Brno was named a European City of the Future by fDi Magazine in 2008 – an accolade that mayor Roman Onderka cites as instrumental in changing perceptions and raising the profile of the Czech Republic’s ‘second city’.
“In receiving this award we have been more visible within the EU and have improved our image. For many years we have been in the shadow of the capital, Prague – because we are a university city, each king was educated in Brno and after graduation he left for Prague,” he says.
“This award contributes to the fact that representatives of businesses and industries have started to get interested in our city. For example, we launched the co-operation with the Mayo Clinic in the US and we are the first in Europe to start such co-operation,” he says.
“A European research park is also under construction and we will receive money from the EU equalling Kcs8bn [€301.3bn],” adds Mr Onderka.
Brno’s long-standing position as an educational hub is the basis of its appeal to investors during the current period of international economic turbulence. “The advantage of the city is that there are 12 universities. The city of Brno has almost 400,000 inhabitants and there are 80,000 university students,” he says.
“The link between the city, universities and businesses is a good opportunity to create added value. Due to this added value, foreign companies such as Honeywell and others are coming to Brno. With all this, I think that Brno has the possibility of being an island in these stormy waters,” says the mayor.
Not only that, it is a centrally located island too. “We always say that Brno is the heart of the Republic and now we are saying that we are the heart of Europe.”