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Mirosław Miller: Dream dealers from Wrocław

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In my talk I will show you not only our company and our idea how to transfer knowledge from university to industry, but also a little bit about thinking in Wrocław, which is actually a little bit different than in the rest of our country. Why is it so? I was asked several times by journalists why some things are possible in Wrocław, which are not or would not be possible in Warsaw or even in Cracow. And my answer was always one sentence: "We are somewhat like the United States of Lower Silesia." And probably, if you know the history of our country, you know why I explain in such a way what Wrocław is and what our region is. It is a little bit different in comparison to the rest of our country. OK, I'm showing you the title of my presentation. It's again about "dreamers," which we heard about already before, because in Wrocław, for many years, for about 10-15 years, we have been used to trying even very difficult issues, which are sometimes, or very often, unsuccessful. But we don't worry about that, we try again, and we learned that after many years, it will always bring success. [Eventually]. Even if it's a smaller success than we imagined at the beginning, it is success. And therefore, after many years of trying, the success becomes bigger and bigger, what we can see in the development of our city and region. One of the issues, which is very serious, and very important for our country, and also our city, is the so-called knowledge-based economy. Almost nobody knows exactly what it is. To show how we understand this economy, I'll give you a comparison between two entities: General Motors, which is a traditional company, and Google, of course, a well-known company, based on knowledge. And here, I'll give you some examples of some numbers. GM: 300,000 [employees]. Fixed assets of 100 billion US dollars. Income of 200 billion dollars. And losses of 30 billion dollars. And you see the example of Google, yes? So they have only 20,000 people. They have 6 billion dollars of assets. They produce income of 20 billion US dollars, and they produce 4 billion in profit. It means this profit and this income is the production of the heads of clever people, of clever ideas, of creativity. It is what we call knowledge-based economy. This is an example from before the crisis time. And during the crisis time, GM collapsed completely. Whereas Google -- of course, you can also see a decrease of the market value of this company, but only of 20%, and nowadays it is again much more value than before. So in case of our country, we have one more danger in comparison to the rest of Europe. We see, really, more and more clearly, that Europe can split into two speeds. Poland can be part of this second, worse part of Europe. What to do? So our idea in Wrocław is to do everything possible to create new, attractive places, where education, [colleges], science and business initiatives can be together, can meet together, and can produce some crazy ideas, some crazy groups. Young people coming back to Poland, or [graduates] of our universities. But these places must be created. They are still not in our city. Our universities, we know, of course are very good, but we still have the old structure in the science community. We must do something very fast and very innovative. And of course, it is not possible without strong support of local government and state policy. We have many [opportunities] in Poland in the next few years. As you know, we are just now a country of students. [One in ten students] in Europe comes from Poland. We can attract brilliant heads, brilliant persons from abroad. Poland still has no program to attract people, as Korea is doing, or China, or Singapore, or many other countries, even England in the last few years. Poland has no policy in this area. We have a huge amount of euro coming to Poland next year. It is the only [opportunity] of this kind for our country. Next year will [get] much less, because we'll be richer and richer. And we're, of course, relatively healthy in economy. It means this economy can again attract people, as we have observed already in the case of England, and Polish people coming back from [that] country. Now, we go to Wrocław. Some numbers, which you probably know. The most impressive is, maybe, that we are the 4th largest city in Poland, but with the second biggest budget. It shows how much investment, mainly from abroad, came during the last 10 years. So what we did was, we have worked hard for the last 3 years, preparing the so-called EIT+ program. Maybe you remember that we applied to host the EIT initiative, with the European Institute of Technology. We lost this [opportunity], but we were in the finals, with Budapest. In the final stages we lost against Budapest. But the EIT program remained as the result of this action, of this application. Because we built this as our offer for Europe, to create a very innovative and knowledge-based city. So why Wrocław? To implement such programs, as I will show you in a few minutes, we need some very important factors. One of them is optimistic people, and people who believe that nothing is impossible. "We must try again," yes? So as you can see in this picture, according to the new ranking, Wrocław is a city where 74% of the people are happy to live in Wrocław. They cannot imagine [living in] any other place, in Poland, and not only in Poland. Of course, Cracow is also a very leading city. (Laughter) (Applause) Yeah! (Applause) I