For genuine innovation to happen, we need some insights into what the world will be buying in 10, 20 years time. An article in the Economist a few weeks ago said that the average American household contains around 300,000 things. The average Western European one is probably similar. So what would make consumers in the rich world want to buy their 300,001st thing? This is one reason why economic growth is slowing down around the rich world. Poland and the other Central European nations that have joined the EU since 2004 are still in catch-up mode.
Poland’s economic growth keeps galloping along, heedless of politics or international turmoil. In the fourth quarter of last year, Poland’s GDP grew at an annualised rate of 3.9%. Compare that to Germany or France (both 1.3%), Italy (1.0%). Even the UK (1.9%) looks sluggish.
But is this enough? Poland’s growth is buoyed up by strong inward investment (BPO/SSC sector, as well as manufacturing), healthy exports and a trade surplus, and EU funds invested in infrastructure projects. But is this sustainable?
Poland has got talent, entrepreneurial drive and brilliant scientific brains. But looking at the whole economy, is this talent focused? Is it pulling together? Entrepreneurs and scientists can be lured abroad if the environment there for business and innovation is better. Poland could do much better here. It is the role of government to ensure the right environment for hot-housing innovation. This means making the universities more responsive to the needs to business, it means simplifying the tax system and incentivising innovative companies, it means replicating best practice from countries that are world-leading innovators.
There are great examples of Polish tech firms making strong headway in global markets. In February, I visited an outstanding Polish innovator’s London offices – OrbitVu, which hails from Tarnowskie Góry. Designing and building 360-degree photography solutions for e-commerce retailers, OrbitVu’s kits allow online shops to take photos of products from all angles so that customers can see what they’re buying – everything from jewellery to motorcycles. The speed of taking and processing digital photos saves time and money. OrbitVu has been in business for 17 years and is one of the world’s top three companies in this field.
This issue of Contact Magazine Online looks at all these issues from many different perspectives. Beata Tylman from PwC gives a strategic overview of innovation, national and EU policy and incentives. Should governments be picking winners? GlaxoSmithKline’s Sebastian Drzewiecki explains how a centre of global excellence has been created in Poznań. Innovation in HR, retail logistics, venture capital, education… there’s a vast amount of high-quality insight in this issue of Contact. Plus – how to make the most of the €8.3 billion that available for R&D work in Poland, and the new tax incentives for firms developing innovative products or services.
The editorial team,