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The Warsaw Voice » The Polish Science Voice » February 23, 2012
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Innovation in Poland
February 23, 2012   
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Under the government’s guidelines for increasing innovation in the Polish economy in 2007-2013, experts have decided that priority should be given to developing the following sectors: education, science and research and development, advanced technology, business services related to a knowledge-based economy, and information society services.

A number of “growth centers” have emerged in both large cities—such as Warsaw, Wrocław, Poznań, and Rzeszów—and industrialized municipalities such as Kobierzyce, Kwidzyn and Kleszczów.

Many regions in Poland have experienced accelerated growth through the development of regional innovation systems. The key elements of this network are advanced technology centers (including centers of excellence) and technology clusters.

Poland has been the largest beneficiary of EU structural funds for 2007-2013. It has been allotted 67 billion euros from the EU budget, accompanied by significant co-financing from national sources, both public and private.

Technology platforms

The main objective of Poland’s technology platforms is to boost the competitiveness of enterprises making up each platform.

There are 29 technology platforms in Poland. Their activities in individual industrial sectors are supported by government institutions including the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration. Many Polish platforms work with their counterparts in other European countries.

Technology platform participants are key industrial partners, enterprises, chambers of commerce and economic agencies, research institutes and universities. The National Contact Point for EU Research Programs is a partner for all the platforms established to date.

The first two technology platforms, for the aviation industry and construction, were established in Poland in 2004.

Centers of excellence

Centers of excellence are designed to be a bridge between science and business. In such centers, research and work to develop modern technology focus on priority areas such as biotechnology, medicine, nanotechnology, advanced materials, information technology, food, ecology, transportation and energy.

The history of centers of excellence in Poland began after the European Commission in 1999 announced a competition for the establishment of centers of excellence in EU candidate countries. This was done as part of the EU’s 5th Framework Program for Research and Technological Development. Of 184 applications submitted by various countries at the time, 34 came from Polish scientific institutions. The European Commission approved 34 projects, including nine from Poland. That same year, under the PHARE Sci-Tech II program, a further five institutions received funds.

Another competition for centers of excellence was announced by the European Commission in 2001. As a result, EU funds went to 83 Polish research teams.

The number of positively evaluated Polish projects, however, was much higher. Prof. Michał Kleiber, the Polish science minister at the time, conferred Center of Excellence (CE) status on all those research centers that won high marks from European Commission experts but did not receive any funds due to the limited budget of the competition. In 2004, during the opening conference of the 6th Framework Program in Warsaw, 140 centers received CE status and certificates.

In 2004, the centers were further evaluated by experts in terms of their scientific excellence. As a result, 100 centers received CE status.

Most Polish centers of excellence are concerned with nanotechnology and environmental protection, 27 and 14 respectively. In addition, 11 deal with medicine, and nine with energy.

Advanced technology centers

Advanced Technology Centers are consortia of research centers conducting internationally recognized research work, aided by other organizations dedicated to research and development. Although Advanced Technology Centers were not established as regional consortia, many of them operate primarily for the benefit of specific regions.

Advanced Technology Centers have interdisciplinary operations serving the development and commercial application of new technologies in fields of science that are considered to be particularly important to the economy.

Business clusters

A business cluster is a “geographically proximate group of interconnected companies and associated institutions in a particular field, linked by commonalities and complementarities.”

In Poland, clusters usually emerge as an initiative by private businesspeople and NGOs. According to the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP), which supports the development of clusters, there are currently 176 clusters in operation nationwide, bringing together almost 1,500 companies. Most operate in the form of associations, commercial law companies and consortia.

To integrate activities as part of an innovative economy, many clusters are expanding their operations beyond the region, creating trans-regional clusters. Examples of such initiatives include the IT Valley linking the clusters of the Lower Silesia, Silesia and Małopolska regions, and the Northern Green Energy Cluster linking cluster initiatives in Pomerania, West Pomerania, and Warmia-and-Mazuria provinces.
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