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During his visit to the Czech Republic, Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission for the Green Deal for Europe, also visited the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics at CTU. Here, on Monday 26 September, he learned about the solutions for sustainable and smart industry being developed at the RICAIP - Testbed for Industry 4.0, the Energy 4.0 Laboratory and the Future City Centre. The second half of the visit was dedicated to a discussion with students and scientists from the Czech Technical University in Prague.

Innovative solutions and digitalisation are a prerequisite for making industry more efficient and therefore reducing its negative environmental impact. Frans Timmermans had the opportunity to learn about just such solutions at the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics (CIIRC) of CTU: for example, efficient management of energy consumption in production or an alternative model for eliminating fluctuations in electricity supply in the grid (combining small gas turbines, a battery energy storage system and an electrolyser), which is able to provide the support services necessary for the decarbonisation of the energy sector. He learnt about the possibilities of using spent nuclear fuel for district heating (Teplator) or recycling (retrofitting) spent car batteries from electric vehicles. All this on the principles of flexible manufacturing, using machine learning algorithms, artificial intelligence and big data.

"One thing we absolutely must do, or everything else will fail in the coming years, is to save energy. We currently consume too much energy and we need to save it much more efficiently," said Frans Timmermans. "What you are doing at the CIIRC is helping companies save energy through modern technology. The way you have integrated all these processes not only allows you to save energy and optimise production. Thanks to the information technology used by the machines, you can organise and optimise production not only in your country but also across Europe. This will significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Most importantly, the CIIRC's approach is what we call a triple helix: it links research and education with government and industry in a very open collaboration. And this is the future of successful development," said Frans Timmermans, summing up his visit.

"We are in difficult times. The prices of inputs - raw materials and energy - are skyrocketing to stupendous heights. For industry, this means only one thing: we need to invest in innovative and smart AI-based solutions that optimise energy consumption. And also in alternative sources: a combination of photovoltaics and battery storage. This is Industry 4.0 in energy theory and practice and green solutions in line with sustainability and the Green Deal. We also demonstrated this to Frans Timmermans today," says CIIRC CTU Scientific Director Prof. Vladimír Mařík.

"From my point of view, I see it as very important that Frans Timmermans mentioned the support for small and medium-sized enterprises in the Czech Republic," says Tilman Becker, Director of the Czech-German Research Centre for Advanced Industrial Production RICAIP, and continues, "Timmermans puts technology, Industry 4.0 and Green Deal into a common equation. That's how the CIIRC works and that's how the RICAIP ecosystem works."

Frans Timmermans was interested not only in smart solutions created at Czech universities and in industry, but also in feedback and dialogue. Therefore, at his request, an open discussion with students and researchers was held in the representative premises of the CIIRC CTU, moderated by the director of the institute, Dr. Ondřej Velek. "The opportunity to convey the views of young people, for whom the topic of ecology and sustainability is often very important, on the CTU grounds, i.e. on the grounds where breakthrough innovations are created and where future research elites are formed, is a prestigious matter for us. I was very pleased with the level of awareness and enthusiasm of the debaters," says Ondřej Velek.



Frans Timmermans is Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for the Green Deal for Europe ("Green Deal"). He is responsible for the European Climate Regulation, which introduces the 2050 climate neutrality target, and the "Fit for 55" package, which aims to meet the target of a 55% reduction in emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2030. Frans Timmermans leads the EU's international climate negotiations.

In May, he presented the commission's communication on Nature Recovery, which is part of the Biodiversity Strategy. He also oversees the Commission's zero pollution ambitions, the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Farm to Fork strategy and other initiatives.

From 2014-2019, Timmermans was First Vice-President responsible for Better Regulation, Interinstitutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. In the Netherlands, he previously served as Minister for Foreign Affairs (2012-2014), Minister for European Affairs (2007-2010) and Member of Parliament for the Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA) (2010-2012 and 1998-2007).


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Mgr. Alena Nováková