On 27 October 2020, a time capsule will be buried in the foundations of the new SMK University of Applied Social Sciences campus to mark the start of the second stage of construction for Baltic Tech Park.

SMK, Baltic Tech Park and the Lighthouse Innovation Infrastructure Fund are developing a joint initiative aimed at becoming a breakthrough for Klaipėda City, by attracting and educating young talent and promoting an entrepreneurial spirit. Starting in September 2021, the infrastructure on Liepų Street near the Light House coworking centre will host the new SMK campus and the first Digital Innovation Hub in Western Lithuania.

The plan is to develop a modern infrastructure that will encourage the establishment of innovation-oriented companies, while fostering a culture of cooperation and cultivating new talent. Baltic Tech Park will strive to become a major centre to attract young people, investors, entrepreneurs and experienced experts to gather in Klaipėda, where they will share their knowledge and contribute to the city’s economic development. The main activities of the park will be focused on the principles of the circular economy, integrity and the secondary use of resources.

Baltic Tech Park features an open innovation ecosystem that can respond to modern economic and social development trends and will promote social, emotional and business relations between different individuals and organisations. This novel, energetic and constantly renewing space will encourage creativity and discovery. It is designed to generate and develop new business models, digitisation, social, cultural and educational innovations. The park will not only be a physical infrastructure, but also a techno-cultural space that allows people to work, but also to create and relax.

“The establishment of SMK in Baltic Tech Park is a strategic direction that we have chosen in order to integrate chains that will generate high added value. We see great potential in developing technological and social innovations in collaboration with various businesses and creating new study and training programmes that can respond to the resulting business needs. We believe that Baltic Tech Park will become a unique attraction in Klaipėda, where the presence of the SMK University of Applied Social Sciences will contribute to the promotion of student entrepreneurship and the development of joint education-business projects within this infrastructure,” said Gabija Skučaitė, Chancellor of SMK.

Commenting on the changes that await the college, SMK Director Viktorija Palubinskienė stated that becoming a modern and contemporary educational infrastructure adapted to applied studies is one of SMK’s approaches to education. Therefore, transferring the college campus to Baltic Tech Park will create an environment that will awaken the students’ creativity. It will also allow them to use innovative equipment that is necessary for the development of competencies in different study programmes and to achieve excellent results through developing unique practical projects.

The added-value of the park will be generated by gathering entrepreneurs, experienced experts, scientists, young talents and developers in one place. In terms of cooperation and learning, the aim will be to combine various innovative product development platforms into one chain. During the development of the infrastructure, a great deal of attention will be paid to the modality of the complex and to ensuring the social and psychological comfort of employees and clients.

“The open innovation model is one that is rapidly gaining popularity throughout the world. Such a model allows organisations to open up by implementing innovation programmes with a number of external partners – start-ups, technological companies and innovation intermediaries. The expertise of these external partners and their fresh approach to business challenges encourages creative solutions and the successful implementation of new ideas. Coworking centres, like the one that we are currently building in Klaipėda, are rapidly growing in number all over the world. They become a bit like small towns, where individuals and organisations from different disciplines work together to create real progress,” said Šarūnas Butkus, Head of Baltic Tech Park.

“The project is unique because, although the site itself is located in an industrial part of the city, it is a place designed for the development of social, innovation and sustainability ideas. A critical mass will create innovations in a concentrated area: the students, entrepreneurs and innovators who “inhabit” the Baltic Tech Park complex will be able to share their thoughts and immediately test their ideas by making prototypes or developing business projects. When we were designing the second building of this complex, we created spaces and auditoriums adapted for learning to allow individuals to master specific technologies. The materials used in the facades were chosen to give the complex an integral and memorable character, while also taking the general context of Klaipėda into account,” explained Paulius Latakas, Head of 2L Architects.

The Lighthouse Innovation Infrastructure Fund envisions the further development of similar parks in the Baltic Sea Region. The goal is to create a fast-growing network that will foster a culture of cooperation where businesses, research institutions and corporate service providers can access a sustainable ecosystem for smart economic and social development.