Operational Programme 'Innovative economy'

Programme under the Convergence Objective, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)


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On 1 October 2007, the European Commission approved an Operational Programme for Poland for the 2007-13 period. The “Innovative economy” Operational Programme falls within the Convergence Objective framework and has a total budget of around €9.71 billion. Community assistance through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounts to some €8.25 billion, which represents approximately 12.3% of the total EU investment earmarked for Poland under the Cohesion Policy for 2007-13.

1. Aim and purpose of the programme

In the fields of support for enterprises, research and development (R&D) and information and communication technologies (ICT), the “Innovative economy” Operational Programme for 2007-2013 is the second large-scale, multi-annual program of its kind – after the sectoral Operational Programme “Improvement of the Competitiveness of Enterprises” (2004-06).

The programme will be an important tool for realising the objectives laid down in the revised Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs – allocating nearly 95% of its budget toward those ends.

2. Expected impact of investments

The Programme aims to create 70 000 new jobs, 28 000 of which are for women. The Programme aims also to create 60 projects in the field of R&D. Estimates predict that some 1200 enterprises will likely benefit from services provided by specialized research laboratories that receive financial support. In Poland, the number of persons employed in R&D activity will likely increase from 123 431 to around 150 000.

3. Priority axes

Specific objectives of the Operational Programme include:

  • improving enterprise innovativeness
  • improving the scientific community’s competitiveness in Poland
  • strengthening economic development through good science
  • increasing the international market share of innovative products made in Poland
  • creating permanent and better places to work
  • boosting ICT usage in Poland’s economy.

The “Innovative economy” Operational Programme is structured along the following priority axes:

Research and development of new technologies [approximately 13.4% of total funding]

The objective of this priority axis seeks to broaden the role the scientific community plays in Poland’s economy. Implementation of the economic development strategy, based on innovative enterprises, calls for closer cooperation between the scientific and business communities.

The R&D sector in Poland is not sufficiently equipped to provide adequate scientific support to local entrepreneurs operating in an increasingly competitive international environment. This shortfall maintains the technological gap between Poland’s economy and the more innovative economies of the world, including those of other EU Member States. Therefore, to realise the contribution potential the scientific community holds for Poland’s economy it is necessary to strengthen its R&D sector activity. Incentives that can persuade the business community to employ R&D produced in Poland and that can, simultaneously, encourage local scientists to pursue R&D activities that better satisfy the needs of local entrepreneurs will produce closer cooperation between each of these two communities.

R&D infrastructure [approximately 13.4% of total funding]

This priority axis seeks to increase the competitiveness within the scientific community in Poland by modernising its IT infrastructure and consolidating the scientific research among the best scientific entities operating in Poland. Obsolete equipment often hampers advanced research in Poland. Inefficient use of its existing, yet scattered, R&D infrastructure leads also to below standard research. The displacement of specialised equipment also creates an inability to carry out large, often multidisciplinary projects, including those of an international scale.

In sum, there is an urgent need for investment in Poland’s R&D infrastructure. Establishment of modern research centres, equipped with the most current technology, capable of taking up the most ambitious tasks in the R&D area, will make it possible to conduct high quality research. R&D infrastructure upgrades will also allow the scientific community in Poland to raise its technical staff training activity to international standards. Moreover, centres such as these will contribute to the implementation of more innovative technological solutions faster.

Capital for innovation [approximately 3.5% of total funding]

The objective of this priority axis is to increase the number of enterprises using innovative solutions and to improve access to external financial resources that encourage innovative undertakings. Poland’s economy is characterised by inadequate levels of innovation caused by insufficient levels of financial support offered by local entrepreneurs and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular. The main reason for this shortfall is the lack of adequate financial backing for investments of this calibre.

A diagnosis of the economic situation reveals that entrepreneurs are unwilling to invest in innovative projects characterised by risks that carry relatively high exposure over extended periods of time. This means that there is a serious gap between perceived cost/benefit risk- and time-horizons for available investment capital. Consequently, it is often impossible to acquire capital for endeavours that may carry higher risk; the consequences for which limit investment to short-term projects that yield relatively low value. This is notably the case for, otherwise, highly innovative SMEs that are nevertheless in their early stages of growth. Therefore, public intervention is justified in these cases, as public intervention can increase investments levels toward innovative solutions that offer the public both economic and technological benefits. Likewise, due to the insufficient number of start-up innovative enterprises, it is necessary to introduce incentives that support the establishment of companies founded upon innovative ideas.

