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Krakow's mini-boom in IT attracts Polish and foreign techies

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Robert Marquand /The Christian Science Monitor

(Read caption) Four employees at Element14, a Krakow online electronic parts firm. Left to right: Polish born Tomasz Wasilewski moved from Warsaw, Marianne Kuukkanen from Finland, Alessandro Lombardi came from Italy after not finding a job there, and Jaroslaw Grabon returned to his native Poland after working for years in Munich. They were intrigued by Krakow's IT 'buzz.'

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One of the clearest illustrations of “brain gain” in Poland comes from the southern city of Krakow which is experiencing a mini-boom in information technology – at a time when much of Europe’s tech scene is in a windless ocean.

The global reverse migration – turning brain drain to brain gain in many countries – is obvious here: Some 70 IT and multinational firms have opened, employing 20,000 skilled workers – Poles and foreigners alike. Cisco opened in May, and its 90-person staff will soon climb to 500. Google moved an R&D office here. State Street, Capgemeni and Lufthansa, Shell, Brown Brothers, and Philip Morris, to name a few, are all present.

The hopeful call Krakow a small Silicon Valley of Central Europe. And the buzz here is a magnet for brain gain: It’s a small oasis of Polish bohemia with 14 colleges and universities, and a bar-arts-and-film scene, and – not destroyed like Warsaw in World War II – it retains its Austro-Hungarian architectural charm.

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