Did you know that a Polish lieutenant developed the Mark I landmine detector during World War II? Or that Polish scientists created the world’s third blue semiconductor laser in 2001? Poland may not instantly come to mind as one of the world’s centers of modern innovation, but, in fact, Polish innovators have been busy for decades.
In order to help today’s top innovators in Poland become global market leaders, the UC Berkeley Center for Executive Education (CEE) is hosting a delegation of 40 Polish scientists, scholars, and business innovators for nine weeks as part of a program created by the Polish government and European Union called the Top 500 Innovators. Over the course of five years, 500 Polish innovators will be selected to participate.
“Poland is full of bright people, but they don’t know how to commercialize their discoveries,” says Lukasz Kutrzeba, a program participant and a pharmaceutical technology broker at the Jagiellonian Center of Innovation LLC in Krakow. “At the Haas School of Business, we are learning to take our scientific knowledge to market. It’s a contagious process and we are excited to take our experience here back to our homeland.”
CEE's customized program for Polish innovators started Oct. 15 and will end on Dec. 14. The group is taking classes in corporate entrepreneurship, leadership, and coaching at Berkeley-Haas. Workshops at Lawrence Berkeley Lab (LBL) offer insights into intellectual property and technology transfer, marketing emerging technologies, and leading high-performance teams. And off-campus one-day internships at such organizations as Autodesk, HP, Intel, Mozilla, Google, and NASA provide hands-on experience.
“CEE is honored to have been chosen to host this high-energy, brilliant group of people. The program is very ambitious and brings the best of Berkeley and the Bay Area into the classroom,” says Molly Nagler, CEE’s director of strategic alliances.
Two weeks ago, Poland President Bronisław Komorowski wrote a letter to Silicon Valley startup and technology influencers, including Berkeley-Haas lecturer Steve Blank, highlighting the potential of Poles in regards to entrepreneurship and innovation. Kutrzeba says that similar to the Bay Area, Poland offers many investment opportunities, and the CEE program will help him and his fellow innovators successfully monetize their discoveries.
“The commitment people at Berkeley have to bring ideas to market is unbelievable," Kutrzeba says. "The people we have met are constantly thinking of technologies not only as new but disruptive in that they can bring significant change to the global market."