Looking forward

Poland has come a long way over the last century, but there is room for improvement and although foreseeable challenges lie ahead,there is hope for the future.

In a Poland which consistently pushes boundaries in business, creative production and development, the nature of the country’s future certainly appears to be a rich one, bolstered by ever-growing innovation and international cooperation. In the year of the 100th anniversary of Polish independence, Poland Today spoke with a variety of opinion-formers and leading industry representatives for their take on where the country is headed over the next ten years, and whether recent progress will continue. Poland’s economic development is often, and quite rightly, emphasised in international media, which has exploded across the European stage. For the first 20 years after 1989, Poland’s economic growth was the largest of all nations which had belonged to the former Soviet bloc. This was a development which stood the country in good stead to navigate the tumultuous financial crisis of 2008: Poland was the only country in the EU which avoided recession. Dr Marcin Piatkowski, the author of Europe’s Growth Champion: Insights from the Economic Rise of Poland, sees in the nation a unique financial model in Europe: “Over the last more than a quarter of a century, Poland has become Europe’s growth champion and the fastest growing middle-high income economy in the world, beating even the Asian Tigers. There are no major reasons to believe that this remarkable performance will stop anytime soon. I am convinced that Poland will continue to grow at a respectable pace and by 2030 achieve a level of income per capita close to 80% of the level in Western Europe.”

Strength and unity is a must

Poland’s development over the last decades is undeniable, but it raises questions of what the country must do next to sustain its progress. Kamil Pakosz, Business Development Director at retail and leisure investment company PFI Future and head of start-up tourism business Hello Poland, reiterated how far Poland had come since 1989, but warned that the future for the country was more complex. “There are many internal and external threats that can disrupt the fragile balance that we have been trying to achieve for the last 29 years. Our ability to win those fights depends on how strong and integral we are as a country. My concerns are that without hard work on building a strong and unified society we could lose.” Most notably, interviewees stressed Poland’s recent tumultuous relations with the EU as a cause for concern. Poland joined the EU in 2004, catalysing the growth of a modernised society: the country received L56bn in development funds between 2007 and 2013, which were invested in infrastructure, and its GDP soared from $255bn in 2004 to an estimated $614bn this year. However, all has not been rosy. Artur Kazienko, CEO of Kazar Footwear, believes a lot more could be done to support the nation: “I hope that Poland will use the potential of the EU in the coming decade. Strengthening the role of our country in the international arena, as a valued member of the European community, would bring tangible results not only in terms of business or politics, but also for society and the economy.”

Common sense is a challenge

For David Dolhomut, an acting trade commissioner in Warsaw, the issues are more specific: “As Poland keeps growing as a nation there will be a couple of challenges in the coming 10 years. Since Poland’s entry into the EU , it has been the largest recipient of EU funds. After 2020, the country will have to start thinking on how to sustain itself.” With sustainability in mind, Dolhomut also raised concerns about Poland’s development in terms of energy sources, stressing that the country needs to move away from Russian gas and local coal. An extension of this idea came from Piotr Sawicki, an architect, planner and consultant in the real estate market since 2003, and co-designer of the Warsaw Royal Route redevelopment. “Sustainable transport, bike use, electric cars, high energy efficiency, use of renewable energy sources or wise water treatment and smart city concepts are starting to gain some real interest and wide use in Poland. However political decisions may change this and ruin it if we keep on financing the coal plants and paying the ensuing fees to the EU budget. It’s a challenge to make the economy and common-sense fit with ideology.”

The best designers are here

Sustainability has been trickling into Poland for the last few years, a trend particularly seen in production industries such as fashion. Daria Lesniewska, Head of Online Marketing and PR at homegrown fashion brand RIS K, stressed that current advancements promised a bright future: “Poland is a remarkable production base; the best designers, such as Chanel, Isabel Marant, Marc Jacobs and many Scandinavian brands have been and will continue to base their production in Poland. The growing sustainable fashion trend is causing production to migrate from China mainly to Poland, which is a major chance for our development.” Yet she admits to concerns that such progress may be damaged by increasing polarisation in society, an opinion echoed by Jakub Luboński, the CEO and one of the cofounders of Bin-e, which offers IoT based smart waste bins. His prioritisation of international cooperation across industries is one which would involve a national effort to unwrap opportunities: “I am afraid that we will keep closing up to other cultures in the future. Some countries already consider us as a nation which rejects international collaboration. If we do not change our approach it will block our development.”

