The Warsaw Voice » Business » Monthly - July 4, 2014
Business & Economy
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Time for Innovation
In a recent league table, the European Commission ranked Poland among the four least innovative countries in the European Union. This should set alarm bells ringing, especially as Poland is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. According to economists, unless Poland becomes more innovative, it will find it difficult to bridge the gap with the most developed countries in Western Europe.

Several recent initiatives may help bolster innovation in the country. In June, Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of IT giant Google, visited Warsaw to announce the opening of a center for tech startups in Poland called the Google Campus. The Warsaw center is designed to help “supercharge tech entrepreneurs, strengthen the startup ecosystem and encourage even more innovation in Poland,” Schmidt said. The center is scheduled to open in the first half of next year. The Google Campus in Warsaw marks the IT giant’s third such facility worldwide, after similar centers in London and Tel Aviv. In April, Google also teamed up with the University of Warsaw, which, thanks to a $1 million grant, launched a Digital Economy Lab, an interdisciplinary center for research into the digital economy and building digital literacy in Poland.

Another initiative aimed at stepping up innovation is a recent agreement between Warsaw City Hall, the Warsaw Stock Exchange and the Aula Polska Association, which promotes the development of new technology and entrepreneurship. The aim is to create a comprehensive system of support for local start-ups. The system, billed as the Warsaw Startup Space, is designed to help small businesses raise capital to start operations and develop.

Business clusters are yet another important tool for the development of innovation in firms. Clusters began operating in Poland more than 10 years ago. Initially, they involved exclusively hi-tech industries such as aerospace, biotechnology and IT. Today, clusters are also formed by businesses in traditional sectors of the economy. There are more than 100 clusters carrying out more than zl.1 billion worth of projects throughout the country. Clusters are increasingly a tool for boosting the innovativeness of enterprises. A growing amount of funds is being set aside to support clusters and enterprises operating within clusters as part of European Union programs under the bloc’s new budget for 2014-2020.