What happened at this year’s Sthlm Tech Fest could be called a Polish takeover. Never before has the Polish capital had so many representatives at an event in the Northern Europe. Stockholm, one of the top startup cities, there was a special event organised by the local embassy, promoting technologies originating from across the Baltic Sea. The event was powered by NCBiR and PFR, and ImpactCEE representatives were present, too.
“We’re launching an enormous investment platform called PFR (Polish Development Fund). We’re a country that with 45 percent of the startup investments in our region. Besides that, there are more engineers in Poland than there are in the US. It’s worth seeing with your out eyes that an innovation boom is just waiting around the corner. Come to Katowice on December 6 to FinTech Impact and learn about the power of Polish FinTech,” says Jadwiga Emilewicz, Deputy Minister for Development.
Jacob de Geer, iZettle CEO, and Sebastian Siemiątkowski from Klarna admit they’ve tried to get Polish coding and dev teams more than once.
“These attempts were a fiasco because since the earnings in the IT industry in Poland are similar to the ones abroad. On the other hand, the costs of living in Krakow or Wroclaw are much lower. Those specialists staying onsite are your advantage, although you’re lacking the climate, diversity, and the creative mix bigger metropolises have,” says Jacob de Geer, whose fintech company is estimated to be worth 0.5 billion EUR, and is venturing into Poland.
Besides, Swedes aren’t the only ones for whom the expansion is something normal. Carl Rosen, former Managing Director of a VC in Silicon Valley – and now a General Director at Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation) has enumerated over thirty-five global companies originating from Sweden.
“Every day, they invest in research and development all over the world, they feel the pulse of innovation firsthand. That’s our advantage. It comes as no surprise we’ve got the most unicorns globally if taking into account the GNP,” says Rosen.
Sebastian Siemiątkowski’s Klarna is one of the unicorns that have been on everyone’s lips for the last couple of years. The entrepreneur, originally from Poland, promises to stay in the spotlight for much longer as the turbulent times for the banking sector have only just started. And Klarna got their banking licence a few months ago.
“Without revolutionary movements, banks will go extinct. High loan rates or bank transfers seem to me a joke that companies such as Klarna will end,” claims Sebastian Siemiątkowski.
It seems that AI will be partially responsible for the banking revolution. IBM and Amazon representatives, representing project Watson and cloud computing respectively, are really excited about how much can such machines imitating a human mind change. Taneli Tikka from Tieto, a Finnish software company, employing 20,000 people in 30 countries, claims that: „According to our estimates, on the management level, AI makes decisions that are 17 percent more efficient than a human being. That’s why AI is a full-fledged member of our management team.”
There is an area of innovation that’s more important to the Scandinavians than banking or AI, though. It’s energy. That’s why Peter Carlsson, up to recently an important person on Elon Musk’s team, got a loud round of applause.
Carlsson’s Northvolt presented a project of the gigafactory that’s already got 1.5 billion USD in the first stage. It’s not the only ambitious project that’s being developed. Project Lilium, the world’s first electric vertical take-off jet, is another. Innovative solutions also come from companies funded by the Swedish Energy Agency. For example, Exeger, a Stockholm-based solar cells factory that provides solar cells home devices that work in any lighting conditions. Climeon has shown installations that allow converting temperature waste heat into energy. Right now, all this energy goes to waste and that’s up to 50 percent of all the energy produced by conventional electricity plants. Karl Bohman from SaltX brought batteries filled with… salt.
“We’ve patented thermal energy storage in salt. It means no waste and no expiration date. The battery’s price is ten times lower than Li-Ion battery’s. That’s going to be a global success,” predicts Bohman, promising that soon he’ll show how to boost Tesla’s range up to ten percent.