The Visegrad Fund has been pumping money into driving innovation and entrepreneurship across Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

A grant-making body established to solidify ties between the Visegrad four countries in central and eastern Europe has branched out into spurring cross-border innovation, ScienceBusiness has reported.

The Visegrad four consists of Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – four former communist bloc nations with certain cultural similarities and, at times, shared political interests.

Their Visegrad Fund focuses on fostering regional cultural exchange and education but now also funds innovation and entrepreneurship programs with the expressed political support of all Visegrad governments, so long as the applicant takes on participants from every Visegrad country.

The fund supplies $8.8m each year sourced equally from each of its constituent countries, having committed a total of $97.2m to 5,600 projects since launching in 2000.

Entrepreneurship programs piloted to date include a founders’ training program situated in Israel offering seven founders from each Visegrad country an insight into Israeli successes in nurturing entrepreneurship.

Visegrad Fund has also created a startup task force drawing together incubators from each country to boost the local ecosystem.

Its other sponsored initiatives include a Prague-based advanced X-ray spectroscopy facility, funding for agriculture startups in rural Visegrad regions and a summer school centred on bioinformatics, molecular biology and genome editing,

Andor Dávid, executive director of the fund, told ScienceBusiness, said: “What we look for are the results of these workshops or joint research activities and how they are going to be utilised for the whole region.”