26. May 2023

Czech economic and scientific diplomats preparing themselves for their missions in European territories, but also in more distant countries such as Mexico, Zambia, Thailand or India, visited Czech export companies and research institutions. The aim of these visits was to learn about the needs of important Czech organisations and their potential for the development of foreign cooperation and support from the Czech embassies. And this is why CEITEC Masaryk University could not be missing in the busy preparatory programme of the outgoing diplomats.

Visits to important Czech export companies and scientific research institutions are a traditional part of the diplomats' pre-departure preparation. Over three days, diplomats visited seven companies across several sectors and regions of the Czech Republic. The international research centre CEITEC MUNI was involved in the roadshow to reflect the government's priority to strengthen science diplomacy. Familiarisation with the activities in the form of practical excursions helps Czech economic counsellors better understand the needs of Czech companies and research institutions. Such in-person visits provide the necessary stimulus for more intensive development of trade and economic cooperation between the Czech Republic and partner countries.

The group of ten diplomats was welcomed by the Institute's Director Jiří Nantl, Coordinator of Strategic Partnerships and International Relations Zlatuše Novotná, Scientific Secretary Nikola Kostlánová and by the institute´s Spokesperson Ester Jarour. Jiří Nantl emphasised that CEITEC MUNI was one of the largest investments in research infrastructure in the Czech Republic and serves as a model for other centres of excellence abroad. Zlatuše Novotná presented CEITEC MUNI as a modern institution inspired in terms of management and standards of operation by leading research centres of Western Europe. She emphasised the vision of the institute to become a leading European research institute in the field of life sciences, known for its discoveries. In her speech, Zlatuše Novotná drew attention to the recent evaluation by the International Scientific Advisory Board, whose members confirmed in their evaluation report that CEITEC MUNI is a true leader in Central Europe and one of the most advanced institutes in all of Europe, so its ambitious vision is certainly not unattainable.

Scientific Secretary Nikola Kostlánová assured the diplomats that CEITEC MUNI is a truly international institution where English is a matter of everyday life, and the staff are used to colleagues from abroad. 42% of scientists and 52% of PhD candidates working at CEITEC MUNI come from abroad. The Institute has many tools at its disposal to successfully integrate foreigners both in the new workplace and in the Brno region. CEITEC is a great destination for scientists of all career levels thanks to its modern shared laboratories providing superior service to the international scientific community. Thanks to these excellent facilities, last year, CEITEC MUNI scientists managed to publish in the three world's top scientific journals - Nature, Science and Molecular Cell. The quality of research at CEITEC MUNI is also evidenced by other prestigious indicators, such as the ERC grants funded by the European Research Council and by the membership of CEITEC MUNI researchers in the prestigious EMBO organisation, which brings together the best molecular biologists in the world. Half of all EMBO members working in the Czech Republic are employed at CEITEC MUNI.

Zlatuše Novotná also presented the strategic international alliances of which CEITEC is an active member. The EU-LIFE alliance brings together 15 excellent research centres from 15 countries, mostly in Western Europe. CEITEC was the first member from Eastern Europe to be invited to become a member. Alliance4Life, which was founded and is coordinated by CEITEC MUNI, has 12 members from 11 Central and Eastern European countries. Both alliances operate on a similar principle of sharing experiences in various areas such as knowledge and technology transfer, science evaluation, grant writing and implementation, science communication, infrastructure management and others. Thanks to the continuous sharing of good practices, all member organisations are continuously improving and thus providing an excellent working environment for their staff.

Another important topic on the meeting agenda was the CEITEC PhD School, which again meets the high European standard. More than half of the PhD students are from abroad, and CEITEC MUNI is interested in attracting even more foreign talents, including the countries where the diplomats are about to relocate in the coming months. CEITEC PhD School provides ideal starting conditions for a successful international scientific career. PhD students enrolled in the CEITEC PhD School have access to modern research facilities and quality education in English. The CEITEC PhD School is based on the "Principles for Innovative Doctoral Education" issued by the European Union to standardise the quality of European doctoral studies. CEITEC PhD School graduates receive job offers from renowned research institutions such as Yale University in the United States or Germany's renowned Max Planck Institute.

After the presentation of the best CEITEC MUNI has to offer, a discussion with diplomats took place with the aim of finding suitable opportunities for cooperation and launching new activities of Czech science diplomacy. Czech science has always had and still has something to offer. They saw clear evidence of this fact during their visit to the plant research laboratory, where they had the opportunity to see unique plant phenotyping instruments from the Brno-based company Photon System Instruments (PSI), which scientists from CEITEC MUNI use for plant research. PSI and CEITEC MUNI presented a similar instrument at the world exhibition EXPO 2023 in Dubai.  The joint exposition of the biotechnology company and research institute was awarded as the 11th most interesting one in the innovation category. At the end of their visit, the Czech economic and scientific diplomats invited CEITEC MUNI representatives to contact them during their foreign trips and exchange information that could open doors for interesting international cooperation.