From Workbench to Innovation Hub

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Workers handling a new Volkswagen Crafter diesel engine at a newly opened Volkswagen factory in Wrzesnia near Poznan. German designed, Polish made, has long proved a winning formula. What about the future of Polish design? Source: Reuters.

Poland is Eastern Europe’s great success story. Its economy has grown by leaps and bounds since the days when state-run enterprises still dotted the country’s landscape.

When communism collapsed, those manufacturers died off and large European companies such as Siemens moved into to fill the vacuum, benefiting from Poland’s inexpensive but well-educated labor force. It was a mutually beneficial relationship. Western companies were able to control their costs and Poland was able to establish a dynamic economy, now Europe’s sixth largest.

The influx of foreign investment, however, came at a cost. Today, there are virtually no big name Polish companies that compete in the global economy. “About 99 percent of all Polish companies are small or mid-sized businesses,” said Tadeusz Koscinski, Poland’s deputy economics minister. “They mostly concentrate on the domestic market and have no interest in exporting.”

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