Sunday, May 28, 2023

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Wrocław’s AI startups rapidly gaining traction

The capital city of Lower Silesia hosts 17% of all Polish Artificial Intelligence startups.

Wrocław is the fourth biggest city in Poland, with a population of 640,000. It also hosts 17% of all Polish Artificial Intelligence (AI) startups, surpassed only by the capital city of Warsaw with 23%. The startups are rapidly developing solutions to be used in innovative businesses, medicine, logistics, industry and everyday life. According to the Startup Poland Foundation’s “The Polish Tech Scene: 5 Years,” Wrocław also has the highest concentration of technology businesses in Poland.

A survey conducted this year by Wrocław Urban Development Agency (ARAW) showed that out of 74 Wrocław IT companies, 46 develop AI solutions and 21 intend to do so in the next three years. Over half of them already deliver AI products and almost 80% plan to invest more in this field.
They are mostly locally based SMEs providing a very wide portfolio of services in many industries. For example, NeuroSYS has developed software to identify, detect and classify microbial colonies on Petri dishes and Spyrosoft has developed a model to predict passenger traffic in public transport and travel time between specific stops.

85% of local IT entrepreneurs are satisfied with their investments in Wrocław and plan to continue them here, while 79% intend to enlarge their AI offer. The key factors for choosing this place are good access to qualified staff, high quality of business infrastructure and availability of numerous academic studies and courses.

“Wrocław is a very significant point on the AI map of Poland thanks to many factors, but mainly very high academic standards. A good example is Wrocław University of Science and Technology, one of five Polish universities with AI studies,” said Ewa Kondej from the ARAW.

Wrocław hosts in total 30 higher education establishments. On average, two out of three IT companies cooperate or intend to cooperate with them, mainly by organizing training courses for students. The number of technology graduates has been increasing year by year and new AI faculties are opening too.

Local AI companies usually employ about eight persons and almost all of them want to increase this number in the next year. Their only problem is shortage of highly qualified specialists, as the industry is developing rapidly. Mid-levels and seniors are sought most often, even though their recruitment is usually difficult, while inhouse training is certainly time-consuming and expensive.

Nevertheless, the ARAW’s mid-year survey disclosed that no Polish AI companies operating in Wrocław are just a branch of businesses based in another city. On the contrary, local companies are expanding to other regions of Poland. Moreover, a few hundred foreign IT companies are also present in Wrocław. They are attracted by availability of local specialists and office space created in the recent development boom. Among them there are global market players such as Google, IBM, Nokia, Luxoft, Showpad and Cloudical. They perceive Wrocław as a modern business hub well communicated with Europe and the rest of the World.

Attracting and serving foreign investors is the task of the ARAW Agency, which has developed a special strategy for it. Each investor is assigned a dedicated assistant from the very beginning of the investment process. The ARAW prepares various kinds of data, information and presentations, and organizes meetings with representatives of local authorities, business, science, property managers and HR. It offers its assistance in the whole process from a business decision to final settlement in Wrocław.

Marek Gizmajer
Marek Gizmajer
High-tech journalist