered charity organization providing direct support to new businesses. The community of innovators presented numerous projects, and our five corporate companies also contributed with their projects. The Czechs also presented the European development program Horizont Europe, and we can’t forget to mention the interview with the Associate Minister of Small Business of Ontario, Nina Tangri.

COPS introduces itself to Chicago

Leaving Canada, the delegation made its way back to the USA, specifically to Chicago, where the Czech consulate had prepared a pleasant evening with our Czech compatriots. Co-CEO of COPS Solutions, Ondřej Dvořák, was intrigued by how many interesting projects and businesses they had launched in America. But that should come as no surprise, considering our president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk once successfully presented a large startup here.

Another Czech Startup Day awaited the delegation, requiring full commitment from the presenters. Each of the nine companies only had 30 minutes to present, and the panel included Sotiris Pagdadis, president of Keiretsu Forum. All of the delegates handled it very professionally, and the following informal networking mainly focused on AI.

Our Co-CEO Ondřej Dvořák presented the Linking Help, which COPS provided a technological solution for. “For the past few years, COPS Solutions has operated as a tech partner and successfully developed its multinational cooperation with startups, scaleups, and investors in the FinTech and LegalTech fields, which are our primary focus, but also in an array of other interesting projects,” said Ondřej, described the company’s role.

Linking Help is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that negotiates free legal aid to people in need. COPS Solutions helped it develop the online platform UA.SUPPORT, whose inception was initiated by representatives from the company AgiLawyer and the Czech law firm Holubová advokáti. The platform was created in immediate response to the war in Ukraine with the goal of providing access to justice for Ukrainian citizens. Many of them faced situations like getting visas and temporary protection, arranging residency permits, as well as challenges involving labor rights and other contractual commitments, business licenses, child education, problems with securing or covering medical care, fraudulent activities, insolvency, and other crises with legal ramifications that they wouldn’t be able to handle on their own. By the end of 2023, nearly 300 attorneys from 30 countries had joined the project. This platform has provided legal aid in almost 5000 cases with an estimated amount of over 2 M euros. All of this is thanks to the incredible hard work of the volunteers and the many Ukrainian citizens, namely the lawyers employed in this project by Linking Help.

The NGO Linking Help’s sights aren’t only set on Europe, however, it also wants to link whoever needs legal aid and legal counsel practically anywhere in the world. As part of this project, developers are now preparing a cognitive AI assistant.

Last but not least: Seattle

In Seattle, they drink the most coffee per person in the US, and the Czech delegation certainly improved this average. That was the only way to manage the chock-full program, which included the following: the Culture of Innovation workshop at Amazon, a visit to one of the three AWS Skill Centers, and the final Czech Startup Day with an informal networking session. Loads of successful Czechs live in Seattle too, building their own startups here and networking with our national delegation.

Summarized and highlighted

The Czech business mission was a huge success. It clearly proved that Czechs aren’t lagging behind in tech and that their projects even have something to offer overseas partners. If you’d like to learn more about the expansion of Czech companies into the North American market and what COPS is working on, give this interview with Ondřej Dvořák for Czech Radio a listen (or read the account here) 👇🏻

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