For many, Małopolska region in Poland is only familiar due to its medieval-era landmarks, Carpathian Mountains, thermal spas and its rich history centred in the city of Kraków, yet, the region has a lot more offer. Małopolska is now one of the fastest growing regions in Poland and in Europe, proving itself as a hub of knowledge transfer and innovation propelled by Klaster Life Science Kraków (LSK), which set out to develop collaboration networks, and exploit resources in the area of life sciences.
LSK taps into regional strengths
LSK was established in 2006 as an initiative of Jagiellonian University to be part of a much ambitious plan of the time, to build a technology park in Poland that is devoted to life sciences. The potential was clear: Małopolska region hosted 24 higher education institutions, 10 public and 14 private which employed approximately 22,000 people, and enrolled over 210,000 students including postgraduate and PhDs that accounted for 10% of the students in the country. The pool of LSK stakeholders is now composed of SMEs (47%), public institutions (31%) and large enterprises (18%), with particular focus on biotechnology and life sciences business, R&D, healthcare, business support, and science and education. The involvement of partners from universities, industries, and public organisations in the cluster helps create a favourable environment for collaboration and commercialisation of R&D results, as well as supporting university graduates with diverse employment opportunities.
Key Cluster in Polish Smart Growth
LSK has been nominated as key national cluster by the Polish Government, receiving financial support as part of the Smart Growth 2014-2020 program. Following a regional smart specialisation review of the Małopolska region, the life sciences sector was identified as one of the sectors with the greatest potential growth for the city of Kraków, the innovation centre of the region where ‘tradition meets innovation’. In addition, the region Malopolska has participated in the Vanguard Initiative ‘New Growth through Smart Specialisation’, along with a network of 9 European regions (Basque Country, Flanders, Lombardia, North Rhine Westphalia, Scotland, Skåne Region, Southeast Netherlands, Tampere Region and Wallonia) to support active co-creation of multi-level governance of industrial policies. In the regional development strategy, MałopIolska has been looking to foster economic growth and job creation through development of new technologies.
What contributes to the success of LSK?
Over the past decade, the reach of the cluster has risen from 32 to 95 members. LSK stakeholders have invested over €207m in R&D large-scale infrastructure and more than €202m into R&D and projects in the region. The seed funds allowed 40 successful start-up companies to launch. The hub has established links with international partners from France, Germany, the UK and the USA for joint projects.
The success of LSK can be attributed to a number of interconnected factors. These include clustering of human resources in the region with strong educational institutions and research centres, as well as presence of the key sectors, e.g. biotechnology, pharmacy, medicine, IT, system automation, and automotive industry that boosts the attractiveness of the region for investment. The wealth of resources are translated into innovation via relationship management, which means, the drive of the regional actors for open innovation and collaboration, building of trustful relationships, and interest in interdisciplinary research. The potential is further leveraged by the means of inter-regional collaboration and sharing of best practices, towards achievement of sustainability in the joint efforts.
See LSK YouTube channel here.
To learn more about LSK and its activities, read the full case study here.
This blog is based on a case study originally written by Samo Pavlin (University of Ljubljana).
©all rights on images used in this article belong to Klaster Life Science Kraków.