Daily news summary

Government earmarks more money for research and development

The Czech government has earmarked 36 billion crowns in support of science and technology in 2019, which is 2.1 billion more than this year, the deputy head of the government council for research, development an innovation Karel Havlíček told the CTK news agency on Thursday.

The minister stressed the need for better planning in research for the funds to be drawn and used since 6.9 billion crowns from previous funding remain untapped.

Supporting research, development and innovation is a government priority and the cabinet has approved a resolution which should keep funding stable in the future.

CzechInvest head: we must prioritize foreign investment which will bring 4.0 technolgy

The new head of the government agency CzechInvest Silvana Jiriotková has said the country must in future prioritize foreign investment that will bring added value and 4.0 technology to the Czech Republic, rather than just job opportunities.

Jirotková said she was working on a new strategy in which CzechInvest would focus on three groups of clients –foreign investors, Czech small and medium-sized companies and start-ups, which it would try to link-up and create new synergies.

She said she was also planning organizational changes in the agency.

President to meet with foreign minister for foreign policy consultations

President Miloš Zeman is to hold talks with Foreign Minister Martin Stropnický at Prague Castle on Thursday.

The meeting is likely to be dominated by the Czech Republic’s response to the poisoning of a Russian double agent and his daughter in Great Britain, over which the country is expelling three Russian diplomats.

The Czech Republic was directly drawn into the dispute after Russia denied responsibility for the attack and suggested the nerve agent could have been produced in the Czech Republic or a number of other states.

President Zeman stirred controversy on the home front by commissioning the country’s intelligence services to check out the claim, after Prime Minister Andrej Babiš had publicly rejected it as a lie.

Vítkovice Engineering lay off over 550 employees

One of the Czech Republic’s flagship engineering companies, Vítkovice Engineering, has let go more than 550 employees, general director Bohuslav Fajmon told the Czech News Agency on Thursday. Many of the employees have reacted by handing in their notice on the grounds of not receiving their wages since January this year.

The company, which employs around 600 people in and around Ostrava, filed for insolvency proceedings earlier this month.

Vítkovice Engineering appeared to be lined up for a lifeline from the arms company of Czech businessman Jaroslav Strnad. However, he later decided to invest in another part of the Vítkovice Group, Vítkovice Heavy Engineering.

Bohuslav Martinů Centre receives composer’s correspondence with close friend from US

The Bohuslav Martinů Centre in the composer’s home town of Polička has received a collection of close to 100 letters which Martinů sent to his close friend and compatriot Frank Rybka in the United States.

The collection was donated to the center by Rybka’s descendants and handed over to the Czech ambassador in the United States Hynek Kmoníček.

The center has a unique collection of Bohuslav Martinů scores and over 3,600 artefacts relating to the famous composer’s life. Many others remain scattered around the world since Bohuslav Martinů spent more than half of his life abroad.

Vatican approves beatification process of bishop Hlouch

The Vatican has approved the process of beatifying the former bishop of České Budějovice, Josef Hlouch, which is the first step on the path to sainthood. According to the current bishop of České Budějovice, Vlastimil Kročil, the beatification process could take around 18 years.

Josef Hlouch, who was born in 1902, was persecuted by the authorities for criticizing the Communist regime. In 1950, he was placed under house arrest and later forced out of his diocese. It was not until 1968 that he could return to his post.

Weather forecast

Friday should be partly cloudy to overcast with scattered showers, predominantly in the eastern parts of the country, and day temperatures between 9 and 13 degrees Celsius.