In fact, the Polish tech scene has gone through a unique growth process in recent years. Today Poland is one of the central hotspots for technology and digitization in Europe and is now also a global innovation leader at the forefront of digitization and technology. But the development does not come as a surprise.
Economic growth and digital transformation in Poland
While Silicon Valley is known for its tech innovations, new locations around the world have also developed and above all developed further in the last decade. A tech boom has also taken place in other countries, in different environments and under different premises. 2020 was a record year for the European tech scene, with a total of $ 43.1 billion in European tech investments. An inspiring example of this is Poland.
According to Nasdaq, Poland has one of the largest tech talent pools in Europe. No wonder well-established players are investing in the Polish tech scene. For example, US semiconductor manufacturer Intel recently opened one of its larger research and development sites in Gdansk. Younger generations meet in the coworking spaces and innovation labs in Warsaw. Last May, Microsoft communicated a digital transformation plan in Poland and invested one billion dollars; that includes access to local cloud services and the first data center region.
Another aspect that makes the Polish tech scene interesting is that Number of women in the tech industry. The McKinsey study “The rise of digital challengers” shows that the gender pay gap among MINT graduates in Eastern European countries is small. In 2016, the proportion of female STEM graduates was 40 percent, while in other European countries such as France, Italy and the UK it was only 33 percent. In our company, too, 11 of the 14 management positions in the GCC Circle are held by women.
The strength of the tech scene in Poland can be seen attribute the coincidence of a number of socio-economic issues: First, Poland’s growing economic performance is the solid, driving force behind the flourishing of the tech scene. Today Poland is the sixth largest economy in the EU and the largest in Eastern Europe. The GDP of Poland shows that the size of the Polish economy has actually doubled in the last 25 years. To be more precise: Between 1991 and 2001 Poland achieved an annual GDP growth of 4.6 percent. Poland’s solid economy is fertile ground from which innovative companies grow. The new startups in turn bring new opportunities for the tech scene and drive growth. (McKinsey study “How Poland can become a European growth engine”)
Second, there are many qualified graduates in Poland, including many graduates in natural sciences that represent added value for the Polish tech scene. In 2019, according to the Harvard Business Review, Poland ranked fifth among the best qualified labor markets in the world. In addition, Poland is still building on a cost-wage advantage.
Poland’s big cities in tech change
In addition to Warsaw, the blossoming of the Polish tech scene can also be seen in other cities. In Krakow, for example, a city that is home to three technical universities. In 2018, 40 percent of the startups that raised an amount of 2.5 million euros (or more) in funding rounds were based in Krakow. Brainly, an edtech company, is based in this city.
If you look back and look at the events and changes over the past few decades, we see that the global digital revolution is only just beginning. According to the McKinsey study “Digital Poland, Capturing the opportunity to join leading global economies” from 2016 “even the USA has only realized 18 percent of its digitization potential”. So there is no ready-made plan for the journey of digitization.
From the growing economic importance of Poland in combination with the emerging dev scene and the authentic , historically rooted gaming tradition, presents a fantastic opportunity for Poland. All these aspects make it possible for Poland to participate in digitization and a tech-based economy on a global level.
The faces of the Polish technology industry
The fact that the growth movement of the Polish economy forms a solid backbone for the further development of innovative technology branches in Poland is not Secret. There are great examples of sectors and companies that are thriving in Poland. In the following, we highlight the five most important sectors that are driving the tech industry. Meet: Silicon Polska.
When it comes to the video games industry, Poland occupies one of the leading roles in the world. The authentic gaming tradition in Poland is the solid foundation upon which Poland’s thriving games industry was valued at $ 664 million in 2019. Today Poland is home to the international trade fair for computer and video games “Poznan Game Arena” and one of the most popular esports events, the Intel Extreme Masters. Poland is the largest exporter of computer and video games in all of Europe. Worldwide, the country only has to rank behind China, Japan and Hong Kong.
One of the main drivers for the success of this industry is CD Projekt, the largest computer and video game company in Europe. CD Projekt is the company behind the successful Witcher game trilogy and recently launched Cyberpunk 2077. In May 2020, CD Projekt reached a valuation of $ 8.1 billion. Behind CD Projekt Red is a group of dedicated game developers who share their popular games with the world. Today CD Projekt is the most valuable game developer in Europe, and that even before the giant Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed).
