What they create and where:
The purely Czech pharmaceutical company Contipro is based in Dolní Dobrouč near Ústí nad Orlicí. Since its founding in 1990, it has been engaged in the production of raw materials and products in the field of pharmacy, cosmetics and food supplements. The company’s portfolio also includes specialized devices designed for the development and production of innovative products, for example in the field of nanotechnology. Contipro operates a top-class research center with more than 150 employees. Contipro’s main product is hyaluronic acid in the highest quality and purity, which it supplies worldwide. The acid is produced in a biotechnological way and is made out of harmless bacteria. The company follows the “three pillars” strategy, which consists of maximum product quality, above-standard accompanying services and an effort to predict future customer needs.
What are they innovative about:
Hyaluronic acid is increasingly used not only in cosmetics, but also in pharmacy and medicine. Contipro carries out extensive basic and applied research and development of innovative materials and products for medicine, cosmetics and pharmacy, primarily from hyaluronic acid. Roughly half of the company is engaged in research and development and also develops its own devices for the development and production goals. As a natural, human body-friendlu substance with a wide range of effects and high functional variability, hyaluronic acid has a great potential to replace dangerous substances that are used in medicine and pharmacy.
Market operations and successes:
In the years 2015 – 2019, Contipro grew by approximately 100% to the level of CZK 860 million in annual sales. Revenues for 2020 were at a similar level despite a strong decline in the entire cosmetics market due to coronavirus. The company now exports to more than 70 countries and is one of the five largest producers of hyaluronic acid in the world. Contipro currently has more than 300 entries in the world’s patent database. The company also successfully participates in international research and development projects. For example, it is currently completing its own development of a light-sensitive gel, which will use a simple arthroscopic method to heal defects in human cartilage.
Community and education:
Contipro contributes to the Orlice region primarily by supporting education through its own educational programs. Contipro founded and sponsors the Erudio kindergarten and elementary school, where part of the teaching is led by native English speakers. For high school students, Contipro organizes the FYBICH educational cycle for those interested in science. Many graduates of the program have won medals at international science competitions in the United States, Russia and China. Contipro also offers educational programs for university students, doctoral students and medical professionals.
What went wrong:
In 2007, Contipro initiated the creation of a technology cluster funded by the European Union, which brought together progressive Czech companies and universities with the aim of bringing results from research and development to the production of innovative and competitive products. Unfortunately, the conditions imposed by the rules of subsidy titles and the ideas of officials led, despite great ambitions and the commitment of some participants, to only one successful outcome and the subsequent demise of the cluster. The biggest obstacle was the subsidy condition that the cluster must have at least 14 members. So many partners, however, are never needed to achieve individual goals, which causes the lack of interest of some members in what is happening in the cluster and thus reducing the ability of the whole group to act. With such a large number of partners, there are also unsolvable situations where companies within a cluster compete with each other, instead of meaningfully dividing competence between each other. Following this experience, Contipro enters into various partnerships only with companies that promise to be beneficial.