Baku has hosted the Polish-Azerbaijani seminar on innovations, co-organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Small and Medium Business Development Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Startup Hub Poland Foundation and the IdealHub Innovation and Technology Center.
During the event, the possibilities of developing Polish-Azerbaijani cooperation in the area of supporting innovation and startups were elaborated, in particular on the background of a multilateral V4-Azerbaijan Tech Bridge (V4ATB) program, which has been implemented in Azerbaijan upon a Polish initiative since the beginning of 2022 by a consortium of Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak and Azerbaijani partners. The project is supported and financed by the International Visegrad Fund.
Speaking during the opening of the event, Chairman of the Board of the Small and Medium Business Development Agency (KOBIA) Orkhan Mammadov said: “I am sure that development of innovative entrepreneurship will pave the way for the strengthening of present economic potential of Azerbaijan and Poland. Joint initiatives will contribute to creation of relevant platforms among entrepreneurs, startups and investors from both countries and will stimulate our future cooperation.”
Orkhan Mammadov also briefed seminar participants about KOBIA’s support mechanisms to stimulate innovative activities of local entrepreneurs, including issuance of start-up certificates and general support tools for businesses in Azerbaijan.
Polish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Rafał Poborski, referring directly to the V4ATB program, pointed out: "I had the opportunity to open and participate in 2 DemoDay events as part of this program and I must say that I am impressed by the proposals presented by young talented Azerbaijani startup teams seeking partners and financing in Europe. They are mostly well prepared from technological and business side. As Poland was the initiator of the entire program, I have no doubts that its continuation in 2023, as well as the agreements signed today, will create new cooperation prospects for Polish-Azerbaijani cooperation in the field of innovations, also at institutional and scientific level.”
CEO and Founder of the Startup Hub Poland Foundation (the leader of the V4ATB program) Maciej Sadowski presented key data about the Polish startup ecosystem, as well as on Polish instruments for supporting innovations. He also discussed the current results of the V4ATB program. “Starting from Warsaw the Visegrad Region hosted 8 similar chapters all together so far, in the most vibrant technopolis in Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, the fastest growing startup region in the European Union. There is a unicorn boom here as we speak and I see no reasons why Azerbaijan should not benefit from this melting pot,” said Maciej Sadowski.
Since the beginning of the program, over 160 startup teams have applied to participate in it. So far 80 projects took part in mentoring and acceleration sessions, as well as demodays, during which Azerbaijani startups could present themselves to an audience of a number of investors from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, as well as from USA and Turkiye.
In turn, Founder of the IdealHub Innovation and Technology Center (the local Azerbaijani partner of the V4ATB) Tural Karimli said: “IdealHub has been operating for less than a year, and our first international project, where we are the main partners in Azerbaijan, was our receipt of a grant from the International Visegrad Fund for the V4-Azerbaijan Tech Bridge program, where we have already been able to successfully attract 80 Azerbaijani startups in 8 European chapters. And it is truly a very special moment for me to be here with you today. On a professional level, this event is a major milestone for us. Today we see that we have truly been able to make the first steps toward fostering a feeling of a startup community in Azerbaijan, which is one of our key priorities.”
At the conclusion of the event, the Small and Medium Business Development Agency (KOBIA) and of the Republic of Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Startup Hub Poland Foundation, aimed at closer cooperation in promoting cooperation between Polish and Azerbaijani business communities, startups, investors etc., exchanging information, experience and organizing common events