Nothing exists in a vacuum, and the same is true for business. This is why it is so important to foster the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship not just internally, but also to share it with those around us. Earlier this month we got a chance to represent the Polish perspective on the matter in a conference titled Sharing Lessons Of Building Innovation Ecosystem. Our trip to Kiyv enabled us to compare notes with the brightest minds of the V4 region and Ukraine, as we discussed the best practices of entrepreneurial support.

Supported by the International Visegrad Fund, the project analysed ways of sharing the best innovation and entrepreneurship practices from V4 countries in support of Ukraine. By discussing their own success stories related to local innovation programs and funds, participants got a chance to share strategies they’ve taken in solving common challenges. The presentations also highlighted the roles the local governments have played on the path towards innovation.

“V4 countries collectively represent one of the largest markets in Europe with over 65 million people and growing purchasing power.” said Peter Kolesar, CEO of Neulogy, representing Bratislava at the event. “Despite the potential and overlap in culture and history, there is very little interaction and knowledge exchange between these countries when it comes to supporting innovation.” He added that the experience should not merely function as a tutorial conducted by the V4 countries for Ukraine, but rather as a two-way street learning experience between everyone involved.

So, what were the conclusions? Collectively, we were able to identify several trends present throughout the success stories. The first one revolved around effective and transparent collaboration between the public and the private, organized by clear rules established to complement the missing competences or finances. Subsequently, the analysis identified the involvement of foreign parties within the projects, which provided an outsider’s perspective, helped design solutions perfectly tailored to the local context, and aided with necessary funding. The third common aspect came down to the cultural aspect of innovation, which the participants agreed to be especially important within the context of former socialist countries.

Overall, the panelists have agreed that a triumph could not be guaranteed by a single, cookie-cutter strategy, and that only a truly holistic approach could guide innovators towards success. “There is no single way to build an innovation ecosystem, and the ‘copy-paste’ approach rarely works.” – said Dr. Laszlo Koranyi from Óbuda University, representing Hungary. “Our case studies should serve as a possible source of inspiration. It’s the approach and the process that really matters, as every initiative can be steered away from its initial intentions“ – he added.

To learn more about our findings, feel free to check out the Policy Paper published as part of the project.