Investments in innovative undertakings [approximately 35.3% of total funding]

This priority axis seeks to increase the level of competitiveness of enterprises through the application of new solutions. Currently, the main sources of competitive advantage of enterprises operating in Poland reply on low labour costs and a large domestic market. In terms of development trends and advanced globalisation, however, sustainable growth can only be guaranteed by enhancing competitive advantages based on innovative solutions. This means that enterprises that wish to face international competition should invest in the latest solutions that enable them to strengthen their competitive position in the market. This particularly includes the involvement of entrepreneurs toward pursing activities in the field of R&D. Consequently, public intervention under this priority axis will focus on support for undertakings related to development, implementation and transfer of technologically and organisationally innovative solutions.

Diffusion of innovation [approximately 4.1% of total funding]

The objective of this priority axis is to:

  • provide entrepreneurs with high quality services and infrastructure aimed at strengthening and pursuing their innovative potential
  • strengthen the competitive position of enterprises through the development of cooperative relationships.

Due to intense and constant cooperation between the producers and the beneficiaries of innovative solutions, the diffusion of innovation becomes possible. This cooperation often facilitates results that entities could never have otherwise attained on their own. Cooperation among entrepreneurs as well as between entrepreneurs and business support institutions (mainly scientific entities) creates conditions that facilitate:

  • new technological and organisational solutions development and diffusion
  • know-how exchanges
  • resources utilisation improvement

Polish economy on the international market [approximately 4.2% of total funding]

This priority axis seeks to improve the image of Poland as an attractive economic partner; as a place to develop good trade contacts; as well as an attractive place for investments; and economic activity and development of tourist services. The image of Poland on the international market is unsatisfactory, which means that public intervention is necessary. Public intervention will create synergies between the interacting areas of sales promotion on the Single European Market, while attracting new investments and the economic and tourist promotion of Poland. The system of investment and trade exchange service and support must still be strengthened.

Information society – establishment of electronic administration [approximately 8.1% of total funding]

This priority axis aims at improving the conditions for undertaking economic activity through an increase of the accessibility of public administration information resources and digital public services. The position of Poland’s economy on the international market, especially in the European Community, hinges on wide access to public information and electronic services provided to citizens and entrepreneurs through public resources. Increasing the use of ICT by public administrations will make it possible to increase the effectiveness of their services. Increased public administration ICT usage will also have a positive effect on administrative costs in general. Solutions foreseen under this priority axis will help facilitate economic activity by removing barriers between business and public administration as well as by improving the possibility to use public information resources by entrepreneurs.

Information society – increasing the innovativeness of the economy [approximately 14.6% of total funding]

This priority axis seeks to stimulate the development of the digital economy by supporting the creation of new and innovative e-services as well as innovative electronic solutions for business. This development support will reduce the technological, economic and mental resistance against the use of these kinds of services in society. The implementation of modern ICT creates the possibility to optimize the functioning of enterprises and directly affects innovativeness and competitiveness. ICT stimulates changes in an organization, influences business models in enterprises and boosts investments in human capital. An increase in the use of ICT in enterprises and related organizational changes exert an essential influence on the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Increasing the number of entities running their own businesses is crucial for the economic development of Poland. The support for enterprises of the SME sector includes providing broadband access to the Internet.

Technical assistance [approximately 3.4% of total funding]

This priority axis seeks to ensure support for the management, implementation and monitoring processes of the Programme and to ensure that Community funds and national resources are used effectively and in compliance with the law. One of the conditions for absorption of Community funds is to provide appropriate administrative potential. This requires substantial financial outlays for providing efficient management, implementation, information, monitoring and evaluation of the „Innovative economy” Operational Programme.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'Innovative economy'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

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Number of decision


Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Research and development of new technologies 1 104 380 000 194 890 589 1 299 270 589
R&D infrastructure 1 104 380 000 194 890 589 1 299 270 589
Capital for innovation 289 000 000 51 000 000 340 000 000
Investments in innovative undertakings 2 915 254 000 514 456 588 3 429 710 588
Diffusion of innovation 339 148 000 59 849 647 398 997 647
Polish economy on the international market 349 038 080 61 594 955 410 633 035
Information society – establishment of electronic administration 670 000 000 118 235 294 788 235 294
Information society – increasing the innovativeness of the economy 1 203 485 200 212 379 741 1 415 864 941
Technical assistance 280 200 000 49 447 059 329 647 059
Total 8 254 885 280 1 456 744 462 9 711 629 742