Kongres 590, a conference devoted to the Polish economy and business, took place on 17th and 18th November. One of the highlights of this event was the announcement of the winners of “Nagroda Gospodarcza Prezydenta RP” – the Economic Award of the President of the Republic of Poland. This year (14th edition) is special for the startup scene – for the first time, a special category STARTUP_PL has been introduced to reflect current trends in business.

The laureate of this award in STARTUP_PL category is Zortrax, a company specializing in production of 3D printers. Their products are sold in over 50 countries on 6 continents. Zortrax was launched in 2013 with a successful kickstarter campaign. They entered the market with a unique integrated solution: their product is not only the hardware for 3D printing, but also a dedicated software and compatible printing materials. Unlike many other 3D printers, they offer a “plug-and-print” device that doesn’t need to be calibrated for hours before the actual printing.

The Economic Award of the President of the Republic of Poland is the most prestigious economic award in the country – it is also called the “Polish Economic Nobel Prize”. The most important factor differentiating it from other awards is that the candidates cannot enter the competition if not proposed by one of 112 institutions such as universities or voivodeship marshal offices. The laureate must fulfill multiple criteria, from economic growth to the protection of environment; those awarded by the president are the very best companies that can serve as role models for other aspiring startups.

The second startup competition held during Kongres 590 was the “Battle of startups”. 26 companies chosen by the jury on the basis of online registration forms had the opportunity to present themselves in 7-minute pitches. The winner, BleBox, received an award of 50,000 zł (about 11,000 euro). This startup deals with the IoT (internet of things), creating multiple products related to home automation such as smartphone control for lights and electrical devices.

Quotiss, a Warsaw-based company that builds logistics software, placed second, and Avatar Genies, a startup that creates animated avatars in real time – third.