Poland-Silicon Valley Technology Symposium building bridges

Autor: Eva Orlowska

From left: Prof. Andrzej Nowak, Chris Kluczewski, Secretary of State Olgierd Dziekonski, Consul General Joanna Kozinska-Frybes, Minister Mariusz Bogdan, Prof. Piotr Moncarz, Leszek Szalek, Stanford University Hoover Institution, Dec 6, 2010

Polish Engineers cracked the Silicon Valley code: Technology Symposium with an epicenter at Stanford University Hoover Institution. Distinguished keynotes, expert panels, elegant banquets, business cocktails and site visits to hi-tech headquarters, brought the heads of Polish academia, government and industry to establish intellectual and business relationships with American counterparts.

Results: meeting of the minds between mayors of San Francisco and Krakow on expanding San-Francisco Krakow Sister City Partnership, collaboration agreement between Council of Polish Engineers of North America and Silesian University of Technology and invaluable connections leading to new opportunities.

The goal of the Poland-Silicon Valley Technology Symposium (PSVTS) was to facilitate technology, manufacturing, and trade exchange between U.S. and Polish entities. The five day event held in Silicon Valley, California from Dec 3-7, 2010 got off to a fast start on Friday, Dec 3rd with San Francisco-Krakow Sister Cities Luncheon at the San Francisco City Hall and an informal dinner of the Council of Polish Engineers of North America in Palo Alto.

From left: Caria Tomczykowska, Krakow Deputy Mayor Kazimierz Bujakowski, Caroline Krawiec Brownstone, Magdalena Wojtowicz, John Henry Fullen, San Francisco City Hall

PSVTS attracted influential participants from Poland: Secretary of State Olgierd Dziekonski, Ministers of Economy Mariusz Bogdan and Lucyna Jaremczuk, Deputy Mayor of Krakow Kazimierz Bujakowski, CEO of Polish Agency for Enterprise Bozena Lubinska-Kasprzak, PSE Operator SA Director Magdalena Wasiluk-Hassa, rectors from top universities in Krakow, Warsaw, Gliwice, Wroclaw, Gdansk and Rzeszow, 16 Engineering Ph.D candidates from Silesian University of Technology, delegates from city of Katowice, city of Krakow, Krakow Technology Park, Aviation Valley Association and Polish Business and Innovation Centres. Also, represented were Google’s, Intel’s, Motorola’s and DisplayLink’s R&D centers and homegrown companies: Lubawa, Miranda, LItex Group, LGBS Software and SiGarden.

A letter from the President of the Republic of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski read on Saturday, Dec 4th by the Secretary of State Olgierd Dziekonski officially opened the symposium. President Komorowski expressed gratitude to Polish engineers and scientists in North America for their willingness to share their assets: knowledge, experience and professionalism. “Creation and cooperation,” he said “are also fundamental values and children of freedom and democracy.” He urged scientific communities on both sides of the Atlantic to build two-way bridges.

Formal Welcome Banquet and the Annual Gala Dinner of Polish-American Engineers Club of Silicon Valley were held jointly on Saturday, Dec 4th at the Sheraton Hotel in Palo Alto. Keynote speaker, Dr. Roger L. McCarthy, using the backdrop of IPV6 Internet technology, defined the challenges, opportunities and competitive advantages for Poland in contrast to Western Europe, Eastern Europe, BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and the United States. Dr. McCarthy is a former Commissioner of National Medal of Science to President Bush, member of National Academy of Engineering, director of a large-scale urban redevelopment project in China and advisor to MIT, Stanford and University of Michigan.

The second highlight of the evening was the signing of a collaboration agreement between Council of Polish Engineers of North America and Silesian University of Technology. The agreement was signed by Prof. Andrzej Nowak of Civil Engineering from University of Nebraska and Dr. Jerzy Rutkowski, rector of Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, Poland.

From left: Council of Polish Engineers of North America:  Prof. Andrzej Nowak, Tomasz Wesolowski, Miroslaw Niedzinski, Minister Dziekonski, Marek Zywno, Leszek Szalek, Prof. Andrzej Targowski, Kazimierz Jagiello, Krzysztof Kluczewski


Stanford Business Cocktail and Business Banquet at the Stanford University Faculty Club were held on Monday, Dec 6th with Poland’s Minister of Economy Dariusz Bogdan as the keynote speaker. Minister Bodgan explained the reasons for Poland’s recent economic success and why investors should be bullish on Poland. The event also highlighted the achievements of San Francisco Krakow Sister Cities and this week’s agreements between Krakow Deputy Mayor Kazimierz Bujakowski and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

