Venture Café Warsaw
o understand Warsaw's potential you need to know its history. During World War II it was more than 90 percent destroyed and was reborn like a phoenix from the ashes, creating one of the most dynamically developing and modern innovation ecosystems in Europe.
The fast development took place only after 1989 with the fall of communism and the inflow of know-how and capital from outside, and the release of the entrepreneurial spirit. The "Iron Curtain" period caused a delay of about forty years in the country’s development, but thanks to this, its boom came at a completely different time in terms of technological development, which allowed Warsaw to build modern infrastructure in many important sectors of the economy such as fintech, proptech and IoT.
Reconstruction of the city center with modern office buildings created opportunities unique in Europe to concentrate all key elements for the innovation ecosystem in one place. Top corporations choose Warsaw as the headquarters for their shared service centers because of its location, attractive cost of living and labor, rich human capital and high quality of life.
The beginning of building an innovation ecosystem started with the creation of entrepreneurship incubators at Warsaw universities in 2004. In 2007, Aula Polska, a cyclical meetup for the innovation industry, was established. In 2011, a small coworking space, Reaktor, began gathering a community around technology and innovation, and since 2015, the Startup Poland foundation has conducted an annual survey of the startup industry.
In 2015, the project of an organic innovation district in Warsaw kicked off, and Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) and Venture Café Warsaw foundation became the leaders of this project. The opening of the CIC Innovation Campus in July 2020 coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, but it soon became apparent that this is when infrastructure of this type is even more needed. Programs created by the foundation have become key points in sustaining relationships in the ecosystem.
We are glad that Warsaw will have its own Startup Guide, and that even more people in the world will be able to learn about the fantastic things happening in Poland.
Cofounder @ Cambridge Innovation Center in Poland
Founding Executive Director @ Venture Café Warsaw Foundation
Advisory Board Member @ Startup Poland
Director of Programs and Partnerships @ Venture Café Warsaw Foundation