Poland – the new power on Europe’s startup map

Dariusz Żuk

About Dariusz Żuk

Dariusz Żuk is President and Co-founder of Entrepreneurial Poland (EP) — a think tank operating in the area of entrepreneurship; he is also President and Co-founder of AIP Group that is pursuing Entrepreneurial Poland’s strategy. He is an expert on entrepreneurship for Business Centre Club. He was awarded the Gold Cross of Merit by the President of the Republic of Poland for developing entrepreneurship in Poland. Twitter: @darekzuk

All over the world, words such as “innovation” or “startup” are coming to be a large part of almost every globally oriented, business conversation. That shouldn’t be a surprise if we take into account that “innovation,” and all that comes with it, is the exact factor driving the business of tomorrow.

However, the location of the best environment for innovation to rise it is not so obvious. Certainly there is Silicon Valley—a world Mecca for startups—and London, which definitely gathers large amounts of investment capital.

Nonetheless, it is worth emphasising that those are not the only locations where the spirit of entrepreneurship is dynamically rising. The Central and Eastern European countries, including Hungary,the Czech Republic, Romania, and Poland, are gathering speed in the global innovation race. That is clearly visible, especially in the case of Poland, where more and more startups are reaching global level—starting with Saule Technologies developing the new approach to photovoltaics by creating an elastic semi-transparent cell based on PET film, through Phenicoptere supplying women all over the world with a completely reinvented makeup removal accessory, and ending with Atsora, recently invited to FinTech Innovation Lab London, a startup offering an innovative platform for managing financial processes in SMEs.

The reason why Polish startups are growing so dynamically is complex. Primarily it is the level of knowledge and skills developed by young entrepreneurs during their education.  With over twenty state tech universities (usually located in major economically thriving Polish cities) and a large number of private tech colleges, Poland gives young people a solid education, allowing and encouraging them to transform their own ideas into regular business.

The second reason behind the dynamic growth of Polish entrepreneurship lies in the economic and financial sphere. Despite its worldwide business network, the cost of tech/web/app development in Poland is still relatively low, sometimes just a third the cost in Western Europe or the US.

Last but not least is Poland’s constantly growing startup environment. With multiple Technology Parks, co-working spaces, startup incubators, and Europe’s largest network of innovative business accelerators (10)—Business Link—with 45 Academic Business Incubators and over 1,600 startups in one ecosystem, Poland is creating a milieu which effectively helps young startups to grow and develop. One should also mention the increasing number of startup conferences, meetings (Open Reaktor, Startup Weekend, ICT Web Summit or Grow up Startup) and initiatives (various hacathons, Geek Girls Carrots etc.).

And the future of Polish entrepreneurship looks bright. According to the report issued on the 25th Talks (1989), over 89 per cent of young people who took the poll declared this to be the best time to start their own business and over 70 per cent saw Poland as the proper place to start it. Considering that the goals for many Polish entrepreneurial activists focus on creating the most effective national supporting startup system, this entrepreneurial scene needs to be carefully observed.

The editorial was co-written by Marcin Kozłowski is Global Manager in Business Link — the largest network of innovative business accelerators in Europe.

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