5 Questions with Jaromír Novák, Chair of the Czech Telecommunication Office

In our next 5 Questions series, I interviewed Jaromír Novák, Chairman of the Council of the Czech Telecommunication Office about innovation in the region and our upcoming hackathon in Prague.

Jaromír was appointed a Member of the Council of the Czech Telecommunication Office in 2012 and was named Chairman of the Council in 2013. He previously served in the Ministry of Industry and Trade in the Digital Economy Section. He actively participated in the negotiation of “The Telecoms Package” during the Czech Presidency of the EU Council in 2009 and was a member of the team for implementation of the new regulatory framework into the Czech national law.

Filip: As Chair of the CTU, what do you see as the biggest impact of technology on the Czech Republic?

Jaromír: In everyday life in the Czech Republic, we can see the significant impact of using mobile broadband. Fifteen years ago nobody expected people would watch movies, at an affordable price – on a mobile phone or tablet, or that you would be able to communicate with relatives, not only by voice through mobile, but also by video through Skype or FaceTime. We are changing our habits, watching video and listening to music from anywhere. The network infrastructure creates the necessary condition for the development of these and other services, which we use through our smart phones.

Filip: You began your term as Chair of the CTU in 2013. What has been your chief accomplishment to date?

Jaromír: Beyond the usual “operating” and “regulating” things, I am glad CTU has joined the open data initiative. It’s not “just” a publication of data sets that can be the basis for various applications (an example is our own applications for using of spectrum in the Czech Republic – spektrum.ctu.cz/en). Moreover, what I see as important is a change in thinking for our Office by opening up to and supporting the needs of all market participants – no matter if they are providers or consumers.

Filip: Why did CTU decide to host a hackathon for the V4 Region?

Jaromír: I had the idea to organize the first V4 hackathon – being held on 22-23 April in Prague and co-organized by the CTU, during a trip to Washington, DC last year. , Representatives of the V4 countries met with representatives of the government and successful American companies. I realized the Central European region has much to offer – whether it’s IT skills, or a willingness to try new things, or to come up with unusual approaches and finding unusual but functional solutions. The disadvantage that we sometimes feel is from our communist heritage, which we haven’t rid yet, and which manifests itself as a low belief in our entrepreneurial skills. In combination with a complex legal environment, this may discourage a business from starting. I believe that our hackathon can also contribute to ensuring that young people will gain more confidence in their abilities.

Filip: Why is it important to promote innovation in the Czech Republic and across Central Europe?

Jaromír: As I mentioned, I believe that Central Europe has great technological potential. It represents a particularly skillful people working with modern technologies. Support for innovation and investment in the education of young people can enhance the competitiveness of this region. Nevertheless, it must go “hand in hand” with the development of conditions for business – for example, to make easy to form a company, as well as to dissolve a company.

Filip: How do you see public policy shaping technology and innovation?

Jaromír: Public policy and regulation can generate conditions for the development of new technologies and innovations. However, as regards the new technologies, in the first instance government policy should remove obstacles to development of them. Any state intervention should be justified and it should not prefer one technology to another under the guise of “general” goodness.