Art investment as a norm

Though Poland has been making progress to achieve EU green targets over the last year, most recently improving recycling quotas and embracing renewable energy, the lack of consistent transnational cooperation threatens any permanent progress. Indeed, individuals overwhelmingly suggested that technological advancement on an international scale should be promoted to a greater extent; a message which stretched across varying industries. For Beata Niemczuk, partner of Aurabilia – a firm of contemporary art business consultants – technology is a central medium through which Polish art can expand its potential: “Investment in art as a class asset will become a norm in Poland just like in mature markets. Social media like Instagram, Snapchat and technology-driven solutions and services (like blockchain or cryptocurrency) will do a major job of democratising art among the younger generations.”

In other creative industries, like startups, similar ideas were suggested. Karol Nowalski, Chief Product Officer of two Polish tech startups, believes that Poland is increasing its potential: “Many influencers in tech industries are already looking at Poland as a potential European hub of new business development. As long as we manage to keep this up, it’s going to become a fountain of opportunities.” However, Bartosz Dobrowolski, a Member of the RICS Advisory Board and Founder of Proptech Poland – a network of professionals who aim to digitally transform the property industry in Poland through innovation – warned: “While in the financial services industry Poland is one of the most innovative, compared to the UK, US A or even Western Europe we are still a few steps behind when it comes to real estate digital transformation.”

International Polish brands needed

Jarosław Bator, CEO of co-working provider Business Link, and Wiktor Doktór, CEO of Pro Progressio, an organisation which supports entrepreneurial growth, particularly in the business services sector, agreed that a focus on the foundations of development needed to occur before Poland could reach its potential, suggesting investment in local areas to promote a better quality of life for business trailblazers was of paramount importance. The idea that Poland is en route to a more mature development is undeniable, but the country remains stuttering towards progress, and complications were cited as being principally the result of the nation’s inward-looking attitude. Hermann Simon, founder and Honorary Chairman of business consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, and the only German in the Thinkers50 list of the most influential international management thinkers in the world, suggested that the Polish state should promote itself to a far greater extent: “A big challenge is branding. There is not a single Polish brand among the global 100.” A similar sentiment was relayed by Joanna Plaisant, Country Manager for international real estate standards organisation RICS, who suggested that the central development needed was in Poland’s international renown – a factor which has the potential to open up the country’s progress ever-further: “We are strong in terms of economic growth, but for investors the reputation of the country is equally, if not more important. The FTSE Russell index has reclassified Poland from Advanced Emerging to Developed market status from September 2018. We strongly hope that this will help in terms of how we are perceived.” Plaisant also stressed that Poland still required outside investment, even down to human capital – following the nation’s accession to the EU , around two million Poles went abroad, draining the country of talent and labour. Plaisant suggested that Poland now needs to encourage trends to reverse: “The biggest concern currently is human resources. We need to think of a way to bring workers to the market, including from abroad.” For Katy Carr, an award-winning British-Polish recording artist, such development should begin with history, building a brighter future on a reliable past: “Poland is still a young country and has to continue to celebrate the richness of her culture and history. I hope that Poland stays strong to her identity, heritage and creativity without losing her traditions.”

Despite being a young nation, Poland has demonstrated considerable growth over the past number of years, cementing its position in the EU and globally with increased development and innovation. The world’s key players in business and economics, among others, acknowledge Poland’s progress and emergence on the global stage. There is still a way to go, but, as Dobrowolski maintained, the country remains “the bridge between the East and the West.” The extent to which Poland capitalises on these connections in the years ahead will reveal just how bountiful the country’s development can become.

