Get in Pole position to unlock booming market
Poland is Eastern Europe's economic powerhouse. The latest OECD report says it will rank as the fourth fastest developing economy in the world this year, with 4.2pc growth fuelling domestic demand for homegrown and imported products.
Enterprise Ireland organised a trade mission last month to support Irish companies in establishing new contacts and celebrate existing collaborations in Poland.
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The market offers multiple opportunities for Irish businesses through partnerships, or in many cases, thanks to Polish representatives who previously worked in Ireland. The most promising to date are in the agritech, medtech and engineering sectors.
More than 100 Irish-owned companies export to Poland, with sales of over €100,000 per year, including 60 companies with full-time presences.
The trade mission provided networking opportunities for 15 Irish businesses, two of which - BidRecruit, provider of award-winning recruiting software, and Xtremepush, developer of marketing automation and analytics software - are new to the Polish market.
Investment in Poland's ICT sector is expanding quickly, and is set to grow by 15pc in 2019 alone, according to the International Data Corporation. The streamlining of payment systems in banking and retail is creating openings for Irish software and services companies.
Xtremepush is the latest Irish ICT business to establish an office in Poland, opening there last month.
"Poland's market is rapidly expanding. Its strategic importance is exemplified by the presence of tech giants such as Microsoft and Google," said CEO Tommy Kearns.
As Poland is one of Europe's largest producers of generic pharmaceutical products, the area, and medical devices subsector, offers significant opportunities. Irish investment in Poland's medtech industry is long-standing: Icon Clinical Research established an office in Warsaw in 2006 and now has 371 employees working for both local and global customers.
At a seminar organised by Enterprise Ireland and hosted by the Embassy, presentations on Ireland's medtech sector attracted more than 40 guests from the Polish pharma industry. These presentations included case studies by Nuala Murphy from Icon Clinical Research and Karol Dubrowski from EviView.
Key Polish policymakers and influencers participated in a networking lunch hosted by Irish Ambassador Emer O'Connell, including senior representatives from the National Centre for Research and Development, Startup Poland, and the Polish Chamber of Commerce.
Enterprise Ireland provides a full range of expert knowledge, contacts and mentoring to help companies we support to break into the Polish market. BidRecruit set up an office in Warsaw in 2019, hiring three sales professionals to expand their presence.
Assisted initially by Enterprise Ireland's Competitive Start Fund in 2017, Enterprise Ireland continues to advise and support BidRecruit in its international growth strategy.
EviView, developers of smart manufacturing analytics software for life sciences, also benefited from Enterprise Ireland's Competitive Start Fund, and secured their first contract in Poland's pharma sector in 2018.
The country's agricultural sector is one of Europe's largest, with opportunities for Irish companies in exports of agritech, agri-machinery, animal nutrition, and veterinary chemicals.
Irish companies successful in this sector in Poland include McHale, Barclay Chemicals and Abbey Machinery, among others.
Irish food and drink, particularly cheeses, meat, whiskeys and beers, are already popular here, with demand set to increase in line with economic growth.
Poland's renewable energy sector is expanding, and with it demand for engineering expertise. Irish companies have decades of experience in this sector, particularly in the harnessing of wind power.
In 2019, Irish-based Gavin and Doherty Geosolutions won the contract to provide geotechnical consultancy for two Polish offshore wind farms on behalf of PGE Energia Odnawialna.
It is an advantage that Poland is easily accessible, thanks to flights from Dublin, Shannon and Cork.
The fact that 130,000 Polish people live and work in Ireland gives SMEs further advantages of easy access to translation services and cultural knowledge they might already even have within their workforce.
These are all solid reasons to focus export plans on Eastern Europe's emerging giant.
Bartosz Siepracki is the manager of Enterprise Ireland's office in Warsaw
Sunday Indo Business