Located in a South Moravian region in the Czech Republic, Brno city and its surroundings are often associated with a rich wine culture and great cycling routes. However, besides being a popular vacation spot, the reputation of the Czech second-largest town particularly resonates among the innovation community across the country and beyond. From an old factory area to today’s metropolis with top-class tech facilities, the Brno innovation hub has been attracting talent and companies from around the world for over two decades now, starting to shape the city into the “Czech Silicon Valley.”
Brno education meets innovation
Home to 13 universities with over 60 000 students in a city of fewer than 400 000 people, Brno is an increasingly popular place to study on both local and international levels. According to a 2021 report by a South Moravian innovation center JIC, nearly half of the recent graduates completed courses at science and engineering faculties. Moreover, the city records around a quarter of the country’s Ph.D. graduates yearly, helping future young researchers develop themselves in the region.
The most significant advantage of the Brno region is the concentration of small and medium-sized businesses with their own commercial and technology-oriented research and development (R&D) sites, opening many opportunities for cooperation. As a result, the South Moravian region also has the highest investments in science and the amount of R&D expenditure to its GDP in the Czech Republic and Central and Eastern Europe, JIC further reports. Consequently, the knowledge intensity in the Brno region takes a leading position across the nation and is comparable to some of the most advanced EU regions.
International Brno innovation hub
From Honeywell, Red Hat, AT&T, and Siemens to SAP, Brno has been attracting multinational tech giants for a while now. In 2021, the region recorded over 77 000 foreign employees, with nearly a third of qualified workers, a 2022 data report by JIC highlights. Business specialists represent around 50 000 of the region’s employees. Moreover, the regional high-tech employment of more than 6% is on par with some of the most developed western regions, such as Dutch Utrecht or German Oberpfalz.
With crucial support from the innovation center and international startup accelerator JIC, home to a huge freelance community and the biggest Impact Hub in Europe, Brno offers an ideal environment for startup and business growth. According to Crunchbase, there were 165 startups established ten or fewer years ago in the South Moravian region.
Notable tech companies from the Brno region
Brno’s industry focus is particularly centered around software development in the areas of Saas, artificial intelligence, or e-commerce. Besides the global, well-known corporations, the Brno region is also an origin and home to numerous Czech companies that are making an impact on international markets.
Let’s have a look at some of the notable companies and startups from the Brno innovation hub that begin mapping out the South Moravian ecosystem at The Recursive.
About: Founded in 2012, Kiwi.com is an online travel tech company with over 800 air and ground carriers worldwide. Kiwi.com employs more than 1500 globally, processes more than 100 million daily searches, and carries out over 50 000 sales of seats per day.
Highlights: Kiwi.com is one of the fastest-growing Czech companies. The company was acquired by US-based General Atlantic in 2019 and announced a €100M investment in 2019 to support accelerating growth.
Name: Y Soft
About: Y Soft is a globally operating IT firm that enables businesses to run smarter with intelligent enterprise office solutions. The company develops efficient 2D and 3D print solutions, document capture capabilities, and streamlined automated workflows. Y Soft was founded in 2000 as a student project at Masaryk University in Brno and currently operates in 17 countries with nearly 400 employees.
Highlights: The company actively supports the tech ecosystem through its innovation center YSoft Labs and its in-house fund Y Soft Ventures.
Name: MADFINGER Games
Founder: Marek Rabas
About: As a globally-renowned independent game studio with a rich portfolio of award-winning titles, MADFINGER Games’ apps have been played by millions worldwide. The company was founded in 2008 by a team who previously worked in the biggest game studio in the Czech Republic. MADFINGER Games focuses on quality visuals, gameplay, and experience and has since produced well-known game series, including Dead Trigger, Samurai, and Shadowgun.
Highlights: MADFINGER Games received funding of €5M in 2021 to further develop their team and attract new talents.
Name: ROI Hunter
Founder: Karel Schindler
About: The Product Performance Management (PPM) platform ROI Hunter helps e-commerce retailers to become more profitable by collecting product-level data from across a retailer’s channels and custom sources. Established in 2014, ROI Hunter won a Facebook Accelerator competition and became a Meta Business Partner (MBP).
Highlights: The company has offices in 5 countries and has so far received over €5M in funding, including from Czech VC KAYA Ventures.
Founders: Petr Janošík
About: Smartlook is a behavior analytics solution for web and mobile recording users on websites and mobile apps. The startup was founded in 2016 and today helps over 200,000 businesses of all sizes and industries understand their users’ actions.
Highlights: Smartlook has raised Series A funding of $3.8M in 2020, and was formerly supported by Czech Reflex Capital at its early stage.
About: VRgineers has been delivering next-generation virtual and mixed-reality pilot training systems for professional and military clients since 2017. With a headset of the highest fidelity and the widest field of view available on the market, the startup employs 50 technical experts and industry professionals to bring solutions to clients such as U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, the Royal Air Force, Audi, Skoda, or Lamborghini.
Highlights: Backed by various Czech investors, including Tensor Ventures and Nation 1, VRgineers has already raised over $6.5M in their previous rounds.
About: Founded in 2014, Sewio is a real-time location system (RTLS) manufacturer for indoor tracking digitization of movement in industry 4.0, retail, sport, entertainment, and livestock industries. Their IoT solution allows process visibility, boosts production efficiency, simplifies inventory process, and increases safety.
Highlights: Raising $1M in 2015 from Y Soft Ventures, the team cooperates with partners and clients from over 30 countries, including Volkswagen, Skoda, and Budvar.
About: ThreatMark is a fraud prevention service provider (FPaaS) delivering real-time client recognition solutions, enabling banks to build completely trusted & safe online banking systems. ThreatMark brings the world’s first full-stack fraud prevention platform built on behavior intelligence since 2015.
Highlights: The cybersecurity solution was listed among the Top 50 Technology Fast 50 for CE by Deloitte and raised over $6.5M from investors, including Springtide Ventures and Rockaway Capital.
About: While still at the beginning of its journey, blockchain startup Tatum has been gaining a lot of attention since its establishment in 2018. The team develops a platform for building infrastructure that allows developers to incorporate blockchain into their products quickly and easily.
Highlights: Tatum is historically the first Czech startup in SkyDeck accelerator in Silicon Valley. They just closed one of the biggest funding rounds of 2022 in the Czech Republic, raising over $40M from foreign as well as Czech investors Tensor Ventures and DEPO Ventures.