Poland Today reached out to professionals and opinion formers from a variety of sectors about their thoughts on Poland’s future and the main challenges, opportunities that are in store, as well as their personal hopes and concerns for the country in the next 10 years.
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Witold Orłowski: Professor of economics, Chief Economic Advisor to PwC Polska. Former economic advisor to President Aleksander Kwaśniewski, member of the National Development Council of President Lech Kaczyński, member of the Economic Council of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, and author of 12 books and over 200 scientific publications.

Society needs to digest the effects of the fast economic and social changes over the past decades. The economy is open to the world, but society not so much. Economically, the main challenge is to shift from the growth model based on cheap labour to the knowledge-intensive growth model based on innovation. Another challenge is how to increase of the saving rate, which is necessary to finance the investment. As ever, open access to the whole European market is the main asset. Obviously, the opportunity can only be exploited if Polish entrepreneurs are aggressive and ambitious in their expansion plans. Although Poland will not be able to match the Western European living standards and productivity levels over the next 10 years, I hope that it will become a highly dynamic economy, with society in general proud of the country’s fast development. I also hope that the period of mistrust in the market by a significant part of society, including the younger generation, is over. My main concern over the next couple of years is connected with Poland’s relations with the EU . Polish internal politics, determined by the current turbulent powers, will lead to an accumulation of problems. I hope that the tensions will calm down before any critical situation arises.

Carlos Pinerua: World Bank Country Manager for Poland and the Baltic States. An economist by training, with professional expertise in banking and financial sector issues, Carlos comes from Venezuela and was previously Country Manager in Zagreb, Croatia.

As the incomes of Polish people rise, so do their aspirations. Demands for better, more transparent, and client-oriented institutions are growing sharply, so the biggest challenge for Poland is to improve public services, including health and education (both basic and higher), to allow Polish people to fully achieve the living standards enjoyed in Western European countries. After so many years without an independent state, Poland is now one of Europe’s most dynamic societies and people are hungry for success. They want to expand their individual qualifications, set up new companies and improve their lives. Building on this spirit, Poland has a chance to fully catch up with its neighbours to the west in 10 years. Only a few countries in the world have witnessed as consistent a growth – both fast and stable – as Poland has in recent years. I hope Poland will be able to continue down the development path that helped it achieve high income status in record time. Being the largest economy in Central Europe and having well-educated and very entrepreneurial people positions the country to prosper in the future. My biggest concern is Poland’s demographic situation. Poland is one of the fastest ageing societies in Europe – 35% of the population will be over 65 by 2030. This will have a tremendous impact on social spending, the country’s institutional framework, and the economy. Also, global protectionism is on the rise at the same time as the EU is facing turbulent times. This could negatively impact countries like Poland that are very well connected internationally and, thus, dependent on others.

Tony Housh: Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce. He has over twenty five years of experience in Poland and Central Europe as an advisor, public company board member and manager. He is currently an executive in the aerospace and defense sector.

Poland is continuing a strong growth path and I believe that it will continue over the coming decade. While exact GDP growth numbers are difficult to predict more than a year or two in advance, Poland’s ongoing growth, development of its FDI pool and effective use of remaining EU funding mechanisms bode well. The challenges for Poland will be to establish itself in the front line of EU countries and to meet the rising expectations of its citizens on income, quality of life, healthcare and education while maintaining a robust economy. In the security sphere, it’s important that Poland retain its active role in the collective defence of Europe through NATO, further develop its partnership with the US and deliver on its ambitious modernisation plans for the armed forces. During the next 10 years, I hope that Poland will grow its high value-added sector in the economy, continue to welcome foreign direct investment and evolve the tax and legal environment to accelerate the further development of an innovative ecosystem for companies, both large and small. The future is not without challenges. Poland needs a prosperous EU and the EU needs a prosperous Poland anchoring Central Europe in the single market. Maintaining a strong voice in the s critical for long-term growth and stability. The investment and operating environment for investors – foreign and domestic – must be cared for and, where possible, improved. Innovation, new technologies, and jobs require private investment and increasing the level of investment internally from all sources will be needed to maintain strong growth and meet the challenges of raising GDP per capita closer to the levels of our western neighbours. Poland will face the challenge of providing the right type of labour force to meet the expected demand while supporting a growing number of pensioners. Productivity and technology will address this challenge, but more people will be needed to allow the country to fully take advantage of this historic growth and development opportunity. Economically, the decade ahead should be prosperous for Poland. As Poland approaches 30 years since the transition of 1989 it’s remarkable to look at the extraordinary changes in the country and its regional environment. My hope is that the coming decade will be one where politics will not trump good policy so that Poland will be secure and prosperous in its European home.

