Representatives of 12 Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)’s biggest and most dynamic companies have signed today a memorandum establishing the Business Council of Growing Europe. The objective of the initiative is to promote Central and Eastern Europe as an attractive investment destination for global investors and encourage cooperation between business leaders of the region. The initiative has been initiated by PZU of Poland and embraced by 12 founding companies from CEE.
Signing of the memorandum constituting the Business Council of Growing Europe took place in the presence of distinguished guests: Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, President of the Republic of Croatia, Egils Levits, President of of the Republic of Latvia, Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia, Georgette Mosbacher, Ambassador of the United States America to the Republic of Poland, as well as leading representatives of business and think-tanks: John Rogers, Vice President, Goldman Sachs; David McCormick, Co-CEO, Bridgewater Associates; Karan Bhatia, Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy, Google and Fred Kempe, President and CEO, Atlantic Council.
The motto of the Business Council is “Growing Europe” to emphasize the key feature which the 11 CEE countries have in common: stable growth. The memorandum establishing the Business Council has been signed at the Polish House in Davos during the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum by 11 international companies originating from Central and Eastern Europe and including: PZU, Banca Comercială Română, Bolt, Bulpros, Exponea, Gedeon Richter, OTP Bank, Pekao SA, Prezi, Riko Group, Triglav Group and UiPath.
The objective of the Council is to promote Central and Eastern Europe as an attractive destination for global investors and to present the region as a development hub of high technology, booming destination of investments in infrastructure, and renewable energy sources. According to the memorandum, the participants will organise joint events promoting the region, take part in panel discussions and meetings at leading economic conferences and events, participate in the activity of working groups, and partner with consultancies.
“The region is well positioned to become the most attractive investment destination both in Europe and globally. It offers economic, political, and social stability while generating stable economic growth throughout economic cycles. By joining our forces, we can raise awareness about the dynamism, entrepreneurship and innovation of this part of Europe. By doing this, we want to send a positive signal both to the entire European Union and the world: Europe is not defending its status quo, Europe is Growing, invest in Growing Europe ,” said PZU CEO Paweł Surówka. “From now on, Central and Eastern Europe has a Business Council, it has a voice, it has engaged business leaders who want to work for its promotion together.”
“We believe that the CEE region offers great investment opportunities at the global level, but it is currently too fragmented to successfully compete for capital on the global level. Therefore, we support all activities aimed at unifying and increasing the promotion of the region, and establishing closer business ties. We find this new initiative – Growing Europe to be an important step towards those goals”, said Andrej Slapar, CEO of Triglav Group.
“Fostering digital transformation and ensuring a trustworthy deployment environment for artificial intelligence and business automation have never been higher on the European Commission’s agenda as they are now,” said Vargha Moayed, Chief Strategy Officer at UiPath. “This technology will have far-reaching impacts on the way we work, and we at UiPath believe we have an obligation to the CEE and the rest of the world to support the future of work. We are proud to be a founding member of this initiative and look forward to working with its other founding members to successfully transform the CEE into a hub for future digital growth.”
“In the ten years since we founded Prezi in Hungary—having started in the middle of an economic recession and taking on formidable competition with Microsoft, Apple and Google—we have grown our business globally to over 100 million users and now have offices in Budapest, San Francisco and Riga, Latvia. Our success shows Central and Eastern Europe can participate in and contribute to a global economy. We are proud to be a founding member of the Growing Europe CEE Business Council to accelerate growth, innovation and investment in the region,” said Peter Arvai, CEO and co-founder of Prezi.
“Central Europe today is a landmark of resilience and ambition to grow. Our region has an unmatched value proposition of highly skilled people, business environment stability and democratic aspirations. We add today a commitment of the business environment to contribute a vision in policy, investment and society transformation that will see Central Europe becoming a global hub for business and ideas,” said Sergiu Manea, CEO of Banca Comerciala Romana (BCR).
The transition of Central and Eastern Europe has been unprecedented. Within only 30 years, the countries previously cut off by the Iron Curtain have become full-fledged members of the European Union, NATO, and the World Trade Organisation. After joining the global free market with a burden of the centrally planned system, their economies have become a key driver of EU’s growth, as attested by macroeconomic statistics.
The combined GDP of the 11 countries in the Three Seas Region (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia) is close to EUR 1.2 trillion. The countries of the region generate 20 percent of EU’s economic growth. Foreign direct investments in CEE were equal to only 2 percent of EU FDI in 2015, rising to 15 percent in 2018, a 7.5-fold increase within three years.
Another strength of the region is the potential of its population, currently totalling 100 million. A high percentage of the professionally active population aged 25-64 in the former Eastern Bloc countries of the Three Seas region has higher education, representing the region’s huge human potential. Poland alone ranks above Spain or Italy as measured by the combined number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) graduates. According to PISA tests, young people in Poland and Estonia are global leaders in all three areas covered by the survey: reading and interpreting skills, mathematics, and reasoning in natural sciences.
