Biggest start-up centre in Europe

Starting from June 2015, the National Stadium in Warsaw will host the biggest business accelerator on the continent, with places for 850 start-ups. Young entrepreneurs from other Central and Eastern European countries are also encouraged to join in.

Poland has every chance of becoming the biggest entrepreneurial centre in the region. Our country boasts the largest network of business incubators in Europe and is the place where the most start-ups are being created. Young entrepreneurs will soon have another great opportunity to move their businesses up a notch. In June 2015 a large business accelerator will open in Warsaw, called Business Link Narodowy. The facilities available in the centre will include desks, server rooms, laboratories and conference halls. All that on 5,000 sq. metres, in one of the capital’s biggest office blocks, the National Stadium.

“I believe that Warsaw can become a regional start-up centre,” Dariusz Żuk, the president of Entrepreneurial Poland and the co-founder of Business Link Narodowy, told Polska.pl. “This place has been drawing new Polish ICT companies for a long time now. Now, apart from the best Polish start-ups, we would also like to attract foreign companies from that industry, especially those from Central and Eastern Europe. We want to provide them with support and give them an opportunity to enter foreign markets,” said Mr Żuk.

“The accelerator to be opened at the National Stadium is indeed a tremendous opportunity to bring to Poland start-ups with leading-edge technologies that give good chances of commercial success,” Dr Michał Bańka, the director at the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development responsible for the development of the start-up network in Poland, told Polska.pl. “The creation of probably the biggest accelerator in our region may be considered another proof for Poland’s leading place in the regional start-up industry,” he added.

Business Link, the company behind the Business Link Narodowy project, also runs the Ready To Go! programme. The programme offers start-ups training visits to the Silicon Valley, Shanghai and London. Now, apart from Polish companies, entrepreneurs from other countries who want to expand their businesses into foreign markets can take part in the programme. Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania are keen to see their start-ups join the accelerator.

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“We could build a strong start-up ecosystem in Central and Eastern Europe together, to help us compete with such start-up giants as the Silicon Valley in America and Bangalore in India,” thinks Mr Żuk.

The National Stadium’s spacious area will provide the start-ups with good conditions not only for office work alone. Having all of them together under a single roof is meant to unlock synergies between them. Co-working should facilitate exchanging experiences and developing joint projects by entities that would not team up otherwise. Business Link Narodowy also offers help in matters related to the basics of running a company and business knowledge in the form of training and mentor coaching.

“The start-up support system would be defective without accelerators, thus also less efficient,” underlines Dr Bańka. “It should be noted that an accelerator is in fact only one of the initial stages in the start-up’s dealings with the business environment. Acceleration programmes are of substantial help in the start-up’s business survival, ability to attract investors, and expansion into new markets.”  

Business Link Narodowy will join the AIP Business Link network which brings together ten accelerators that operate in, among others, Warsaw, Krakow, Trojmiasto and Poznan. The accelerators are accompanied by the AIP Seed Capital Fund and a network of approximately 50 Academic Business Incubators, which since 2004 have helped create 7,000 companies and are currently taking care of over 1,500 start-ups. Projects from Belarus, Ukraine and Romania are already running as part of the AIP, which proves that the organisation has the knowledge and experience necessary to venture on such a demanding plan as Business Link Narodowy.

“We want our country to be associated with start-ups, new technologies and innovation. I hope that Business Link accelerators will, at least to some extent, help us achieve this goal,” concludes Mr Żuk.

ALEKSANDRA STANISŁAWSKA

06.03.2015