Dorothy Dabrowski-Winterscheid: Managing Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Poland since 2002 where she is responsible for keeping the organisation active, esteemed and well-networked. She has served on the Executive Council of AmChams in Europe and was a founder of the Polish Professional Women Network (PWnet).

I expect the next 10 years to be good years as Poland continues on a trajectory of growth and development. This is the most dynamic country in the region and an impressive contender across Europe. In my view, the main threats for Poland come from the outside – political and economic instability from our neighbours or globally. Although there are concerns about decisions of the current government, relative to what is happening in other countries around the world, Poland’s issues look less dramatic. As someone who works with global corporations, we see how easy it is for investors to move quickly to the best markets around the world. Not so long ago, Poland was competing for investors with the likes of Egypt, Turkey, and India. That competition has gone and Poland stands out as a stellar investment destination for many investors. Investment funds are particularly sensitive to matters of perception so this is an area that could gain investment if the country’s PR were improved. A growing challenge since EU entry has been the confrontation of migrants into Poland. The recent migration crisis has only exacerbated the situation and Poles need to deal with the challenges of a changing society in a country that has long been homogenous and insular. I am concerned about the next generation of workers. The generation nearing retirement in a decade was the generation that made Poland the success that it is, often with much sacrifice, though with much opportunity as well. Will the new generation find the motivation to work nearly so hard? Does prosperity stifle ambition? To this end, I am concerned about the future of education in Poland. On the one hand, we need to maintain the highest standards to compete and be ready for the fast-paced and digital future; on the other hand, we should go back to solid vocational training to make sure we have the basic professions that the economy needs. My hope is that in these dramatically changing times, Poland finds its voice vis-a-vis the EU and the US ; that Poland finds the right balance between promoting its own values and ambitions, while staying open to the world.

Tomasz Rudolf: CEO of The Heart, corporate center for digital ventures, located on 38. floor of Warsaw Spire. He works with leading multinationals that join forces to accelerate their digital transformation, find & integrate technologies from the startup ecosystem and co-create new businesses.

The war for talent will be the biggest challenge in business. As corporations and startups work on building new processes, products and businesses for the new digital era, the demand for skilled designers, programmers, data scientists and many other creative professionals will be rising. The shortage of human resources will force new approaches to immigration, re-skilling people from industries that went through increased automation, and leveraging the ‘silver workers’. Poland is already a shared services powerhouse. As corporate IT centres turn into agile hubs of digital innovation, Poland can become a hotbed for B2B and enterprise spin-offs and startups, supplying businesses globally with new technologies. As new industries are created, our digital ‘hidden champions’ can leverage the increased access to venture capital and IT talent to build new scalable ventures. My hope is that we will be able to build a new brand of Poland as a transformation nation, recognised for its ability to change, entrepreneurship and our rebel hearts. I hope that Polish entrepreneurs will stop feeling inferior to their international colleagues, and courageously build and scale their companies worldwide. I am concerned about our education system – we need to reinvent it for the 21st century. As automation of many jobs will rise, we need to build the ability of future generations to work in diverse teams, rather than memorise facts; challenge rules rather than sit quietly from 9 to 5. We need to break the boundaries between subjects and faculties to encourage project-based, experiential learning.

