15th February 2018

AmCham CZ: CVUT and GE Aviation: Creating the ecosystem for prosperity

Yesterday, with its research partner GE Aviation in attendance, the Czech Technical University (CVUT) announced an agreement which will put four turboprop engine ground test cells into university labs, as well as provide the university one airplane fitted with a turboprop engine for testing. In the next few weeks, engineers from CVUT and GE will begin their work inside this new, state-of-the-art test cell. These tests will be first of what should be an expanding number and variety of experiments that should place CVUT and the university's testing facility at the forefront of aviation and aviation manufacturing technology for at least the next decade.  

For the university, the new test cells allow them to leap past other European universities in research capabilities. Their professors will now have the chance to glean data and know-how from one of the world's best aircraft engine designers and manufacturers. The school will be able to put their own theories to the test using equipment that exists nowhere else. They will be able to offer their students an education with practical experience that will not only be unique, but will come with the prospect of a well-paying job developing world-class technology. GE already has almost sixty students working as interns in various functions of the organization- most from CVUT. On the top of that, approximately fifteen CVUT students each semester select a bachelor theses related to the scope of the CVUT-GE research collaboration.

For GE, cooperation with the school supplements the talent they have internally. It creates a flow of university graduates that can not only swell their ranks, but can help develop the technological excellence of the supplier network of materials and components.

For the Czech Republic, the agreement represents a very big step in the country's progress from being the workshop for other people's ideas to becoming the generator of its own. This move from assembly to product development is a sign that Czech economy is moving from the second tier of competition in the EU to the first league.

"Our universities can produce world-class research and our labor force has a proven track record in high-tech production," Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who attended the announcement, says. "My government's job is to find the companies that can connect those capabilities to increase our exports and provide high wage jobs. That is why I supported the GE Aviation investment and the agreement with CVUT."

The prime minister is right. To compete at the highest level, the country will need its public research to generate a higher level of private research. At the moment, business accounts for slightly over half of all research spending in the country. That needs to rise to two-thirds or more. Three countries- Germany (30%), France (15%), and the UK (12%)- account for more than half of the research spending in the EU. Those are daunting competitors. To stay in the contest, the Czech Republic (1%) needs to get to the level of Belgium (3%), Austria (3%), or Holland (4%). The fastest way to do that is to leverage public funds to create a multiple effect on private investment.

That is what AmCham aims to do. We want the per capita spending on research to double from its 2015 level (308 euro) by creating a ratio of 2.5 euros of business research investment for every 1 euro of public research spending. GE Aviation co-operation with CVUT is major move in the right direction. Anyone out there have some suggestions of who can help us take the next jump forward?


Author: WS

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic