Slovak innovation centre
An innovative knowledge park shared by universities and regional businesses will be set up in the Prešov region in Slovakia with support from the EEA Grants, based on a model originally developed by and for the Møre and Romsdal County in Norway.
Norway has through the EEA Grants awarded the Prešov Self-Governing Region more than €0.5 million to its €1.6 million project, which will bring together the region’s private sector and academic world and allow for commercially interesting research ideas to blossom into full-fledged business ideas. The planned knowledge park will be named the Innovation Partnership Centre (IPC).
The IPC will be based on Molde Knowledge Park, the brainchild of Møre and Romsdal County, which was established in 2002 to fill the gap between the academic world and private sector. “A knowledge park can be a regional engine for business development”, Molde Knowledge Park Director Frank G. Lien said, adding that connecting the knowledge from research centres with business development and private-sector competence creates a foundation for regional innovation and growth.
Norway agreed, and awarded a €0.55 million grant to Prešov Self-Governing Region in March 2007. According to Lien it was the Norwegian Financial Mechanism’s focus on regional development and the match between Norwegian know-how and Slovak needs that made the pieces of the puzzle fit together for Prešov and Molde.
Martin Krajòák from the Prešov Self-Governing Region Office is happy to have Norwegians playing a major role in the project. “In Molde they have a very good example of a functional centre of development and cooperation between private and public sector, and we would like to draw on their experiences and adapt these to the Prešov region,” he said.
Martin Krajòák explained that the title of the project is a play on words, with the ’Innovation Partnership Centre’ referring to innovation in two ways. “First we want to cooperate with public and private sector in an innovative way and this innovation we want to turn into the region’s competitive edge,” Krajòák said. Drawing on the region’s own comparative advantages is fundamental, and the many Slovak partners that have already joined the project include the region’s municipalities, universities and the regional chamber of commerce in Prešov. “Through this project we hope to finally create clusters in eastern Slovakia, to support the idea of freely based cooperation between Prešov Self-Governing Region, enterprises, entrepreneurs, municipalities and universities in creating development,” Krajòák said.
The premises of the Innovation Partnership Centre have already been established, and a public procurement process for the IPC methodology will start after the signing of the Implementation Contract between the Prešov Self-Governing Region and the Slovak Focal Point. Over the coming 13 months, Lien and two colleagues from Molde Knowledge Park will travel frequently to Prešov, and Lien was eagerly anticipating the outcome of the new innovative centre. ”Prešov is an economically weak region, and it’s important to ensure a sustainable model where employment can be created within knowledge-based technologies, drawing on the region’s research centers,” Lien said. This optimism was matched by the Slovak side, and Krajòák expected the Innovation Partnership Centre to become one of the most useful projects seen in the Prešov region.