Poland looks to nanotechnology to revitalise eastern regions

By bne IntelliNews May 26, 2008

Bogdan Turek in Warsaw -

The Poles are thinking big and small in an attempt to revitalise the country's impoverished eastern regions.

Three Polish companies are due to release in August the results of a feasibility study for a multi-million-euro super-modern technology park with a nanotechnology centre. The project is the brainchild of Tadeusz Truskolaski, mayor of Bialystok, a city of 300,000 known for its multi-ethnic makeup of Poles, Belarussians and a small ethnic group of Tartars. The mayor argues the location of Białystok, near Poland's borders with Belarus, Lithuania and Russia, and its convenient transportation links create excellent conditions for developing economic and cultural contacts with the countries of both Eastern and Western Europe. The European Commission appears to agree and has already approved the project.

"The construction of the project has become a fact - we signed an agreement with the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development on March 31," Truskolaski told bne in an interview. "The European Commission approved our project and included it into investments which will boost development of eastern Poland. We will put a spade in the ground in 2009 and the park may start operations in 2011."

The Polish Agency for Enterprise Development, or PARP, which disposes state and EU funding for industrial projects, will oversee several steps leading to the construction of the Technological Park, including its most modern section of nanotechnology departments. PARP's spokesperson Monika Karwat told bne that an initial agreement signed with the mayor calls for PLN140m (€41m) to build the project. "It is an initial assessment of the cost which may go up when the city files a document asking for extra funds," she said.

The planned project in Bialystok is within a broader plan mapped out by the European Commission. Called "Development of Eastern Poland," it was approved by the Commission in 2007. The EU has set aside €1.2bn for the years 2007-2013 to improve the quality of life and inject modern technologies into Poland's five eastern regions bordering the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine. "The goal of the projects is to impede stagnation and stimulate economic growth in the Podlaskie region with its capital Bialystok, Lublin, and the Podkarpackie, Warminsko Mazurskie and Swietokrzyskie regions," the Commission says. The five regions, where some 12m people live, cover about one-third of Poland. "The project will transform the region," Aneta Putko, head of the investment department in the city, said. "The centre will attract investors and our students will not have to go abroad to look for jobs."

Truskolaski said that the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières and some business circles in Singapore might join in the construction of the project. Truskolaski recently visited Singapore and reported "interest in it." Earlier, he visited Canada where he was inspired to add a nanotechnology section to the park. The nanotechnology part of the park will focus on the development of materials for cardio surgery. "We want to build it together with the Medical Academy in Bialystok and the Canadian university," he said. "One of the Canadian companies has already proposed building a heart transplant center in the city."

Truskolaski said a Technological Park in Montreal is his model. "It employs 4,200 people and 30 innovative technological enterprises operate in it," he said. "We would like to achieve the same results."

Three Polish companies are already preparing a feasibility study on the Technological Park, which will be located on 40 hectares of land in Krywlan outside the city near the airport. The study will be ready in August. "We hope high-tech companies, including nanotechnology companies, will be interested to work in the area," said Truskolaski. "It may become an incubator of modern technologies."

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Poland looks to nanotechnology to revitalise eastern regions

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