Welcome to our interview series with the partners running Better Factory. Today we are lucky to be joined by one of our all-star team, Piotr Wojciechowski, to learn more about Bydgoszcz Industrial Cluster Tool Valley (BIC) and their role in the project!

Piotr Wojciechowski is the Managing Director of Bydgoszcz Industrial Cluster Tool Valley (BIC). The members of the Bydgoszcz Industrial Cluster constitute a chain of suppliers – they offer both polymers and additives (masterbatches, fillers, modifying agents), manufacture a complete range of tools for plastics processing (moulds, blow moulds, extrusion heads, rubber injection moulds), along with machining tools (blanking dies, stamping dies and forging dies).

Thank you for joining us today! Please could you give us a short introduction to Bydgoszcz Industrial Cluster Tool Valley (BIC), based in Poland, and your work in the tool and plastics processing industry? And what is your role here?

I also thank you for this meeting! Bydgoszcz Industrial Cluster Tool Valley is the largest cluster in Poland, bringing together companies in the toolmaking and plastic processing industry, as well as a number of business-related institutions. Our name is not a coincidence – the ‘Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship‘ is the largest area of companies of this branch in the country and one of the largest in Central Europe. About 1,000 of those companies operate here – that’s why the region is called the “Tool Valley”.

The cluster’s aim is to integrate processing and tool experts, represent their interests outside the industry and also establish a network of business connections facilitating company operations, access to human resources, increase technological development, and boost innovation in production.

Our role in the Better Factory project is to represent one of the main sectors of the target group – plastics and rubber – which translates mainly into promoting the project and the opportunities it offers among entities from our industry. Seeing how many benefits can be gained from participation in the “Knowledge Transfer Program”, we want to encourage both BIC members and other companies to apply for the Open Call. We’re happy to be part of this initiative.

Thank you! As you are involved in supporting applicants as they prepare a proposal to take part in the project, could you give us a brief explanation of how this went for the first batch of applicants?

I have to admit that we faced some challenges in the 1st Open Call. Firstly, Better Factory was our first so big international project and therefore new to our members, so we needed time to learn. What’s more, companies in our industry don’t have much experience in working with artists, thus it was difficult for us to explain them the idea of the project, benefits they may have from taking part in Better Factory and encouraging them to apply for Open Call.

Luckily, this has changed in the 2nd Open Call. In our opinion, physical consortium meetings organized in second year of the project were very helpful, which due to the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t be held earlier. Better Factory consists of 28 partners from 18 EU countries, so joint meetings are needed to focus on the project for a few days, take part together in workshops or just get to know each other and share ideas. The result of this was a better understanding of the project and good promotion on our part. As a result, the plastics and rubber sector gained the largest number of applications in the “Expression of Interest” stage, and Poland is second country in terms of the number of submitted applications. We are very pleased with this result.

We hope that the RAMP platform will become their new tool for establishing cooperation with entities from Europe.

You are also involved in the dissemination and marketing of the Better Factory project. Could you tell us about this aspect of the project from your point of view?

Promotional activity isn’t something new for us. Initiatives undertaken by the Bydgoszcz Industrial Cluster Tool Valley – organized fairs, trainings, meetings for members, projects – require marketing and promotional activities on a daily basis. Moreover, the Cluster is also the leader of the promotion of other international projects such as AMULET from the H2020 programme, or ELCA Internationalization from the COSME initiative. Better Factory is a specific project, because the promotion needs to be adjusted to 3 different target groups: SMEs, artists and technology providers, and each of them is in a completely different world.

Based on the results of 1st Open Call, we also noticed that project promotion among SMEs should be more targeted – not for all BIC members like it was in 1st Open Call – but rather focus only on those whose activities fit in with the Better Factory initiative and to those who are open to the kind of international cooperation included in the Knowledge Transfer Program.

What do you expect for the results of Better Factory, particularly in terms of sustainability and exploitation activities after the project end?

We believe that participation in such a large innovative project will give SMEs new development opportunities, valuable business contacts and show a completely new perspective on their activities. We hope that the RAMP platform will become their new tool for establishing cooperation with entities from Europe.

No doubt there will be some readers that are keen to meet you to talk more about the project and your role in it. Which events can people find you at in 2022, and beyond?

BIC actively participates in various types of fairs, conferences and seminars, promoting both cluster activities, our members and projects with which we are partners. However, the most important event for us, to which I want to invite you our readers to, is 5th International Cooperative Trade Fair of the Tools and Processing Industry INNOFORM, of which we are the main organizer.  

This year’s fifth edition will be held in Bydgoszcz on September 27-29, 2022.  

The INNOFORM® trade fair is a complete event with deep technical and educational significance. Producers and distributors present the latest technologies, machines and tools. The event is also an arena for premieres and new products as well as a place for conferences, during which scientists and practitioners discuss current difficulties related to the processing of polymer materials. The fair is accompanied by a conference, the subject of which will be focused on Industry 4.0 solutions in our industry and the shortening of value chains. INNOFORM is also the Brokerage event in the hybrid form and an educational day. 

It is worth mentioning that the Better Factory initiative was presented already during last year’s edition of the event, so this year it cannot be missed as well. During the Fair, you will be able to find a space dedicated to the international projects, including Better Factory. We invite you to participate in this event today – both physically in Bydgoszcz, as well as online by participating in the Brokerage event. 

We encourage you to follow our profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, where we publish information about other events we organize! 

If you’d like to learn more about our partners or KTEs, just head back to the Insights section to read more interviews!