The clusters more and more often draw attention of entrepreneurs and scientists. The LifeScience Open Space meeting, which has taken place in October 2011 in Kraków, proved that clusters are sparking interest and provoking lively discussion. Conclusions from the meeting? The cluster provides its members with useful tools such as room, meetings and discussion partners. Still, the greatest challenge the cluster members face is to overcome the natural fear of cooperation with their competitors within the sector.
It’s worth talking to each other — claim the organisers of this year’s meeting, organised in connection with the IV Eurobiotech conference as the satellite event. The leading theme of the meeting, which took place at 12 October in Nowohuckie Centrum Kultury in Krakow, was cooperation on the principles of open innovation. “It is not the first meeting of the kind organised by Klaster Life Science Kraków, but it is the first time it is focused on partner meetings, which provide conditions for exchanging information and experience, presenting your offer, establishing relations leading to cooperation on innovative projects” — says Kazimierz Murzyn, Managing Director of the Klaster Life Science. The presence of Klaster’s foreign partners proved quite important for the participants of LifeScience Open Space. Among the invited guests there were representatives of companies and institutions from regions and clusters cooperating with Kraków: Edinburgh Research Triangle, BioAratec — Spain, Western Macedonia. The agenda included presentations given by foreign visitors, potential partners for cooperation on common projects and two sections devoted to presenting offers in parallel. The breaks allowed the guests to establish more direct relations.
The Ideas Session included the presentations of technological offers and offers of cooperation from the Klaster’s members. The presentations were devoted to the following subjects: diagnostics, medical biotechnology, innovative hospital, healthy food and environment, and lifestyle & beauty. This part of the meeting also provided the opportunity to meet and consult the experts on all those fields. According to Dr Łukasz Kutrzeba, CEO of Hependo company, “LifeScience Open Space was the excellent opportunity for our company to establish relations with parties from the sector and to present out achievements and future plans”. Although the company is not yet the member of the Klaster, it notices the opportunities it provides thanks to its wide network of contacts and promotion of enterprises and projects of its partners. “Our company owns intellectual property unique on Polish ground. We already own the American patent acquired in 2011. It protects the use of compounds Hependo works on in 17 therapeutic areas” — said Dr Kutrzeba, presenting his company.
The similar opinion about the possibilities created by the Klaster organising the LifeScience Open Space seems to be shared by most of the participants of the event. Ms. Anna Molenda–Skowronek, vice-president of Eco Plant Householding, company which has been the member of a Klaster for a few years now, noted that “success begins with meetings”. She also said that “shared efforts towards development of science,technology and innovation will surely result in interesting projects”.
“Klaster initiative is very valuable, such an event is a platform for sharing knowledge, experience, and it helps to establish interesting contacts” — stated Ms. Wenanta Kalukiewicz from PNO Consultants company.
It can be observed just how important it is to create opportunities and circumstances for mutual exchange of experience between the parties conducting activities of similar profile by simply noting that this aspect was the one most commonly talked about by the participants of LifeScience Open Space. Participation of representatives of selected European bio-regions: Edinburgh Science Triangle, BioAratec (Spain), BioConValley (Germany), BioLatvia (Latvia) was something not to be underestimated by the guests.
During the event in the Nowohuckie Centrum Kultury it was possible to consult on legal, financial and organisational issues and gain detailed knowledge concerning the dedicated services for Life Science environment. This year “LifeScience Open Space was characterised by its participants’ openness for innovations, not only on the research level, but also concerning the need to discover new ways to obtain funds for their work” — said Ms. Wenanta Kalukiewicz. “Scientists are now able to choose not only the structural funds, but also Brussels’ grants available within 7th Framework Programme. Since Poland has joined the European Union, we may also benefit from the European Economic Area (EEA) financial mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism” — she also added.
Companies such as Hependo has used the event to search for financial partners and potential vendors for research and experiments it is planning to conduct in the near future. Its CEO stressed that “LifeScience Open Space is a perfect opportunity for mutual exchange of experience between parties from same sector, which is why it should have a permanent place in the fair events calendar.” This view is shared by Ms. Molenda–Skowronek, who underlined that “participation in LifeScience Open Space brings together people joined by common idea — to use modern technologies and solutions for the common good. It is also an occasion to present our latest achievements, such as the undoubtedly innovative product Novalium Figura — safe and natural dietary supplement, which directs its slim effects — for the first time ever — not at the human body, but at the mind, so that one could control his actions for his own good”. Such activities fall within the scope of Klaster Life Science mission, which is to bring together organisations, institutions, companies and communities, within one system of innovation focusing on the general problem of improving health and life conditions — i.e. life sciences. The goal of all the efforts made within that initiative is to stimulate the sustainable development of that system by creating the platform for cooperation. The organiser of the event which has so established itself so well within the coinciding Małopolskie Innovation Fair — Klaster Life Science — was established at 20 October 2006, by the initiative of Jagiellonian University. It currently consists of 70 entities representing science, business, health care and local authorities. It is managed by the Jagiellonian University’s company, and funded from development grants. The chairman of the Klaster’s Partner Council is the rector of Jagiellonian University, professor Karol Musioł, Ph.D. Klaster’s website — www.lifescience.pl — is the platform of communication for the life science community in the region. It is available to everyone interested in cooperation, especially Klaster’s partner institutions and everyone that collaborates with them.
The meeting in the Nowohuckie Centrum Kultury proved yet another time that it’s worth talking to each other. Still, as shown by the western examples, the real benefits from cooperation within the clusters depend on openness for collaboration in longer perspective, which sometimes demands to work with potential business competition. Lack of such openness is the characteristic feature of members of some clusters. That is why it is worth noticing that the cluster only gives its members resources such as room, meetings and partners to talk. It is up to the institutions to find the way to make best use of that resources in the future and gain real profits from cooperation within the cluster.
Author: Katarzyna Pętlak-Długosz