ITCorner, an organisation made up of nearly 100 IT companies across Poland, completed its participation in a 4-month project held within the “Public Diplomacy – New Dimension” programme co-financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project’s main objective was to promote the Polish IT industry in Germany and Finland.
How the pandemic changed presumptions
According to experts’ estimations and the opinions of its representatives, the ICT industry has not been affected by the 2020 crisis as much as other industry sectors, technology companies still had to face various challenges, like those highlighted in the 2019 Wrocław IT sector report (produced by Wrocław Agglomeration Development Agency (ARAW) and ITCorner). The publication’s key findings include e.g. a shortage of IT specialists as well as professionals with mixed competencies, growing employment costs, the need to focus on niche technologies and strengthening of international promotion.
– When it comes to the important factors for the industry’s development, I would also add the need to build an ecosystem of cooperation based on innovation, i.e. cooperation between Wrocław universities, the city and business organisations, including clusters, as well as international cooperation. In our plans for 2020, the last point was to be mainly about improving English-language communication, especially on our website and in social media, e.g. LinkedIn. Paradoxically, the pandemic opened up a new space to forge international relations, organise online meetups and conferences – explains Grzegorz Rudno-Rudziński, ITCorner President and Unity Group managing partner.
The organisation joined the “Public Diplomacy 2020 – New Dimension” programme and last September launched activities regarding promotion and international cooperation in Germany and Finland.
Selection of partners
One of the programme’s requirements was inviting technology organisations from selected regions and cooperation based on the exchange of knowledge and mutual promotion. ITCorner invited representatives of DACH region: SIBB, a Berlin ICT cluster, and Scandinavian Turku Science Park (Finland) representing the Turku Business Region, a cooperation platform for local businesses, science and the city of Turku.
In Wrocław, business cooperation with German partners has a long history. Economic factors play a significant role – Germany is an important business partner for us when it comes to trade (Poland is Germany’s fifth biggest trade partner). The geographical location of Wrocław and its transport links with e.g. Berlin or Munich are also a factor. What is more, for ITCorner it was important that SIBB co-organised annual international economic missions and study visits between the two countries (e.g. LOOKOUT project).
Finland remains at the top of international innovation indices (it occupies the 7th position in Bloomberg Innovation Index) and a country that systemically and through many years has been supporting cooperation between the public sector, universities and business (Finnish Innovation System).
– We have selected these two markets because cooperating with them fits in perfectly with our organisation’s strategy, and many of our members have either already been cooperating with businesses from these regions or been planning future expansion. What Germany and Finland have in common are high standards of business conduct, innovative economies and, which is also significant, EU and common market membership – explains Michał Zacher, ITCorner board member, Vazco CEO.
The project was carried out between August and December 2020. Apart from online consultations and presence in social media, ITCorner hosted five webinars (in English and German) on technology and good practices in international business cooperation, with representatives of such organisations as SIBB, Turku Science Park, International Game Developers Association and Turku University taking part. The speakers who shared their practical knowledge came from Unity Group, VM.pl, SDZ Legal, Vazco, Setup, BugBug, Vialusions, AlfaNet and Finnish MiTale and Onnibus.
– Our main objective was to have a meeting and exchange of knowledge between experts and business practitioners from Poland, Finland and Germany. The topics discussed were e.g. digital transformation, Industry 4.0, e-commerce, the gaming industry as well as cultural differences and similarities, which are oftentimes of key importance in doing business. – explains Marcin Kowalski, project coordinator, Human Partner co-owner and a ITCorner cluster member. – The entire project was summed up by two promotional films in German and English, as well as a short publication available on our organisation’s website. – he adds.
International cooperation was not limited solely to the tasks arising out of the “Public Diplomacy” programme. It also included online conferences and fairs in which ITCorner participated together with partners from Wrocław and all across Poland.
– We support organisations promoting Polish entrepreneurs by actively cooperating with them. Working with ITCorner is not our first such cooperation this year. In May, together with Wrocław Technology Park, we co-hosted a series of BigScience webinars to which we invited e.g. experts from CERN. In mid-October, we jointly participated in the Select Chicago conference, during which the vice-president of Wrocław Jakub Mazur talked about the Wrocław tech ecosystem. “Perspectives on Investing in Industry 4.0 in Wroclaw: Before, During and After Covid-19” report, of which ITCorner was a substantive partner, was published at the end of the year – explains Magdalena Okulowska, President of Wrocław Agglomeration Development Agency (ARAW). – Our teams are planning to continue joint activities next year in order to foster cooperation between business and the city and to develop the local tech ecosystem. – she adds.
What is 2021 going to bring?
The organisation plans to expand international cooperation to Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway, and also to continue activity in the present locations and cooperate with partners from Poland. One such project is European ICT Alliance platform, co-organised with Finnish Turku Science Park and Pomeranian cluster Interizon.
– The project is in the consultation phase, we are discussing it with our organisations and are also planning to invite partners from Germany. The entire thing should gain momentum in 2021 and constitute a cooperation platform for nearly 300 technology companies from Europe, as well as a place for IT industry experts to exchange knowledge and experience. We are hoping to be able to invite the event participants to Wrocław and have a live meeting in 2021 during the ITCorner Summit, but of course all this depends on the Covid-19 situation – explains Jakub Jarosz, cluster coordinator responsible for e.g. international cooperation. – We are looking for synergy with Polish technology clusters as well as business and science organisations. We see how many experiences we have to share. We hope the cooperation will allow us to take up joint initiatives related to the tech industry. All those who are interested are warmly welcomed to get in touch – he adds.
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”.