Thursday, June 13, 2024

Poland “is the place to grow your tech business”, says Microsoft president

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Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith has encouraged global tech firms to invest in Poland. He says the country has the opportunity to establish itself as an “AI Valley” pioneering the development of artificial intelligence, an idea he discussed last week with Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

“I can tell investors: if you come from the tech world, this is the place to grow your business,” Smith told Polish newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna. “Poland is a large country with highly qualified workers. People are innovative and work hard. There are development opportunities here.”

“What drives investment is the opportunity to work with a large group of people who want to innovate and need technology,” he added. “This is exactly the type of community that makes Poland an attractive place to invest.”

Microsoft has been present in Poland since the early 1990s and has recently invested heavily in the country. In 2020, it announced a $1 billion investment plan there, including creating its first data centre in the region, which opened in Warsaw last year.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Poland’s eastern neighbour, has caused concern among some investors. But Smith told Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that the ongoing war has reinforced Poland’s importance as a tech hub.

“We see Poland as a pillar of NATO and NATO support for Ukraine,” he said. “I think the proximity of war means that investment in technology is needed more significantly than ever before.”

Smith last week held talks with Poland’s prime minister, Donald Tusk, about ways to improve cybersecutiry, including outlining Microsoft’s role in helping Ukraine defend against cyberattacks. Poland has itself recently been hit by a series of such attacks linked to Russia.

Smith told Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that the rapid development of AI offers particular opportunities for Poland, with its strong tech and manufacturing sectors.

“The core processes of almost every company will likely change with AI implementations,” he explained. “Poland, known for its strong manufacturing sector, has a great opportunity here.”

“A good example of this is Mercedes-Benz, which uses artificial intelligence not only to interact with consumers – including communication between the driver and the car – but also to revolutionise painting, maintenance and design processes,” said Smith.

Mercedes-Benz is another large investor in Poland. In 2022, it announced plans to spend over €1 billion on establishing a factory in Poland that will be the German automotive giant’s first plant to exclusively produce electric vans.

Last year, American payment giant Visa announced the creation of a global technology and product hub in Poland that will, among other things, develop the firm’s use of AI.

“The country has a chance to become the ‘Polish AI Valley’,” declared Smith. During his talks last week with Tusk, the idea of developing such an AI hub was among the issues discussed, according to the prime minister’s chancellery.

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