The challenges of the modern world favor companies that skillfully put to use the achievements of the fourth industrial revolution. The best example of this is, the way some Polish companies have adapted to function efficiently in the pandemic situation. However, individual cases of digitization and openness to new technologies are not enough. The current challenges concern not only the companies themselves, but also those who are there to support them and the whole business environment.
The first industrial revolution, which began in three Western European countries, changed the face of the world in just a few decades, the order of which at that time, seemed to be eternal and unchangeable. Along with the changes in the economy, social changes took place – the greater part of the population was involved in economic life, thus demanding participation in political life too. Both the economic and social landscape has changed, and new challenges have placed civilization in a state of constant technological rush.
In recent months, we have been able to tangibly feel the globalization processes. A virus from a “far off country” swept across the whole world at a rapid pace, forcing state institutions and enterprises to immediately adapt to the new conditions. Just as almost two hundred years ago, the prototype production lines contributed to the strengthening of companies, at the expense of those using anachronistic production methods, today also it is those companies that used advanced technologies or had the benefits of digitization are in a much better position now than those with did not have such expertise.
The Polish Investment and Trade Agency(PAIH), through its network of Foreign Trade Offices, has been monitoring the global situation and the various strategies different countries have used to adapt to the new conditions, since the start of the pandemic. The economic crisis caused by lockdown, is an additional incentive to effectively act to find new markets. The great advantage that Polish companies have, is the fact that they are open to industry 4.0, and innovation is one of the features of our national economy. Modern companies and a developed ecosystem of new technologies distinguishes our country on the international arena – it can be seen, both in terms of attracted foreign investments and the economic expansion of domestic entities.
Poland – an environment conducive to development
Formerly, one of the determinants of development was the degree of urbanization and architecture, now it seems it is the concentration of technological entities, may be such an indicator. As once, before World War II, Warsaw used to be called the “Paris of the East”, the phrase “Polish Silicon Valley” returns more and more frequently. Today, Polish cities are becoming home to more and more international companies, that in turn contribute to the development of a modern ecosystem. The best proof is the presence of such global giants as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Intel and Samsung in Poland.
The choice of Poland for investments in the industry 4.0 sector should come as no surprise. Apart from the snowball effect, it is worth mentioning such factors as: our higher education system (especially with a technical profile) that is able to provide well-educated professionals, our stable and transparent economy, as well as our good transport and logistic possibilities. The balance of foreign investments in Poland confirms the attractiveness of our country. In the research and development sector alone, we are talking about 40 centers, which develop AI products, big data and software, as well as over 600 foreign companies, that have opened their service centers in Poland and in which they employ around a quarter of a million people.
The support system offered by the Polish Government is also important. In addition to the activities of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency, which offers foreign entities comprehensive investment support, ranging from location consulting through to the selection of appropriate business partners, it is worth mentioning other incentives, such as attractive tax rates for investors or the network of Special Economic Zones. This power of attracting foreign investors is great, and their presence in Poland translates not only into, creating jobs for local specialists, but also into the development of the entire ecosystem of modern technologies. Moreover, companies such as Microsoft and Google, in partnership with the Polish Development Fund and the PKO BP bank, are planning strategic investments for the digital transformation of Poland with a total value of USD 3 billion.
Currently, we can talk of even 4,700 startups operating in Poland, of which as many as 40% cooperate with large corporations. Only in the field of artificial intelligence, nearly 260 companies can offer their solutions. The financial sector is not behind either – it is one of the most digitized branches of the Polish economy. It is enough to mention the well-known BLIK mobile payment system. The Polish development of Smart City technology also deserves a mention. As does the electrification of public transport, universal access to the rental of cars, bicycles, scooters and even electric scooters have all become a permanent element of the landscape of Polish cities.
On the Israeli route to the future
Polish technology companies, operating in the favorable base conditions of the entire ecosystem, do not have to be limited to local activities. Their experience, openness and the ability to adapt to new situations means that they can successfully operate on foreign markets, as well as successfully compete for contracts on an equal footing with the major foreign players. So far, Polish companies from the IT industry have dreamed of conquering San Francisco, but recently there are also alternative directions.
One of them is Israel. The startup scene there is one of the best developed in the world, which encourages foreign corporations looking for innovative solutions to be present in that country. As Mateusz Kamer from the PAIH Foreign Trade Office says: Every year Israel spends over 4% of its GDP on Research and Development. It is in Israel, that the largest international events devoted to innovation (CyberTech, DLD, OurCrowd) take place. Israel is also a market where it is easy to obtain financing – the foundations for the development of VC funds were created several dozen years ago by that State led by Simon Peres. Israeli investors look for opportunities, not only on the local market but also, often when analyzing investment opportunities in Europe, they come to Poland, as evidenced by the presence of, for example, Pitango.
It is worth mentioning that from 2018 the Israel Industry 4.0 conference organized by the Start-Up Nation Central takes place in Israel. Its goal is to connect foreign companies looking for solutions in industry 4.0 with Israeli companies that are able to meet the indicated needs. According to Start-Up Nation Central, there are about 260 startups in Israel that offer technologies related to industry 4.0. The key to the success of a company from the Industry 4.0 sector today, is the knowledge of the problems faced by production plants, which are interest in implementing new innovative technology, in order to modernize their production processes.
– A proper analysis of the needs and expectations of the market is the first basic step, that must be taken by every company that is realistically thinking about foreign expansion. Despite the advanced technological level in Israel, Polish companies have an advantage over the local ones. This is mainly due to the fact that there are many production plants in Poland, which allows us to offer industry 4.0 solutions and test them with a large number of entities on the local market – adds Mateusz Kamer, Business Development Manager of the PAIH Foreign Trade Office in Tel-Aviv.
Israel may not be one of the easiest markets, but it should certainly attract the attention of Polish companies thinking about expansion, both with the opportunities it offers and experience. Good practices of Israeli start-ups and the business support environment are a good inspiration and set the direction of development for Polish entities.
Kamil Hyszka, PR and Communication, Polska Agencja Inwestycji i Handlu