Entrepreneurial Discovery Workshops in the Ústi region, Czech Republic

In April 2023, our RIS4Danu EDP workshop tour stopped in Ústecký kraj, in the south-west of the CzechRepublic. Two workshops in the cities of Most (19/20.4.) and Ústí nad Labem (21.4.) aimed at identifying transformative activities to further support the success for two innovative projects which already have come quite a way, the Green Mine in Most and the Transformation Centre of the Ústi region ICUK.

Close to the city of Most, the sev.en company is running an open pit coal mining. Mining activities will stop in 2025. Already now, there is an impressive amount of strategic planning on how to continue economic activities on the site, turning to innovative and higher value-added activities: Development of the Green Mine. Strategically, the Green Mine aims at an economically and sociallly as well as ecologicallly balanced development of the site, including prospects of a future energy system based on hydrogen. A key challenge for the project is to widen public support and to engage more stakeholders in the further development, particularly from local communities and local and regional authorities. Accordingly, the transformative activities developed in the EDP workshop were policy and society oriented. Communication to the relevant stakeholders is key. In particularl, young people, school pupils or young professionals are a key target group. With the  spirit discovered and the activities developed, the workshop could proof a catalyser to transform the Green Mine from an “internal” project to real a community initiative! As a result, the people of Most could take their future actively in their hands.

The Transformation Centre within the ICUK (Inovační centrum Ústeckého kraje) is even more advanced than the Green Mine project. Indeed, the ICUK has been active for 5 years now and has activities implemented, as well as its own site physically developed. Nevertheless, in view of its further development, the question is how to focus the activities in the most promising fields while at the same time broaden the effects on the regional innovation system as well as the local companies. A number of key issues emerged, amongst other a broadening the activities to support small and medium sized companies (SME) as key players in the transformation of the regional economy, and a need for more applied research capacities, which might be provided by an University of Applied Sciences.

In conclusion, the EDP workshops in the Ústecký kraj were of different nature than the previous RIS4Danu workshops, as the sites discussed respectively the planned projects were in a different planning stage than in other regions. Nevertheless, the EDP workshops provided useful insights to all stakeholdres. In both casesz, discussions were more focused on political and societal challenges with the aim to support the projects to reach a better embedment in the local context and the regional innovation system.