An ideal climate for the BSS sector. Pomerania – one of the most desirable locations for business in Central and Eastern Europe
Interview with Mieczysław Struk, Marshal of the Pomeranian Voivodeship
Wiktor Doktór, Pro Progressio: According to last year's Business Environment Assessment Study, the Tricity, together with the entire Pomeranian region, is one of the top four areas most attractive for business, with as much as 13% share of the region in foreign direct investments in Poland. In turn, the modern business services sector is one of the fastest growing areas of the economy, with Pomerania as one of the strongest points on the industry map of Poland. What makes the region's investment climate so attractive for BSS?
Mieczysław Struk, Marshal of the Pomeranian Voivodeship: Indeed, FDI, especially in the business services sector has made it one of the most dynamically developing sectors of the regional economy. 2021 was a record year, we had more than 20 new investments and reinvestments and generated more than 2000 new jobs. As a region we are very attractive for BSS investments for a multitude of reasons, including but not limited to access to modern office facilities, access to world class talent, universities, and road and air networks. We are also working on constantly expanding these services to meet the growing needs of the investors. Another factor is the growth of globally valued specialised operations such as advanced financial operations, rapidly growing R&D centres and the development of AI, Biotech and offshore sectors.
The Tricity also plays host to many prestigious international business and sectoral conferences. The development of the sector is of course seen in the numbers mentioned above, but it is more than that. It is implementing the values that guide us to create a conducive business atmosphere. It is leveraging our natural advantages of being a seaside location with a high quality of life to act as magnets to attract new talent from across the world and thus attract bigger investors. Undoubtedly, being the largest agglomeration in Northern Poland with a stable business friendly government and an education centre also plays an important role in helping us achieve our goals. For many years, we have been committed towards implementing our values of inclusivity, openness, tolerance and respect for diversity. We have gone a step beyond and together with the Tricity authorities, signed a Declaration of Values to further commit ourselves to developing in a sustainable and inclusive manner. We are also the first region in Poland to have our own Migration Policy.
All these factors mean that from year to year the position of Pomerania as a location for investments in the BSS sector is strengthening both in Poland and in Europe.
You mentioned access to world class talent. Which employees are most often looking for by investors? Does and how does Pomerania compete for talents – in Poland and in the world? What is the interest of foreigners in working in Pomerania?
Pomerania's competitive advantage lies in its multi-sectoral and diversified economy, which creates many opportunities for talented employees. Add to this the excellent quality of life and amenities offered, and it will come as no surprise that we are one of the most desirable locations not only in Poland, but also in Central and Eastern Europe. Who are our investors looking for? For this I would have to broadly classify the economy into the high-tech, manufacturing, shipbuilding and logistics sectors. Each of these sectors is looking for talented people from all over the world, with the skills needed to maintain the dynamic development of the region.
In the technology sector, Tricity investors are mainly looking for technology specialists such as Java, .Net, Python, UX and testers across the spectrum of experience. They are also looking for linguists to develop in the customer service and technical support departments. An interesting fact is that there are more than 35 business languages spoken in the Tricity!
In the manufacturing, shipbuilding, offshore, port and logistics sectors, investors are looking for engineers with marine, electrical, electronic and mechanical specialisations. They are also looking for marine architects, sustainability engineers and logistics experts. In addition, these industries are always looking for factory and assembly line workers.
Over the last ten years, the campaigns Invest in Pomerania, Live more. Pomerania and Jobs@Pomerania combined with sustainable infrastructure development in cities and the region and our natural assets have made Pomerania a very desirable destination for companies and talented people who want to study, live and develop their careers here. If you look at statistics from Live more. Pomerania and Jobs@Pomerania, it can be noted that most of the people interested in working in the region come from Eastern and Central Europe, Asia, South Asia and even parts of South America and Africa. Who would not want to live, work and study in a truly friendly, hospitable and international region like Pomerania?
Who wouldn’t, indeed. Pomorskie is also a real innovation hub and hub for companies in the area of state-of--the-art technologies, including AI or electromobility. Does this mean that while in the country there is a lot of talk about the conditions for Industry 4.0 and introducing new solutions, here the fourth industrial revolution has been happening for a long time?
