5 Flagship Programs By Małopolska For Entrepreneurs
Written by Eoin Kavanaugh
A recent OECD report painted a positive picture of Małopolska’s economic performance and potential while highlighting some of the challenges to future growth. Among these were: support for early-stage entrepreneurship, further development of local entrepreneurial culture as well as increasing the number of scale-up firms.
In this article, #OMGKRK takes a look at the efforts being made by our regional government to address some of the challenges raised. We do this by reviewing briefly the activity of 5 flagship initiatives supported by the Małopolska government. The list is not exhaustive, however, all 5 listed represent opportunities for existing and future entrepreneurs to engage in the coming months. These initiatives range from state-funded institutions to cyclical events aimed at promoting growth and innovation.
In 2014 Małopolska published its strategic program RISMR 2020 “Regional Innovation Strategy of the Małopolska Region.” This was just one of 10 strategic development programs created for the region. The RISMR 2020 covered among other objectives, financial support for innovation, development of business incubation and establishment of technological parks. The strategy has taken on tangible form through, among others, the initiatives listed below.
Małopolska Innovation Festival
Type: Annual Event
Małopolska’s Innovation Festival was first launched in 2011 and is a truly pan-regional event with activities taking place both in Krakow and in multiple smaller regional cities such as Tarnow Chrzanow and Rabka-Zdroj. This is in keeping with the festival’s goal of promoting the application of innovative solutions across all regions and aspects of life in Malłopolska both social, academic and economic.
The festival encompasses meetups, open days & educational events as well as presentations for firms where they can illustrate the applicability of their solutions to the wider population. All events are designed with the goal in mind of spreading and embedding the concepts of innovation at all levels of society.
Type: Cyclical Program
Initiated by Małopolska in 2017 this Acceleration Program is dedicated to supporting new indigenous SMEs in Małopolska eager to gain the knowledge and skills required to take their business to the next level. The 4th edition of this program is currently underway.
The program itself consists of a series of targeted workshops and tutorials supplemented by support from a community of mentors with the additional possibility for further networking and knowledge exchange by participation in related events throughout Poland.
After initial acceptance into the program and pre-consultation, the selected firms are offered targeted support in 8 specific fields crucial to growing their business including sales, management, legal and client service.
Global Entrepreneurship Week In Małopolska
Type: Annual Event Q IV 2019
The most well established of all the initiatives we’ll review. Since its inception in 2008, this annual event was envisaged as a forum for activating and assisting entrepreneurship. The event is directed at both existing companies actively seeking to explore new creative solutions as well as first-time entrepreneurs in need of guidance prior to setting up their own company.
Seminars and workshops on setting up a new business as we as co-operation between academia and business are supplemented by individual consultations in the fields of finance for start-ups and meetings to exchange ideas and experience with entrepreneurial mentors.
Business in Małopolska Centre (CEBiM)
Opened in November 2009 the activity of the Business in Małopolska Centre (CEBiM) is focused on 3 specific areas:
- improving interactions with and care for investors
- supporting exporters of goods and services produced in Malopolska
- the overall economic promotion of the region.
Clients of CEBiM are both Polish and international enterprises seeking support in areas such as securing investment plots in the region, financial incentives as well as detailed studies on the region’s economic potential.
The centre actively participates in overseas trade missions and trade fairs with the aim of facilitating sales overseas trade contacts for indigenous firms from Małopolska. The centre itself is physically located in The Krakow Technology Park where many early phase Start-Ups are registered. This gives the possibility for CEBiM to position itself as a complementary point of entry for investors in the tech sector augmenting the impact and activity of Krakow City’s new Entrepreneurship & Innovation team.
Dragons Cave Pre-Accelerator
Type: Cyclical Program
Curated by the Foundation Supporting #OMGKRK, the Dragons Cave Pre-Accelerator is where the next generation of best and the brightest of the city’s innovative leaders learn to present their innovative concepts and products, specify their MVP and explore and build a roadmap for the development and successful launch of their concepts on local and international markets. The 1st edition of this program will take place in summer 2019 once again with support from Malopolska.
The most recent Dragons Cave event took place in May 2019 during Cracow Tech Week where 7 entrepreneurs presented their innovative solutions and products in fields as diverse as Travel, Recycling, Mobility for the Disabled and Psychiatric care. All of the products presented are already beyond MVP with many already in revenue generation and scale-up phase including entry to new international markets.
Applications for the Dragons Cave Pre-Accelerator are open. Learn more about the program and apply here: https://www.omgkrk.com/dragonscave
Małopolska’s performance during the RISMR 2020
As we have seen since the launch in 2008 of the first of the above-listed initiatives, the local government’s involvement has steadily expanded and diversified. It has a visible presence and for many new companies it is making a material difference & supporting their contribution to the emerging Dragon Economy.
This has coincided with unprecedented economic growth across the region. Currently, unemployment in the region stands at 4.8% having fallen from 9.9% since the end of 2014. Moreover, Malłopolska’s capital is one of the few major cities outside of Warsaw with a growing youth population driven principally by the migration magnet effect of Krakow’s academic institutions.
More importantly, the structure of employment in the city is also transforming. Krakow can no longer be perceived as the Polish capital for international outsourcing, which was in any case never the full story.
This is especially visible in the case of the ICT sector where according to OMGK research over 50% of IT professionals working in the Krakow region are now employed by Polish owned companies. Additionally in the field of Business Services, many of the 3rd party outsourcing roles typical of 10 years ago are now being augmented by direct employment roles for experienced professionals in Krakow based Centres of Excellence which are in many cases hard wired directly into the Global HQs of Multinational Corporations.
Małopolska has come far with the talent of its dynamic population and the resourcefulness of its innovative entrepreneurial class. The transformation towards an innovation economy is clearly underway and Małopolska’s support for this process is becoming more and more visible.
Małopolska’s domestic reputation as a growth region in Poland is well established. However, internationally the region still remains best known as a tourism destination and not as an Innovation Hub. An evolution in the international perception of Małopolska is a key task for the future. Additionally, the region’s capital needs to be viewed as a competitor to more internationally recognized technology destinations such as Dublin & Lisbon and not just another relatively low-cost CEE destination for outsourcing IT and business services talent.
To become a recognized destination for international innovation more initiatives to tell & sell the region’s story internationally are required. As referenced in the OECD’s findings this can be best achieved through greater coordination between Business and Government agents on an international level. The creation and dissemination of consistent & coherent promotional materials, including reports, directed towards an international audience would be a key part of this process.