Cambridge solutions will help researchers and scientists from the Małopolska Region

The agreement was signed by (left to right): Prof. Tadeusz Słomka – Rector of AGH UST, Jacek Krupa – Province Marshall and Jan Pamuła – President of MARR; photo: Z. Sulima, AGH UST Newsletter

Financial support for scientific research and economically promising projects developed by universities is the key objective behind the new investment fund established by Małopolska Agencja Rozwoju Regionalnego S.A. and AGH University of Science and Technology. Over the period of the next four years, the fund will receive at least 20 million Polish Zloty to be spent on the development of innovative projects.

The investment agreement signed today by MARR and AGH UST finalised the preparatory phase leading to the launch of Małopolska Science Fund (FIZAN). Based on a similar concept successfully introduced in Cambridge, it is the first scheme of this type to be founded in Poland. The fund will be given priority of access to concepts and projects developed at AGH UST and will be able to invest in research and development projects already at their very early stages (Proof of Principle, Proof of Concept), which is still quite uncommon on the market. By 2021 the founders of the fund will transfer 5m. PLN yearly to the scheme. 80% of the funds will be contributed by MARR S.A. while the remaining 20% will come from AGH UST.

The Fund (FIZAN) constitutes an element of the Regional Innovation Strategy for the Małopolska Province and is aimed at stimulating the innovative potential of Małopolska economy. The scheme will focus on projects from the areas classified as intelligent regional specialisations, which currently include: life sciences, sustainable energy, information and communications technologies, chemistry, electronics and industrial machine engineering, production of metals, metal objects and products from non-metallic mineral resources as well as creative and leisure industries.

The fund will be able to invest as much as 1.25m PLN in a single project (at several stages of its development) as well as to seek external investors for the projects. A single project may receive up to 17.25m PLN in investment funding.

The idea of the Fund was proposed by Jan Pamuła, President of MARR:

 Innovative technologies are the driving force behind progress, they enable us to witness changes in all areas of our lives – from medicine to automotive industry to entertainment. The Fund will let us increase the number of commercialised research projects, patents and implementations. The cooperation between the worlds of science and research on the one hand and business on the other, is facing numerous obstacles, which restrain market applicability of innovative ideas generated by universities.

Mr. Pamuła added:

 We have chosen AGH UST as our partner as it is where most new ideas come to life. It is a technical university and as one of the best in Poland is regularly featured in international rankings.

As Professor Tadeusz Słomka – Rector of the AGH University of Science and Technology – pointed out:

The Fund, being a great opportunity for AGH UST researchers, is also part of the University’s strategy. Let me stress the fact that this is the first scheme of this kind to be  launched in Poland. The experience of the world’s leading science and research centres shows that such initiatives are very successful. I am confident that the funding received  in support of research disciplines recognised as essential in the region will further boost the economic potential of Małopolska. We are aware that the agreement we are signing today will also serve as a good example to be followed by other universities and research institutes.

AGH UST is one of the top Polish universities receiving a record number of patents and  legal protections for designs granted by the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland as well as the highest number of European patents in Poland. Since 2007 the University has operated Technology Transfer Centre, which supports knowledge and technology transfer processes while Cracow Centre for Innovative Technologies INNOAGH Sp. z o.o., opened by AGH UST in 2010, is dedicated to providing support for inventors interested in establishing spin-off companies based on innovative technologies developed at AGH UST.

Other Cracow universities – Jagiellonian University and Cracow University of Technology – are interested in joining FIZAN.