Three firms vie for former hospital grounds

Software company Eset is eyeing the premises for its new R&D centre.

Visualisation of the new R&D Campus of EsetVisualisation of the new R&D Campus of Eset (Source: Courtesy of Eset )

After the Interior Ministry built the brand new St Michal’s hospital in the Bratislava city centre, it offered the premises of the old military hospital located in the Patrónka borough of Bratislava, now defunct, for sale. Though the first round of a public tender failed to fetch even one potential buyer, now there are three interested buyers vying for the premises in the fourth round – the Forest Hill Company, Forespo Reality 10 and the software company Eset.

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“The St Michal’s hospital [owned by the Interior Ministry], as the promulgator of the tender, has extended the deadline for the announcement of the results to May 15,” Andrea Dobiášová, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, told The Slovak Spectator, adding that the conditions of the tender have changed too and there will now be an auction to select the buyer.

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Originally the winner should have been announced on April 10.

The ministry will announce the term of the auction after April 24.

Selling the former military hospital

The Interior Ministry has been searching for a new owner of the nine-hectare premises of the former military hospital, via a public tender since last September. The former military hospital remained empty after the Interior Ministry built the St Michal’s hospital in downtown Bratislava in 2015. The ministry wants to use the money obtained from the sale for the expansion of the new hospital and the purchase of equipment, while it wanted to get about €32 million for the premises.

Though the hospital of St Michael scrapped the first three rounds, three companies have enrolled in the fourth one: the Forest Hill Company of František Hodorovský, Forespo Reality 10 close to the J&T financial group, and the software company Eset. Forespo Reality 10 offered the highest sum, exceeding €24 million, while Eset offered the lowest, €23.457 million, the Denník N daily wrote.

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Earlier in March, representatives of Eset met with Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák. They introduced him to their plan to build there an R&D centre and informed him of their willingness to increase their bid to the highest level in the latest round of the tender.

“We respect that the only winning criterion is the price,” said Richard Marko, CEO of Eset. “We declared to the interior minister that we are willing to offer at least the same price as the winner.”

At that time Kaliňák promised to consider their bid.

“I do not consider this to be completely standard, but for the time being I am trying to be as open as possible,” said Kaliňák on April 5 as cited by Denník N.

Currently Eset is analysing the changed conditions of the fourth round of the tender.

“It is probable that we will participate in the auction,” said Zuzana Hošalová, spokesperson for Eset.

Dusting off old plans

Eset, number five in the world in the production of security solutions for computers and other devices and number one in the EU, learned that the premises of the former hospital in Patrónka was for sale only during the second round of the competition. Afterwards it dusted off its plans to build a Research & Development Campus and enrolled in the competition.

“I know this place even from the times when it used to be a hospital and I have always thought that it is one of the really nice places within Bratislava,” said Marko.

While the company has been growing and acquiring new talent, it sees this place as suitable for building a new research and development campus. They hope that such a place would persuade talented Slovaks to stay here and not leave the country to work and live abroad.

Read also: Software company Eset wants a Silicon Valley in Bratislava Read more 

“Our experience when hiring new employees from countries in which we do not have our offices is that for them it is more attractive to go to work in our development centre in Krakow than in Bratislava,” said Marko. “Our intention is to make Bratislava more attractive and to increase the chance to find more experts able to work in Slovakia.”

Eset has 18 offices across the world and 11 of them have an R&D function. The company launches R&D centres in places where quality universities are located, which are also sources of possible new workers.

“We recently opened a new office in the Czech city of Brno, where a lot of Slovaks study at the Masaryk University,” said Palo Luka, chief operating officer at Eset.

Out of its about 1,400 employees, more than 470 work in R&D.

New R&D Campus of Eset

Eset is prepared to invest as much as €100 million into the new campus, plus the money invested in the purchase of the land.

“Everywhere in the world such a type of investment is welcomed,” said Marko, adding that after Eset unveiled its plans to build a new centre, it received offers to build it at other places in Bratislava or in other parts of Slovakia. It also received an offer to move to Austria.

The visualisation of the possible centre is preliminary. Eset indicated that in case it acquires the premises of the former hospital, it may announce an architectural competition for the new centre.

“The proposal [of the a11 atelier] shows the existing potential of this place and indicates that we could build something exceptional here, something that has the potential to become a characteristic feature of this country,” said Hošalová.

The site is well connected to the existing infrastructure and a railway stop is located nearby. It is also only two kilometres away from the so-called Silicon hill on which three IT-related faculties stand – the Faculty of Informatics and Information Technologies and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, both of the Slovak University of Technology; and the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics of Comenius University in Mlynská Dolina valley.

When drawing a new R&D centre, architects from the a11 atelier were inspired by the headquarters of the Apple company in Sillicon Valley.

They proposed the new centre bordering with the popular Železná Studnička recreation area to consist of buildings in the shape of circles with a lot of greenery. They would house a new headquarters for Eset, labs for students, a centre for startups and a kindergarten for the children of Eset employees, while other features like underground garages, a sports pavilion, an auditorium for 700 people and cycle paths would also be available to the general public. Eset’s idea also includes pulling down the current five-metre-high noise insulation wall and open the premises to the public.

Lab for students

Eset, being acutely aware of the unsatisfactory quality of education in Slovakia, participates in the university education of future IT experts. Its experts teach two subjects. During the current semester it is the Basics of Reverse Engineering attended by 17 students. In the previous, winter semester, it was the seminar dedicated to programming in the C++ language, which was attended by 24 students. Both these subjects are taught in the lab in the Faculty of Informatics and Information Technologies of the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava launched by Eset in 2015.

“The number of students is limited by the capacity of the lab and sometimes also by the quality of students,” said Hošalová, adding that to attend the Basics of Reverse Engineering the students need to pass an entry test.

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