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Competitive supply helped the Polish economy outperform most EU countries during the recent economic crisis, but economic growth slowed in 2012-13. The Strategy for Innovation and Efficiency of the Economy – Dynamic Poland 2020 (2013-20), the Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) and the National Research Programme (NRP) set the strategic direction for STI policy and implementation.

Hot Issues

Hot Issues are major national STI policy priorities, as self-reported by countries in their responses to the OECD STIO 2014 policy questionnaire.

Innovating to contribute to structural adjustment and a new approach to growth

Although strongmulti-factor productivity has boosted productivity and per capita income, Poland’s labour productivity is still considerably below the OECD median. Only 60% of the working-age population are currently employed, compared to the OECD average of 65%. The 2014 OECD Economic Survey shows Poland’s high potential to increase productivity by aligning product market regulations in network industries, retail distribution and professional services with the average of the three best-performing OECD countries. In addition to labour and product market reforms, Poland needs more investment in innovation to maintain growth. In line with the priorities of Horizon 2020, the NRP sets innovation for smart growth as one of the main objectives for the transition to the Polish knowledge- and innovation-based economy. Measures will therefore be taken to improve the legal and institutional environment for growth, to increase access to finance, and to promote intellectual capital investments and innovation and closer links between science and the economy.

Improving the design and implementation of STI policy

Poland has taken a new approach to innovation policy. It emphasises the importance of new forms of innovation, including new and innovative manufacturing technology, through new methods and greater interaction among innovation actors (e.g. open innovation, user-driven innovation). A holistic approach to policy design and implementation on related issues includes technological foresight, development of a low carbon economy, co-operation across regions and between businesses, government and other innovation stakeholders, and protection of industrial property rights.

Reforming and improving public research system (including university research)

In terms of public R&D expenditure and international publications (Panel 1a, c), Poland falls at the lower end of the mid-range of OECD countries. Industry- science relations are underdeveloped and university and PRI patenting is below the OECD median (Panel 1o, p). Major reforms to improve the efficiency and quality of PRIs and universities have been under way since 2010. Since 2012, additional resources are allocated on a competitive basis to promote high-quality research and teaching. PRIs and universities are encouraged to compete for the status of leading national research centre (KNOW), which gives access to additional funding for enhancing scientific and research potential, developing R&D personnel, creating attractive working conditions for research, building a strong and recognisable brand, and increasing researchers’ remuneration and scholarships for PhD and undergraduate students. The centres are chosen in selected areas of knowledge through evaluations carried out by independent commissions with the participation of international experts. So far, after two rounds of competition, ten R&D units have received KNOW status.

Strengthening public R&D capacity and infrastructures

To strengthen public research, Poland increased public R&D expenditure from 0.41% of GDP in 2008 to 0.56% in 2012. Furthermore, the NRP addressed the importance of improving and modernising R&D infrastructures and made several sources of funding available for this purpose. The Polish S&T Fund and the EU Structural Funds have increased financing for investments in research infrastructure. The KNOW also receive priority when they apply for funds to upgrade infrastructure. In August 2013 the EDP introduced the obligation to prepare a draft law on corporate income tax to support R&D.

Business innovation, entrepreneurship and SMEs

Polish enterprises, especially SMEs, show relatively little interest in R&D and innovation owing to the perceived technological and business risks and lack of recognition of the critical role of innovation for competitiveness. As a result, BERD was only 0.33% of GDP in 2012 (Panel 1d) and innovation output, as measured by the number of patents and trademarks registered (panel 1f, g), is weak. To boost business innovation and to support entrepreneurship and SMEs, new instruments have been introduced and existing ones revised. The Development Projects (2012-15) under the Operational Programme Innovative Economy promote industrial research and development. In July 2013, the Loan Fund was launched to provide low-interest loans for private investments in innovative start-ups.

Country Charts

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Selected Highlights

New challenges

To address challenges such as health and environment, the government has introduced strategic R&D programmes such as: STRATEGMED (2013-18) for health and BIOSTRATEG (2014-19) for natural environment, agriculture and forestry. Polish industry relies heavily on coal as a source of energy, and the government supports research on renewables and the low emission economy through Blue Gas – Polish Shale Gas Programme (2012-17), and the GEKON programme (2013-16) on energy production technologies. The GREEN-EVO Programme also promotes Polish environmental technologies. New business-driven initiatives, such as the INNOLOT programme (2013-18) are supported by the government.

Technology transfers and commercialisation

To improve the commercialisation of research results, participants in the Development Projects (2012-15) initiative must sign the consortium agreement between research organisations and enterprises. The BRIdge VC (2013-17) programme supports commercialisation of public R&D results. Since 2013, the pilot Innovation Voucher projects support experienced entrepreneurs who collaborate with the research sector. OCEAN, a new research data centre, is funded by the National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR). To be operational by the fourth quarter 2015, it will provide the e-infrastructure for storage of open data and facilities and expertise for big data analysis. A budget of about USD 36 million (EUR 20 million) has been allocated for 2014-15.

Clusters and regional policies

Poland has developed national and regional smart specialisation strategies through consultation with stakeholders and an entrepreneurial discovery process. The results of foresight exercises have also been used in these processes. While the government adopted the National Smart Specialisation document on 8 April 2014, areas of specialisations are still being identified in co-operation with stakeholders’ working groups and with the Observatory of Economy. Entrepreneurial discovery is supported by theWorld Bank in order to improve the engagement of entrepreneurs in the formation of innovation policy and the identification of emerging specialisations.


Polish innovators are well integrated in international innovation networks (Panel 1r), unlike their academia counterparts (Panel 1q). The MOBILITY PLUS initiative supports academic researchers who work abroad for periods of 6 to 36 months. 57 researchers benefited from the initiative in 2013. Greater openness to FDI on the business side would also increase knowledge spillovers.

Skills for innovation

Expenditure on higher education as a share of GDP is just below the OECD median (Panel 1s) and Polish 15-year-olds perform above the OECD median in science (Panel 1v). However, adults with tertiary qualifications, adults’ technical problem-solving skills, and the share of PhD graduates in science and engineering are all far below the OECD median (Panel 1t, u, w). Programmes supporting skills development include the TOP 500 Innovators (2013-15) and the LIDER programme (2009-17), and entrepreneurship education has been made compulsory in Polish universities.

Recent developments in STI expenditures

In 2012, Poland’s GERD stood at 0.9% of GDP, having grown by a robust 13.4% a year over 2007-12. The government seek to reach GERD of 1.7% of GDP by 2020. In 2012, industry funded a comparatively low 32.3% of GERD, up from 24.4% in 2010, and the government a high 51.3%, down from 60.9% in 2010. The share of GERD financed from abroad reached 13.3%, up from 5.4% in 2008, during the economic crisis.