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Representatives of the CTU Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics, CTU Faculty of Information Technology and CzechTrade signed a memorandum of cooperation in the project Demand and Supply Ukraine 2022. The joint project will use the unique know-how of the partners, which aims to effectively, economically and digitally support the renewal of the Ukrainian business environment. The project is also supported by the Business Club Ukraine, led by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic. The project will also involve CTU students.

The use of artificial intelligence algorithms including machine translation for fast communication and finding a suitable supplier based on the parameters entered in the application: this is how the new application developed by Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics (CIIRC), Faculty of Information Technology (FIT) of CTU and CzechTrade will work. The primary intention is to use this fully digital and user-friendly application built on the existing information technology environment of CzechTrade in the challenging process of rebuilding Ukraine, especially its business infrastructure. By this we mean, first of all, the most basic needs of the population: reconstruction of housing, water supply, heat supply, etc. The application will help with the use of readily available resources at minimal cost. It is also a good export opportunity for Czech entrepreneurs.

"We at CTU see helping the people of Ukraine as a matter of course. It is necessary to prepare now for the time after the war, when it will be necessary to quickly rebuild the infrastructure in Ukraine. At CIIRC we have considerable know-how and experience with Industry 4.0 applications, so it seems logical that we initiated the project," says Dr. Ondřej Velek, Director of CIIRC CTU. "Not only research teams will be involved, but also, for example, the National Centre for Construction 4.0," he adds.

"I originally came up with a much broader plan," says Kryštof Šulc, a researcher who coordinates the project at the CIIRC CTU. "Based on communication with the Business Club Ukraine at the Ministry of Industry and Trade and then with CzechTrade, it crystallized that at this stage we will focus mainly on developing a universal application that will be able to smartly connect demand with supply. This idea was immediately supported by Prof. Olga Štěpánková and doc. Lenka Lhotská from CIIRC and doc. Marcel Jiřina, Dean of FIT CTU, who form our expert working group."

Students will also be involved in the project and the development of the app, for example in hackathons or in the development of specific parts of the project. "The students have a range of creative ideas and are part of a generation that has digital technology naturally in them. Therefore, their fresh perspective can help in choosing effective and simple solutions," says doc. Marcel Jiřina, dean of FIT. "At the same time, it is an opportunity for students to get involved in projects that bring concrete results and, in this case, with a positive impact in other areas."

In order for a good idea to succeed in practice, it was necessary to connect with someone who knows the business environment in the Czech Republic and Ukraine. CzechTrade fulfils all this. "We need to react quickly to the changing situation in Ukraine! There is no time for long communication of demands and offers, but to immediately connect business environments in real time and cover the needs of the Ukrainian side. This is what the new app will enable and effectively complement our Export for Ukraine Reconstruction programme, which we have launched together with other partners and have been processing enquiries since the beginning of the conflict. From the completed questionnaires on our website, we can see that Czech businesses are very interested in helping and offering support in a wide range of fields from construction to the environment. The app will significantly speed up the whole process," adds Radomil Doležal, Director General of CzechTrade.

The future success of the platform, which combines demand with supply, is also aided by the fact that the Embassy of Ukraine in the Czech Republic has been informed about the project from the very beginning and is actively cooperating with it. The project is also supported by the Business Club Ukraine - a powerful and inclusive tool of the government for communication with the Czech business environment.

"We very much welcome the emergence of a tool for linking supply and demand. The reconstruction of Ukraine will require a great deal of technological assistance and coordination. The creation of the app promises quick and efficient access to assistance for Ukrainian citizens, municipalities, businesses and other applicants. At the same time, it should provide an easy-to-understand overview of places where assistance is needed and where the know-how of Czech companies can be developed," says Mgr. Martin Pospíšil, Director of the Department of Foreign Economic Policies of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic.