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Frequently Asked Questions

Here is where you’ll find answers to all your questions about the Poland Prize II powered by Huge Thing. If there is anything else you would like to know, please email us: hello@hugething.vc

Do we have to stay in Poland during the program?

To a large extent, we run the Acceleration Program online. Hence, presence in Poland is not necessary throughout the entire program. However, it would be great to have you in Poland for a month during Softlanding. Our experience shows us that for Softlanding – the stage when our legal team helps you open the company in Poland, sign the acceleration agreement, and more – your presence would make everything go more smoothly. Later on, it can be helpful to come to Poland regularly while working closely with Technology Recipients during the Acceleration phase.

 

You can cover those costs with a grant – either PLN50k or PLN 300k.

 

If – for any reason – you or your team cannot stay in Poland for that long, we need you to purchase a Qualified Electronic Signature as soon as you get accepted. Certum, KIR (Szafir), PWPW and others issue such software – free electronic signatures (like DocuSign etc.) won’t make the cut for signing many documents i.e. the acceleration agreement and its annexes. According to Polish law, documentation signed using an electronic qualified signature is valid

Technology Recipient - who is that? What should the cooperation look like?

Business partners are key stakeholders of the Poland Prize program. They are often corporations, investment funds and entrepreneurs operating on a large scale, both in Poland and abroad. Here you can find a short description of these entities and their areas of interest. Their role starts as early as the recruitment – they have a final say on who gets invited to the Bootcamp and gets into the program. Later, they negotiate with you the scope of the budget (basically how you are going to spend your budget) and milestones.

 

The recruitment process is designed in a way to help you establish a relationship with at least one business partner. If you gain their interest, specify to them how you can develop your solution according to their needs and the partner may give you the opportunity to validate it during the Acceleration phase. If you fail to secure the partner – or you decide that it is not in line with your strategy – you will leave the program early with a smaller grant.

 

There are two types of partners: Technology Recipients (corporate, enterprise, local government) and investors. In case of meeting the needs of the Technology Recipient (OT) you work together towards piloting your solution and – who knows – maybe long term implementation of your solution. With an investor you have a chance to validate your product under their watchful eye – and they can initially declare an investment under certain business conditions.

What are milestones and when do we work on them?

This edition of the Poland Prize is not our first rodeo. In the past years, we have developed a system of accelerating startups. Together with the Huge Thing team, mentors and experts, they will support you to accelerate as much as possible. Between you get into the program and start of the acceleration (during the Development phase to be exact) you will be defining exactly 2+3 milestones to be delivered throughout the program. The first two milestones are assigned to a startup (it’s opening the company and securing the partner’s interest). The other 3 are defined by a startup in consultation with Huge Thing and its partner and are going to be delivered in 6 months. All milestones are also verified by Huge Thing, additionally during the Acceleration phase, the business partner will verify if you have achieved the milestones.

How many people can be in the team? Who can open a company?

We do not limit the number of people that can form a startup team as long as there is at least 1 person without Polish citizenship. Formally, 50% of shares need to be owned by non-Polish physical persons – so your original enterprise cannot own 100% of shares of the Polish entity. It can be the team of non-Poles only or a mixed team of Poles and non-Poles. As you probably know, acceleration is quite a challenge, hence we encourage building a team of no more than a few people. You will be able to quickly start developing the project and setting up the company in Poland will be more frictionless.

What kind of support can we count on during the program?

At the beginning of the program you can count on our legal team to help you establish a business in Poland – they will gather all necessary documents on your behalf and visit the offices and banks. During the program you can participate in workshops, 1:1 meetings with experts, mentors and tutors. We want to provide you with knowledge in many fields. How does it work? You will usually participate in the same events as other startups, but some types of advisory support will be intended for startups cooperating with Technology Recipients, and others for startups cooperating with Investors. We will also prepare some industry- or area-specific events for your team. We have planned classes i.e.: Pricing, Sales (B2B, B2B), Team Management, Mindfulness, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Human Resources, Marketing, Public Relations, Sales Campaigns as well as technological areas useful for your project. Additionally, you can ask for support in areas such as settling in, starting a business in Poland, employment or translations.

What can we spend the grant on - what amount and at what stage?

When you sign an acceleration agreement, you take part in the first stage of the program: Soft-landing and Development phase. During Soft-landing and Development, we offer you a grant up to PLN 50,000. Part of these funds may be spent on remuneration of team members, “concierge” services (a person supporting a startup in starting a business in Poland), consulting services (such as mentoring and expert services) and other expenses related to its startup (e.g. financing the technological development of your venture, marketing costs). Concierge services are provided only during Soft-landing.

