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Northeastern Exposure
April 26, 2012   
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The city of Ełk, in the northeastern province of Warmia and Mazuria, is in the process of setting up an innovation zone. The zone, also known as the Techno-Park, will cover an area of 25 hectares and comprise a research and development center, a business incubator, and a school for teaching science through experiments and hands-on learning—dubbed the Young Einstein School.

In the R&D center, young scientists will conduct research to encourage the use of scientific discoveries in business practice. The incubator will provide low-rent premises to businesses, complete with office services and legal assistance. The Young Einstein School, through experiments, demonstrations and examples from life, will teach children physics, chemistry, geography and other subjects.

The Techno-Park in Ełk will be established under a cooperation agreement with the Olsztyn-based University of Warmia and Mazuria (UWM). The deal was signed in October last year by Ełk Mayor Tomasz Andruszkiewicz and the rector of the University of Warmia and Mazuria, Prof. Józef Górniewicz. Olsztyn is the administrative center of Warmia and Mazuria province. The cooperation will be based on developing ties between science and business, partnership projects and submitting applications for funding, as well as organizing training programs to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, R&D activities and scientific publications.

“The project aims to increase the attractiveness of Ełk and enable young people to do business in the city rather than leave Ełk in search of work elsewhere,” said Andruszkiewicz.

Work to build Techno-Park facilities is now under way. The innovation zone is expected to be up and running by the end of the year. It will cost zl.26 million to launch, with the city of Ełk picking up 60 percent of the tab. The rest of the money will come from the European Union’s Development of Eastern Poland Operational Program.

“The University of Warmia and Mazuria leads the way in using EU funds available under the Development of Eastern Poland Operational Program set aside for the 2007-2013 period,” said Iwona Wendel, undersecretary of state at the Polish Ministry of Regional Development. “This stimulates the development of the university’s staff and students and also contributes to the potential of the region and the Polish economy as a whole.”

In December 2011, the University of Warmia and Mazuria launched an innovative Dairy Education and Research Center at the Department of Nutrition Sciences. The center, equipped with modern facilities and infrastructure, will train students and conduct research in milk processing. It will be able to process up to 2,000 liters of milk a day. The center was established as part of the BIO project involving the expansion, modernization and equipping of a range of teaching and research laboratories for food technology, quality and safety, financed under the Development of Eastern Poland Operational Program covering the 2007-2013 period.

In November 2011, students began attending classes in a modernized and newly equipped Technology Hall at the University of Warmia and Mazuria. The facility claimed 26 percent of all funds set aside for the BIO project.

A range of new specialized laboratories have opened at the university as part of the BIO project. The Instrumental Analysis Laboratory will evaluate and certify dairy products—as well as packaging and materials used in the production of packaging—in terms of their quality, authenticity and purity standards. Other labs will include a Sensory Analysis Laboratory, an Industrial Microbiology Laboratory, and a Chemical Analysis Laboratory.

UWM students are known across the region for their interest in innovation, in both agricultural sciences and other disciplines. They have won international awards in science competitions. For example, senior-year mechatronics students Jarosław Rychlica and Wojciech Wi¶niewski have been singled out for praise in the Xplore New Automation Award 2012 international competition held every four years by Phoenix Contact, a German-based multinational company that has been active in electrical and industrial automation technology for 80 years.

Karolina Olszewska
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