Growing Europe Business Council Founding Members
PZU Group is the largest financial institutions in Poland and in Central and Eastern Europe. The Group is led by Powszechny Zakład Ubezpieczeń S.A. (PZU) – a company quoted on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. The history of the PZU brand goes back to 1803 when the first Polish insurance company was established. For over 200 years, the core of PZU Group is insurance activity, which aims to ensure a sense of peace and security for our clients through the offered comprehensive insurance protection in all crucial areas of private, public, and economic life.
Bolt is the leading European transportation platform that’s focused on making urban travel easier, quicker and more reliable. The company’s services range from ride-hailing to micromobility and food delivery. Founded by Markus Villig, Bolt launched in 2013. It’s one of the fastest-growing transportation platforms in Europe and Africa with investors including Daimler, Didi Chuxing, Korelya Capital and TransferWise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus. Bolt has more than 30 million users in over 35 countries globally.
Banca Comercială Română (BCR), a member of Erste Group, is the most important financial group in Romania, providing universal banking operations (retail, corporate & investment banking, treasury and capital markets), and covering specialty companies working on the leasing market, private pensions and housing banks. BCR is Romania’s No. 1 bank in terms of asset value (over €15 bn.), in terms of client base and in terms of savings and crediting. BCR is also Romania’s most important financial brand, judging by the client trust rate and by the number of persons who consider that BCR is their main banking partner.
Bank Pekao S.A. , founded in 1929, is one of the largest financial institutions in the CEE region and top 3 universal bank in Poland with ca. PLN 200bn assets and market capitalization of ca. PLN 30bn. Through the second largest branch network, Bank Pekao serves over 5.5m retail customers. As the leading corporate bank in Poland, Bank Pekao serves every second among largest corporates in Poland. Status of a universal bank is underpinned by a market-leading private banking, asset management and brokerage operations.
BULPROS is a global digital transformation company, one of the fastest growing technology organizations, recognized by the prestigious rankings of Deloitte “Technology Fast 50 in CE” and “Technology Fast 500 in Europe, Middle East, and Africa”, Inc. 5000 Europe, Financial Times 1000 Europe, and McKinsey’s report “The rise of Digital Challengers”, etc. Its offerings include Digital Solutions, Cyber Security, Cloud and Support Services, Technology Services and Sales Services, with focus on Financial Services and Insurance, Professional Services, Telecommunications, Manufacturing, Healthcare and Retail.
Exponea’s Customer Data and Experience Platform (CDXP) ingests and analyzes all of a company’s customer data, stitches and enriches it with AI, and activates it to intelligently orchestrate personalized experiences across all touchpoints, in real-time, at scale.Exponea has been rated the number one Customer Data Platform by G2Crowd, and helps brands like River Island, Olukai, and Missguided be truly customer-centric.
Gedeon Richter Plc., headquartered in Budapest, Hungary, is a major pharmaceutical company in Central Eastern Europe, with an expanding direct presence in Western Europe, China and Latin America. Having reached a market capitalisation of EUR 3.2 billion (USD 3.6 billion) by the end of 2018, Richter’s consolidated sales were approximately EUR 1.4 billion (USD 1.6 billion) during that year. The product portfolio of Richter covers many important therapeutic areas, including Women’s Healthcare, Neuroscience and Cardiovascular medicine.
With 120 years of experience, Triglav Group is the leading insurance group in Slovenia and one of the leading groups in South-East Europe, where it is strengthening its position and expanding operations. Its key business pillars are insurance and asset management. Triglav Group’s financial strength and profitability is confirmed by high credit ratings “A” assigned by S&P and AM Best. The Group’s parent company Zavarovalnica Triglav is one of the largest and most liquid companies on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.
OTP Group provides high quality financial solutions to meet the needs of its almost 20 million private and corporate clients in 12 countries in the Central and Eastern European region through nearly 1700 branches and 5000 ATMs, internet and electronic channels. Among the European banking groups OTP Group boasts one the best capital and liquidity position and is always able to provide the conditions for stable operations and growth.
Prezi is a global leader in visual communication tools, helping a wide range of people, including business professionals and educators, reach their audiences more powerfully. Prezi’s products uniquely let users arrange content on a single canvas, using dynamic movement and spatial context to increase engagement and understanding. Founded in 2009, Prezi has offices in San Francisco, Budapest, and Riga, Latvia, with a community of 100 million users that has created the world’s largest database of public presentations. Prezi’s investors include Accel Partners, Spectrum Equity and TED conferences.
Riko is an internationally established engineering company that provides comprehensive technological solutions for industry, energy, environmental protection, logistics systems, and construction. Riko develops integral solutions using efficient, state-of-the-art, and eco-friendly technologies for various industries, including the utomotive, tractor, railway and aircraft industries, as well as the energy, environmental protection, logistics, and construction sectors.
UiPath is leading the ’automation first’ era—championing a robot for every person and enabling robots to learn new skills through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Through free and open training, UiPath brings digital era skills to millions of people around the world, improving business productivity and efficiency, employee engagement, and customer experience.