Stories from FIT
When knowledge is changing the world
From a "garage" to the top
FIT graduate Jiří Tobola is the co-founder of Flowmon Networks, a developer of products for network infrastructure management and security. In its 14-year history, it has become one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the industry, with more than 1,000 customers in 45 countries.
Flowmon Networks started as a spin-off company of BUT, MUNI and CESNET, where Jiří Tobola worked as a researcher. "Apart from the scholarship, which I gladly accepted, this also enabled me to work on my diploma theses which had a real-life impact and were not just an academic exercise," says Tobola. Our success is based on having a team of the right people for the job, motivation to make something great and strong technology.
The company recently completed its start-up journey, going from a spin-off and a "garage" stage to a double exit with the sale to Progress Software, an American publicly-traded company. "The product itself has changed over time and will change further in the future, but if you have a great team, you can achieve quite unexpected success," adds Tobola.
Work leading to important discoveries
Jaroslav Kadlec, a BUT graduate, works as a software manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific, one of the largest manufacturers of electron microscopes in the world. He likes to surround himself with people he can learn from, and he also prefers job candidates who are interested and enthusiastic."It is often even more important to me than whether they can perfectly apply a skill they were developing for past many years. We are looking for people who enjoy learning and thinking. And there are many of those at FIT," he says.
Thanks to companies such as Thermo Fisher Scientific and Tescan, Brno is now the "capital city of electron microscopy", where 30% of the world's electron microscope production takes place.
"Our microscopes are used in the research of Zika and HIV viruses, they are enabling the development of new materials, as well as miniaturisation of mobile devices. We can see that our research changes the world and leads to important discoveries. That's a hugely powerful motivation," he adds.
The app that saves lives
In 2010, Zbyněk Poulíček was looking for a topic for his diploma thesis when he and his colleagues Boris Procházka and Petra Černá saw images of the Haiti earthquake on television. Pictures of people in the rubble with no one to help them gave them the idea for a new software application. Today, GINA (Geographical Information Assistant) saves lives in more than fifty countries around the world and has become part of integrated rescue systems and humanitarian interventions.
The software enables navigation in challenging terrain, team coordination and efficient exchange of geographical information via mobile devices. The app reduces travel times while protecting workers in areas hit by crises and humanitarian disasters.
The system has won a number of awards, including the national round of the Imagine Cup competition organised by Microsoft. "Being mentioned by the BBC and getting an award from Bill Gates told us our strategy was sound. We've come to believe that we really can make a difference," says Poulíček. GINA's products have played a significant role in solving a number of humanitarian disasters over the ten years of the company's existence. Globally, GINA tablets handle up to 100 million calls per year, an average of one call every three seconds.
On the pulse of industry 4.0
During their Master's studies, Radek Štourač and Jan Štěpnička started their own business in software development for electronics manufacturers. "That's the great thing about FIT - it brings together people who can complement each other professionally and career-wise," says Štourač, co-founder of Kinali.
Most of Kinali's employees come from FIT. "We came to the conclusion that people from FIT are much better prepared for working with us than people from other faculties. During their studies, they encounter a lot more technologies that they can familiarise themselves with, and they are also given a lot more tasks to solve," says Štourač.
Kinali reinvests a tenth of its revenues into research and development and continues to co-operate with universities. "This moves us forward in the business. This path is key for us - to keep pushing and innovating," adds Štourač, referring to Kinali's motto: "Machines and robots for stereotypical hard work. Human potential can be used for more meaningful work."
From university to a football pitch
Igor Potúček spent almost 20 years at Brno University of Technology. He now uses the things he learned mainly in his football business. The technology developed by his Panoris brand, which specialises in systems capable of automatically recording and analysing games, is now used by leading football teams to create better strategies and tactics.
"Many interesting companies and start-ups stem from the academic environment where you have the opportunity to meet interesting people and gain expert knowledge and experience," he says. The great thing about research, he believes, is that a person can invent new things, choose a topic that interests them and pursue it further. "But as time went on, I wanted to move to things that would have a tangible impact. I wanted to put my knowledge into a product that would serve people," he adds.
In 2007, he founded Camvision, a company that initially focused on the use of computer vision and camera systems, for example in rail transport. Today, it records the most prestigious football matches under the Panoris brand.
Sustainable growth for the world and the company
FIT graduate Roman Bohovic and environmentalist Jan Labohý founded World from Space, a company that analyses satellite data. "When I was finishing my PhD, I found out that a revolution had taken place in space - a revolution in open data and artificial intelligence. And I wanted to take part in it," says Bohovic.
In 2018, World from Space was still mainly focused on processing urban vegetation data for the purposes of drought assessment and possible measures taken by city authorities. Nowadays, it helps increase agricultural production in countries such as Nigeria. Thanks to SMS messages, farmers know when to plant, when to irrigate and when to harvest. This increases household income by up to 200% and the money thus earned enable people to send their children to school.
"I would recommend that students look for meaning even in subjects and areas that they don't find so interesting at first. Because sometimes that meaning doesn't become apparent until later in life. That's how it was with me," Bohovic says.