A summary of the study visit to Israel as well as functional food and development opportunities for this branch of the food and medical industry in Podlaskie Voivodeship were the main topics of the meeting held on Thursday, March 2. The session of the Working Group for the “Agricultural Valley 4.0” Innovation Ecosystem was attended by representatives of Podlaskie’s universities, entrepreneurs, and local government officials, and its participants included: Deputy Marshal of the Podlaskie Voivodeship Marek Olbryś, Voivodship Councilor and Chairman of the Development, Economy, Infrastructure and Promotion Committee Paweł Wnukowski, and Secretary of the Voivodship Mirosława Jaroszewicz-Łojewska.
– Our agriculture deserves projects that will modernize this branch of Podlaskie’s economy, making it more innovative. Thanks to this, we will be competitive, and that will affect the quality of life of our farmers – said the Deputy Marshal. – We are an agricultural region and we must invest in the development of modern agriculture. Such powerful projects as Agricultural Valley 4.0 will certainly contribute to this end – he added.
Study visit to Israel
The first point of the meeting was a summary of the visit to Israel, which took place at the end of January this year. Mariusz Dąbrowski, Director of the Investors Assistance and Promotion Bureau at the Marshal’s Office, said that the delegation from Podlaskie, together with Marek Malinowski, member of the Voivodeship’s board, held a number of meetings with representatives of science, business and the agricultural industry. It was an opportunity for establishing business contacts, presenting Podlaskie’s economic potential, as well as learning about the factors determining the high level of innovation and good investment atmosphere in Israel.
– This is a country where 1,300 start-ups (young enterprises looking for a business model – editorial note) are created every year. 80 percent of them fail, but that does not discourage the Israelis – said Mariusz Dąbrowski.
The idea for a study visit to Israel was primarily inspired by the fact that the country’s has one of the most advanced agricultural sectors in the world, also thanks to its close cooperation between science and business.
Such cooperation was the subject of the next point of the working group’s meeting. Prof. Marcin Moniuszko, Vice-Rector for Science and Development of the Medical University of Bialystok, presented the idea of creating the Podlaskie Functional Food Center under the Agricultural Valley 4.0. It is a project based on cooperation between scientists, entrepreneurs, farmers and the local government. The center conduct broad works on the development of functional food.
And what is functional food? In short, its food of natural origin that can be enhanced or modified. Apart from providing nutrients, it has positive health effects and may reduce the risk of certain disorders, especially so-called lifestyle diseases, and it can improve health and well-being. Most importantly, the positive impact of this type of food on human health must be documented by a number of scientific studies.
Prof. Moniuszko is convinced that Podlaskie, as a region with excellent organic food, healthy air and scientific facilities, could become a leader of such an undertaking in Poland. In his opinion, a certification center for such food could also be established in the region. Research confirming health effects could be conducted by the Medical University of Bialystok. – We know how to do it and we have extensive experience in the field – assured prof. Moniuszko.
Functional food is gaining more and more popularity in the world, therefore its production and distribution will certainly have a positive economic effect.
The Working Group for the “Agricultural Valley 4.0” Innovation Ecosystem is an advisory body in the implementation of the Agricultural Valley 4.0 project. Representatives of the largest universities in Podlaskie Voivodeship (University of Bialystok, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok University of Technology, International Academy of Applied Sciences in Łomża), clusters, advisory centers (Podlasie Agricultural Advisory Center in Szepietowo) and enterprises from various sectors participate in the work: agricultural machinery manufacturers (InterTech, Metal-Fach, Pronar, SaMASZ), IT industry (Infinity Group, TenderHut), agri-food companies (BioPlant Natura, Edpol Food and Innovation, Grupa Agrocentrum).
Project “Establishing institutional foundations and essential knowledge base for the Agricultural Valley 4.0 Regional Innovation Ecosystem” within Regional Operational Programme of the Podlaskie Voivodeship for the years 2014-2020.