Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Poland: Krakow - Sister City To San Francisco And R&D For GOOG, IBM And Others

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 1, 2009

I've been corresponding with Ramon Tancino, head of strategy and business development for Cisco Poland. He tells me of the many advantages to establishing operations in Poland. I've written about this topic many times:

Silicon Valley Skills Crisis: Poland Emerging As A Top Source of Engineers

Discussing Polish Tech Partnerships at Stanford University

Warsaw University Team Are World Programming Champions, Again

US and Polish Web 2.0 companies swap notes at Stanford

Ramon Tancino writes that Krakow is a very interesting region and it's where a lot of R&D is done thanks to some excellent universities.

I've been to Krakow several times and I love the city and its surroundings, and also the people.

Earlier this summer, Krakow became a sister city to San Francisco. Ramon Tancino, and JP Allen, from the University of San Francisco put together an excellent presentation: Krakow: A technology hub for Central and Eastern Europe.

Here are some extracts from the presentation:

- Google, IBM, Motorola, ABB, SABRE, Delphi, Fujitsu all have R&D centers.

- There's a lot of offshore BPO from CapGemini, IBM, Motorola, Shell, ACS, Fortis Bank, UBS, Comarch,Unicredito Bank, Tesco, International Paper, HSBC, Lufthansa, StateStreet, HCL, Philip Morris, Hewitt, Alexander Mann, Hitachi, Accounting Plaza, EDF Energy, UPM-Kymenne.

- There's also concentrations in video game design and development, web design and development, mobile applications, and bioinformatics.

- And there's also a thriving startup community.

Some great press:

From Spiegel - the top German business magazine:

As Good as Bangalore: Why Krakow Still Works for IBM

IBM is one of several large corporations massively building its presence in the historic city in southern Poland. IBM's commitment to Krakow is particularly surprising considering that the Armonk (N.Y.)-based computing and services giant is well established in Bangalore and other Indian cities where labor costs remain much lower.

Since 2002, IBM has boosted staff in Krakow tenfold, to more than 900 people, at a facility that provides finance and accounting services to business customers. Another 200 people work at an IBM software lab founded in 2005.

Christian Science Monitor:

Why Google put a research lab in Poland

Tomasz Czajka, a 2004 graduate of Warsaw University, became a national celebrity in Poland after winning three TopCoder competitions in 2004-2005, racking up winnings of more than $100,000.
"When we saw these trends, of people from Eastern Europe winning these contests, we decided to take a closer look," says Kannan Pashupathy, Google's head of international engineering operations. "People have a huge interest in software, and there's a much deeper grounding in mathematics in the curriculum in these countries."

- Krakow is the site of one of Europe's first universities. Today it has more than 200,000 students in higher education, there are 400,000 students within 60 miles. More than 30,000 new graduates a year; 8,000 IT sciences students and 5,000 mechanical engineers.

- There are 8 universities in Krakow with IT degrees.

- There is a large tech ecosystem:

ASPIRE - Association of IT and business process services companies in Poland
ITK - Information Technology in Krakow portal
ITSBA - IT Small Business Alliance Krakow
User Groups
PJUG - Polish Java Users Group
kgd.net - Krakow .NET User Group
KRUG - Krakow Ruby User Group
Polish Adobe Flex User Group
Pykonik - Krakow Python Users Group
Polish Scrum Users Group
TCPIP - Technical Communication Professionals in Poland

- IT Events:

Academic IT Festival - Annual student-organized conference across four major universities
KrakOpen Team Programming Challenge
CodeCamp - Annual .NET programming event
CONFidence - Annual IT security conference
Java Developers' Day - Annual Java conference
GeeCON - Java/JVM/Groovy/Ruby conference
Polish Network Operators Group - Annual Service Provider Conference

- Krakow culture:

"Eastern Europe's new bohemian capital" (New York Times)
Entire Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With 7 million+ visitors per year, convenient transportation links and infrastructure.
7 national parks within 200 km; world-class skiing 60 miles away.

- Lots of support for investment

EU subsidies for service sector job creation
Polish government support
Direct aid for R&D and BPO job creation
Corporate and real estate tax exemptions
Poland has a large and growing economy: ranked #21 in global GDP, low inflation.

There's more information here:

Tholons Global Top 50 Outsourcing Cities report
- Krakow ranked highest in Eastern Europe, 2008

PwC report on BPO in Krakow

CapGemini Krakow Center of Excellence brochure


And over the next few weeks I'll be talking with some local Silicon Valley firms, ProVisa and Silicon Valley Flow that specialize in working with Polish startups.


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