New Challenge Fund projects 2020: We want Czech innovative solutions to be seen globally

For Challenge Fund, which aims to support the implementation of know-how and innovative solutions of Czech entities in priority countries, 2020 is a turning point.
While until recently, the Partnership supported innovators in three priority countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Moldova – in the spring of 2020 it expanded to Ethiopia, Cambodia and Zambia. “This step ensured that the CUP partner countries now correspond to the priority countries of Czech foreign development cooperation,” explains Dagmar Novohradská, CUP’s senior project specialist, adding that the Challenge Fund also aims to be thematically as close as possible to UNDP Country Offices ´priorities “This allows us to ensure greater coherence between our projects and planned initiatives in partner countries and to support those that are truly relevant to the locals.”

Geographical expansion of the Challenge Fund was tested for the first time during the fourth Call for Applications in May 2020. A record number of 67 applicants applied for the spring Call, clearly confirming their interest in new environments and thematic areas. “Despite the fact that Ethiopia, Cambodia and Zambia were open for registration for the first time, we received many applications for these countries,” says Dagmar Novohradská.

From the total number of applications, the selection committee of the UN Development Program selected the 21 best ones, which will be implemented in the next twelve months.
Three projects succeeded in Bosnia and Herzegovina. DAMARIS Solutions will address the topic of hospital waste treatment, which is crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic; GISAT s.r.o. then offers innovative solutions for computer vision flood forecasting and flood prevention. The trio is complemented by the company EMPRESS, which focuses on greening the roofs of residential buildings in Sarajevo and creating sustainable spaces for local citizens.

In Cambodia, the Challenge Fund will implement two initiatives – a project of Mendel University in Brno, which will share Czech know-how associated with conserving tropical fruit using solar energy and will help local farmers with higher production and sales profits, and activities of non-profit organization Diakonie ČČE , which addresses the issue of menstrual hygiene and supports the local production of reusable pads.

The same number of successful projects was selected for Ethiopia, where AQUATEST a.s. plans to support the sustainability of shallow ground water resources through monitoring wells, which should mitigate the effects of climate change, while the Czech start-up DOT Glasses will create a distribution network for affordable glasses with the help of local small businesses and enterprises.

In Georgia, which is already an established priority country of the Challenge Fund, a record seven applicants were successful. It is a non-profit organization CARE Czech Republic, whose project is dedicated to the preservation of fruit and other agricultural products with a focus on female farmers; The Czech Geological Survey, which offers its expertise in eliminating the threat associated with landslides in Kazbegi; creation of an application for more effective communication and participation of locals in the city of Rustavi by the International Counseling Center of Municipalities (MEPCO); capacity building for the civil society in the communities of Ambrolauri and Tkibuli by the non-profit organization NESEHNUTÍ; a project of the National Office for Cyber ​​and Information Security aimed at strengthening the cybersecurity of public institutions and infrastructure in Georgia; the People in Need initiative, which addresses the issue of poverty and debt; and the creation of a platform for better technology transfer from research to the practice of the CZ start-up.

In Moldova, five initiatives succeeded, including several led by experienced implementers. The non-profit organization BEZK will conduct research into the energy efficiency of residential buildings and the potential of programs to support renewable energy, the companies CROSS Zlín and INCINITY s.r.o. they will then address the issue of smart cities and transport by installing dynamic traffic control and a platform for a smart transport system. Two universities also succeeded in the tender – the University of Chemical Technology in Prague with a proposal to create an innovative experimental laboratory supporting agriculture and the food industry in Moldova, and the Czech University of Agriculture in Prague, which aims to introduce new tools for processing waste from wine production.

Zambia is the third newly established priority country of the Challenge Fund, where two projects will be implemented. The first is the creation of a community youth center in Mongu, which will serve as a safe place for sports and educational activities with the Skate World Better start-up; the second is the initiative of the Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Self-Employed Persons of the Czech Republic, which plans to support the production of manioc by consultations and exchange of experience.

You can find out more about the projects here.