like Cracow very much, so... And you see Poznań, so some more cities. But we have cities in Poland with only 6% or 8%. I didn't show that here. We must be optimistic. The second factor: strong support and understanding of the role of universities in such developing processes. We have it. We have very clever city management, we have a very good mayor, who is number one, again according to a ranking in Newsweek. Not only the mayor, of course. We also have very clever people in city management. So... Already the godfather of Silicon Valley understood that universities are the key issue for building such a special, innovative place. He knew that already, many years ago. We still underestimate this in Poland -- that universities are so important for the development of communities. In our case, in Poland, we know we are dispersed, we are fragmented, we cannot achieve critical mass for many great and possible programs today. We are uncompetitive in Europe. So, there are many negative factors. We know that our system will be changed, will be reformed, but it will take [time]. And we stated in Wrocław, we don't have this time. We must do something today, not wait 5 years. Of course, there are other possibilities to attract good, young people. We can produce very well-paid workplaces which are stable. We are doing it in Wrocław. We attracted IBM Service. It's in Cracow too. Google. Our last spectacular success was attracting the McKinsey Knowledge Center, [as] one of 4 [locations] in the world. So we are doing it, we attract people, but not at universities. Only outside the university. So, what we did. We have huge infrastructural resources for reconstruction, European funds. We have the only chance to create something new in Wrocław. We should focus this money, this support, in one place, to create critical mass. And we must produce, or create, knowledge-based economy building tools. We do. We have created a new company in Wrocław, a market-oriented company, which is doing research, in collaboration with universities. The name is Wrocław Research Center EIT+. Again, EIT+ comes, of course, from our program. And for only two years now, we have been in very deep [water]. We tried to create a quite new quality in the world of science and innovation. It is, of course, not easy. Our company's shareholders are universities, the city of Wrocław and regional authorities. We identified some research areas, but the most important thing is that we take people from university work, we join them together, we look at the position of professors. We have already attracted many people from abroad, and we build new groups. Very innovative, very creative, based on young, very creative people. [Before] this idea, it was not possible. We got huge support for our company. 200 million euro, which we put into this program, and into one place, which should create this attractive place in Wrocław. It is placed in Wrocław, about 13 km from the city center, near a highway and an airport. And you see here a picture of our campus, which will have, of course, excellent laboratories, excellent infrastructure, but it is not the most important. People are the most important. So on the campus, we must also create a park, music hall, restaurant, guest house. We are now building this magic, unique place in Wrocław. A meeting place between young and experienced people, between different cultures, between different disciplines. Even more, we are now creating an "innovative pole," because the city of Wrocław gave us over 100 ha more around the campus, in order to sell it for research and development entities, for research centers from many other companies. We know that our initiative cannot be local, cannot be regional, cannot be even a Polish one. Science is international. So what we do in our company is to create many very strong links abroad. So we are looking for many Polish people who are successful in Singapore, in the USA, in Germany. We have many such people in our [circle] now in Wrocław. These people said, "We had been looking to get such links for 10 years, and nobody answered us." You can see countries here, which are key countries for us. Each of these countries has its own innovative system. The systems are very efficient, but very different. So we are learning from many countries, and we try to learn, to take the best solution they implemented. So, to summarize my talk: Wrocław is a very ambitious city, and will be, wants to be, a science city. We want to use structure from different ways, and other places in Poland. We want to focus -- we are doing it already -- focus in one specific place which will create critical mass for scientific and technological development. And we want to support our government in reforming Polish science. We are doing it in Wrocław. It is our short way to reform science. If we are successful, this model can be copied in other places in our country. And we are building a very beautiful, very powerful place with great potential, which we called "Pracze Campus." And we also invite you to visit Campus Pracze, to look at our website, at how we are developing this place, and what kind of people are coming to us, not only to work in our project, but also to work in Wrocław because of EIT+. Thank you very much for your attention. (Applause)

Video Details

Duration: 15 minutes
Country: Poland
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: TEDxKraków
Director: TEDxKraków
Views: 615
Posted by: tedxkrakow on Dec 15, 2010

Talk delivered at TEDxKraków, on October 15, 2010.

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