COVID-19 sparked Czech innovation

The Czech Republic is very innovative and has great potential

Prof. Karel Roubík was leading the team, which constructed CoroVent.  (photo credit: JIŘÍ RYSZAWY ČTU)
Prof. Karel Roubík was leading the team, which constructed CoroVent.
(photo credit: JIŘÍ RYSZAWY ČTU)
The widespread response to the COVID-19 pandemic by academia, private enterprise, and state agencies confirmed that the Czech Republic is very innovative and has great potential in this field. Currently, the Czech Republic ranks 24th on the Global Innovation Index (GII). 
As a “Start-Up rising nation,” Czechia is ready to cooperate in various fields of innovation.  The most significant opportunities for cooperation include Industry 4.0, biotechnology, cybersecurity projects protecting critical infrastructure, including hospitals, e-Health, and fintech. 
When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, the most well-known project, “Hack the Crisis Hackathon,” has served as a significant example of cross-platform cooperation.  The Hackathon was organized by a joint platform of government agencies, ministries, private enterprise, unions, expert associations, and academics. With the financial support of “Czech Rise Up,” the Hackathon attracted more than 400 projects within three areas:  health, society, and the economy.  The winning project came from DIANA Biotechnologies, a company developing affordable and fast tests for detecting COVID-19.  A new lung ventilator called “CoroVent” from the Czech Technical University in Prague placed second.  “CoroVent” has already been approved for use by the FDA and is ready for distribution to the US and Latin American markets.  Third place was awarded to LAM-X, a provider of light-activated nanomaterials.  Other successful projects included Virtual Lab, an app designed for VR learning for rapid training ICU medical personnel, FreMEn, an AI analytics that predicts crowded locations, and Kaleido, an app that assists seniors with rehab exercises and allowing them to experience virtual travel at the same time.
Despite the challenges of the current travel bans, several Czech companies and their Israeli counterparts have applied for the joint international applied research program funded by the Czech Technology Agency and the Israel Innovation Authority.
With the second COVID-19 wave, innovation is more focused on Smart Healthcare solutions, nanotechnologies, and disinfectant solutions for large public spaces.  Currently, a new, safe solution of VDT Technology using disinfecting light to limit the spread of disease is being implemented at some COVID-19 testing sites in Prague.  It is based on using light-emitting diodes (LED) to provide high-intensity and narrow-spectrum light (HINS).
The pandemic has overshadowed many global societal challenges, such as climate change, drought, water supply, and food insecurity.  The intensive cooperation between Czechs and Israelis in many areas will certainly accelerate once we can achieve a “new normal.”
This article was written in cooperation with Donath Business & Media s.r.o.