The Effectiveness of Stimulating Innovativeness in Poland through Science and Technology Parks

The Effectiveness of Stimulating Innovativeness in Poland through Science and Technology Parks

Ewa Minska-Struzik (Poznan University of Economics, Poland) and Szymon Truskolaski (Poznan University of Economics, Poland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1978-4.ch012


The aim of the chapter is to examine the effectiveness of S&T parks after five years of the Polish presence in the EU. The results of the empirical research, presented in the chapter, show that the effectiveness of enhancing innovativeness is hardly satisfactory. For instance, from 2007-2009 almost 400 incumbents of 25 existing Science and Technology parks in Poland were only able to claim 18 patents. The main drawbacks of Polish S&T parks are: 1) specialization mostly comprising general ICTs, which, as the authors argue, is too broad; 2) insufficient research equipment; 3) the lack of co-operation with R&D institutions other then universities; 4) focusing on fulfilling the EU funds’ criteria as to provide the exact number of jobs created or to rent a particular office space. It is also important to note that 53% of incubators and S&T parks’ income originates from European funds—in the near future, new methods of raising income must be developed by these institutions or they will cease to exist. These policy issues are relevant not only for Poland but for any economy contemplating active government involvement in R&D.
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With the regard to innovativeness, Poland, as well as most of Central European countries, belongs to medium advanced group of countries. Knowledge Economy Index developed by World Bank places Poland in 37th position (between Slovak Republic and Greece)1. More complex assessment run by OECD reveals poor innovativeness performance of Poland in comparison to OECD countries. It is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Science and innovation profile of Poland and OECD (average) in 2008. Source: OECD Science, Technology, and Industry Outlook (2010)

Poland’s Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) was 0.6% of GDP in 2008, being the fourth lowest in the OECD area in terms of per capita values (USD 104 in current PPP). Industry financed 31% of GERD and the government funded a hefty 60%. The business enterprise sector performed 31% of GERD, the higher education sector 34% and government 35%. One of the most striking features of Poland is that business expenditure on R&D (BERD) is only 0.2%—the lowest value in the OECD area.

The outcome indicators are also mostly below average. Both, the 0.6 patents per million inhabitants, and the 411 scientific articles per million inhabitants were low. During 2004-06, only 7.5% of firms introduced new-to-market product innovations and 31% undertook non-technological innovation. Poland’s innovation linkages are more encouraging. During 2004-06, 11% of firms collaborated on innovation activities, and during 2005-07, 33% of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patent applications were with a foreign co-inventor, both slightly above the average. The 5.4% of GERD financed from abroad is equal to the average for OECD countries.

Indicators for Human Resources in Science and Technology (HRST) are mixed. In 2007, the number of researchers per thousand employees declined to four, and science and engineering degrees accounted for 17% of all new degrees, which is far below the OECD average. In 2008, 60% of HRST occupations were filled by women, but HRST occupations were slightly below average, at 26% of total employment. Graduates faced a relatively high unemployment rate of 6.2%2.

As the level of innovativeness of Polish economy seems to be unsatisfactory, an active innovation policy instruments are needed to be implemented. Polish innovation policy is financed mostly from the EU funds (see below for more details) and it follows the EU priorities with a special focus on creating infrastructure for innovation and improving innovative business environment. One of the instruments within these guidelines is to stimulate founding and development of science and technology parks.

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