The Podlaskie region of northeastern Poland is best known for its natural beauty, dairy farming, and vast expanse of forest including Europe’s last ancient forest. It is also growing an innovative agriculture, food and health technology sector.
With the cleanest air in Poland and one-third of the region covered in forest, Podlaskie is considered the ‘green lungs of Europe’.
It is also aspiring to be something of a ‘Silicon Forest’ through its expanding technology and IT scene.
Historically one of the poorest regions in Poland, Podlaskie has benefitted from significant funding from the EU. The region is now classified an ’emerging innovator’ by the European Commission.
One of those innovators is local startup, Ideal Bistro which has devised an ingenious way to bring freshly cooked meals, sourced from local farmers, to the workplace.
Workers choose their meal on an application, then collect it from vending-style machines called ‘foodomats’.
Tomasz Kurzynka, Ideal Bistro co-founder, said the solution is unique, convenient and efficient.
“We can serve like 200 to 300 people during 20-minute breaks at once,” he explained.
The technology prevents food waste by forecasting exactly how much farmers need to produce. It also gives them a guaranteed income.
Ideal Bistro has begun working with dieticians, and using artificial intelligence, to create personalised meals that match an individual’s health and nutrition needs.
As Poland’s largest milk producer and a leader in agricultural machinery production, Podlaskie is looking to innovate in the primary industries sector.
Andrzej Borusiewicz, Professor of Agricultural Engineering, said the region wants to modernise agricultural production using the latest technologies, including robots and drones.
“This region is special because we have very high agriculture production. If we use modern technology, the food will be safer and more healthy. And the customers can buy cheaper food in the market. It can also help with green production, green energy,” he said.
Podlaskie has launched a project called Agricultural Valley 4.0 to drive innovation in the areas of agricultural, food and health technology.
The region is promoted to investors as a ‘place where the world of nature and the world of business meet in perfect harmony’ and the ‘home of ambitious people, whose ideas conquer international markets’.
“We decided to implement this project because our region is very strong in dairy production and agricultural machinery production,” Mariusz Dąbrowski, Director of Investor Assistance, Marshal’s Office, Podlaskie said.
“So if we connect this together with universities, research institutions, investors and public authorities, we can create, I hope, a wonderful innovation ecosystem.”
He said the organisation’s focus would be on growing local startups over the next five years.
“We’re going to create incubation and acceleration programmes. We want to connect this ecosystem with investors from outside, especially with business angels and venture capital funds.”
In the capital, Bialystok, the Medical University of Bialystok has created Poland’s first Center for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine.
The Agricultural Valley 4.0 project hopes to turn the centre’s scientists’ discoveries into commercially successful startups.
One of them, co-founded by clinical dietician Sylwia Naliwajko, is called NutriDesign Lab.
“I conduct scientific research into the quality of food and the safety of food. It helps elderly people by preventing neurodegenerative diseases,” she said.
“One of the elements of our dietary support is an app that helps evaluate the state of nutrition, another part is functional food.”
She said functional food can help fight disease due to its “treasure trove of bioactive ingredients”.
The company is now looking for financial support to start production of ‘functional foods’.
Source: Euro News