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BRATISLAVA REGION - ZÁHORIE IS SET TO BECOME SLOVAKIA'S FIRST INNOVATION CENTRE

Golden triangle seen as key for innovation success

EUROVALLEY, the ambitious project of the Malacky local government and a major Slovak developer, has the best location an industrial park could ask for.
The area known as the golden triangle already provides business-friendly conditions for entrepreneurs in any industry. But now it is set to become a home for the country's first innovation centre.

EUROVALLEY, the ambitious project of the Malacky local government and a major Slovak developer, has the best location an industrial park could ask for.

The area known as the golden triangle already provides business-friendly conditions for entrepreneurs in any industry. But now it is set to become a home for the country's first innovation centre.

Back in 1993, the German IT consulting firm Empirica picked a location near the western Slovak town of Malacky in the Vienna-Bratislava-Györ triangle for its IT industrial park.

The golden triangle was ranked as one of the most promising among the 461 European regions evaluated in a study by the Empirica Delassasse Institute.

Construction on the EuroValley high-tech industrial park was started in September 2002. It was built on land that used to be part of a military area, but the government excluded the area from the military zone to support the industrial development of the Záhorie region, Malacky Mayor Jozef Ondrejka told The Slovak Spectator.

The park was founded by the municipalities of Malacky, Plavecký Štvrtok and Veľké Leváre, the Bratislava self-governing region, and a non-profit association, the EuroValley Councilpark.

The site was designed for the production of electronics, computer hardware, software, telecom equipment and robotic devices. It was always meant to grow into an innovation centre where science is strongly linked to production.

In 2005 one of the biggest developers on the Slovak market, HB Reavis, took over the project development. The company has invested tens of millions of Slovak crowns into the project ever since, HB Reavis spokesman Miro Sedlák told The Slovak Spectator.

EuroValley is now one of the best prepared Slovak industrial parks and is ready to absorb investments, Ondrejka said.


Developer speeds up plans


Four years after the cornerstone of the high-tech park was laid, the Slovak weekly Trend called the project overambitious.

HB Reavis, however, believes that its presence in the project is likely to attract investors with sophisticated production, Sedlák said.

Three years ago, The Slovak Spectator reported that the project had been planned to be completed in 20 years. HB Reavis wants to whole process to go faster and have the park completed much earlier than that, according to Sedlák.

"The time it takes to finish the project depends on the demand," he told The Slovak Spectator. "The EuroValley park is not a speculative project; it is a project linked to demand."

The area of the park is more than 2,000 hectares, which creates a lot of room for incoming investors, Sedlák said. There are six zones in the park to focus on different functions: research and development, production, logistics, education and science, residential and leisure, and general public services.

"EuroValley will be like a little town when it's finished," Sedlák told The Slovak Spectator.

The area includes land in three municipalities - Malacky, Veľké Leváre and Plavecký Štvrtok.

The C zone (Malacky-South), meant for medium-scale manufacturing, opened for investors on June 28. The area of 60 hectares, including building permissions, is ready for 11 factories and a technology and innovation centre, Ondrejka said.

"As a matter of course, the complete infrastructure is ready too," he told The Slovak Spectator.

The park is connected to the highway and local road, and to the water, gas and sewer networks. The municipality of Malacky was granted Sk180 million (€5.3 million) from the Economy Ministry to help fund infrastructure construction in the industrial park.

"Foreign investors can carry out their investment plans immediately here," Ondrejka said.

The park can also accommodate investors' needs, he said - investors can purchase or rent the land or the buildings in the park, according to their own strategy.

According to Sedlák, HB Reavis is currently negotiating with five foreign investors, but they will not name the companies until the negotiations are over.


Knowledge economy inside the triangle


Along with the infrastructure of the park itself, the infrastructure of the whole region is being promoted as a way to attract investors to Záhorie.

Highway connections to Bratislava, Vienna, Prague and Budapest are supplemented by a dense network of first- and second-class roads. Rail lines from Záhorie connect to all major European cities, and the Danube and Morava rivers connect the region with other European waterways. The airports in Bratislava and Vienna are both less than 60 kilometres away.

The attractiveness of the Bratislava-Vienna-Győr triangle, say investment professionals, stems mainly from the local research facilities and universities available, as well as the highly developed telecom and transport infrastructure.

Regional governments build industrial parks in order to support employment and revive the regional labour market, Ondrejka said. Since 2002, the unemployment rate in the Malacky district dropped from more than 13 percent to less than four percent.

"The decrease of unemployment is a positive figure, but the municipality is concerned that up to 70 percent of our economically-active inhabitants commute to work, mostly to the capital," he told The Slovak Spectator.

To keep them, Malacky is determined to increase the number of job opportunities in the region.

According to Ondrejka, the Záhorie region is poised for dynamic growth, and it's aiming for growth in the knowledge economy.

"We want to create conditions for a synergistic effect of education, science, research and production," he said. "Establishing a technology and innovation centre within the EuroValley park should be the first concrete step to this goal."

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