Naturally. It is worth distinguishing two levels of the issue here. On the one hand, we are talking about modern industries, products or technologies, we are talking about AI or electromobility. Yes, in this respect, Pomerania has long been on the map of key locations where such solutions are being worked on. Suffice it to mention Intel's largest R&D centre in Europe, which is developing data analysis technology used in autonomous cars; Amazon working on the world-famous Alexa, Aptiv, which also produces advanced electronics for cars with a higher degree of autonomy and Northvolt producing energy storage systems that are to be a key aspect of the green energy transition. On the other hand, we are talking about the progressive automation of production, robots in factories, which is nothing new.
In order to meet the development of modern technologies in the Tricity, we have created and curated many tech communities like the AI Pomerania community and the Aviation hub. We have also partnered with institutions and organisations like the Infoshare Foundation and their Tech3camps and roadshows, the IT Manager of Tomorrow conference, Code Europe and other meetups and programming marathons. This is complemented by a rich educational offer at public universities, as well as in private coding schools, which has a direct impact on the quality and number of graduates of faculties and trainings important for the development of AI and other new technologies. Definitely, the fourth industrial revolution has been here for a while.
On the map of the province you can find as many as 4 (!) science and technology parks. Who uses their offer most often? What kind of activities can they carry out?
The parks offer flexible office space, access to support, mentorship and trainings, that make them relevant to both startups and domestic or international small or large companies. Currently, the science and technology parks and incubators are primarily used by entrepreneurs and startups developing services based on new technologies. In Pomerania, these parks are also being used by global corporations using the excellent scientific and research infrastructure.
The tenants are dominated by transport and logistics companies, IT startups and companies, biotech companies and creative industries. The Pomerania science and technology parks are more than just places of work. They provide valuable networking opportunities and also host events and conferences. A combination of these tech parks combined with attractive offers from flexi working spaces has also gone a long way in helping companies coming under the Come2Pomerania and Poland. Business Harbor program set up in the region.
What incentives and facilities can an in-vestor who wants to start a business in Pomerania count on? Can they also benefit from support during the implementation of the investment project?
An investor interested in development in Pomerania can count on a number of incentives and facilities. First of all, it is a comprehensive service on behalf of the Invest in Pomerania initiative. It acts as a "one-stop shop" in the region providing information and support at all stages of the investment process. At the outset, an investor's project manager is assigned to the investment project, who is with them during all stages the investment decision. The first support includes preparation of reports and analyses, assistance in establishing contact with local authorities and partners, organisation of local visits, etc.
After the decision to open the center, Invest in Pomerania helps in marketing activities building the employer's brand on the labor market and provides support in access to candidates. That's not all, the investor can also count on the support from the Słupsk Special Economic Zone and the Pomeranian Special Economic Zone, as well as apply for government grants.
Pomeranian investors can count on support at every stage of the investment process. The post-investment support aspect is also extremely important to us. It includes, building a local business community, support in the process of legalising the stay of foreigners, because we care more. The result of this support, is the trust placed in us by the investors. The results can be seen in the increasing number of investments and reinvestments in the region.
What current or upcoming projects and initiatives addressed to business will be in your opinion crucial for the development and strengthening of the business potential of the voivodship?
First of all, the Management Board of the Pomeranian Voivodeship has decided to increase the budget of Invest in Pomerania for the years 2022–2023 by PLN 20 million. Thanks to this, it will be possible to increase the scale of use of the tools operated by the Invest in Pomerania team, for the benefit of investors.
Secondly, we are developing a system of supporting training aimed at retraining. Currently, you can get support for training in Data Science, Java and Front-end. Additional trainings will be launched in the near future. In the area of training, we are also working on the continuation of this support within the framework of European funds from the new financial perspective.
Thirdly, additional funds for Invest in Pomerania will increase the pool of funds to support entrepreneurs conducting industrial and logistics investments.
Thank you for the interview.