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2/3 of Polish startups require investment support. Results of the "Acceleration Market in Poland" report

Financing, scaling, and team building are three key challenges facing domestic startups, according to the latest "Acceleration Market in Poland" report prepared by Antal and Akces NCBR. As many as 2/3 of young companies require investment support. The bursting of the "startup bubble" has not yet occurred, but there has been a definite decline in investor interest in the Polish market. Remedies for tough times may include acceleration programs offering not only grant support but also providing tools that significantly impact the financial stability of startups.

Antal, along with Akces NCBR, has developed the "Acceleration Market in Poland" report, which illustrates the development of innovative entities, their needs, and ways to meet them. This is the first report comprehensively describing the startup support ecosystem in Poland. The aim of the study was not only to describe and classify the Polish startup acceleration environment in the perspective of other possibilities for supporting and financing such enterprises but also to identify key components of an effective acceleration program.


According to the latest PFR Ecosystem Map, Poland can boast a number of over 3300 startups, showing dynamic growth with a quarterly increase reaching around 6%, and has the potential to become a significant player on the international stage. Startups operating in the Polish market are mainly focused on activities related to new technologies. As much as 39% of them focus on the SaaS (Software as a Service) area, meaning software delivery as a service. Web applications are the field of operation for 36% of startups, while 26% concentrate on mobile solutions. The majority of Polish startups employ no more than 10 employees, which represents over 50% of the total. Around 30% of companies already have a team size exceeding 10 people. 16% of startup owners do not employ anyone.

Challenges and Perspectives of the Polish Startup Scene


The domestic startup market has its specific characteristics and challenges. According to a study conducted by Antal and Akces NCBR, startups operate in conditions of very high uncertainty. Most of them operate in the market for up to five years. Nearly 20% of startups, however, operate for more than five years, confirming that they largely have the character of temporary and dynamically changing organizations. A small percentage of startups are companies that have survived in the market for a longer time.

The study results showed that the biggest challenges for Polish startups are: raising investments (66%), lack of funds for operational activities (63%), the amount of investment required for implementation (34%), and team building (18%). The shape of the ecosystem in the coming years will depend on the creators of support programs who respond to the needs of startups.

In the face of dynamic startup development, strategic decisions regarding business scaling become indispensable. It is extremely important to maintain a balance between rapid growth and preserving operational flexibility. In this context, building strong foundations in human resources management, technology, and finance becomes crucial. At the same time, it is important that the scaling process does not lead to the loss of a unique organizational culture, which often contributes to the strength and diversity of the company - says Artur Skiba, CEO of Antal.



Three steps to a program that truly enables startup development

To strengthen Poland's position as a key player in the startup sector, it is necessary to further develop the components of an effective acceleration program. The "Acceleration Market in Poland" report highlights three areas around which support for startups should be focused. Firstly, the area of financial support, including investments, operational activities, funding for R&D, and implementation. Secondly, the area of business education, such as workshops and training, business mentoring, networking, and team building. Thirdly, the area of entering foreign markets and competitiveness.

Proper acquisition and management of funds can be crucial in achieving better results, influenced by the team, customers, and product. Operational activities and the ability to finance them affect all these areas. Although grants and subsidies are so desperately needed - over 90% of respondents indicate them as the most important form of startup support, they may only partially support certain areas of this activity. The success of a company depends on its independence from aid and self-financing. To overcome these challenges, startups often seek alternative sources of support, such as investors, business angels, venture capital funds, startup competitions, or acceleration programs. 66% of survey respondents identified these forms of assistance. It is also important to focus on effective financial management and flexibility in adapting strategies to available resources - says Adam Iwan, CEO of Akces NCBR.

The mentioned areas serve as a kind of roadmap for institutions supporting startups, both in financial and substantive perspectives. The indicated elements require an adequate adjustment of the offer, which will prepare startup founders both intellectually and financially to develop the startup from a business and technological perspective. An important role is played by founders finding themselves in the role of entrepreneurs - not only focused on the product but also as entrepreneurial leaders who are ready to introduce the product into a competitive market and manage their team.

