The largest international trade fairs and conferences have been canceled. Some of the flights have been suspended, restrictions have been introduced and lifted at the borders. Business travel has therefore become difficult to predict and plan, as it depends on the current epidemiological situation. Business is trying to adapt to this new reality.
Organizations are forced to look for other models of maintaining contacts with foreign customers and business partners. An example of ITCorner- a Poland-wide company cluster shows how to do it effectively.
Business relations – online
Problems with mobility or forced quarantine upon return have had a significant impact on international cooperation. In the case of some countries, such as the United States, travel has become completely impossible It is slightly easier in the case of countries closer to Poland – direct neighbours or other European countries. However, even here, restrictions can be imposed by the state authorities overnight, without any notice.
Therefore, both the previously developed cooperation networks and the competence in the use of new technologies for organizing webinars, conferences and meetings have become invaluable. – Already in March, we transferred most of our events online, and we had to cancel the planned congress and tech-meet-ups. However, it soon turned out that both the customers of our companies and representatives of business organizations are eager to meet online. Already in April we had the opportunity to participate in a series of teleconferences with clusters from Germany, Great Britain and the United States. They concerned the transformation of the digital organization and dealing with the crisis (International exchange Digital Cluster & Corona crisis) – explains Jakub Orczyk, responsible in the ITCorner cluster for cooperation with the DACH region.
New directions of co-operation – Finland
Scandinavia has been the direction of expansion of Polish companies for a long time, especially in the area of new technologies. A high degree of innovation and the creation of special systems to support it resulted in a development of a plan of cooperation with Scandinavian countries by the ITCorner cluster already at the end of 2018. The choice fell on Finland, which once again was at the top of the EU DESI (Digital Economy and Society Index) ranking. It is also famous for its highly developed ICT sector, which is the result of both internal mechanisms that drive innovation and global business relations.
For Polish companies, partnership with these countries is primarily a chance for a technological leap – Finland is an interesting direction for us to create a network of business relations – mainly because of its cultural similarity and interesting, innovative economy. We planned to organize a series of live events in cooperation with our Finnish partners from Turku Business Region in 2020. The pandemic thwarted our plans. However, earlier cooperation allowed us to transfer our projects to the virtual world Together we organised the Opportunities for the Polish-Finnish ICT Sector conference, as well as an online business meeting session. We are looking for new areas of remote cooperation with our partners and we are convinced that despite the unusual conditions imposed by the pandemic, we will be able to deepen our relations – explains Michał Zacher, responsible for international cooperation at ITCorner.
Germany- proven business partner
Germany is the third most innovative economy in the world and the most innovative one according to the Bloomberg Innovation Index 2020 (in the ranking, it overtook Korea for the first time in 6 years). They are also an important business partner for Polish companies, especially for the IT branch. ITCorner has been cooperating with the SIBB (ICT & Digital Business Association Berlin-Brandenburg) cluster almost from the very beginning of its existence. In the last few years companies from Poland – including ITCorner – and SIBB members have met at conferences, events and business missions under the LookOut programme.
– Following the completion of the LookOut project, we have launched the new Deep Tech Hub Poland initiative, in which we will continue to bring the Polish ecosystem of technology companies closer to Berlin start-ups and IT companies. We are planning to organise, also online, workshops, training, acceleration programmes and business trips. Thanks to the invitation of ITCorner to the Public Diplomacy project, we already have the opportunity to present our programme and plans (during virtual meetings) – says Adam Formanek, Head of International Projects at SIBB.
The role of technology organizations
As recent months have shown, it is possible to work together efficiently by meeting mainly in the virtual world. The effectiveness of these events, however, is often linked to previously developed relationships in the real world. Although recently we have been slowly returning to this type of business cooperation, these meetings are often conducted in uncomfortable conditions and in a smaller group, and in the case of some regions of the world they are still impossible. Hence the special role of hybrid projects, aimed at online cooperation based on an earlier international cooperation network.
A great opportunity opens up for organisations and technological clusters, which can become a platform for the exchange of business experience and support member companies in their international expansion. ITCorner performs this function as part of the International cooperation of the Polish ICT sector project (financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland), which consists in boosting cooperation between technology companies from Poland, Germany and Finland. An important aspect of this programme is to prepare the ground for meetings in the real world as soon as they are fully possible.
A public task co-financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland within the competition “Public Diplomacy 2020 – a new dimension”.