The Polish context in research and innovation
Poland is recognised as one of the most successful examples of the economic transition. Between 1990 and 2015, the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita increased more than seven times and during the latest financial crises, Poland was the only EU economy to show continued growth in its GDP. The Polish R&I system is centralised for the purposes of funding and governance, while important reforms have taken place in the last two years under the new Act on Higher Education and Science. However, certain challenges do persist and the quality of science and innovation outputs remains significantly below EU standards. Despite recent efforts, Poland is a moderate innovator (cf. European Innovation Scoreboard 2017) and compared to 2008 its performance has increased only marginally. Supported by public financing and the significant role of the EU Structural Funds, R&I investment has gradually increased. The business sector, however, still spends less than half of GERD and links between academia and the business sector and the regional socio-economic environment are weak. Despite the establishment – for the first time in Poland – of the inter-ministerial Council for Innovation, sectoral perspectives across the different ministries persist. National R&I strategy and RIS3 priorities are documented in the Strategy for Responsible Development as well as in regional strategic documents. Overall, the main challenges identified in the Polish R&I system relate to increasing the intensity of private R&I efforts and the collaboration between academia and businesses, improving the quality of the public research base (including changes in rigid career path rules which limit inter-sectoral, inter-institutional or international mobility) and strengthening priority setting in the R&I governance. 1 The latest reform in the science and higher education sector that took into consideration these recommendations, is expected to improve the position of Poland’s national and international performance in research and innovation. In the report, Poland’s performance is compared to Belgium, Spain, Romania and the Netherlands. The selection of these countries is based on similar levels of total researchers (full-time equivalent FTE) (NL, B), similar levels of gross expenditure in R&D (GERD) normalised with the researchers FTE (RO, ES) and diverse levels of P2P involvement. 2 These will be referred to in the report as Poland’s ‘comparator group’ of countries.