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LN: Otakar Fojt awarded as best British scientific diplomat

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Prague, May 10 (CTK) – Czech Otakar Fojt, 46, who works at the U.K. embassy in Prague, was awarded as the best scientific diplomat of the British Science and Innovation Network (SIN) for last year, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes on Thursday.

“I have got the award for the best scientific diplomat from the British SIN for 2017 for individuals. The winner was selected out of 97 British diplomats. Besides, the award for teams was presented,” Fojt told LN.

This is a certain “Nobel Prize” in scientific diplomacy, he writes on Facebook.

Fojt graduated from the Technical University (VUT) in Brno, majoring in biomedical engineering, and he continued to study at Merton College in Oxford. After he gained a doctorate, he worked as a scientist in York, Britain, and in the Fields Institute in Toronto, Canada.

He became a senior scientific consultant at the British embassy in Prague in 2003, within the SIN global network of experts from several dozen countries.

The Czech Republic started to focus on scientific diplomacy only recently. In October 2015, Delana Mikolasova became the first Czech diplomat in charge of science in Israel, and since last year, Ludek Moravec has occupied this post in the United States.

During his 15-year career as a scientific diplomat, Fojt prepared cooperation between Britain and the Czech Republic after its EU accession and helped interconnect scientists from various fields, while now he is to boost continuing cooperation after Brexit.

“Though Britain is leaving the EU, it will not abandon Europe. Now there are over 380 joint projects in the Horizon 2020 programme, in which Czech, British and other research teams are jointly working,” Fojt recalls.

The future participation of Britain in the EU framework programme after 2021 is to be debated soon.

“Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain was interested in the strongest possible cooperation in science and innovations with the EU member states even after Brexit. Science is international and knows no boundaries,” Fojt pointed out.

He mentioned, for instance, the partnership between King’s College in London and the Brno-based Veterinary Research Institute (VUVEL). A number of new cooperation projects are on the horizon as well, such as between Prague’s Charles University and Imperial College in London, he added.

When it comes to Czech science and research, Britons are mostly interested in the Czech Republic’s involvement in international research infrastructures, the level of science investments as well as top research fields that can offer something new and unique equipment.

Czechs, for their part, are interested in the Research Excellence Framework British science rankings, an open approach to scientific publications and innovation centres in Britain.

Until last year, the SIN had only two attaches in Central Europe – in Poland and the Czech Republic. Nowadays, Fojt is responsible for another six countries, including Slovakia, LN writes.

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