Czech Initiative for Life Science Cluster Presented
Prague - In order to make a stronger appearance on Europe's life science map and to put biotechnology on the political agenda, an initiative for the establishment of a Czech life science cluster was presented at the workshop BIO CZECH 2004 in late April in Prague.
The yet to be founded cluster - initiated by the governmental agency CzechInvest and the Technology Centre of the Academy of Sciences CR - aims at bundling innovative market oriented biotechnology companies, research institutes and universities on a national level and to attract national and international investments in order to transfer research results into commercial products. While CzechInvest is in charge of organisational pre-arrangements, the Technology Centre is responsible for questions of technology transfer and evaluation.
Role models are amongst others the Ger-man regional cluster Biosaxony and the cross-border solution Medicon Valley, said Kamil Opletal from CzechInvest. Further international examples were introduced by representatives from the French BioCluster Grenoble and the Italian bioindustry park Canavese. The Czech cluster should serve as an interface and provide information on life sciences questions, support obtaining structural funding from the EU as well as help finding cooperation partners and potential investors. This framework still needs to be filled with life, and the initiators seek to determine - through a questionnaire to be posted to companies, research institutions and universities - what services are expected from such a cluster and what legal form and coordinating organization it should have. According to first plans, applicants to the cluster will have to be recommended by 15 supporting partners and be evaluated as to the feasibility of their project.
The cluster was favored to a national biotechnology association, which is not planned so far - though such a lobbying organisation was discussed as well. The focus is on attracting investors, not on representing companies, said Opletal.