On Friday 9th December, the most anticipated publication of the Polish startup industry – the latest report ‘Polish Startups 2022’ – was presented at Google’s headquarters in Wroclaw. The organisers of the meeting chose the venue not by accident. Wroclaw and Lower Silesia have special reasons to be satisfied this year, because the largest number of technological companies in Poland are registered here.
‘Wroclaw has been working for years to become the startup capital of Poland. Successive editions of our Polish Startups report indicate that the startup ecosystem is doing very well here – the Lower Silesia region leads the way when it comes to the number of innovative companies. The most recent Dealroom.co ranking is also available – the authors analysed 201 cities from 65 countries and selected those where innovation develops most dynamically. Wroclaw ranked eighth in the Rising Stars category – ahead of Warsaw, which landed at eleventh. We hope the premiere of the eighth edition of Polish Startups – which we are holding for the first time in Wroclaw, not in Warsaw as before – will be another proof that startups feel comfortable in Wroclaw,’ says Tomasz Snażyk, CEO of Startup Poland.
The report shows that Wroclaw and the Lower Silesia region are ahead of the capital and Masovia.
It is not about who is first and who is last. What matters, is that Wroclaw successively consolidates its strong leadership position in the entire startup ecosystem. It is the leader that builds an innovative society in economy or culture. This results in an inflow of various sources of funding and, therefore, work,’ says Jakub Mazur, Deputy Mayor of Wroclaw.
The high position of Wroclaw in the startup ecosystem is confirmed by another latest ranking. Wroclaw topped Polish cities in the category of rising stars of technology hubs in the recently published report ‘The next generation of tech ecosystems’ prepared by Dealroom. The capital of Lower Silesia ranked second in Europe and eighth in the world in this category, which clearly indicates that it is a great place to set up startups and to develop innovation.
The map of Polish startups, financing, investment, consequences of global crises and foreign expansion – these and other questions are answered in this year’s edition of the Startup Poland Foundation’s cyclical report ‘Polish Startups 2022’.
Tomasz Snażyk, the president of the Startup Poland Foundation, stresses that the latest eighth edition of the report is another one taking place at a time of crisis, or rather several simultaneous crises.
Magdalena Okulowska, the president of the Management Board of the Wroclaw Agglomeration Development Agency, points out that, for the most part, the Polish ecosystem does not evaluate recent years negatively, and the potential of startups, their flexibility and creativity have led not only to the acquisition of new customers and a noticeable increase in sales, but also, importantly, to the retention of employed staff.
‘In many industries related to product digitisation, e-commerce and health care, a number of interesting projects have emerged, and the market for technology startups has definitely increased. The profitability of businesses with regard to their innovation played a secondary role, as reflected in many spectacular and record-breaking VC deals. Examples of positive use of the crisis are well-known Wroclaw companies: Infermedica, Alphamoon, Bioceltix, CUX, PayEye, Brand24, Biotts, Vue Storefront or SatRev,’ adds Magdalena Okulowska.
Wroclaw and Warsaw are two main centres chosen by Polish startups. The third place is occupied by the Malopolska Province (Kraków), where every tenth surveyed entity was registered. The advancement of Wroclaw on the startup map of Poland is significant. Last year, Masovia had 32 percent and Lower Silesia 9 percent.
The structure of the Polish startup market does not change significantly from year to year. Most of them are still young companies, usually with less than four years of experience. Nearly every third company has been operating for three to four years, a similar percentage has been operating for one or two years, and one in five surveyed startups has existed for less than a year (22 percent). Companies founded as startups, but with a longer history, are relatively few – one in ten is between 5 and 10 years old, and 7 percent of the surveyed companies can boast a period of operation lasting more than a decade.
While last year’s survey showed a slight increase in the number of startups founded by younger people (by 20-year-olds), this year’s survey confirms the trend that could be noted in earlier years – founding a startup is most often the domain of 30-year-olds.
The authors of the report highlight that, when asked to identify three keywords that best reflect the nature of the main service or product offered, startups most often mentioned: AI and machine learning (21 percent), productivity and management (14 percent), analytics – research tools, business intelligence (13 percent), HRtech and HR tools, medtech (both 12 percent), financial services – fintech or insurtech, and big data (10 percent).
Polish startups most often operate in the B2B enterprise model (39 percent), with another 25 percent indicating B2B small business. In total, therefore, nearly two-thirds of domestic startups operate in the B2B model. Significantly fewer – just 11 percent – operate in the direct to consumer (B2C) structure.
Nearly two-thirds of startups indicated B2B – small and medium-sized companies (up to 250 employees) – as the target group for their services, while another 62 percent specified large companies and corporations with more than 250 employees. Individual customers (B2C) are the target group for 35 percent of startups. Slightly fewer (30 percent) address their offer to institutional customers (B2G): government offices, local governments, schools, universities, hospitals, services, etc.
Only 7 percent of startups experienced a decline in interest from foreign investors at the time of the survey. A much larger proportion (38 percent) have not felt this negative trend so far. More than every second startup, however, answers: ‘hard to say’.
Most of the startups asked what sources of capital they had the opportunity to use – 68 percent – refer to bootstrapping, i.e. own funds. A key role in the Polish market is played by domestic VC funds, whose capital was used by 28 percent of the surveyed startups, as well as domestic business angels, which supported every fifth startup (22 percent). An identical percentage indicated funds raised from the National Centre for Research and Development.