Ambassador visits region promoting partnerships

JARO 2011 Aktuality English
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WATERLOO REGION - The Czech ambassador to Canada is visiting here, looking for partnership opportunities between the businesses and educational institutions of his country, and those of Waterloo Region.

"Waterloo Region is very famous," said the ambassador, Karel Zebrakovsky. "That's why we are here."

Zebrakovsky is attracted to this area's reputation for innovation and collaboration, and is seeking opportunities for joint research projects and technological innovation, especially in the high technology field.

In his trip here, he is scheduled to meet the president of Conestoga College, John Tibbits; the dean of engineering at University of Waterloo, Adel Sedra; and Waterloo Region's Chair, Ken Seiling. He will also visit the Institute for Quantum Computing, Open Text, Communitech, and meet members of the local Czech community.

In an interview Wednesday, Zebrakovsky pointed out that the Czech Republic is a good place to do business as companies and educational institutions everywhere prepare for more global partnerships.

It's a compact country that has one of the highest rates in the world of government investment in research and development, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. And because most Czech children typically learn two other languages in school as well as their own, English is widely spoken there.

An English-only speaker "won't be lost there," the ambassador said. "People should not be afraid of the language barrier."

The Czech economy has performed well in recent years, with six per cent annual growth before the world recession in 2008. It also attracts more foreign investment than many other European countries.

Zebrakovsky, an engineer who taught university before he entered the foreign service, said University of Waterloo was legendary even when he was a student. Back in the 1960s it was known around the world for its "compiler," named WATFOR, that translated computer programs in the FORTRAN language so they could run.

He was assisted Wednesday by several staff members from the embassy of the Czech Republic in Ottawa, and by Kitchener resident Tony Martinek, a Czech native and former dean of engineering at Conestoga College.

Martinek has been honoured by his native country for his work assisting the Czech Republic, including establishing funds to help equip Czech and Slovakian universities as the country was emerging from the Cold War. Martinek has also organized exchanges and other partnerships between Canadian universities and colleges, and those in Europe.

ldamato@therecord.com

Vydavatelem Českého dialogu je Mezinárodní český klub

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