The conference Brand “Poland”
Brussels 6-7 October 2011
Improvement of the image of Poland in the world
The Polish Economy Among European Leaders
In the beginning the floor was taken by Janusz Lewandowski, the Budget Commissioner in the European Commission, who emphasized that in the discussion about the image and the brand of Poland one should avoid wishful thinking, as well as deep pessimism. He recalled the stereotypes and prejudice connected with the ‘Polish Economy’ during the transformation period. He stated that ‘the Polish economy has evolved dramatically, which allowed it to take position among predictable and responsible European partners.’ According to Lewandowski, Poland is no longer perceived through the prism of martyrology and romantic history, but first of all it is seen in the context of its euroenthusiasm and dynamic economy. Exceptional chance for Poland is created by the upcoming European Football Championship, which for thousands of guests from Europe (and not only) will offer the opportunity to compare their image with the reality of the rapidly growing economy. A problem for Poland is that various national brands have quite late joined the global race for recognition and positive associations. The logos of Polish companies are quite poorly recognizable in comparison with the leaders in the ranking. Leading companies connected with heavy industry and mining are not typical entities, which would be interested in promotion of their brands. According to judgment of Commissioner Lewandowski a chance for a change of this situation would be cooperation with countries of the former Soviet block, which encounter similar problems in this area.
Istvana Szekely from the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs in the European Commission began his speech by recalling a situation from the past, when entire Central and Eastern Europe was regarded as a relatively risky area for foreign investment. This situation was verified by the economic crisis, in the course of which Poland observed continuous growth, creating new workplaces all the time. By presenting appropriate data and diagrams, Szekely illustrated how Poland achieved gradually its current position, which can be characterized by endurance of the economic crisis. According to him, the key factors, decisive for favourable economic results in the period of the global economic slump, are the size of the internal market and the strength of local entrepreneurship, while deficiencies include inefficient infrastructure and weakness of too restrictive bureaucracy. Another stumbling block for faster development of the country is also lack of appropriate cooperation between universities and the business sector.
The brand ‘Poland’ according to Pierre Moraillon, the President of the Executive Council for Central and Eastern Europe in MEDEF International, is partially the issue of stormy and fascinating history. After the period of difficult transformation, Poland has grown to become a regional economic leader. He emphasized that France began to discover the investment potential of the Polish economy quite late, joining more seriously the group of the major foreign investors only in the end of the nineties. In his view, the best promoters of the brand of Poland are French companies operating in the area of Poland, which contribute to a better image of Poland as a country with a stable political situation and dynamic economic results.
Perception of the Poland as a brand name from the perspective of the European parliament was described by MEP Bogdan Marcinkiewicz. As a member of the Committee dealing with industry, technology, scientific research and tourism, he has become familiar with the brand issues of individual countries. He emphasized the role of small and medium size enterprises in creating the image of the country among foreign partners. He noted that one of the missions of the European Parliament was to support institutions responsible for research and development and their cooperation with the academic circles. The Member of Parliament delivered a punch line in his speech by quoting the words of Jerzy Buzek, who said that it was worth to continue success of the Polish economy and follow this direction.
Another speaker invited to the floor by Jacek Socha was Julio Duarte, a representative of a Portuguese concern investing in Poland, who was in a good position to describe why the Polish economy was attractive for foreign investors. In the time when Jeronimo Martins began his operation in Poland, attention was directed towards the great potential of Poland, which had excellent position in the heart of Europe and a considerable number of dynamic youth. He emphasized the success of the Polish economy in overcoming subsequent challenges connected with transformation and accession to the European Union. Numbering successively the advantages of Poland as a place for investment, he emphasized clearly that the disadvantages of the Polish economy included cumbersome bureaucracy and underdeveloped infrastructure. He reminded about the necessity to introduce painful reforms, expected to provide a chance to explore the entire potential offered by the Polish economy.
Another discussion was opened by a moderator, MEP Slawomir Nitras, who emphasized the importance of innovative economy, creating currently the basis for healthy economic development. Nitras asked Giordano Richter, from the European Business & Innovation Centre Network, to make an attempt to analyze the problems of the European economy in the race for innovativeness with the United States or Asian countries. Dichter directed attention towards the features of European culture and correspondingly he stated that a comparison of the countries of the Old Continent with other regions of the world made sense only to a limited degree. He emphasized the importance of support for such innovation that could be really deployed in practice. In his opinion, entrepreneurship incubators functioning in the European Union operate according to a completely different ‘modus operandi’ than their counterparts in the United States. He noticed that in the case of Poland, it was not the easiest area for innovation in a longer perspective.
