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Intensive meetings in California and Nevada connected Czech institutions supporting innovation and entrepreneurship with their counterparts.

The week-long program, packed with meetings with leading representatives of the California and Nevada innovation ecosystem, accelerators, universities, and investors, gave participants from Czech innovation institutions an insight into the operating system and business philosophy of companies on the West Coast of the United States. In addition, it helped to transfer experience and knowledge in fostering the entrepreneurial environment from Silicon Valley and Northern Nevada to the Czech Republic, emphasizing best practices in promoting internationalization. The Innovation Mission occurred from 30 October to 4 November as part of the Economic and Science Diplomacy Project.

California is recognized globally as a leading center of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurial opportunity. While most concentrated in San Francisco and Silicon Valley - the San Francisco Bay Area (Bay Area), technology assets are spread throughout the state. Silicon Valley is home to the world's largest high-tech corporations, such as Apple, Google, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, and Yahoo, including over 30 Fortune 500 companies and thousands of startups synonymous with innovation. It has the largest concentration of venture capital funding in the United States.

Startups and their founders from all over the world head to Silicon Valley precisely because of its reputation as the tech Mecca of the world. No less attractive is the Reno area in Northern Nevada, an important innovation hub on the West Coast of the USA. Thanks to favorable tax conditions, lower prices, and living standards, the metropolis attracted many entrepreneurs, employees, and companies during the pandemic, especially from the Bay Area, to which the innovation environment is primarily linked.
Thanks to the financial support of economic diplomacy projects (PROPED), 10 Czech institutions supporting innovation and entrepreneurship had the opportunity to get a glimpse of the innovation environment in California and Nevada. The mission was clear: to promote a global vision, build stronger innovation ties between the Czech Republic and the USA, and create lasting partnerships.  
During the week-long, very intensive program, representatives of the CTU, Academy of Sciences, VŠE, South Moravian, Ústí and Olomouc Innovation Centers, including representatives of the Liberec Incubator and V-Sharp Studio from Prague, had the opportunity to learn how the innovation system works in the Bay Area. As part of the program, we visited the Plug and Play Tech Center accelerator, with which the Czech Republic, through the Czech Invest Agency, helps Czech startups expand into the U.S. market.  We visited Berkeley University, the No. 1 public university in the U.S., the sixth best among public and private. Universities nationally and the ninth best university in the world overall, according to the Times Higher Education 2024 World University Rankings, we had the opportunity to learn more about the entrepreneurship and innovation community through programs at the Sutardjao Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, CITRIS, and Banatao Institute, and the SkyDeck Accelerator. Connecting culture and business and learning about how European peers support innovation and startups in their ecosystems, we were inspired by representatives from InnovIt, the Italian Centre for Innovation and Culture, and Swissnex, the Swiss Centre for Innovation and Culture. We toured the GoMentum station, the most significant autonomous vehicle testing ground in the US, and learned about the future of public transport in the Glydways. At the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Nevada, Reno, representatives introduced us to the university's innovation ecosystem and commitment to supporting students' entrepreneurial journey. The university offers opportunities to work with startups in battery manufacturing, aerospace, and defense, critical areas for Czechia. Through engaging discussions with StartUpNV, Granite Landings, the Governor of Nevada's Office of Economic Development (GOED), the UNR Innevation Center, the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), and the Northern Nevada Development Authority, we learned about the area's thriving innovation environment. At the end of the mission, we toured the Tesla Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada. With 11,000 employees, it is one of the world's largest lithium battery and electric vehicle component factories and Tesla's first high-volume semi-manufacturing plant.