Leszek Baj: Senior Analyst for Business Affairs at Polityka Insight, where he is responsible for monitoring the activities of ministries, business institutions and companies. Previously he worked as an economic journalist and next as a deputy head of business desk at ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ newspaper.

The media industry in Poland has had a difficult time in recent years. Media outlets are subject to global trends of readership decline in the printed press and the struggle to maintain viewership in TV. Television stations face growing competition from new tech companies like Netflix and YouTube. So I would say that main challenges for media are: to keep growing and searching for new sources of income; to fully transform from analog to digital; to diversify sources of income; to reduce dependence on the advertising of state-owned companies; to keep their independence; to improve the quality of content I think that technology can be the biggest opportunity. Media industry can use new technologies to develop new products, but for that we need people who understand the world of media and technology. A huge opportunity for media is the growing Polish economy, which is catching up with the European economies. Growing wealth and consumption offers the chance that people will spend more money in media. I hope that Poland can be more united and not divided as it is now. I hope that there will be no major crisis that can harm the Polish economy and the Poles, and I hope that in the future Poland will be a stable economy and strong country within the EU . However, there are many problems ahead of Poland such as demography – if nothing is done there will be fewer and fewer Poles. Companies have huge problems with the deficit in the labour force. Without employees, companies will not invest and GDP growth could slow down. Then there are the divisions in society. This is a growing problem connected to politics which affects the daily life of Poles. Poland is growing fast and transforming its economy, but there are still many things which need to be addressed, healthcare being a prime example. There’s also the potential middle-income trap. Until recently our economy was growing and increasing in efficiency mostly due to the inflow of foreign direct investment. We have to move forward. Poland needs to increase R&D spending in order to create new technologies that can be exported globally. We need more global companies with Polish capital – private not public – which will be able to create global products.

Andrew Wrobel: Head of Content Strategy & Research, and Founding Partner of Emerging Europe, a London-based think tank committed to boosting the social and economic development of 23 countries of Eastern Europe and raising awareness about the region.

The biggest challenge that I see will be demographics. The unemployment rate has been going down since the 1990s, even if we take into account the economic cycles or the global financial crisis, and is currently the lowest in the country’s history. Further development will require additional talent, despite automation and digitalisation. There are only two ways of addressing that, either by attracting talent from abroad or utilising the labour force in the country more efficiently. Poland has a huge diaspora – it is estimated that about 20 million Poles live outside the country – and some of them might decide to come back. However, they have become used to different lifestyles and they will want to see further social and economic reforms. The current political narrative doesn’t support immigration and the relatively easy access to the Ukrainian labour market could soon be exhausted. I believe the labour force at home is not used to its full potential and again, the populist measures the government has taken recently – lowering the retirement age or the 500+ programme – have encouraged a lot of people to stay home instead of developing their skills. Poland is the biggest economy in the region and the second largest country after Ukraine – and as of recently, the first developed market in this part of Europe. Unlike any economy in the Old Continent, Poland has grown continuously since the beginning of its transition. It boasts welleducated and industrious talent. Just to give one example, at the inaugural Emerging Europe Awards earlier this year, we looked at global champions in our region and Poland has produced the largest number of them by far. Interestingly enough, almost all of them were created in the early 1990s, not several decades ago like many German, or French or British companies. I hope that Poles will develop a new definition of patriotism that matches the 21st century, without nationalism and chauvinism. It is clear that all people, everywhere, have the very same right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and respect. As Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th US president said over a century ago: ‘Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.’

Agnieszka Gajewska: Partner at PwC and the Leader of Capital Projects & Infrastructure practice in Central & Eastern Europe. She is also an author of the first comprehensive book on Public-Private Partnerships in Poland (2007).