Slawomir Nitras directed a question to Dagmar Grossman asking if the key importance for creation of innovations was to prepare appropriate climate for new ideas or lift procedural-financial barriers. As a entrepreneur with experience gained both in Western Europe and countries of ‘New Europe’ (the Czech Republic), Grossman paid attention to the difference in the way how innovative companies functioned in these two regions. According to her, the Central and Eastern European countries offer a huge potential of well-trained young generation. The main problem is that beginning entrepreneurs are unwilling to take too much risk. Difficulties of Poland, as one of the most interesting countries in the region, are related to insufficient number of international connections and significant barriers to entry for foreign investors.
Slawomir Nitras agreed with the diagnosis made by Dagmar Grossman, remarking in the same time that the size of Poland determined a different character of the national economy, which did not force Polish entrepreneurs to seek expansion abroad.
President of Fakro, Ryszard Florek, paid attention to the fact of scale effect in competition with companies coming from Western Europe. According to his experience, the success of research and development does not mean automatically a market success, in view of the competitive advantage of products from Western Europe. According to him, the regulations of the European Union promote companies from the Old EU, by strengthening considerably the scale effect. In his view, changes to the European law are a must for balanced development of Europe. Responding to the question of Slawomir Nitras about the required direction of possible legal changes, Ryszard Florek suggested a necessity to introduce compensation instruments. Answering a question from the floor about the details of the operation of his company, Ryszard Florek emphasized that FAKRO searches for chances of cooperation with smaller partners.
In response to the question about the entry barriers to the innovation market, president of Software Mind SA, Janusz Homa, stressed that his point of view resulted from varied experience in both the European markets and outside of them. Homa underlined that the high-tech industry, represented by him, was an extremely important sector of the economy supported by the examples from such authorities as Steve Jobs. For such companies as Software Mind SA there are no classic boundaries anymore and the style of thinking of their employees departs from analysis in the context of divisions between Western and Eastern Europe. Competition with the leading global players is surely achievable. He pointed to the role of investment in human capital.
Maciej Bogucki agreed with the view of Slawomir Nitras, who claimed that the Polish health care did not use its potential. Bogucki stressed that ‘the pharmaceutical sector has been currently the most innovative sector of the global economy’. In the Polish case, this sector still has a great development potential. The right time has come for expansion of companies from this sector in foreign markets.
A Member of the European Parliament, Ines Ayala Sender, emphasized her affinity and understanding for the Polish affairs, drawing attention to a similar potential of both countries in terms of population and economy. In the case of Spain, innovativeness was supported by taking advantage of social and political diversity in the country. Political will is necessary to take advantage of the differences present in the society for the benefit of stimulating creativeness. The Spanish success consists in discovering various values from a brand based on the concept ‘La Fiesta’- sport, tourism and lifestyle. Spaniards are successful in realization of leading construction projects, thanks to exploration of social advantages in creating innovative business in this branch of industry. The success of these companies was possible although they started their adventure from very difficult positions. Similarly to Spain, Poland can explore the potential resulting from membership in the European Union.
President of Malopolska Industrial Parks, Krzysztof Krzysztofiak, was asked by Slawomir Nitras whether the regional strategy of building entrepreneurship was the most effective strategy in stimulating innovations. According to Krzysztofiak, one should think how to develop modern technologies so that they are really useful for the society. The president warned against further deindustrialization of developed countries and encouraged to develop local entrepreneurship as the best remedy for the effects of crisis. Concerning the regions, the key point is to channel funds for priority measures and their rational distribution among individual parts of the country.
Vice-president of the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Pyrza, stressed that the patent system in Poland minimized the importance of financial barriers. A modest number of applications filed to the patent office results from the strength of foreign capital, which captures the results of Polish inventiveness. Pyrza pointed to the necessity of redefining the goals of spending money for research and development. The precondition for a uniform European patent system is standardization of law in a specific direction. Referring to the words of Andrzej Pyrza, MEP Sender described special features of the patent system from the Spanish point of view, which considered also the necessity to cooperate with Latin American countries.
6th October 2011
Arrival of Participants
7th October 2011
08:30 – 9:00
Registration of Participants
09:00 – 9:15
09:15 – 10:30
Panel Discussion: The Polish Economy among European Leaders
10:30 – 10:45
10:45 – 12:00
Panel Discussion: Innovative Economy in Modern Europe
12.00 – 13.00
Panel Discussion: European Enterprise Awards –the way to European success
13:00 – 13:45
13:45 – 14:45
Panel Discussion: Knowledge Means Capital. How to Invest in Poland?
14:45 – 15:00
15:00 – 16:00
Panel Discussion: Poland as a Brand – Advantages for Business and the State
Room 4Q1 in the Jozsef Antall building
rue Wiertz Wiertzstraat