A SpotData report shows that recent years have seen a rapid increase in foreign investment by Polish companies. Neither the COVID-19 pandemic nor the outbreak of war in Ukraine have hindered this. To a large extent, it results from the growth of investments in CEE. They are now 100% higher than the average in 2011-2020. Half of Polish foreign investment is concentrated in this region. The most popular is the Czech Republic.
„From the market size point of view, the most attractive countries for investment are the Czech Republic and Romania. From the development level, there are Slovenia, Estonia, and the Czech Republic. And from the quality of human capital – Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. But in many respects, the Balkan countries have become very attractive in recent years,” according to SpotData.
In turn, according to a report by PwC and PFR TFI, as much as 84% of Polish direct investment abroad is located in Europe. And the rebound after COVID-19 was even faster than after the 2008 crisis. The most significant increase in absolute terms was recorded in 2021 in foreign investment to the UK.
Other countries where Polish companies increased their investments were, on the one hand, the already mentioned CEE countries: Croatia (+200%), Lithuania (+130%), and the Czech Republic (+50%). On the other hand, investments in distant destinations also grew strongly: USA (+480%), India (+200%) or Brazil (+370%).
Examples of international expansion
The largest sectors involved in international expansion in Poland are processing and trade. They are led by PKN Orlen, Press Glass, Alumetal, Sniezka, LPP, and CCC. But in recent years, there have also been many mid-sized companies that have tried their hand at conquering foreign markets. This is especially true in the technology sector.
One of the most talked-about foreign investments of recent years was, valued at $1B, the Czech platform Mall Group purchase by the Polish site Allegro. Of the other investments in the CEE region, it is worth noting the Slovakian payment platform Viamo acquisition by the Polish Payment Standard (operator of Blik). Another one is WP Holding’s purchase of the Hungarian accommodation booking platform szallas.hu.
Answear.com is also taking the next steps in its overseas expansion. In November 2023, the company announced the launch of its operations in Italy. It is the 12th market in which Answear.com operates and the first in Western Europe.
Mature companies and startups
Technology companies at different stages of development are choosing to expand. These include companies operating in more mature parts of the market, such as Asseco or Allegro. It is also attractive for startups, such as DocPlanner or Booksy. A great example is Synerise, a company dealing with AI and Big Data, which announced some time ago that it would try to conquer the US market.
Overseas expansion continues with Vercom, a technology company that provides cloud solutions in the CPaaS model. In mid-2022, it finalized the acquisition of MailerLite, a global provider of email communication tools. In Q3 2023, 61% of Vercom’s sales came from foreign markets, and the number of customers exceeded 75,000.
Dynamic development of the Polish IT industry
Last year’s edition of the prestigious FT1000 ranking of Europe’s fastest-growing companies included as many as 48 Polish companies. A large part of these are IT companies. The top 200 were 74th Pysense, 94th Inspeerity, 114th Bitbag, 170th Escola, and 191st Synerise.
IT companies are achieving global success due to their high-quality services, innovation, and advanced knowledge of their specialists. Foreign expansion is, therefore, becoming a vital element of the development strategy of many companies. The ICT sector plays a critical role in this process.
When developing business in international markets, language aspects are fundamental. The founders of BRAND24, a Wroclaw-based company offering Internet and social media monitoring tools, know this best. Its overseas expansion began with the launch of the global version of the tool in 2015.
„It was originally developed in Polish, and it was this language that it understood best. Going international required creating it from scratch. Today, BRAND24 monitors virtually every language in the world, and for over 90, it can analyze the sentiment of mentions. The product, website, and marketing activities in English work well. The company attracts customers from the UK, USA, Canada, or Australia but also from South America and Asia,” explains Nicholas Winkiel, BRAND24 Chief Evangelist.
Adapting the linguistic offering to customers’ needs is also a guarantee of higher conversion. The company tested this years ago in the Indonesian and Spanish-speaking markets. It created a dedicated version of the product in 2023.
- Booksy is the most popular app for booking visits to hairdressers and beauty salons.
- Vasco Translator V4 is a translator device that speaks 75 languages and translates photo captions from 108 languages in no more than 0.5 seconds.
- TOP-10 Gamedev Companies 2023 from Poland. Among the leaders are: CD Projekt, Techland and PlayWay.
TOP-3 from the Polish site (links lead to the English version)
- DeepL Translator, a powerful next-generation online translation tool based on neural networks provided by DeepL.
- Eleven Labs, a company that provides the best speech synthesis. Based on that, it plans to make a range of products.
- Tomasz Czajka, a Flight Software Engineer in SpaceX. A member of the first team from Poland to win the ICPC 2003.