From left: Krakow Deputy Mayor Kazimierz Bujakowski, Natalia Nowicka, Magdalena Wojtowicz, Stanford University Faculty Club, Dec 6, 2010

Los Angeles Polish Consul General, Joanna Kozinska-Frybes presented Gloria Artis Awards to San Francisco Honorary Consuls, Thaddeus Taube and Christopher Kerosky. The Honorary Consuls have been instrumental in spearheading business and cultural ties between San Francisco and Krakow with the Taube Foundation’s support of Poland Jewish Heritage Tours and Jewish Cultural Festival in Krakow among many other significant projects. Mr. Taube, born in Poland is a Stanford alumnus, long time trustee of the Hoover Institution and a fixture in California and international business, academia and philanthropy. He has been an enormous asset in promoting Polish affairs worldwide.

From left: Secretary of State Olgierd Dziekonski, Consul Christopher Kerosky, Consul Joanna Kozinska-Frybes, Consul Thaddeus Taube and Caria Tomczykowska, Stanford University Faculty Club, Dec 6, 2010.

The symposium addressed a number of emerging issues for Polish and Californian economies: water supply security and flood protection, clean energy monetization, smart grid technology and economics, alternative energy exploration, intellectual property protection, execution of technology transfer, industry-academia links and team management over long-distance.  Right off the bat participants were introduced to Silicon Valley best practices by Stanford Center for Professional Development and Project Based Learning Laboratory: fail early, fail often, communicate, connect, collaborate, retain talent, think global. With engaging panels such as “Opportunities and Successful High-Tech Investments in Poland”, “Start-up Boot Camp-Expanding to the World Market” and “Monetizing Clean Energy: From the Lab to the Grid”, participants got the nuts of bolts of technology application. Missing was training in Venture Capital and European Union (EU) funding.

Symposium participants had a rare chance to visit the headquarters of Google, Facebook, Intel, Stanford Linear Accelerator Laboratory and Electric Power Research Institute in addition to many popular San Francisco sites. The city tour was organized by Caria Tomczykowska, President of The Polish Arts and Culture Foundation and Director of Operations of California Tour Consultants.

Will the meeting result in success? Participants felt positive that the old stereotypes of risk-averse, bureaucratic Poland will be soon replaced with a picture of a robustly growing economy, currently 7th largest in Europe. Will partners realize that Poland’s recent economic sustainability is not a fluke but a strategic path to growth and innovation? Yes, if they take a look at Poland’s massive investment in infrastructure, pro-business initiatives and this week’s bilateral agreements in Washington. Is the Silicon Valley model of cross-pollination ready to take root in Polish Technology? Most certainly, if Polish universities continue to foster industry links and industrialists, foreign and homegrown, continue long-term multidisciplinary approach to investment and development.

Mariusz Tomaka, CEO of DisplayLink, believes that time is right for Polish enterprise and proposes a new direction.  He has invited Polish engineers in North America to return to Poland to help reduce the engineer shortage and to capitalize on Poland’s competitive advantage: central geography, proximity to 500 million consumers, educated workforce, world-class universities, hi-tech sectors, tax incentives and political stability. The New Poland resembles the Engineering Ph.D candidates from Gliwice: confident, bright, ambitious, culturally competent, globally connected and mobile.

From left: Prof. Andrzej Nowak, Engineering Ph.D candidates from Silesia Technology University in Gliwice and Chris Kluczewski

“Key to success is partnering with the best, “ says Jerzy Orkiszewski, President of US-Poland Trade Council.  “The US is still the engine in technology, innovation and business.” An example of such strategy is the Polish Aviation Valley’s partnership with US aerospace giants:  Sikorsky, Pratt and Whitney and United Technology Corporation. Subsequently, US partners made a long-term investment in the valley’s infrastructure, education and knowledge transfer. Once the poorest region of Poland, the cluster now boasts of 23,000 high tech jobs, over 100 companies and homegrown startups integrated into a global aerospace supply chain. “We now need smart government policies to allow the growth to continue,” say Andrzej Rybka, Executive Director of Aviation Valley and Dr. Krzysztof Kaszuba, Rector of Rzeszow School of Business.