Acceleration in the support ecosystem plays a significant role, being at the intersection of, on one hand, the early stage of the idea, usually the result of R&D work, and on the other hand, the implemented product acquiring further rounds of financing. Proper acceleration allows the founder to develop the skills of a business-minded entrepreneur who is ready to prepare a product that is internationally competitive, innovative, and attractive not only to customers but also investors - says Adam Iwan, CEO of Akces NCBR.

Individual goals and effects of acceleration from the accelerator's perspective may have varying degrees of importance in understanding success compared to startup opinions. From the startup's point of view, securing investment is the most desirable outcome. However, in acceleration, the implementation of the idea was most often assumed.

Developing the startup ecosystem in Poland, financing, mentoring, promotion, and simplifying procedures are essential factors contributing to the success and comprehensive support of startups. Poland has potential, but further actions are required to support the growth and innovation of Polish enterprises.


Methodology

The study was conducted through a survey of startups and accelerators, qualitative analysis of standardized interviews with startup founders, mentors, and ecosystem experts, as well as desk research. Report download: https://antal.pl/wiedza/raport/rynek-akceleracji-w-polsce 


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About Antal

Antal is a leading company in the CEE region, providing solutions in permanent recruitment, HR consulting, and outsourcing. At the core of our success lies the high quality of services offered and the people whose capital is the knowledge accumulated over 26 years of company activity. We create methods and tools that exceed customer expectations and market standards, while also being a leader in sustainable transformation in the industry.

We offer our business partners knowledge and expertise from experts in 10 major sectors, providing services tailored to diverse needs and expectations. The industry focus of our consultants makes them not only effective recruiters but also qualified advisors with unique knowledge of modern tools and the latest trends in the job market.

The scope of our support is very broad - from conducting comprehensive permanent recruitment processes, through outsourcing services, including RPO and contracting, to Employer Branding activities, HR Consulting, and providing comprehensive market research and analysis services.

www.antal.pl 

https://www.linkedin.com/company/antalpoland 


About Akces

Akces NCBR Spółka z o. o. ("Akces") was established in December 2021 by NCBR as a tool for implementing NCBR's statutory tasks in supporting and financing activities preparing for the implementation of research results and development work, supporting personnel development, stimulating entrepreneurs' investments in scientific activities, and increasing the participation of Polish entities in international research programs or development work.

The main goal of Akces is to support and finance the commercialization of innovative projects resulting from research (R&D) and development work. This support is provided, among others, through acceleration programs, which can be characterized as horizontal - open to all innovations, as well as vertical - industry-oriented or sector-oriented. Acceleration programs dedicated to startups at TRL levels 3-8 include a unique combination of three key elements in the Polish market: mentoring, grants, and investments.

Business mentoring worth PLN 100,000 involves conducting substantive consultations by experienced business experts - business practitioners, businessmen, or managers. Their goal is to directly support startups in achieving business goals by preparing and implementing a "tailor-made" business strategy, thus the next stage of acceleration, which is financial support in the form of a non-refundable grant of PLN 300,000, is executive in nature. The synergistic combination of these two components effectively meets the needs of startups in achieving implementation goals, acquiring investments, and supporting their internationalization. An added value and unique feature in the Polish accelerator market is the possibility for beneficiaries to obtain additional funding through Akces' equity investment, which complements support in areas addressed in the report.

Additionally, Akces carries out post-acceleration activities to support the further development path of beneficiaries (e.g., fundraising, commercialization of innovation) by assisting in building and strengthening business contacts with VC funds, Business Angels, corporations, as well as industrial centers, which further adds value for startups related to the need for networking in the innovation ecosystem.



For any further questions, please contact:

Martyna Petrus, PR Specialist at Antal

Email: martyna.petrus@antal.pl

Phone: 664 926 909

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