Eleventh Edition of Poland’s Top 500 Innovators Program at Stanford University

Eleventh Edition of Poland’s Top 500 Innovators Program at Stanford University

We all know the simple and true saying “All good things must come to an end,” since things we enjoy and nurture, things we support and embrace eventually come to an end. On November 20, 2015, the eleventh edition (the Top 40.11 Group) of the Poland’s Top 500 InnovatorsScience Management Commercialization Program (the Program), instituted by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Poland and co-organized by the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD) with the assistance of US-Polish Trade Council (USPTC), concluded at Stanford University. During a memorable commencement ceremony and a farewell gala dinner, the graduates were presented with Stanford certificates. There were many heartfelt speeches made e.g. by prof. Piotr D. Moncarz, Chairman of USPTC, prof. Michael Lepech, Stanford Academic Director of the Top 500 Innovators Program, and Carissa Little, Managing Director of Programs at SCPD. There were words of gratitude and tokens of appreciation offered by the dedicated and talented Top 40.11 Group’s leaders, Michał Maciejewski and Katarzyna Kwaśny. And finally, there were gratifying moments of overlapping feelings of pride, achievement, happiness and tears.

Because of a big and strong vision of few, this prestigious program was possible. In this case, we should bend our heads to prof. Barbara Kudrycka, the Minister of Science and Higher Education in Poland, who initiated the Program in 2011, and prof. Piotr D. Moncarz, who linked virtuosically together with Mr. Paul Marca, Director at SCPD, the Polish Ministry’s objectives with Stanford University’s great academic capabilities. As a result of that effort, the Polish Ministry selected Stanford University for seven of the thirteen editions of the Program for the implementation of the Program. Thus, 270 top Polish R&D professionals completed a nine-week academic and training program at Stanford University raising their qualifications in technology transfer, broadening their business horizons and sparking their innovation-driven perspectives.

The stimulating and interesting course work delivered by the Stanford faculty, focused on innovation, execution, leadership, entrepreneurship, intellectual property, technology, business creating and design thinking, reflected the unique innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem of Silicon Valley. Throughout the program, the participants were engaged in numerous interactive workshops, research, hands-on team projects and meetings with well-known Silicon Valley executives. Additionally, the Top 40.11 Group had an opportunity to experience research and innovation in practice by visiting many leading technology companies based in Silicon Valley such as Digicom Electronics, Cisco Systems, Cutera, Exponent, GoDaddy, Google, Keysight and Qualcomm. By meeting with partners of Artiman Ventures in Palo Alto, the members of the Top 40.11 Group had a firsthand advantage to get familiar with the Silicon Valley’s vital venture capital ecosystem. The group had also a rare opportunity to visit the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) in San Francisco, where CIRM’s leadership presented its objectives for prospective cooperation between CIRM and Polish scientists and researchers. Besides all the hard work, the Top 40.11 Group had time to integrate and enjoy the cultural and social aspects of California’s living by attending San Francisco Giant’s baseball game at the AT&T Park, the Stanford Cardinal football’s game at the Stanford Arena and, finally, the Golden State Warriors’ NBA basketball game at the Oracle Arena. On top of that, they had few unforgettable sightseeing trips to most attractive places across California, such as San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Napa Valley and Muir Woods, to name a few.

At the end of this last edition of the Program, the participants of Top 40.11 Group presented in front of the Stanford faculty their knowledge and hands-on experience in applied project posters and interdisciplinary term-projects gained as a result of the Program. One of the final projects was a movie “Sky is the Limit” made by the Top 500 group. Please watch the magic of this program and its last edition in this short movie.

We, at USPTC, dear Top 500 alumni, hope that these nine weeks were a successful, interesting and unforgettable journey of your life, which changed your way of thinking and unleashed your exceptional potential and talents in relation to business creation and innovation.

We thank you for being a well-integrated, open-minded and engaged group of individualists, who showed us that, despite ups and downs, your group prevailed as one united and brilliant team. You just proved that team is everything!

We wish you to be inspired Polish science and science-to-business leaders who will fearlessly change the Polish and world scenes for the better, following prof. Piotr D. Moncarz’s encouraging words: The future is in your hands! Sky is your limit!! Just do it!!! 

Please take time to watch the presentation ”That’s it or what’s next,” in which prof. Piotr D. Moncarz talks about the genesis of the Program, its administration at Stanford University as well as the future and new initiatives of the alumni of the Program.

For additional information on the Program, picture galleries and description of certain events attended by the participants of the Program, you may visit www.usptc.org and www.top500innovators.org.

Please read the reflections of the participants of the eleventh edition of the Program:

• I think, that in general the stay was an amazing opportunity to meet great people from Poland as well as Silicon Valley. Network of contacts established this way would definitely be helpful in the future through collaboration while approaching new challenges. Personally, I learned plenty of methods on presentation, communications, and innovation, which I will surely apply in my research.

Michał Maciejewski, Doctoral Student at Lodz University of Technology, Leader of the Top 500 Innovators’ group

• The Top 500 Innovators Program was an experience and adventure of a lifetime. It was a chance to meet outstanding people from our dream group, Stanford as well as USPTC.  I strongly believe that the opportunity of sharing knowledge and cooperation with those wonderful people make me feel that it’s not the end it’s the beginning of better future.

Dr Edyta Krzystała, Silesian University of Technology

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