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The Professor and the General
August 29, 2013   
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In this issue of The Warsaw Voice, we interview a professor and a general. They come from different walks of life, but they have a lot in common. To begin with, they both believe in the power of innovation.

Krzysztof Jan Kurzydłowski is a scientist, a physicist who was appointed a professor at the age of 41. He is a key figure in Polish science and a man especially active in boosting ties between science and business.

Waldemar Skrzypczak, on the other hand, is a general, a career soldier who is deputy minister of defense. He plays a key role in modernizing the Polish armed forces, a financially and technologically complex operation scheduled to take place over the coming decade.

Kurzydłowski is director of the National Center for Research and Development, an important national institution which is responsible for organizing research programs in Poland and which has a huge budget.

Skrzypczak is one of the most popular high-ranking officers in the Polish military, and is a legend to his men. He commanded the multinational central-south division in Iraq during the allied stabilization mission there and went on to become the commander of the Polish land forces. While he was still in active service, Skrzypczak said on many occasions that soldiers did not need civilians telling them what to do. What they did need, he said, was the best equipment the country could afford.

Both the professor and the general believe that innovation is vital and that it should begin in Polish enterprises, as these cannot go on merely manufacturing products on foreign licenses for the military and civilian sectors. This is especially important as far as military equipment is concerned. It is no secret that by the time new military technology reaches world markets, it is hardly new any more, because every army keeps cutting-edge weapons and military equipment for its exclusive use—for some time at least.

Both the professor and the general are moderately optimistic about innovation in Poland. Kurzydłowski says that even today, several innovative branches of the Polish economy, such as the aviation industry, are coming up with their own, inventive technology. Skrzypczak, in turn, is realistic and knows that Poland will never be a military superpower, but he believes that the Polish defense industry is capable of developing inventive products in areas such as radar technology, cryptography and artillery. Weapons and equipment manufactured at some Polish factories, he says, are among the best in the world in their respective categories.

Skrzypczak also argues that the modernization of the army will have a positive effect on the economy as a whole by creating new jobs and encouraging technology transfer from the military to the civilian sector. Skrzypczak intends to work with the National Center for Research and Development, hoping that with its help he will be able to carry out several projects of high importance to Poland’s defense industry and its defensive capabilities. He expects to see the first results of the joint efforts next year.

Witold Żygulski
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