3.9 Start-up funding for young entrepreneurs
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The Czech Republic has The Innovation strategy 2019 - 2030 and The Strategy to support small and middle-size enterprises for the period 2021 - 2027. Both of them emphasise that knowledge about entrepreneurship and its opportunities, especially in the relation to the digital transformation is relatively low in the Czech Republic. Both see huge opportunities for promotion through the school system and social security system.
To raise the awareness and competencies among young entrepreneurs the goal of more involvement of risk capital and capital diversification is seen as viable to facilitate the young entrepreneurs' involvement and better access to real and practical information for their business endeavour as well as the national National Educational Curricula reform. Also, the Education Strategy 2030+ reflects these objectives.
National curricula - the Educational Framework Programmes include already the issues of the labour market including entrepreneurship education. Students clubs, organisations and initiatives are too often focused upon.
From a state perspective, young people are targeted like any other part of society by policies supporting small and medium-sized businesses.
Relevant support and information on entrepreneurship and its aspects are also provided by subordinated organisations of the Ministry of Industry and Trade:
- The Investment and Business Development Agency CzechInvest (Agentura pro podporu podnikání a investic CzechInvest),
- CzechTrade (Česká agentura na podporu obchodu CzechTrade)
- The Business and Innovation Agency (Agentura pro podnikání a inovace - API).
The National-wide contest "The start-upper of the Year" for young entrepreneurs and start-uppers was started in 2018 by the Czechstartups.org and the Czechinvest Agency.
Specific information is provided by the Employment Offices and career guidance system in case young people are registered as jobseekers and are interested in entrepreneurship.
The Technology Agency of the Czech Republic provides opportunities, consultations and info days and meetings to reach the right and specifically innovative target groups.
There are also private initiatives (online and offline) targeting young people with relevant information, which may be helpful for them (Examples in Chapter 3.8 Non-Formal and Informal learning to entrepreneurship). The most visible and complex is by the Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Crafts CZ initiative called Svou cestou - Young business. Other private entities and individuals are working with the topic, such as www.mladypodnikatel.cz (Young Entrepreneur).
The Czech Republic has top-level policy measures to facilitate affordable funding for start-up creation. There is a project Podporastartupu.cz (Support of Start-ups) run by the CzechInvest Agency, and with the main funding coming from EU Funds. Through four independent activities - CzechStarter, CzechAccelerator, CzechMatch and CzechDemo, persons interested in start-up creation are provided with the help of experts and tutors.
There are schemes for funding starting entrepreneurs not dependent on their age from national, EU, and often regional and local funds. There is also a support structure to help people gain access to such funding.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade provides current information on possibilities to acquire capital or subsidy for entrepreneurs, and the CzechInvest Agency also has its own on-line signpost.
Some regions, such as Moravskoslezský kraj or Jihomoravský kraj, specifically mention young people's access to their regional fund schemes. Zlínský kraj has initiated the project Start of Business (startpodnikani.cz). Also, more and more municipalities are focusing inline the national strategies to support SMEs and young people in starting their businesses.
The Czech Republic has a tradition of supporting young agricultural entrepreneurs. In 2015-2020 support for young agrarian entrepreneurs is being provided via EU funding for persons interested in starting their entrepreneur activity in agriculture up to 40 years of age. The maximum subsidy is up to 45 000 EUR.
The Technology Agency of the Czech Republic operates the programme ZETA to support applied research for young researchers. The Agency provides opportunities also in other programmes and calls from technical as well as social and humanities fields. The programme focuses on supporting cooperation between academia and companies by putting together students of MA and doctorate study programmes at universities and young research workers aged up to 35. Even if the programme is not directly linked to start-ups, it can be beneficial also for young entrepreneurs and their research colleagues in the innovation and applied research spheres which are important for technology and digital start-ups.