Q: Why should foreign investors be interested in Brno?
A: There are a number of reasons to make an investment in Brno. Let me mention the three most important. The first is what the city has been endowed with – its strategic geographical position within central Europe, in a metropolitan area with nearly one million residents and excellent transport accessibility, including an international airport. This turns Brno into a notional gate between East and West, connecting the 'old' and 'new' Europe.
The second reason is the character of the city, which still draws upon the strong tradition of a modern, dynamic and fast-developing centre of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with its characteristics maintained.
Let me also mention the vision of the city, which continues the strong tradition of industrial manufacturing, science and culture. Brno is the city of the music composer Leoš Janáček and the father of genetics Gregor Mendel. It is also a city of universities, with almost 90,000 students at 14 universities and colleges, and three university campuses and centres of excellence, including the Central European Institute of Technology, the International Clinical Research Centre, and the Recetox-Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment.
If you add the high quality of life to this, represented by international schools, a wide range of cultural and sporting events, an attractive environment, important historical landmarks, including Villa Tugendhat, which is listed as a Unesco heritage sight, as well as other buildings in the functionalist style, you get a basic idea of what the city has to offer to investors.
Q: What are the priority sectors for attracting foreign investment?
A: The objective of Brno and the South Moravian Region is to rank among the 50 most innovative regions in the EU. We want to keep high standards in terms of research, development and innovation. And we want to ensure an environment that exploits the results of scientific research for the needs of business companies, which in the long-term [improves the] competitive advantage of the entire region.
Brno excels in sectors such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, IT and information and communications technology, and life sciences. We manage to attract the best researchers and staff from around the world to our centres of excellence; we support talented students and research teams. Therefore, I am pleased when a new firm gets engaged in the whole innovation system.
Q: What activities do you undertake to promote foreign investments to Brno?
A: I do not believe too much in courting popularity through state subsidies and a cheap workforce... Our support projects such as the innovation voucher system and PhD scholarships for talented doctoral students help to overcome the barrier between the academic and business sectors. There are a large number of foreigners coming to Brno now, often company executives, entrepreneurs and researchers settle here with their families. To make their integration easier, we have established the Brno Expat Centre, offering professional counselling and providing a platform for informal gatherings.
The Czech Republic has one of the highest costs of labour in central and eastern Europe...However, the price of labour is also about €20 [per hour] lower than in neighbouring Austria and approximately €25 lower than in France.
If you want to compare Brno, specifically, then it very much depends on the sector you wish to compare. If you look at sectors such as IT, electrical engineering and precise engineering, where Brno is very strong and highly attractive for investors, then it still compares favourably and competitively with places in central and eastern Europe.