One of the main challenges for infrastructure development will most probably be reduced EU financing stream from 2022 onwards. If we want to continue with the investment level we will need to look for alternative sources of finance, including private financing. Also, the infrastructure industry is undergoing significant changes due to increased level of innovations such as 3D printing, AI, drones, self-driving vehicles and modular construction. These will impact the way infrastructure is designed and developed, creating both opportunities and challenges for construction companies. The future for infrastructure development in Poland still looks bright. Despite significant progress, the market is still far from saturated. A number of megaprojects are currently in preparatory phase, including the Central Transportation Hub which – if developed properly – could give a boost for the economy far beyond the infrastructure sector. There is also significant potential for optimisation in how infrastructure is operated and maintained, opening opportunities for the business, including specialised newcomers to the market. I hope that Poland will maintain its development pace, further bridging the gap between Poland and Western countries. Another wish is to continue all the good work towards the creation of a well-established position in the international arena as the largest economy in Central and Eastern Europe and a safe harbour for international investors. Two key concerns come to my mind which I believe may play a critical role over the next 10 years: the political environment and the workforce market. Prolonged political strains will eventually affect Polish businesses and may impact our development. And with dynamic changes in the economy due to digitalisation and innovation, Poland will have to find a way to attract and retain talent.

Marcin Klammer: BNP Paribas Real Estate CEO for CEE. Before this he was the European Sector Leader in Arcadis, a leading global consultancy and design companies. He is a licensed architect, member of RICS and the Professional Chamber of Architects.

Above of all, the main challenge will be to find and retain talent. We see a big outflow of the best people out of Poland, not only in my industry but across the sectors. This also impacts the prices of assets in real estate, the availability of construction companies and their capacity to undertake new projects. The country needs not only to remain attractive for foreign direct capital as an investment destination but also to remain attractive as a place to live for young ambitious people. This needs to be taken into account by politicians – at all costs. The other challenge concerns the credibility of Poland and the region as a destination for FDI. On the other hand, with the growing maturity of our country yields will get closer to those in the west. This means that the returns anticipated by foreign investors may not be as attractive as in other developing countries. We need to make the protection of the environment a much higher priority than it is now, not just for the government and local authorities, but for individuals. For example the smog greatly affects the quality of life. I suspect that people already choose where to live based on the quality of life – and this starts with the quality of air. Accessibility of good healthcare for everyone – especially for the elderly – will be increasingly important. Here Poland, unfortunately, has a long way to go. Another challenge is the instability of policies. Changes in legislation and taxes create anxiety among investors, both domestic and international. From the tax standpoint, Poland remains relatively competitive, but the instability and unpredictability of the system represents a big threat. A major opportunity is the availability of land to develop new projects in order not only to catch up with more developed countries, but to exceed them. Another opportunity is the improvement of infrastructure. Due to the future reduction in EU funds, Poland must create a system of financing infrastructure projects based on sustainable solutions including the private and public partnerships projects, private finance initiatives or other forms of hybrid financing. My hope is that Poland will become tightly integrated and united with the EU through its values and economy. Politically, we should look for strong allies closer to our borders. Our leaders must understand that respect and efforts to find mutual understanding will strengthen Poland’s position.

Robert Dobrzycki: CEO of Panattoni Europe, Robert oversees the company’s operations in the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Dobrzycki opened Panattoni CEE’s operation in 2005. In 2018 the company was named as largest developer in Europe by PropertyEU magazine.

Access to qualified personnel and thus the search for employees, will be the biggest challenge for the industrial real estate industry in the years ahead. This is directly related to the dynamic growth of the e-commerce sector, the specificity of which – especially regarding handling orders – requires intensified human labour. We are already observing an increased interest in warehouse investments in emerging markets, which is caused by the search for workforce and, at the same time, a trend of being closer to employees. The global development of the e-commerce sector will be a chance for Poland in the context of the industrial real estate industry. This, and the servicing of our western neighbours, is a driving force behind investment in Poland, and we are happily seeing increased activity in the domestic market. The development of road infrastructure will also be crucial, allowing the influx of new business, especially in Eastern Poland, and improve the status of smaller Polish cities. Above all, Poland should take advantage of its strategic location in Europe, also in the context of the onshore part of the New Silk Road, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to start a promising economic cooperation with Asia. Secondly, we should continue to develop the infrastructure that will allow us to become an essential part of BRI and at the same time connect with the West. I am also convinced that there is a need to pursue more intensive Polish marketing on the international arena, which will not only result in better economic and business development, but will also provide an influx of new investors. As a country, we cannot boast of many domestic enterprises with global influence. Our business sector plays a subordinate role in relation to other world economies. And although such companies as LPP or Inglot are becoming more and more successful, I would like to see additional strong Polish brands that have their own strategies and are able to develop abroad, the more so because Poles are extremely creative and able to rise on a worldwide scale.

