HempCluB Project: Hemp & Industry Conference and Hemp Materials and their Potential to Boost Local Economy ClusterXchange in Prague
Author: Lukas Hurt, CzecHemp manager
On 16-18 October, the CzecHemp cluster (member of HempCluB project) organized a three-day ClusterXchange event in Prague titled “Hemp Materials and their Potential to Boost Local Bioeconomy”. The event consisted of a 1,5-day international conference and matchmaking event, followed by another a 1,5-day of site visits. All together we had 3 days packed with networking and establishing new connections among hemp entrepreneurs from all around Europe and America.
Hemp and Industry Conference
The program of Monday’s Hemp & Industry Conference was divided into 4 panels.
- The first one was called Hemp contribution to climate mitigation, bioeconomy, and circularity which shed light on carbon credits, the potential of hemp in carbon sequestration, the role of hemp in circular economy, and also on actual work on bioeconomy strategy for the Czech Republic.
- The second one called Hemp seeds as not only nutrition source for the future introduced a few main players in the food industry and talked about the importance of hemp as a protein source, the quality of hemp food products, and also introduced some new medical applications of hemp seeds in the development of plant-based plasma from hempseed edestin.
- The third panel was named Production of industrial hemp for material self-sufficiency, and we welcomed respected employees of companies that process hemp stalk into highly valued final products such as textiles or sustainable packaging. Hemp application for innovations panel was the last panel, which focussed mainly on opportunities for hemp application in sustainable and carbon negative building.
Matchmaking half-day event
The main matchmaking part organized on Tuesday morning (17 October) was exceptional and very positively evaluated by the participants. A simple matchmaking tool was created based on questionnaires and sent to all participants well before the event so that they could find potential partners for discussions either 1on1 or in larger thematic groups. Participants got the possibility to book a table for individual or group thematically oriented B2B / B2C / C2C discussions in advance via an electronic tool as well as on-site.
The outcomes of discussions were later evaluated via electronic questionnaires, which were sent to the participants. We must highlight the high quality of the presenters' contributions and the follow-up panel discussions, which encouraged the participants to actively use the networking part.
The visits consisted of research centres focusing on production, sustainable building research, technical applications of hemp-based biochar as well as textile production. Active discussions during these site visits generated other partnership opportunities.
On Tuesday afternoon we visited Institute of Botany of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic where the researchers focus on mycorrhiza and biochar and soil remediation. They shared with us the results of their existing research on hemp. On Wednesday, we first went to the CTU University Centre for Energy Efficient Buildings and then visited University of Chemistry and Technology Prague where pyrolysis and biochar from hemp are being researched. The last site visit was to the hemp textile production company Bohempia.
Number of participants
The Monday conference was attended by 61 participants in person, plus there were 52 viewers of the online stream on YouTube and at the conference website. There were 17 speakers/panelists (one of them online) and 4 additional moderators and organizers.
Tuesday Matchmaking half-day event was attended by 20 participants (11 ClusterXchange members + 9 hosts) and 3 organizers. The afternoon site visit was also attended by (11 ClusterXchange members + 9 hosts) and 3 organizers. Two Wednesday site visits were attended by 18 participants (8 ClusterXchange members + 10 hosts) and 1 organizer.
The conference was opened by Filip Krůta from CzechInvest, which is a government agency established by the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade. Mr. Krůta works in CzechInvest as a director of EcoTechHUB and his areas of interest are also green technologies, lightweight materials, and sustainable agriculture which fits well in our goals of the HempCluB project. Mr. Krůta was very inspired by the conference and follow-up meetings. Our cooperation on the governmental level has been established and there is also interested to work with us on the strategy for the development of the hemp processing capacities in the Czech Republic together with the Ministry of Regional Development.
Some participants brought their product samples to show their potential clients what they are capable of producing and to lay the ground for follow-up meetings to discuss their possible cooperation in terms of business development - e.g., Ukrainian Hemp, South Hemp, and TecnoCanapa from Italy, Kombinat Konopny and EuroHemp from Poland, ANDRITZ Laroche from France, and Cyan Synergy from Czechia.
Site visits also brought new opportunities and overall the whole event was extremely fruitful and filled with friendly cooperation and networking.