Forget Silicon Valley – Poland is Europe’s emerging tech epicentre

Forget Silicon Valley – Poland is Europe’s emerging tech epicentre

Bartosz Majewski, Founding Member and President at SoDA, tells us why Poland is emerging as a leading European tech hub and why it has the potential to harness its position to become one of the top outsourcers to Europe and beyond.

From London to Los Angeles, Beijing to Bangalore, there are a multitude of locations that are established as hives of tech activity that are hubs for innovation across IT. Proximity to leading universities and access to a high-quality lifestyle for working professionals are key ingredients for a thriving tech hub, ensuring that a skilled talent pool is readily available. One of the rising stars that ticks all the boxes is Poland – and Big Tech is starting to notice.

The Silicon Valley of Europe

Poland’s IT and technology industry is thriving and the country is fast becoming the world’s latest and fastest emerging tech hub thanks to its central location in Europe, economic potential and wealth of tech talent. In fact, it is currently home to 60,000 technology companies and 10 unicorns, which is largely thanks to a period of economic growth and stability that has been bolstered since Poland joined the EU in 2004. This growth has triggered a range of technological advances and innovations from Poland’s brightest minds in recent years, including the launch of the first Polish satellite, PW-Sat, in 2012 and the first artificial heart implant in Poland in 2018. 

Over the past two decades, businesses – particularly in the technology and IT sectors – have noticed the potential that Poland offers as a place to grow their offering, find the best people to work for them and benefit economically. The IT industry in the country is around 8% of GDP, employing over 430,000 people, while Poland itself is the largest economy in central and Eastern Europe, with 30% share of total GDP.

One of the reasons Poland has surfaced as a growing tech hub is a simple one. The practicality of Poland’s location in Europe has made the country a convenient base for businesses wanting access to clients, partners and employees in both EU and non-EU countries. 

Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Lithuania and Belarus are Poland’s immediate neighbours and just a stone’s throw away across the Baltic Sea lies Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Latvia. Each country has made its own footprint in the technology sector in recent years, from Estonian FinTechs to Swedish HealthTechs. Poland has built strong ties with these nations and the UK too – in part due to having a similar business culture and ethics – and has become an attractive option for foreign investment. 

Unprecedented growth leads to unprecedented investment 

The most significant marker that cements Poland as a leading location for technology investment, startups and entrepreneurial talent is the growing interest from Big Tech.

As of 2022, Google, Samsung, Facebook, Amazon and Intel have established bases in Polish cities, while Microsoft also announced plans to invest US$1 billion into a data centre outside Warsaw, including access to local cloud services. Google has also committed to building a US$2 billion (€1.7 billion) Cloud Data Hub in Warsaw, which is the first development centre of its kind opened by Google in Europe. This is off the back of the opening of Google for Start-Ups in 2015. The campus was established in Warsaw and has since welcomed more than 100,000 startups and community members into the fold.

As more Big Tech companies and startups grow their operations in Poland, the more the country is becoming recognised as a tech hub on the continent. It’s becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy that creates additional technology and IT roles, sparks further innovation and brings extra money into the economy. Ultimately, growth stimulates growth. 

An impressive talent pool

In order for Big Tech and other businesses based in Poland to truly thrive, a large pool of software development and IT talent is crucial. Thankfully, the snowball effect of Poland becoming a renowned global tech hub has ensured that there is a wealth of people with the right skills, education and experience to bolster the tech and IT industries. 

Top tech talent wants to be where the action is, and the significant activity taking place across the country, from technological developments to key industry events such as the Big Data Technology Warsaw Summit in 2023, are all reasons for professionals and entrepreneurs to move their operations to the country – or for locals, stay. 

Budding developers and people interested in a career in technology and IT in Poland have a great deal of options open to them to deepen their understanding of the industry and business needs. From leading universities and institutions across the country, to the hubs being established by Big Tech, there are many avenues available to learn. Work experience and entering the industry are both also made easier because of the sheer number of businesses, including Big Tech and startups, that need talent and are willing to nurture people on their career journey. 

Not only is this a benefit for people living in Poland and IT and tech businesses that need talent, but it means that organisations outside of Poland can partner with Polish companies knowing that they have the best people to do the job to deliver a high quality of work.

A leading tech hub – a leading outsourcer?

With its increasing number of homegrown IT and technology businesses and an impressive pool of talented tech employees, Poland has the potential to harness its position as a global technology hub to become a leading outsourcer to Europe and beyond.

Outsourcing IT services is becoming a popular option for businesses across the world, as they look to scale up operations, boost growth and embrace Digital Transformation all while remaining in budget and mitigating economic challenges. Many businesses need to rapidly close the skills gap within their organisation to deliver for their clients, and outsourcing has the potential to enable these businesses to plug in a team of outsourced experts and get the job done. 

According to research from HackerRank, Poland has the third best developers globally, behind China and Russia. Outsourcing from Poland has also found to be 30% cheaper than in the US and 20-25% cheaper than in Western Europe – creating savings opportunities for world class work. Crucially though, businesses need to know that their outsourcers have shared values and business practices, that their people can communicate effectively and work seamlessly as one team. Not only do outsourced tech and IT workers need to have the skills and experience to bring to businesses, but they also need soft skills too. 

That’s why Poland’s IT and technology industry functions so well as an outsourcer. Polish teams speak excellent English, have a similar ethos and business culture to companies in Europe and the UK and a deep understanding of the industry that ensures they work efficiently, effectively and successfully. 

Investment, education and location are all contributing to Poland’s success and prominence as an emerging tech hub, but it’s the people and their skills, motivation and passion for the industry that will really ensure Poland is primed to become the engine room of Europe for years to come. 

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