The Podkarpackie Region covers an area of over 17,840 sq.km and it is located in the southeastern Poland. The Region is inhabited by more than 2.1 million people. The main city of the region is the City of Rzeszów (www.rzeszow.pl).
The Government of the Podkarpackie Region actively supports the development of the aviation and space industry in the Region. One of the types of support entails announcing the aviation and aerospace branch as a leading smart specialization of the Region. The specialization has been announced, among other priority areas, in the Podkarpackie Region Innovation Strategy for the years 2014-2020 for Smart Specialization (RIS3) – a strategic document adopted by the Council of the Podkarpackie Region on 25 May, 2015 and updated on 28 November, 2016. This results in allocation of public support for projects and initiatives that contribute to the rapid development of this branch in the Region.
Space technologies are increasingly compatible with many aviation, information and telecommunications technologies. The information and telecommunication technologies (ICT) are also indicated in the Podkarpackie Regional Innovation Strategy for the years 2014-2020 for smart specialization (RIS3) as a supporting smart specialization of the Podkarpackie Region.
Due to highly educated human resources and major potential of the companies located in the region, the Podkarpackie has a chance to become one of the Polish aerospace leading regions.
The aerospace industry located in the Podkarpackie Region comprises of over 150 entities that are employing almost 25,000 people and their sales reaches $2 billion. The aerospace industry located in the region represents 90% of the entire Polish industry in this sector. Most of the companies are associated in the Aviation Valley – Aircraft Industry Entrepreneurs Association (www.dolinalotnicza.pl). The Aviation Valley main objective is to strengthen the role of southeastern Poland as one of Europe’s leading aerospace regions. In 2015, the Aviation Valley cluster which is based in Rzeszów was granted the status of the National Key Cluster. It is a cluster of great importance for Polish economy and it is competitive on an international scale. In the Podkarpackie Region there are companies from aerospace sector that are owned by global corporations and companies with Polish capital. The companies produce airplanes, helicopters, aircraft engines, APU auxiliary engines, airplane chassis, airplane gears, turbine modules and hundreds of other complex components and assemblies, using the most modern technologies and materials such as monocrystals or composite materials.
In order to ensure further dynamic development of the Podkarpackie Region, it is necessary to find areas for cooperation between the aviation and space industries and to utilize the Region’s technological potential.
To achieve the above mentioned goals, the Region’s authorities and their partners, including entrepreneurs, clusters, R&D institutions, are taking steps to engage in international projects and initiatives.
In 2012, Poland joined the European Space Agency (ESA) and in 2014 the Polish Space Agency was created (www.polsa.gov.pl).
Confirmation of the importance of the Podkarpackie Region in the development of space technologies was the establishment of the Regional Office of the Polish Space Agency in Rzeszów in 2014. The Agency has plans to create its own laboratories and to work on issues connected with defense and security of Poland, as well as to provide public administration with products and services based on satellite and space technologies. The Rzeszów branch specializes in cooperation with the aerospace industry as well as in international cooperation, primarily with Ukraine and the countries of the Central and Eastern Europe.
In November 2016, the Podkarpackie Region, acting in consortium with the Rzeszów University of Technology, the Rzeszów University, the Aviation Valley cluster and the Rzeszow Regional Development Agency, has submitted to the Polish Space Agency an initial offer to establish an Entrepreneurship Incubator of European Space Agency – ESA BIC in the Podkarpackie. The Incubator would support the development of the Polish space sector as well as business entities from this sector in their early stages of development. The Incubator would also provide business and technology consulting services in various fields connected with space industry.
The Podkarpackie main feature is well-developed educational system as well as training and R&D facilities within two leading universities: the Rzeszów University of Technology (www.w.prz.edu.pl) and the Rzeszow University (www.ur.edu.pl). These universities offer well-trained employees as well as laboratories and expert support for companies that would like to develop innovative technologies and solutions. Modern laboratories located on the universities conduct researches in many fields e.g. advanced materials used in aviation industry. At the Rzeszów University of Technology there is a Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics, where pilots have been trained for over 40 years and some of the them are widely recognized around the world.
Among the initiatives of the Government of the Podkarpackie Region, that are aiming at support of the development of space technologies, there are different events organized and among them are: the first European Robot Congress and the third edition of the European Rover Challenge European Mars Races. It was the biggest space and robotics event in Europe, held in September 2016 in the Exhibition and Congress Center of the Podkarpackie Region in Jasionka near Rzeszów. About 400 talented constructors from around the world and ca. 20,000 visitors took part in the event.