The Story of NATEK: Lower Silesia, A Place To Grow A Business
Wrocław, the capital of Lower Silesia, has become a city of innovation and growth within the last few years. As a result, many companies and new initiatives have grown in this city, such as ITCorner and NATEK, a Czech company which decided to settle in the city. Photo credit: Elisa P. / Brno Daily
Lower Silesia is the third most popular region in Poland for foreign investors, after Mazovia and Silesia. More than 2,100 foreign entities operate here, 8.7% of the total number of such enterprises in Poland, including 11% of large enterprises (employing more than 250 people). Almost 65% of them have chosen Wrocław or its surroundings. Foreign investments in Lower Silesia are 10.2% of the capital invested in Poland, (22,433.6 million PLN).
Wrocław, as the capital of Lower Silesia, is a strong and innovative city which has become a place for entrepreneurs to grow new initiatives. We can take the example of ITCorner, which is an association of technology companies from all over Poland. The cluster was founded in 2012 in Wrocław, which is one of the largest IT centres in Poland and home to most of the companies that make up the cluster. ITCorner offers to its members a platform for communication, exchange of experience and cooperation between IT companies. In addition, they also support local technological communities and cooperate with representatives of cities and universities, as well as other organisations and similar clusters.
One of the first people who saw the potential of this region long before its rising development was the French investor, Jean-Michel Namand. For him, it all started when he created the start-up Cycnos in 1991 in France. With this company, he has delivered the first internet browser to connect to documentary databases for the French military. In 2004, he expanded his activities again by becoming a partner of IBM and helping them to set up the first delivery center in Central and Eastern Europe, in Brno, Czech Republic, and created NATEK.
Jean-Michel explains that he decided to take this opportunity because the market in France already had big players on the stage. He saw the Czech Republic and Eastern countries as a place where the market was yet to grow. With 20 years of experience in IT to his advantage, he decided to take the opportunity and assist IBM.
For this new project, Jean-Michel came to Brno accompanied by his sales director and his resources manager. At that time, there was literally nothing there, he explains, and it was even difficult to find an office space in Brno to rent.
Another difficulty he came across was to create a team in a country where none of them spoke the language. However, he kept in mind the importance of creating a local team with local managers who will bring local resources, considering this essential to create some sort of closeness and unity. After a year, they became a team of 120 people. The key to success in business is having the right people on your team because “the quality of our business is the quality of our people”, explained the NATEK CEO.
A year after the creation of NATEK, it was exported to Bulgaria, and in 2008 the company was delivering services from Slovakia, Czech Republic and Bulgaria. NATEK Slovakia was even recognized in 2018 as Best IT Outsourcing Company 2018 by EU Business News.
Jean-Michel decided to settle in Wrocław because he believed that the city had a lot to offer and was the perfect place to grow a company in the IT sector. He sees Prague as a more touristic city and not that suitable for businesses. However, NATEK still has its stake holding in Czech Republic, even though, according to Jean-Michel, Poland is better for resources since there are not as many competitors as in the Czech Republic. It seems that Poland is more interesting for the IT sector, with 1 million IT workers compared to 200,000 in the Czech Republic.
Furthermore, Poland is part of a special program with Belarus, Russia and Ukraine which helps migrant workers get a visa within a few weeks and thus integrate easier in their new country. Thanks to this program, NATEK is able to employ IT specialists from everywhere; Jean-Michel told us that 10/15% of the staff here in Poland are Ukrainians.
Poland is the largest economy in Eastern Europe, steadily rising in international rankings, thanks to its macroeconomic situation, sustainable economic growth and quality of infrastructure. It is also a natural choice for international companies due to the highly-skilled workforce. Poland is ranked as the 22nd largest economy in the world. In EY’s European Attractiveness Survey 2019 report, Poland was recognized as the sixth most attractive destination for foreign direct investment in Europe and the first in Central and Eastern Europe.