Article published in the Kurier Lubelski on 26 May 2015 – – Lublin 2.0 – IT Report
Piotr Nowak – interview with Michał Grabowiecki, LublinIT Upland, Project Manager
Lublin IT Upland was created in 2011. SInce that moment you have been trying to integrate representatives of IT industry in Lublin.
Lublin IT Upland is a project implemented by employees of the City of Lublin Corporation, which aims to support and develop IT ecosystem in Lublin. It is carried out through identifying resources and needs of IT milieus in Lublin and gathering information about them. Actions undertaken within the initiative are based on close cooperation of representatives of self-government bodies, companies, academic milieus and business environment institutions. These activities aim at improving copetitiveness in IT business in Lublin. Lublin IT Upland is also a brand which helps us promote our IT potential outside our city.
You are trying to integrate representatives of the IT milieu. What is the result?
The most important events, which have been organised for two years, are Lublin IT Upland Days and there are two ‘sub-events’ organised within it, i.e. Check IT and Lublin IT Days.
Lublin IT Check is aimed at secondary school learners. This year it hosted over 700 individuals. At the same tame, we managed to cooperate with all higher education institutions in Lublin which deliver IT courses. The main characteristic feature of this event is the fact that it is organised by students, not marketing agencies. This means that it is arranged by people who want to share their passion and interest with younger enthusiasts. It proves that IT is a deeply interesting field of science and it is possible to develop one’s interest in a considerable number of interest and research whose members are real enthusiasts always ready to help their younger professional colleagues.
Lublin IT Days, however, have been organised for a number of years by students of the Catholic University of Lublin and KUL.net group. The event is aimed at students, enthusiasts of new technologies, and representatives of the IT industry. This year, the event was participated by over 900 persons and the group of exhibitors and lecturers consisted of representatives of all key ICT companies operating in Lublin. Both events were spectacularly successful and I am certain they will be organised and developed in future.
What is the purpose of such events?
Their participants encourage the youth that it is not necessary to leave Lublin in order to study IT and, after graduation, get a well-paid and interesting job. The tendencies are different now. It used to be 90% of IT students who emmigrated from Lublin to work in other cities. Nowadyas, however, 90% of them stay here. It is the result of a considerable number of very good companies and new ones are constantly established.
What does the IT milieu look like in Lublin? Is it integrated?
We are trying to support this initiative but it is also worth emphasising that it results from grass-roots activities. Companies are seen at universities, their employees organise a number of events for students, who also hold events for individuals interested in different fields, e.g. website development or social media. We are trying to facilitate this cooperation, e.g. we organise business breakfast meetings for representatives of companies and higher education institutions. Their aim is to get these people speak with each other because such conversations frequently resut in interesting business offers. Additionally, we are going to be provided with financial support from the EU. We trust that our efforts will lead to new cooperation ideas which will result in these companies implementing various projects beneficial not only to themselves but also to the city. Everybody knows that everything that fosters company development is also advantageous to Lublin.
Apart from conferences and meetings, what else do you do to integrate the IT industry?
We launched a website in April, which has been visited by over two thousand users so far. There is a compendium of information about the IT ecosystem in Lublin. What is also provided there is information on academic courses, scientific groups of interests active at universities in Lublin, IT initiatives, and companies operating in Lublin. Besides, one can read interesting stories told by IT professionals residing in Lublin. Our primary goal is to include all important information about the IT ecosystem in one easily-accessible place.
What is particularly useful for internauts is a callendar available on the website, where dates of various events organised in our city are provided. Currently, it is the most comprehensive source of information, to which everyone can add their news.
For about a year, we have been running a Facebook profile, where we provide the latest IT-related news. The fanpage has 2600 followers and is also frequently used by employees of IT companies, who publish information about events, training workshops, and recruitment sessions.
Is there any progress observable in the industry?
A considerable number of companies in Lublin are successfull both on the national and international markets. Besides, new players are constantly emerging in the city. This fact is of great importance for employees because people start to pay attention not only to earning reasonable salaries but also working in a company that implements interesting and ambitious projects. Moreover, development opportunities are also of great significance. Such companies can be found in our city and there are also leaders in their fields.
Competitiveness on the labour market is also increasing and it leads to companies being more involved in offering students different types of training workshops, internships, and contests. The society is thriving – in spring, there are events organised almost every day. What is more, they are hosted by individuals who are not driven by profit but interests and they are keen on sharing their passion with others. The milieu is really positive and cooperating with them gives a lot of pleasure. I am speaking of freelance software developers, students, and representatives of companies, higher education institutions, and business environment institutions. Besides, it is noticeable that no other business is developing so rapidly.
What are the greatest challenges that LWIT faces?
We are working on marketing the Lublin IT Upland not only in the entire region but also in towns and cities located in neighbouring provinces. We aim at increasing awareness of Lublin being a strong IT centre as well as attracting specialists who, after graduation, used to migrate to Warsaw and Cracow. This objective is achieved by conducting a billboard campaign and broadcasting commercials in local TV stations. In autumn, we are planning to promote Lublin IT Upland during job fairs organised in Rzeszów, Białystok, Kielce, and Radom.
Summer vacation is comming. Majority of students are going to leave the city. Is Lublin IT Upland also going to rest?
Yes, we will have a brief respite but we will be getting ready for hectic autumn. We will be implementing new ideas and improving the existing projects.