Issue date: 15 September 2009
A new centre of excellence for engineering and robotics has been launched in a disadvantaged area of Croatia with help from the University of the West of England and the European Union.
The staff from UWE's Bristol Institute for Technology (BIT) led the project and drew upon their extensive experience of industrial partnerships to set up the Centre of Mechatronics, Karlovac (CMK) in the north-east of Croatia. UWE was awarded 435,000 euros to set up the Centre ahead of Croatia's accession to the EU.
The Centre integrates activities between the Polytechnic and Technical School of Karlovac and the region's industry which includes power generation and brewing. Croatian students will benefit from more relevant courses, placements and the opportunity for hands-on training in local industries. The Technical School can now offer industry related apprenticeships and custom-built training for local companies. With input from the Polytechnic, the CMK can provide companies with consultancy, continuing professional development and advice on strategic development in areas such as mechanical and electronic engineering and robotics.
Project leader Farid Dailami was based for much of the last two years in Croatia, leading a team of three staff from BIT, backed up by advisers from UWE's Research, Business and Innovation group. He said, “The Centre has already generated significant interest in Karlovac and has benefitted from funding contributions and commercial contracts of around €15000 from industry and other local and national organisations. This 'pump priming' has enabled the Centre's management to focus on the future and formulate a growth strategy to fit the educational, industrial and commercial needs of Karlovac and its region.”
The project was launched at a ceremony at the Karlovac Chamber of Commerce. Representatives from UWE, the EU, Croatian European Development and Finance Ministries, the British Embassy, UK Trade International (UKTI) and local companies took part. The key note speaker was Philip Barker, vice-president sales and marketing in Europe for Rolls-Royce.
Project director John Lanham said, “The knowledge transferred from UWE will help strengthen the regional economy in this part of Croatia ahead of its accession to the EU by enhancing the availability of trained staff for the power generation and brewing industries and a wide range of SMEs. This is just the start - the involvement between Croatia and UWE will continue, with bids for more projects to build on this work. We are also setting up a link with the Polytechnic to enable staff from Karlovac to embark on PhD studies with us at UWE.”
For further news relating to this story, see:
UWE helps create engineering centre of excellence in Croatia
UWE helps Bosnia and Herzegovina prepare for EU