On Tuesday 1st November 2016 Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, met with Czech and foreign academics and industrial researchers. The discussion event, entitled "Everything you always wanted to know about Science, research and innovation in the Czech Republic but were afraid to ask the Deputy Prime Minister" took place at Prague's Villa Lanna and was organized by the EURAXESS Czech Republic centre at the Czech Academy of Sciences as part of their project "Networking for Researchers"*.
"I believe this meeting will be very beneficial, in particular because Czech research has long had a problem with insufficient internationalization", Pavel Bělobrádek mentioned in his opening speech to he researchers present, from the Czech Academy of Sciences' institutes, universities, private institutes and companies, before adding on a more positive note: "Although we must admit that we still have some way to go, we are already experiencing several partial changes. We in the Czech Republic are, of course, interested in every researcher who chooses the Czech Repubic as their temporary or even permanent destination, for very pragmatic reasons that have far-reaching consequences. Aside from those practical reasons, it is very important that we keep in touch and present the Czech Republic in such a way that far more people come to experience our country and its research conditions. Naturally, we are not only interested in young researchers at the start of their careers, but also in senior experts. Very often, when we bring someone in who already has an established name in their field, it is a crucial opportunity to show other colleagues how good it is to be doing research in the Czech Republic."
During the discussion that followed, Deputy Prime Minister Bělobrádek debated with those present about current questions of the design, financing and future of grant systems and Czech research in general. For example, Daniel Kapling of the National Institute of Mental Health asked Minister Bělobrádek how he thought researchers from abroad could be persuaded that coming to do research in the Czech Republic really holds good prospects in the long term: "What is crucial, in my opinion, is the long-term nature and sustainability of the whole system. Another keyword is a certain level of coordination, not to mention the shared responsibility of the authorities. We do not want to return money to the European structures, and so our system must be sustainable. There is a great effort to ensure that the new operational programmes in the area of science and research are better coordinated and that the whole system is brought much more under one roof, so that we can really discuss those long-term aspects. It is not just a matter of money."
The Director of the Division of External Relations, Centre for Administration and Operations of the CAS, PhDr. Kateřina Sobotková, explained to those gathered the role of the advisory EURAXESS centres in helping foreign researchers not only to integrate into their new working environment but also to settle in to life in the Czech Republic socially and culturally: "The EURAXESS Czech Republic centres are unique offices that help foreign experts on a daily basis to move to the Czech Republic and settle here, and everything that goes with that. They provide information and expert advice on formal entry conditions and all the practical aspects of life in the Czech Republic. The EURAXESS centres have responded to some 48 thousand questions over the course of the past four years, over the phone, by email and in person, 75% of which were related to entry conditions."
*Networking for Researchers is funded by the European Commission as part of the EURAXESS TOP III project.