11 Bit Studio
Founded in 2009, the indie development studio 11 Bits Studio has groundbreaking games shaped the entire games industry: This War Of Mine and Frostpunk. The Warsaw-based company is the second largest and most important game developer in Poland. Your game This War Of Mine is anything but an ordinary game. It tells the unique, breathtaking story of civilian life during the war, which led to the game being viewed as “required reading” for middle and high schools in Poland. It is already one of those special games that, like the indie simulation Papers, please, explore the boundaries of games, narration, art and politics.
During the global pandemic, the The home office situation in families, combined with the temporary closure of daycare centers and schools, increasingly brought learning apps onto the radar of parents. In Poland there are numerous developers in the field who built corresponding products long before the pandemic – in Warsaw alone there are 33 Edtech studios.
Michal Borkowski founded the educational platform Brainly for Students, parents and teachers with the idea: “Nobody knows everything, but everyone knows something”. Brainly is based in Krakow. Today Brainly has 150 million users. The platform is based on peer-to-peer learning: a social learning community in which users answer academic questions for other users, i.e. an opportunity to exchange insights on their own questions. It’s about sharing wisdom and knowledge with like-minded people. According to Forbes, Brainly is “the first edtech platform in Poland to cover all subjects in a high school curriculum”. Brainly is a good example of innovative strength and a success story of how digital education can be experienced today.
Digitization and SaaS
Digitization also plays a major role in Poland. The companies based there with expertise in the digital field have a wide range of products and services that they successfully offer in Europe and around the world.
The media monitoring tool enables online -Reputation management for companies. Brand24 was founded in 2011 by four developers. The team behind the tool is a diverse group of visionary people. The recent cooperation with the popular business tool Slack, which made it possible to integrate their social mentions with Slack, proves that their growth process continues. To paint a concrete picture: Brand24 helps to overview the media landscape and to get an insight into the dynamic development of topics before they escalate and in the worst case damage the image of a company or a brand. Fans of the platform include Ikea, Intel and Michelle Obama, who use the service to monitor campaigns.
In Poland, too, e-commerce is on the rise. In 2020, the Polish Chamber of E-Commerce published a report that found that 77 percent of Polish internet users bought their goods from internet shops Respectively. That’s an increase of 21 percent since 2018. There is only one name at the top of the online marketplaces, and it’s not called Ebay or Amazon – but Allegro.pl.
Allegro is with the most popular e-commerce platform in Poland for its twelve million buyers – and the fifth most visited online marketplace in Europe. Founded in 1999, the e-commerce platform focuses on the domestic market and with great success. The online marketplace has made a great contribution to the e-commerce industry in Poland. Allegro not only offers leading brands, but is also a platform for small businesses that find their customers here. Allegro’s leadership in Poland is one of the reasons Amazon has been reluctant to enter the market for years. The e-commerce giant is currently trying to gain a foothold in Poland. Experts and interested parties are excited to see what will happen to the market shares of the e-commerce companies.
The successful introduction of electronic prescriptions marked the change in the Polish health system in 2019 and accelerated the trend towards innovations in health technology and telemedical solutions.
Stehome was founded in 2010 and is a telemedical innovation company. Stethome is the first AI stethoscope that has been proven to detect and analyze early signs of breathing problems from the comfort of your home with medical accuracy. To do this, the developers simply digitized the analog stethoscope and also equipped it with a digital clinical thermometer that can be linked to the smartphone via Bluetooth. An app can then send the noise data to the doctor and at the same time send it via a server, which uses AI to compare the transmitted noise patterns with a database in order to detect pneumonia, for example.
Silicon Polska: The pulse of digital transformation
Poland rightly takes a leading role in the EU when it comes to technology and digitization. The growth of the Polish tech scene is primarily due to the innovative strength of tech companies, but also from the willingness to learn of a new, hungry generation of digital natives. The strong economy, the entrepreneurial STEM graduates, the cost-wage advantage, the investments of the major players – all these are aspects that enable the tech scene to flourish.
Each of these companies is contributing to a digital tomorrow while at the same time creating opportunity and driving digitization across Europe and taking it on a refreshing and innovative journey.
In addition, there is another essential aspect: Programming knows no national borders. The code of digitization is international and contributes to the flourishing of the Polish tech scene and promotes the encounter of entrepreneurial people who share their common passion for innovation.
Even if we can hardly imagine a world beyond the pandemic, each of these companies has the potential to positively change the tech scene worldwide in the future.