The land of knowledge

''The land of cheap engineers'' - it could be a slogan to promote Poland in foreign industry press. One should add that these engineers are well educated as well.

''The land of cheap engineers'' - it could be a slogan to promote Poland in foreign industry press. One should add that these engineers are well educated as well.

Even shortly before Poland's accession to the European Union the salaries of Polish IT specialists are at least 50 percent lower than of those in Germany, Sweden, France or UK. No wonder that not only American, but also Western European companies establish their R&D centers in Poland.

The big and the small

The first company to open its R&D department in Poland in the 90s was CrossCom, later acquired by the Dutch Olicom, and by Intel Technology in 1999. The world's largest CPU manufacturer is still developing its R&D center located in northern Poland. Over 150 engineers from Gdańsk develop now software for active network devices.

Motorola was another large corporation to invest in Poland. In Cracow, Americans created one of their most important centers for developing modern phone exchange and mobile phone software. It is also a part of the international network of technical support centers for the organization's customers. The center employs over 200 engineers and is the best proof of the skills of Polish IT professionals.

The Center rates CMM Level 5 (Capability Maturity Model), i.e. it develops software of the highest quality. It is involved in Motorola's strategic projects.

Other IT corporations that decided to establish their R&D centers in Poland include: IFS, Fujitsu Siemens, AMS, Lucent Technologies, Siemens, GE Interlogix (owned by General Electric, develops applications for managing security systems and monitoring in intelligent buildings) and, to a lesser extent, Oracle. center is to open in Warsaw very soon.

However, Poland is not only the country in which the largest corporations expand their activities. Smaller IT companies have also based their laboratories here.

These include: Lido Technologies (implementing projects for Lufthansa), MBM Ontrack (data retrieval from damaged media), Metrosoft (risk analysis software), Axit (applications to support logistics), and even the Japanese Sentivision, a company that develops video transmission and reception devices.

Thousands of engineers

The land of knowledge

The most important technology parks and R&D centers in Poland

The centers are located in the largest urban areas: Warsaw, Cracow, Wrocław and Gdańsk. These cities are at the same time the largest academic centers in the country. In Cracow, which is most willingly chosen by investors from the IT sector (Motorola, AMS), one can study Information Technology at several renowned universities (including the Jagiellonian University, the University of Science and Technology, the Cracow University of Economics, and the Cracow University of Technology). A few thousand students in total select various IT-related majors.

Although there are many new investments of foreign corporations, a shortage of job-seeking potential IT-sector employees should not be observed. Information Technology has for years ranked very high among the most popular academic fields selected by young people. According to the data provided by the Ministry of National Education and Sports, over 7,000 students commenced full-time IT studies at public universities alone. The number should double if we add part-time students and private colleges.

IT on the Vavel Hill and at the Baltic

The central and local governments undertake various initiatives to take advantage of this potential. Recently initiated projects aim at creating effective mechanisms for the exchange of ideas, projects, thoughts, research results and technologies among academics and entrepreneurs. The establishment of science and technology parks is one of such projects. The first parks were created in the late 90s. Today, more universities and cities are interested in opening new parks.

Science and technology parks operate successfully in Poland mainly thanks to the dedication, knowledge and enthusiasm of their founders, who usually come from the scientific community. Their professional interests are frequently reflected in the major areas in which the parks operate. Founders of Poland's first Science and Technology Park in Poznań come from the Faculty of Chemistry and chemistry is the field most represented there.

The Kraków Technology Park has managed to gather the greatest number of IT companies. The Motorola Software Center is the flagship investment here. Additionally ComArch, one of the largest Polish IT companies focusing on software development and IT system integration, has its headquarters in the Park. Other companies include: Unicard, manufacturer of smart cards and worktime registration control systems; Sawan from the Softbank Group, supplier of management software for the financial industry; Pfaffenhain PL, developer of access control systems; AZSoft, supplier of IT systems for trade and services; as well as AMK Kraków, developer of IT tools for environmental protection, and a branch of R.R. Donnelley, the international printing corporation.

The Pomeranian Science and Technology Park hosts a few ICT companies: Elab, developer of Web sites, multimedia presentations, network applications; IVO Software, developer of "Spiker" computer speech synthesizers used for example in rehabilitation of the blind or in listening to messages transmitted via the Internet messengers (experts claim that ěSpikerî can compete with the world's best solutions); TELENet1 Group, offering alternative telecommunications tools, such as voice transmission services based on the proprietary MediaPHONE system.

Local governments are interested in opening technology parks. Communes, cities and provinces cooperated with local universities and regional business associations in the establishment of management bodies for the parks. They are usually limited liability companies or foundations. Local governments offer assistance in the form of public land or facilities, e.g. former gasworks in Poznań or a streetcar depot in Szczecin. The Cracow authorities offered real estate tax exemptions to companies that invested in the Kraków Technology Park.

Universities and infrastructure are necessary

Technology parks are usually created in cities with universities that offer strong scientific support for various initiatives. The necessary transportation infrastructure (airports, railways, etc.) is also in place. Their tourist and cultural values cannot be overestimated, since foreign investors have many interesting alternatives of leisure time activities. Tourists from all over the world come to Cracow every year to see the Vavel Royal Castle. When they go to Gdynia, they can relax at the Baltic Sea.

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