What Poland can learn from Israeli tech

While it may not always make the news headlines, Poland is poised to become a major European tech startup hub. In fact, according to the 2016 Polish Startups Report produced by Startup Poland, there are over 2,700 active Polish startup companies operating across the country, with 22% of them having successfully raised capital from the VC and investment community.  

In fact, Poland’s startup ecosystem has grown over the past two decades and this is especially visible given the growth in the sheer number of companies, centers and conferences operating from across Warsaw, Wroclaw and Krakow – these urban centers are often called home by many promising startup ecosystem actors across the country.

Additionally, according to Tal Harmelin of Startup-up Nation Central, “Poland’s leading technical academic institutes have long been acknowledged for their achievements in sprouting engineers and PhD students on a mass scale in Europe.” This quality human capital, further supported by other leading universities and research centers dispersed throughout the country, can help further fuel the industry.

However, even with this growth, Poland can still learn a lot from the Israel tech scene. To enter the global market and attract sufficient attention to be on the tech radar of international entrepreneurs and investors alike, here are three main lessons Israel can share with the Polish tech scene.

1. Promote industry collaboration

Israel has done a remarkable job connecting different innovation hubs and centers. This includes planning joint meet-ups and conferences, to encouraging entrepreneurs from different sectors to speak at national and international tech events together with other ecosystem actors. By connecting together, especially across different verticals, the tech ecosystem becomes increasingly dynamic, solidified and empowered.

The Polish tech scene should look at successful Israeli examples of such industry collaboration as a way of improving their tech reputation across the entire country and elsewhere. This, together with celebrating the entrepreneurs themselves across various forum and media outings, can help bridge any existing gaps between innovation centers.   

2. Think globally

Unfortunately, most Polish tech companies have tended to think locally. In order to succeed on the international scale, techies should be thinking about global market penetration and scaling. From the very beginning of operations, even as early as initial planning, Israeli companies and startups look towards offering their services to larger markets, namely across North America. In fact, most Israeli tech companies, once they reach a certain threshold of growth, often set up operations in either San Francisco and New York in order to better position them for US-based customers.

As Poland is also a small market, in order to stay relevant, Polish tech entrepreneurs should think of ways to market their products and services to international markets early on in the company lifecycle. A great example of an ongoing Polish effort to think globally is the upcoming infoShare 2017 conference taking place in the coastal city of Gdansk on May 17-19, which attracts a wide international tech audience to the region.

3. Specialize in a specific niche

To make a name for yourself in an increasingly competitive tech environment, it helps to specialize in a specific niche within the tech sector. For instance, among other fields, Israel has established its prominence in the field of cyber security, with an impressive list of both exits and new sector-specific companies being formed annually. Even one of the largest cities in Israel, Be’er Sheva, has branded itself as the Cyber Capital of Israel, sprouting cyber innovation hubs and bringing international attention to the desert city.

By becoming a global powerhouse in this particular niche, Israel has drawn investors from all over the world to hear about the latest innovation in the cyber space. Poland can look to focus on a specific niche in order to establish its own thought leadership.

So what’s next in Israeli and Polish collaboration?

It will be interesting to see Israel’s and Poland’s tech ecosystems come together and

facilitate knowledge-sharing. There is a lot of potential to work together on joint projects, especially given the short flight distance. Rather than passing the time impatiently on a 15 hour flight from Tel Aviv to San Francisco, in just about four hours, Israelis can meet with relevant Polish tech industry leaders.