sábado, 13 de outubro de 2012

Potential and barriers of Polish innovation

Nowadays, definition of innovation is known almost by everybody who is a little bit interested in economics or management. But even if people knows what is innovation and knows different types of that it is not so easy to measure innovation and its potential, and also it is not easy to support it. Basically, to compare innovativeness of international economies we can use different statistic date and indexes, but the most common in Poland and Europe is index which is referred by Innovation Union Scoreboard. The index is based on three main categories: enablers (human capital, research and development, governmental support for innovation), firm activities (companies investment, collaboration with other innovative firms, creating intellectual property) and outputs (number of innovators, economic effects of innovation).
According to IUS’s index, Poland is qualified in a group of countries which is placed before the last and it is called moderate innovators (in this group it is also Portugal), but it takes almost the last place. One of the reasons of this situation is unbalanced potential of innovation, which is mainly based on human resources with a weak tendency to innovate. People is afraid of taking risk and because of that they do not take part in research and development cooperation. The result of this situation is that even if there is relatively strong working force it is not used effectively. Taking for example countries which are higher in this hierarchy, such an imbalance does not take place. An interesting think is the fact that human resources in Poland are above European average but it is only in terms of quantitative indicators not qualitative ones. So we cannot easily find out if Poland human resources are better or the same as the European ones or not.
Another thing is unsatisfactory competitiveness of research and development centers. Even if we can recognize that the situation is slowly improving and Poland is taking part in internationalization process, that it is not enough to attract foreign investors. Polish expenses on research and development are still below European average. Moreover, lots of investment have imitative character and they have been based on already discovered solutions (but in this case Poland is highly above average J).
One of the weakest points according to IUS is innovation activity in the sector of small and medium-sized enterprises, which is worse than few years ago.  Also the connection between companies which are developing and are innovative is worse than in other UE countries. But taking into account condition of sales and export of innovative products, Poland has good results. But low income from domestic export probably means that innovative products are produced in Poland but they were design somewhere else. So the profits from this production are also exported to other countries.
From policies side, situation in Poland is changing now. Currently, strong emphasis is put on supporting entrepreneurship, competition and education.  Innovation policy is gradually experiencing an evolution. As an effect, we can see that lots of institution, like National Research and Development Center, National Science Center, Polish Academy of Science, have influence on basic research. All these institutions are really close connected with Ministry of Science and Higher Education, which in addition to the Ministry of Economy, together with the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development, are having the main role in the development of innovation. Together with investments in innovation activities, the role of government has changed. It is not only responsible for setting strategic directions for the development of innovation and getting opportunity to taking part in innovation processes, but it is also promoting innovation and mediating contacts between strategic companies. As an example, we can take the Portal of Innovation, which supports networking between innovative companies, controls the flow of information about foreign markets and promotes events in which innovative companies may take part.
The second good thing which we can recently observe is local development of innovation. The idea of local innovation may be really effective, because of different sorts of resources, which each region owns and also different needs. The influence on shaping local activity for innovation has drive to the creation of regional innovation councils. One the other hand, it is not so easy to take part in bigger projects which are realized in the country when centers of innovation are located in the suburbs.
To conclude, I think that Polish innovation strategy nowadays is not so effective as it could be, but I can see its potential. In my opinion, the government, entrepreneurs and employers have already noticed how important innovative activity is and they will take the initiative to develop it. I think that, in the future, Polish innovation system should be similar to the European model, which is mainly based on public funding. To do this, the government should stimulate the economy by putting emphasize on innovation-oriented policy, continuing reforms, educating the public and creating an effective system of financing innovation.
Katarzyna Sejda

IBS (2011), Innovation Diagnostics In Poland, Warszawa.
PARP (2010a), Wspieranie postaw proinnowacyjnych przez wzmacnianie kreatywności jednostki, Polska Agencja Rozwoju Przedsiębiorczości, Warszawa.
PARP (2010b), Wykształcenie pracowników a pozycja konkurencyjna przedsiębiorstw, Polska Agencja Rozwoju Przedsiębiorczości, Warszawa.

[artigo de opinião produzido no âmbito da unidade curricular “Economia Portuguesa e Europeia” do 3º ano do curso de Economia (1º ciclo) da EEG/UMinho]

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