Slovak Ambassador Discusses Entrepreneurship Policy in Central Europe


Slovak Ambassador Peter Kmec recently spoke to the University of Virginia about his government’s policy on innovation and entrepreneurship as part of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts & Sciences Regional Conference. The international conference was co-sponsored by the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies.

The Ambassador’s presentation, “The Slovak Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and the Visegrád Group of Four States,” covered recent efforts by the Slovak Embassy in Washington, DC, as well as the country’s government in Slovakia. Kmec discussed Slovakia’s role within the Visegrád Group (or V4), an economic and military alliance between Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Currently, Slovakia holds the presidency within the V4 and has created an innovation taskforce to encourage entrepreneurship in the four countries. He acknowledged that the group is not homogeneous as Slovakia is much smaller than the other countries.

In his talk, Kmec discussed the European Union and its strategy to boost growth by empowering women economically. “If Europe is to survive, women need to be the economic engine.” Currently, the Slovak Embassy in Washington DC is working with stakeholders in Slovakia and is focused on reaching more strategic stakeholders in the U.S. One way they hope to accomplish this goal is through social media networks and engaging Slovaks living and working in the U.S. They are also involved in networking events at the Embassy, in New York City, Boston, Chicago and the West Coast.

Kmec said they are focused on the areas of IT startups and cyber security. In partnership with Google, he and others organized a digital summit in Slovakia. There are also plans in the works to participate in the Tech Crunch conference and South by Southwest festival.

“It’s a matter of changing mindsets in Slovakia, that’s why our main focus has been on the younger generation,” said Kmec. There are a high number of young Slovak professionals, including students studying abroad in the U.S., he stated. “We’re not concerned about a brain drain, but more about brain-sharing,” he said regarding his country’s young talent.

In Slovakia, the government has been working on building the necessary infrastructure for entrepreneurship, such as providing conditions for the labor force to move from place to place and for cross-border cooperation. Kmec cited past experience with the Austrian government as a roadmap for future collaborations. However, he warned that there have been European cases of infrastructure investments that did not go as planned, “If you don’t invest in the know-how, the infrastructure will be meaningless.”

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