Enterprise Innovation Institute’s David Bridges Shares Ecosystem Building Best Practices in Slovakia

Rana and Bridges
Gautam Rana, U.S. ambassador to Slovakia (left), stands with Enterprise Innovation Institute at a Fulbright scholars ceremony May 17, 2024. (PHOTO: Courtesy U.S. Embassy)

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Enterprise Innovation Institute Vice President David Bridges spent part of May 2024 in the Slovak Republic, exchanging and sharing ideas for ecosystem building and economic development success with business and academic leaders there.

Bridges’ visit to the Eastern European country was in his role as a member of the U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Specialist Roster.

As a Fulbright Specialist, Bridges and other U.S. academics and leaders go overseas to meet with organizations and institutions to share their professional expertise with their foreign counterparts. The Specialist program falls under the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and World Learning as part of its Fulbright exchange offerings.

With the Enterprise Innovation Institute being the largest university-based economic development organization in the U.S., Bridges is recognized as an international expert in ecosystem building.

Slovakia is Bridges’ first country visited in his three-year rotation as a Fulbright Specialist.

Slovakia is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. (mapchart.net)

A country of 5 million, Slovakia has an estimated economic output of $180.205 billion, making it the world’s 71st-largest economy. Though the country boasts high-income, is a major electronics and automobile exporter, and has low unemployment, it ranks low in regional innovation.

Building processes to foster innovation and create ecosystems is what Bridges is working with his Slovakian counterparts to help them do.

“So far, I have met with companies, governments, universities, and non-profits to discuss avenues for further talent and innovation development and deployment,” Bridges said.

He also met with many of the Fulbright Scholars — faculty, post-doctoral candidates, and experts — assigned to lecture and/or conduct research across a wide variety of academic and professional fields in Slovakia. In that capacity Bridges discussed opportunities they had in maximizing their skills and areas of expertise to support ecosystem building in Slovakia.

The Fulbright Scholars were honored May 17, 2024, in a Fulbright Commission Award Ceremony hosted by Gautam Rana, U.S. ambassador to Slovakia.

Those 22 scholars — Americans in Slovakia and Slovakians in the U.S. — spent the past year on academic exchanges in both countries.

“From teaching English to writing poetry, from studying medicine to expanding business opportunities, our Fulbright exchanges strengthen our bilateral relationship, and our graduates join a global community that includes Nobel Prize winners as well as heads of state,” the U.S. Embassy in Slovakia said in a statement.

“This year we will celebrate 30 years of the Fulbright program in Slovakia, which connects people and nations. We can be proud of what our graduates have achieved.”