Tereza Vítková
CzechTrade Mexico City
Expert Contributor

A Look at Czech Industry: Opportunities for International Markets

By Tereza Vítková | Wed, 12/16/2020 - 13:00

When you say Europe, the first thing that comes to mind is West European countries and their metropolises. Nevertheless, I meet more and more people who include Prague in their list of European cities. I won't deny that it warms my heart every time I hear Mexicans say how beautiful our capital is. Just like them, I also fell in love with Prague’s narrow streets, local picture-perfect pubs and coffeehouses, but first of all with its history. Its manuscript can be found in its architecture. It is a fearless city and a living organism, where tradition mingles with progress and modernity. 

We can say the same about the Czech industrial scene that blends tradition, which is reflected in quality and experience with innovation, modern technologies and unique know-how that have earned many Czech companies the role of leader in their sectors. In the eyes of many foreigners, the synonym for the Czech Republic became its capital city; however, after reading this article, I would be happy if you came away with more synonyms for the Czech republic than just this one.

I have always been fascinated by Mexican and Czech industrial diversity: these countries do not stress just one industry. They have a wide variety of them, which ensures economical and exportable stability. Whenever a Mexican company official asks me if we, by any chance, produce this or that, if the name of a Czech company does not immediately come to mind, I answer: "Of course, we will find you such a company. No worries, we produce everything and what we do not produce, we will." Many times I hear Mexicans respond with surprise when they hear the names of Czech brands that are successful abroad. They have no clue how many Czech products or products from European companies are hidden behind the local brands. Many Czech companies export to Mexico through third countries and the second group works as subcontractors. Over 30 percent of Czech exports stay in Germany, so I assure you that many of you have cars with Czech car parts in the front of your houses.

In fact, the car industry is the most significant one for the Czech Republic. Its roots go back to the Austria-Hungary period. The biggest Czech company is found in this secto. It is also the most important local exporter. I am talking about traditional car producer Škoda Auto, whose beginnings date back to 1985. Since 1991, the company has been part of Germany‘s Volkswagen Group. Although these Czech cars are not present in the Mexican market, the brand Škoda, in particular the mark of Škoda Electric, can be found in trolleybuses driving through Guadalajara, which were made by the Czech company in cooperation with Mexico‘s DINA. 

At the beginning of the last century, the Czech company TATRA, one of the oldest car factories in the world, developed a unique chassis that ensures trucks not only have stability but also high transport speed in hard terrain. Its concept has not been overtaken yet and it has helped the company to celebrate worldwide success. TATRA abandoned car production and today, it focuses exclusively on production of trucks, both for civil and military use. These trucks are also used by CONAGUA. To strengthen its position in Latin America, the company founded assembly factories in Brazil

When it comes to the defense and security industry, many Mexican companies know Česká zbrojovka CZ company, founded in 1936 and well-known in more than 100 countries. It belongs to the Top 5 world producers of small firearms and its weapons are used by more than 60 armed units around the world. Besides the world leader of firearms, one can also find in the Czech Republic one of the most important world producers of ammunition, Sellier & Bellot, which boasts almost a nearly 200-year-long tradition. There are only nine countries that can build a complete military aircraft and the Czech Republic is among them. For this, we can thank the company Aero Vodochody and another almost 100 companies that are active in the aviation sector. Aero Vodochody has been producing civil and military aircraft since 1919 and it is one of the biggest producers of jet trainers worldwide. After three years of development, it introduced the L-39NG to the market, a jet that can fulfill the role of fighter or jet trainer. It is the follow-up to the L-39 Albatros. On the other hand, the company ERA produces unique passive tracking systems and its more than 50-year-old history is reflected in the system Vera NG. The company‘s products are supplied to NATO and other armed units around the world.

Besides the defense industry, the Czech Republic also excels in medical instruments. The company LINET, with a strong position in this industry, is the biggest European producer of hospital beds, which are exported to more than 100 countries worldwide, including Mexico, where the company holds the leading position. It produces intensive care units beds, nursing care beds and special beds for homes for the elderly and sanatoriums. It also manufactures anti-decubitus mattresses, furniture and medical furniture. There are a couple of companies in the world that can develop and produce stents used in the gastrointestinal tract and one of them is situated in the Czech Republic. Its name is ELLA-CS and its products covering three patents are used in approximately 70 countries. The company BMT Medical Technology has an almost hundred-year-old tradition of producing hot-air sterilizers and steam sterilizers that are exported to roughly 120 countries. Another company, MEDIN is occupied with development and production of surgical and dental instruments and implants for traumatology. Thanks to its portfolio variety, it is among the biggest European producers of medical instruments. UJP Praha is among the international leaders in the production of radiotherapy radiators, which save the lives of many cancer patients on all continents.

In the ICT field, there are a couple of unique companies in the Czech Republic that have built a crucial position in the international market. One is Compelson, which founded forensic analysis of cellphones. Its software MOBILedit Forensic Express is used by the CIA, Scotland Yard and even the US Army. Compelson is present in 160 countries and is among the five international producers of such software; however, it was a Czech company that first developed this area. Kiwi.com has become an international leader in online searches for flight tickets, reservations and purchases. It achieved this success by attracting airlines, which usually do not cooperate, and its unique algorithm that is read by 750 carriers. ADUCID develops authentication and identification solutions that include eGovernment, eHealth, eVoting and eBanking.

The Czech Republic also has many products in international markets thanks to their extraordinary design, which is attested by the regular victories in one of the most prestigious design awards, Red Dot Design Award. One regular holder is mmcité, offering unique town furniture that can be found in many Mexican parks or shopping malls. No wonder that due to such demand, the company founders decided to place production in Mexico, too. The traditional Czech company TON, a producer of bent furniture, has decided to go for modern design, while Moser, one of the oldest glass factories in the world, maintains its traditional hand-made production. Czechs are also not afraid to apply design where others would not expect it, such as Red Dot from company Urbalive (vermicomposter for households) and Invent Medical (3D printing of sensory and prothetic means).

Worth mentioning are the power industry and Doosan Škoda Power turbines, which are used in many Mexican power stations or Czech water management companies, and the Kaplan turbine, which was introduced to the world in 1919 by Czech Viktor Kaplan. There should be some space given to the Czech engineering and telecommunication companies and the brewing industry. All of these industries are worthy of more detailed description as they are pillars the Czech Republic and they contributed significantly to the growth and good reputation of our country. They prove that population number and location do not matter. What matters is the ability to find a path and not to stray from it.

Photo by:   Tereza Vítková