INVESTORS IN MSK
Let's stay with the human factor for
a moment. How do you cooperate
with technical universities, both with
academics and students?
We have been cooperating with universities
for decades. For example, we cooperate
with VŠB-TUO in the European Operations
Centre and in the field of robotics. Ostrava
has been a pioneer in this field; the robotics
department has been there for thirty
years and we have a very well established
cooperation. We share know-how, supervise
theses, provide free training and software
to students. It is not something that benefits
us immediately, but we know that these
students are a driving force for both ABB and
the region. However, the number of students
is very low; we would need many more.
Fortunately, this region is not limiting for us in
this respect. For example, we have graduates
from technical universities in Slovakia,
and thanks to the aforementioned cost
compensation, we have colleagues from Spain
and Italy. We are attractive to these regions.
Of course, we do not focus only on
universities. Through the Electrotechnical
Association of the Czech Republic, we are
trying to attract high schools to our robotics
centre. We invite primary school pupils, even
kindergarten pupils, to come for field trips.
We are trying to build a relationship with
technology in them. When a young child
can touch a laboratory robot and see how its
control works, it breaks down the barrier and
fear of technology as something complex.
ABB Corporation works, among other
things, on the use of hydrogen as a widely
used fuel of the future. I mean hydrogen
produced using electricity from renewable
sources. The Moravian--Silesian Region
has come up with an ambitious vision
of Hydrogen Valley. That means that
energy and transport based on fossil
fuels today will be replaced by hydrogen
technologies and e-mobility in the future.
Is this the right direction?
In passenger transport, the cards are
already dealt. The car companies have
invested very large budgets in battery
platforms for which the infrastructure
is being built with considerable input
from the state, distributors and electricity
producers. If the car companies were to
maintain all three platforms, i.e. the existing
one, the battery platform and the switch to
hydrogen at the same time, the production
would be very expensive. Efficiency would
naturally fall and the price would rise all
But for high power, hydrogen is the natural
choice for, for example, propulsion for
ships, trains or heavy trucks. There is
no infrastructure here yet; we are still
in the prototype phase. Nevertheless,
we think that hydrogen will make its
way into this area. When we look at the
polluting nature of ocean liners, hydrogen
propulsion is the obvious choice as it has
the chance to contribute to a dramatic
reduction in pollution.
What are your visions for the future? Are
you planning further development of the
The world has digitised in recent years. It
is even more global and competitive than
it used to be.
There are people who live in Ostrava and
work for a New Zealand software company.
So, in the software sector, we can expect
that there will definitely be more openness
to developers from different parts of the
world bringing their products to Europe to
compete with local companies.
This will be another gauntlet thrown down
for us, but I am convinced that we will
It is essential not to get rid of industrial
production in the Czech Republic. Not to
try to transform ourselves into a country
that focuses only on development. 30% of
our GDP still comes from industry.
So the time is not right for any radical
changes. Moreover, we would lose a great
piece of know-how because it is always
much easier to make good software for
industry if you know how the factory works.
Writing software when one has never been
in the plant in one's life and doesn't know
how it works is much more difficult, and
the result will reflect that. We still maintain
that touch with all the industries here in
the region. But of course we need to think
innovatively and aggressively, in a positive
sense, in terms of expansion outside
the Czech Republic.
To lighten things up at the end, tell us
how you recharge your batteries. Do you
have a favourite place in the MoravianSilesian Region?
Sometimes I feel like we focus a lot on
recharging batteries but not on how to
properly discharge them. I try to think of
ways to make any job easier. How to get
the best result with reasonable effort
We need to find balance. It is natural that,
when you're trying to move something
forward and build something, you're going
to do more.
You can't achieve success with mediocre
effort. But everything should be sustainable
in the long term, as we are talking about
in ecology today. I consider a successful
person to be someone who has friends,
who doesn't have a shattered personal
life, who is reasonably dedicated to his or
her physical body. The achievement on his
business card isn’t everything.
I have a deep relationship with
the Moravian-Silesian Region. My wife and
I still have parents here and I have many
friends here. I am in Ostrava every week,
whether for work or other reasons.
My wife and I like to go to the mountains.
We used to go to Lysá hora when nobody
was there yet.
Twenty-five years ago, Smrk was also a matter
of a few enthusiasts only. I have to say that
we have a lot of beautiful places in the region
that we keep coming back to. I can name the
Wallachia region for all of them.
Mr Lukáš, thank you for the interview.
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