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The Warsaw Voice » Business » August 1, 2013
Business & Economy
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Poland Scores Low on Innovation
August 1, 2013   
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Every now and then there are press reports about the successes of young Poles in prestigious international competitions for computer programmers or inventors. Recently, for example, a team of students from the eastern city of Białystok attracted much media attention after coming first in a competition held by the U.S. Mars Society for designing a Mars rover. A second Polish team was the runner-up in the competition. These successes testify to the huge potential of young Poles in terms of creativity and innovation. Regrettably, however, not much has resulted from this for the Polish economy. International league tables rank Poland near the bottom of the list in terms of innovation.

It goes without saying that innovation is key in making a business more competitive in today’s world. However, statistics show that Polish companies seem to have been left behind. This is confirmed by the European Commission’s 2013 Innovation Union Scoreboard report, in which Poland is the fourth worst country in terms of innovation, behind nations such as the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta and Slovakia.

Poland’s low innovation score is confirmed by a league table compiled by Cornell University, the INSEAD business school and the World Intellectual Property Organization, which ranked a total of 142 countries according to the so-called Global Innovation Index. Although European countries took the top three spots, with Switzerland as the global innovation leader, Poland was only better than Greece among EU members. Not only fellow EU countries but also nations such as Barbados and Chile outperformed Poland in terms of innovation.

Nor does Poland fare better in Eurostat statistics for the 2008-2010 period: it was ranked second to last in terms of the number of innovative companies. Only 28 percent of Polish companies were classified as innovative, while the EU average is 52 percent. Bulgaria was the only country that fared worse than Poland. A similar picture emerges from international ranking lists of innovative companies—Polish businesses have been conspicuously absent from the lists over the past several years.

Poland’s poor performance in terms of innovation is not difficult to explain. Polish companies have one of the world’s lowest indicators when it comes to spending on research and development. And there can be no innovation without investing in it.
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