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Life science opportunities in Poland

Warsaw business district

With the largest economy in central Europe, Poland is attracting a lot of interest from the Nordic life science industry. The country’s pharmaceutical, biotechnology, clinical trial and medical technology sectors all are expected to keep growing for the next several years.

“Poland is a huge market of 38 million people with healthcare expenditures of 24 billion EUR, of which 8.5 billion EUR is in the private sector and 15.5 billion EUR is in the public sector,” said Daniel Larsson, the country manager for Poland, Romania and Ukraine, for Business Sweden. “In general, the market is expected to grow steadily until 2020.”

In addition, Poland has the ingredients of a good business climate. “There is big growth potential, stable political environment, availability of competent local staff and good productivity among the workforce to mention some of the most attractive aspects,” according to Larsson.

Poland’s pharmaceutical sector

Poland also has money to spend. The nation is the biggest beneficiary of EU subsidies, Larsson noted. In the new financial plan for 2016 to 2020, approximately 2.4 billion EUR will be allocated for financing the healthcare sector. The public budget for research and development expenditures posted a significant increase during the last few years, he added.

The country’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education also budgeted 302 million EUR for biotechnology development, to give the existing forward movement more momentum, Larsson continued. “There also are plans to open the market to private health insurance and combined with rising incomes, this might boost pharmaceutical spending.”

Currently, Poland’s pharmaceutical sector is the second-largest in central Eastern Europe and worth approximately eight billion EUR. “The trends show big potential in the over-the-counter market, which is expected to grow significantly in the coming three years,” according to Larsson.

Poland’s medical technology sector

Poland’s medical technology sector also is strong, worth 1.6 billion EUR now and is expected to grow 10 percent annually in the coming three years, Larsson said. In other areas, “Clinical trials have experienced a renaissance increase in the last years, due to innovation-friendly policies and incentives, increasing the country’s attractiveness as a location for research and development,” he said. Biotechnology is still an emerging sector, despite being one of the fastest growing fields in Poland during last few years, Larsson added.

Needs that Nordic companies could help address include providing greater access to quality and efficient healthcare services, state of the art equipment for research and the development and improvement of medical facilities, according to Larsson.

Outside corporations should keep in mind, though, that the current life science market is competitive and crowded. “There is huge competition in the Polish market among local and international players,” according to Larsson. “Almost everyone is here and there are many well-established players that compete with prices and advanced technology and put the bar high up. All of the life science sectors have their own specifics. For example, the pharmaceutical market is strongly regulated and has introduced fixed retail and wholesale margins, to mention just one of the sectors.”

Business potential

Getting a business established in Poland may require more time and involve a bit more bureaucracy than in some other EU nations so it can be helpful to hire a Polish lawyer or a local representative to work with Polish authorities. Finding financial information about Polish companies sometimes is difficult, added Larsson.

But the business potential is there and on the rise. “Among the key reasons Poland attracts investors are the availability of highly-qualified professionals and competitive labor costs,” Larsson explained. “In the coming years, further dynamic growth of the domestic biotechnology market is expected, largely thanks to innovative research projects carried out by the Polish biotech companies and academic institutions, as well as by the inflow of foreign investment into the biotech sector.”

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