MassChallenge, one of the world’s largest accelerators for technological start-ups, starts cooperation with Fundacja Przedsiębiorczości Technologicznej (Technological Entrepreneurship Foundation) and PKO Bank Polski. Its goal is to support the development of the start-up environment in Europe as well as to enhance the Polish innovation ecosystem. The first stage of introduction of the accelerator to Poland will be the Bridge to MassChallenge program – recruitment will begin in early Autumn this year.

Poland is the second country in the European Union, following Great Britain, where the MassChallenge program will be implemented. The project is supported worldwide, among others, by the following companies: IBM, Mircosoft, Bosch or Procter&Gamble. The launch of the program was announced during the Impact’17 congress held in Cracow.

Our goal is to stimulate innovation as well as to boost entrepreneurs’ activity in Poland by supporting start-ups with a high development potential, at their early phase of growth– said Mike LaRhette, president of the MassChallenge. – We look forward to cooperation with entrepreneurs within the entire region to help them use their potential to the fullest– he added.

The first MassChallange accelerator was launched in Boston in 2010. The program has been gradually extending its range, by operating, among others, in London, Mexico, Jerusalem and Lausanne. So far, more than 1200 start-ups, which had gained support under the project, collected a total of USD 2 billion in financing, generated more than USD 900 million of income and created 65 thousand jobs. The program operator in Poland – Fundacja Przedsiębiorczości Technologicznej (Technological Entrepreneurship Foundation) – is responsible for, among other things, the implementation of the MIT Enterprise Forum Poland accelerator, under which almost 50 young innovative Polish enterprises have already gained support.

Under the MITEF Poland program, we are conducting acceleration of start-ups at their very early stage of development. The specificity of MassChallenge is slightly different. We invite new enterprises, which have already been selling their products and services, to participate in the project – says Paweł Bochniarz, president of the management board of Fundacja Przedsiębiorczości Technologicznej (Technological Entrepreneurship Foundation). – In the case of this program, we are not limited only to start-ups from Poland. We are going to be looking for interesting projects with a high development potential in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The first recruitment will begin early Autumn this year – he adds.

The Bridge to MassChallenge is the first step to building the MassChallenge Poland brand. In the pilot edition of the program, 25 technological start-ups are going to be accelerated. In subsequent stages, a comprehensive stationary acceleration program is going to be launched, to which up to 80 teams, developing relatively mature start-ups which generate incomes, from CEE are going to be recruited per year. The first partner of the project in Poland is PKO Bank Polski, which demonstrates great involvement in supporting ideas of young entrepreneurs, who develop innovative technologies and present unconventional ways of thinking.

PKO Bank Polski implements its 2020 Strategy, which assumes digital transformation of the Bank as well as an increase of innovativeness of their services. Cooperation with the MassChallenge supplements ongoing undertakings of the bank in aid of development of the environment of technological start-ups in Poland, thus significantly extending our access to knowledge on interesting ideas within the fintech industry, which could be implemented within the bank’s structure to provide benefits to the bank’s clients. Moreover, we want to attract start-ups from the remaining countries to Poland so as to increase the innovativeness of the Polish economy. After complete implementation of the project, Poland will have at its disposal the greatest accelerator for start-ups in the European Union  – says Szymon Wałach, Director of the Analysis and Strategy Department at PKO Bank Polski.

PKO Bank Polski is also, among other things, the Main Partner of the MIT Enterprise Forum Poland acceleration program as well as the Patron of Startup Weekend Warsaw, and since 2015 it has been cooperating with D-RAFT within the scope of searching for unique technological solutions. Moreover, at the beginning of the year, PKO BP, as the first Polish financial institution, invested in a fintech start-up.