 

If Soft-landing is completed successfully, Business Partners is willing to work with you, and you stand out from other startups participating in the Acceleration Program – we will invite you to the second stage – the Acceleration phase. During Acceleration, you receive a grant of up to PLN 250,000 to further develop the project. The goal is to validate the solution with the Technology Recipient or reach KPIs agreed on with the Investor. After the Acceleration phase is over, you do not receive any further financing, however you might enter the post-acceleration and receive other forms of support (including networking) to further develop in Poland.

How do you check our budget spending?

When preparing the budget you will need to prepare some details – categories of spending, actual budget positions, the unit costs and total costs of them. We will also need the proof that these are market-value prices of those. However, that’s when the difficulties end.


After we send you the money assigned to particular stages of the program we will be checking them in the form of lump sumes and wherever particular costs have appeared rather than asking you for detailed invoices.

Who is the organizer?

Hi! It’s us – Huge Thing – the operator of the “Poland Prize Program powered by Huge Thing” project. We are one of the oldest Polish accelerators – soon it’s going to be our 10th anniversary. The first edition of the Poland Prize program (2021-2023) constitutes our tenth acceleration batch! We’ve been through a lot with startups: accelerating, facilitating their cooperation with all kinds of corporations – global ICT companies, multi-sector corporations or banks, sharing know-how on developing their idea in Poland and abroad.

 

We lead the Acceleration Program on behalf of the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP). PARP is a government agency operating since 2000, which stimulates business development in Poland, focusing, inter alia, on supporting startups and another micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. For this reason, the grant received by a startup is a public aid (also known as de minimis)

Is the program free?

Participation in the Acceleration Program is voluntary and free on any stage. You don’t pay any fee during enrollment either. You should have a “financial cushion” – only in some exceptions we are able to transfer the grant before you achieve individual milestones. Using the grant you can pay for the costs of consulting services (mentoring or expert) that you decide might be useful for you. You can use the grant to cover costs earlier described in the budget for both stages: Soft-landing and Development) as well as Acceleration. You may not include VAT in your budget – you can apply for tax return by submitting an appropriate application to the tax office – as well as other expenses not related to the acceleration

When does the Program take place and how long does it last?

We will make the final decision about the participants of the Acceleration Program in the second half of July. The Soft-landing phase will take place in November, and the 2-month Development starts in December. We plan for it to finish by the end of January. Then, we will invite top startups for the Acceleration.

Is there any to-do list before the program?

After you receive the confirmation of your participation in the program you will need to:

  • go through the acceleration agreement in detail (it is available here)
  • establish a Polish capital company (with at least 50% of the shares or stocks to people without Polish citizenship and include at least one person on the company’s management board without Polish citizenship.
  • sign an acceleration agreement on behalf of the Polish entity

When establishing the company remember that the Polish company to participate in the program has to have rights (including intellectual property rights) to develop its solution during the program so must be entitled both to work on this technology as well as commercialise it in the future

Is the Partner or a startup required to work together at the end of the Program?

We have created the programme with the long-term development of your startup in mind – if you successfully complete this Program. To achieve that, at the very early stage of the program a startup, a Partner and Huge Thing define goals to be achieved during the Acceleration. Even if you fail to achieve these goals, it does not jeopardise your chances of commercial cooperation with the Recipient of the Technology or investment from the Investor. Successful Acceleration, however, makes it much easier and gives you know-how on how the solution fits the market needs – to do so we work with business partners who are determined to support you in focusing on product development. It is worth keeping in mind that during the Acceleration you should develop your project to answer the needs of the Technology Recipient or achieve goals in line with the Investor’s ticket. For a number of reasons both the commercial pilot or the investment may not be possible.

What’s in it for us?

Poland Prize has more stakeholders than most accelerator programmes you might be familiar with. You already know about partners and the Huge Thing team. We are running the program on behalf of a Polish governmental agency responsible for developing entrepreneurship nationwide. The general goals of the program are:

  • Encouraging foreign startups to do business in Poland, including thanks to supporting in the start-up and development of activities and inclusion in the Polish startup ecosystem
  • Scouting and bringing to Poland startups with innovative technological solutions and support in developing business in a new ecosystem.
  • Connecting startups brought to Poland with Business Partners to test the technology or support in obtaining capital investment.
  • Enabling corporations to create innovation implementation paths and conduct technological tests with low risk and involving little resources within the company.

What does it mean that founders or the company cannot be linked to Poland?

The Poland Prize was created with foreign startups in mind. We want to create top conditions for starting a business in Poland. A person without Polish citizenship is considered a foreigner. Thus, a person who has Polish citizenship as well as the citizenship of another country is not treated as a foreigner for the Poland Prize program purposes. Non-Poles may start a company with Polish citizens in the founding team, but they must have at least half of the shares in the company that signs the acceleration agreement, and at least one foreigner must be in its governing body.
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