Knowledge transfer between Polish and American counterparts is not a new phenomenon. It dates back to 1608 when Captain John Smith of Virginia Company of London brought a group of Polish manufacturers to salvage the ailing colony in Jamestown.  Polish expertise in ship, glass, military and lumber industries helped the early settlers produce first “Made in America” goods to be exported to England and make profits for the London Company. For the next 400 years, skill exchange between the two nations was instrumental to mutual success. Polish military strategists Thaddeus Kosciusko and Casmir Pulaski played a pivotal role in the American Revolution. During Poland’s Partition (1795–1918) waves of Polish immigrants contributed to the boom in US railways, sawmills, coalmines, steel mills, iron foundries, textile factories, oil and sugar refineries. Following Woodrow Wilson’s Proclamation to reconstruct newly independent Poland, many Poles returned home after WWI with American experience and connections.

This week’s meeting at the Hoover Institution is a tribute of the long-standing historical bond between Poland and Stanford University. It was at Stanford in 1892 that Herbert Hoover, then a geology student, became indebted to Ignacy Paderewski, a world-renowned pianist and future Prime Minister of Poland, for a free benefit concert. Hoover repaid his debt with massive relief aid to hunger-stricken Poland following WWI, Soviet invasion (1920) and WWII. Today, Hoover Institution is a permanent home to the largest collections about twenty-century Poland outside of Poland, including the archives of Polish government in exile, Jan Karski papers, Siberian deportations and Solidarity underground literature.  Coincidently, the Hoover Institution is currently hosting an exhibit: “Katyn: Politics, Massacre, Morality that chronicles the Soviet security service mass murder of Poland’s elites in the spring of 1940. Visitors pondered the challenges and decisions of those before them.

“Could Poland end its dependence on Russian gas?”-the question of geopolitical and economic security was addressed in Shale Gas Meeting. “With deep drilling technology still in development, we are five years away of confirming the feasibility of shale gas excavation in Poland,” cautioned Maciej Powroznik, Deputy Strategy Director of Grupa Lotos S.A., oil and energy company in Gdansk. Large natural gas deposits in shale rock near the Baltic coast have generated much hope and excitement amid environmental concerns.  US energy giants won the drilling contracts and have already begun exploration.

As Russia nears completion of the Blue Stream and South Stream gas pipelines that will bypass Poland via Black Sea, experts stressed the importance of alternative sources of energy: Liquid Natural Gas, nuclear power, coal gasification and shale gas. The US Global Shale Gas Initiative aiming to identify viable shale gas deposits and ecologically sound drilling solutions is an important strategic bridge in Polish and US business relations, as reaffirmed this week in Washington by President Obama and President Komorowski.

Energy efficiency may provide partial solution, as discussed by panels moderated by Marek Samotyj, Technical Executive for Energy Utilization at Electric Power Research Institute and Prof. James Sweeney, Director of Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency at Stanford University. The symposium just scratched the surface of this enormous challenge.  Many participants wish to return for Global Technology Symposium at Stanford in March 2011. This week’s bilateral agreements on scientific cooperation in Washington increased the likelihood of large turnout in March.

PSVTS was an important step in forward thinking. Many more multidisciplinary and thought-provoking conferences are expected to follow. Participants feel deep gratitude to hosts Prof. Piotr Moncarz, Marek Zywno and Leszek Szalek for their enormous effort and leadership in making this historical event possible. Prof. Moncarz, is a Consulting Professor at Stanford University and Chair of US-Polish Trade Council. Marek Zywno and Leszek Szalek are President and Vice-President of Polish-American Engineers Club of Silicon Valley, respectively.

Earlier this year, Prof. Piotr Moncarz was named Gold Engineer of 2010 by NOT (Naczelna Organizacja Techniczna)/PTA (Polish Technology Association). NOT/PTA founded in 1835 in Paris, represents approximately 300,000 engineers in Poland and 200,000 Polish engineers around the world. The award was presented to Prof. Moncarz in September at the First World Conference of Polish Engineers in Warsaw, Poland. Congratulations to Prof. Moncarz on his distinction and to Polish engineers for their vision.

PSVTS sponsors and co-organizers: US-Polish Trade Council, San Francisco Krakow Sister City Association, Polish American Engineers Club of Silicon Valley, The Taube Foundation, Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Poland, Trade and Investment Section of Polish Embassy in Washington, DC, Polish Consulate General in Los Angeles, Stanford University, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, K&L Gates, Exponent, DisplayLink and Electric Power Research Institute.

Polish universities represented: AGH University of Science and Technology, Silesian University of Technology, Wroclaw University of Technology, Gdansk University of Technology, Rzeszow School of Business, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Warsaw University of Technology, Military Institute of Engineer Technology.

KLA-Tencor welcomes Poland-Silicon Valley Technology Symposium.