Innova-FI consortium had the opportunity to gather in the beautiful city of Bielsko-Biała, Poland, for the 10th Exchange of Experience of the project. The city, which is also known as the city of 100 industries, lives up to its name and was the perfect location for the event hosted by Patrycja Węgrzyn and Jan Sienkiewicza from the Regional Development Agency in Bielsko-Biała. It counted with the presence of the following partners:
• KEPA, represented by Poppy Oikonomou;
• Friuli Innovazione, represented by Francesca Pozzar;
• INVEGA, represented by Ausma Bartkute;
• SERN represented by Inês Neves.
And also the online presence of:
• ANI, represented by Ana Margarida Lopes;
• The Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy (GODC), represented by Natalija Filipović;
• SERN, represented by Chiara Frencia.
The event started at 9 AM with Mariusz Klusak, the Vice-President of the Management Board of the Regional Development Agency, who opened the session and welcomed every partner to Poland.
Aleksandra Chrystowska O’Shea, Entrepreneurship Support Fund from ARRSA, followed and gave insight into the Financial Instruments for SMEs provided by Entrepreneurship Support Fund (ARRSA). How they established the post-COVID support, the liquidity loan, and Beskid Technology Accelerator (support for innovation) in the region.
Next, the event counted the participation of Wojciech Bachta, CEO of Startup Podbeskidzie Foundation and DaVinci Studio Software House, who talked a little about his company and the activities they provide to foment innovation and investment, especially in the IT and Digital world of start-ups. This is of extreme importance since “90% of the companies in Poland can’t survive on the market for more than 3 years”.
After a coffee break, the event continued with the contribution of Paweł Lewandowski, Team Manager, Regional Projects Team III, Department of Financial Instruments from BGK Bank. The representative of Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego gave insight into its programs and Financial Instruments models and the Post-COVID financial support for SMEs offered.
The event continued with a presentation from Piotr Sikora, from Katowicka Special Economic Zone. Piotr explained the goals and role of the company, while also giving insight into their ongoing activities, future endeavors, and the and Supporting innovation & entrepreneurship mechanisms offered to companies operating in the Katowicka Special Economic Zone.
The first speaker to take the mic after a tasty lunch was Monika Ptak, Head of the Regional Innovation Strategy Office, Development and Regional Transformation Department, Marshal Office of Silesia Voivodeship. Monika clarified how their program operates and their future goals until 2030, which mostly focus on the thematic areas of Medicine, ICT, Green Economy, and emerging industries.
The first day came to an end with some closing remarks by Jan Sienkiewicza, Director of the International Project Department, ARRSA, that wrapped up what was discussed throughout the day.
The event continued for two more days during which partners had the chance to present the implementation of the action plans in their regions, as well as the financial instruments and funds provided. Partners also took part in a workshop titled "Benchmarking Workshop: Peer-review on Financial Instruments for Economic Recovery" which was based on the partners' inputs to the Innova-FI policy booklet and helped to collect ideas and points of view on the topic.
Besides the interesting presentations and workshop, the consortium also participated in two different visits: The first site visit was to FabLab Bielsko-Biała – A creative place supporting innovation. During this visit each person had the chance to see and experience the different technology that is provided to anyone eager to learn - such as 3D printing; robotic arms for automation; Lazer cutter; robotics; Programming, and more!
The second and last site visit was to Cavatina Hall – An unique place on a global scale. A combination of business and culture makes for a spectacular building with a visionary feel.
The 3 days of the event were a success and left partners pleased to have taken part in such an interesting exchange of experience.