Gerard Schuurman: Project Director of the Imperial Shipyard in Gdansk, which is transforming the historic, industrial waterfront location into a new urban, mixed-use district. Gerard has over 10 years of experience in managing large scale mixed-use and residential projects in Amsterdam.

One of the main challenges for the real estate industry will be to meet the demand for affordable housing. In Tri- City it’s difficult for local inhabitants to buy. Our mission for the coming decade is to build a district where people can afford to live. In the city centre, apartments are increasingly rented out on a short-term basis, like a hotel. While this creates an income-stream for the owner, it disrupts the quality of life in the neighbourhood. Amsterdam has seen the ‘Airbnb-ification’ of some areas and, having lived there for 12 years, trust me – this is not what you want. The way we live, work and travel has changed over the last 10 years, which has also changed the way we look at and plan new developments. One of the biggest opportunities I see is to continue the urban revolution, and create sustainable mixed-use developments – all-inclusive neighbourhoods – where people live, work and rest, all in close proximity. This is one of the pillars in our plans for the revitalisation of the Imperial Shipyard. I hope that Poland will not lose the speed of the economic growth and adjust its potential to the new reality, with less EU funding being available. I meet a lot of positive-minded Polish people, so I trust we will get there. Alongside the economic growth, Poles have started to demand better wages and government services. Due to the lack of both, many people left the country, including many young, well-educated employees. In the longer perspective this is a major concern

Robert Mołdach: Co-founder and President of the Board of the Institute of Health and Democracy, a forum for democratic discussion on health, Robert is an economic expert specialising in the organisation, financing, efficiency and safety of healthcare.

The aging population and rising costs of healthcare is the straightforward answer. We need to focus on the solution, not the problem. We know the solution, but it is a huge challenge. We need to include social spending in the total cost of care, redirecting the budget so that the pyramid of care is based on prevention and primary care, also coordinating care when diagnosing and discharging the patient. The network of hospitals needs to be redesigned so it is based on patient needs rather than personal, political or historical concerns. Doctors’ tasks need to be outsourced to nurses, and nurses’ tasks to other medical personnel. An ecosystem needs to be created which supports the development of innovative medicines in Poland. These are just a few examples. But which government will be brave enough to corner the bull? The opportunities are in e-health, telemedicine, mobile apps, integrated health records and AI-based health advisory solutions. The muchdemanded integration of public registers would immediately open endless opportunities in cost management and value-based healthcare, while expiring patent rights for innovative medicines will bring the costs of care down and make it more accessible. I hope that different parties and political movements will finally and collectively consider healthcare as an area of profit for the national economy, rather than a cost in the national budget. Although Prime Minister Morawiecki declares healthcare to be the paramount priority, in reality it remains treated the same way as the police or the military forces – as a cost item. The declaration to grow healthcare spending to 6% of GDP shows that the focus is there, but the paradigm in healthcare must shift. I actually believe we are quite close to understanding this. The nation has often been torn apart in its history – in the 18th century between three superpowers, then in WWII , and then by the division of the world after the war. The tensions and differences that we see in politics today are a simple consequence of wounds that have never fully healed. This makes us weaker than we should be. In order to cope with our challenges, we must focus on our common objectives. Having said that, our international allies need to make more effort to understand our way of perceiving reality. Thankfully, business remains smart, keeping its eye on the economy.

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