Cooperation between science and economy: signing of a letter of intent between the National Federation of Poultry Breeders and Egg Producers, the University of Gdańsk, and Univentum Labs

Widok sali 411 - goście przy okrągłym stole

Photo by Alan Stocki

Poland is the largest producer of poultry meat in Europe and the third largest exporter of this meat in the world. The value of production reaches PLN 43 billion annually. One of the challenges faced by both poultry breeders and egg producers is salmonella. Cases of detection of these bacteria in countries to which Polish products are exported, in addition to the need to pay compensation, bring serious image losses to breeders. In order to effectively eliminate the threat, representatives of the poultry industry decided to cooperate with the world of science. On Monday, July 1, 2024, a letter of intent was signed between the National Federation of Poultry Breeders and Egg Producers (KFHDiPJ), the University of Gdańsk, and Univentum Labs.

'We are happy to meet today within the walls of the University of Gdańsk and to initial this extremely important agreement,' said the Rector of the University of Gdańsk, prof. dr hab. Piotr Stepnowski. Firstly, we are carrying out our developmental research (...), but we are also establishing long-term - I hope - cooperation with the National Poultry and Egg Breeders' Federation, so that the Pomeranian Voivodeship - our region - becomes a true leader in innovation in food safety. As a chemist and environmental protection specialist, I know very well how important safe food is. Today, without modern research and scientific solutions, without innovation in food production technologies, we do not have a chance to compete with healthy, safe and uninfected food. That is why I am so pleased that this important and strategic agreement is being signed.

After the Rector's speech, the 2nd Pomeranian Deputy Voivode, Anna Olkowska-Jacyno, took the floor: 'I think that a new space is opening up to talk about the food security of the region, and not only the region,' she said. She also underlined the fact that the initiative is related to the so-called intelligent specialisations of Pomerania. ‘These are such specialisations, which are part of the economic area and are - firstly - innovative, secondly, they have a huge potential for development, which in turn leads to the competitiveness of our region (...) I warmly congratulate you and I am glad that Pomerania bets on common development and common health: the health of residents, animal health, development of the environment - because we treat it as one ecosystem.’

A member of the Pomeranian Voivodeship Board, Adam Gawrylik , expressed his joy at being involved in a venture which ties in with the Pomeranian Voivodeship's strategy for healthy food. According to the representative of the Marshal's Office, this pioneering project has the potential to benefit not only the region, but also research objectives nationwide.

The chairman of the KFHDiPJ, Paweł Podstawka, talked about the beginnings of the project. ‘The project began three years ago with a few people who decided to allocate funds to work on innovative solutions for controlling salmonella - knowing that the best promotion for Polish poultry meat would be its complete freedom from these bacteria, he said. The success of the team with prof. dr hab. Alicja Węgrzyn is the development of a bank of salmonella strains that are specific to Poland. This solution will allow us to avoid possible suspicions towards the Polish economy related to the contamination or supply of products contaminated with salmonella. Mr Paweł Podstawka also pointed to the very high standards imposed by the PAS - which necessitates the development of innovative solutions, necessary to remain "in the top economic league" in the sector. The Chairman of KFHDiPJ also recalled Poland's current position in poultry meat production on a European and global scale.

The President of the Management Board of Univentum Labs sp. z o.o. , dr hab. Wojciech Bizon, prof. UG, recalled jointly implemented projects. At the same time, he emphasised that future cooperation will be on a much larger scale. He expressed his delight at both the confidence of existing business partners and the opportunity to cooperate with scientists conducting pioneering research at UG. ‘Today's meeting is proof that we are able to combine world-class science with practice and the business environment, he stressed. ‘We are fighting for an important sector of the Polish economy to win in global competition.

dr hab. Wojciech Bizon, prof. ug, prof. dr hab. Piotr Stepnowski, Paweł Podstawka podczas podpisywania listu intencyjnego

Signing the letter of intent; photo by Alan Stocki

The goal of future cooperation between the University of Gdańsk, the National Poultry and Egg Producers Federation and Univentum Labs (a special purpose vehicle of the University of Gdańsk) is to create a research centre in Pomerania specialising in combating salmonella. Innovative preparations will be developed there, which can be used throughout the entire meat and egg production cycle and will allow antibiotics to be eliminated from poultry farming.

According to the letter of intent, the research being conducted meets the needs of the Pomeranian Region in the area of Smart Specialisation No. 4, i.e. Joint Health - Medical technologies for human, animal and environmental health as one common ecosystem. Each party has declared its willingness to cooperate based on its experience, resources and capabilities. The University of Gdańsk contributes resources such as a team of scientists, a machinery and laboratory park and know-how, Univentum Labs is to provide research infrastructure and expertise in conducting research and implementation projects, while KFHDiPJ is to provide capital, research material and market knowledge. The detailed scope of cooperation will be governed by separate agreements.

The joint initiative of the University of Gdańsk, KFHDiP and Univentum Labs opens up the possibility of creating a research and development infrastructure that no university in the country currently has. In turn, the development of innovative solutions for the elimination of salmonella will contribute to an increase in nutritional safety not only in the Pomeranian Voivodeship but also in the whole of Poland.

Karolina Żuk-Wieczorkiewicz/Press Team