After our latest announcement about a new CIC location opening in Warsaw in 2020, the excitement came, as it always does, with a question: Why Poland?
But when we looked at the factors that allow innovation to flourish, we found ourselves asking, “Why not Poland?”
Here are five reasons we believe this European capital is one of the next big innovation cities:
1. Poland is ready to grow
Since 1989, Poland’s economy has been one of the fastest growing in Europe, more than doubling its GDP. Yet the nation has its sights set even higher.
Poland and its businesspeople want to be known for more than inexpensive labor. They recognize that innovation, especially when paired with a highly educated workforce, is the ticket to more growth, new partnerships, and a greater position on the international business stage.
2. Polish innovation has government support
After moving away from communism in the 1980s, much of Poland’s economic growth came via western investment, which put large chunks of the economy in the hands of other nations.
Now, as a way to increase Polish economic independence, the government has taken a stronger role in improving local entrepreneurship. They’re working to make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to thrive, while also helping shift investment, both foreign and domestic, toward technology, energy, and fintech.
3. As goes Poland, so goes the EU
Poland’s membership in the EU has always been a bit complicated. But Europe doesn’t waver in its support for Polish innovation, as it’s a key part of stabilizing the sometimes rocky relationship.
Poland’s innovation class, mostly young and progressive, will help keep the specter of nationalism and government overreach in check, and could even push Poland to adopt the euro as its currency, further solidifying its connection to the rest of the Union.
4. Poland is a gateway to the East
Poland serves as the frontier of much investment in Eastern European businesses. By positing itself as a new international leader in innovation, Poland’s rise will help bridge the gap between west and east.
Economically, this means more dollars and euros flowing into underrepresented Eastern Europe, a region which accounts for 39 percent of the continent’s population but only 17 percent of its GDP.
5. Poland leads the pack
In BCG’s 2015 Sustainable Economic Development Assessment, Poland outshone 147 other nations, leading in overall ranking for converting wealth and growth into national well-being. In 2016, HackerRank, a major host of free coding challenges, placed Poland third on a list of best nations for coding skills, particularly in Java.
On the infrastructure front, Warsaw will soon be home to the tallest building in the EU: At 310 meters (1017 feet), the Varso Tower is slated for completion by 2020. It’s but one of a dozen skyscrapers going up in Warsaw over the next two years.
With these pieces in place — talent, recent economic growth, and government support — creating the infrastructure for innovation is the next step in Warsaw’s ascent.