On 24th November, 2017 an international robotics conference with over 100 participants from industry, science and education, and national as well as local political fields took place in Panevezys Science and Technology Park. Discussions revolved around global robotics trends, Industry 4.0 challenges and opportunities and how Panevėžys could take the lead and become a recognised hub of robotics in Europe. In parallel there also was a robotics workshop for school students from ages 7 to 18 to try out robotics as an educational activity with over 200 kids participating.
The answer to a natural question – why Panevezys should strive to become an internationally recognised robotics hub – is because Panevezys has always been an industrial city, especially lately with global engineering and manufacturing companies investing here (Schmitz Cargobull, AQ Wiring Systems, Roquette Group, etc.) – companies that have a vision to be ahead using sophisticated technologies, not least including the use of robotics. The city is rich with talent, engineering competences, scientific community that is very strongly focused on robotics and mechatronics – skills that can be applied locally, regionally and internationally. For Panevėžys here lies the opportunity to be ahead of the flow of the 4th industrial revolution and to become a recognised robotics hub in Europe.
Speakers of the international conference included Joost Nijhoff (Denmark), CEO of Invest in Odense; Ali Muhammad (Finland), Principal Investigator at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland; Mayor of the City of Panevezys Rytis Račkauskas; Arnoldas Pranckevičius, Head of Representation in Lithuania at European Commission, Honorary Ambassador of Panevėžys City Alumni Club; Mantas Gudas, President of Panevėžys Industrialists’ Association; Lukas Savickas, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Lithuania and others.
Moderator of the discussion was Sander van der Molen, Associate Partner at Civitta. Discussion followed the main question – what’s the future for robotics in Panevėžys? What are the industry needs in Panevėžys? How do we match those needs and the supply? If we close the gap between the two and create a robotic ecosystem, then everything else follows – we can spin-off and share the competences, strengthen the education system locally, position the city of Panevėžys as a recognised robotics hub in Europe, focus all education levels to a strong specialisation, etc.
Participants included Raimundas Petrauskas, Managing Director at Schmitz Cargobull Baltic; Bjarne Moller, COO of Devold and all of the speakers.
Closing speech was delivered by Thomas Solupajev-Ronlev (Denmark, Lithuania), who is a Representative of Panevėžys Strategic Industry 4.0 Group and also the Chairman of the Board of Lithuanian Robotics Association.
Organisers and partners of the event: Panevėžys City Alumni Club, Civitta, Lithuanian Robotics Association, Panevėžys City Municipality, Panevėžys Free Economic Zone, Factobotics, Panevėžys Industrialists’ Association, Panevėžys Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Crafts.