Industry 4.0, employee competencies, start-ups and green economy – these are the pillars on which the new Polish government wants to build innovation in the country.

For almost a month Poland has had a new/old government. New, as it is the result of the October parliamentary elections. Old, because the election was won by the ruling “Law and Justice” party and Mateusz Morawiecki has become Prime Minister once again.

Jadwiga Emilewicz

Although the composition of the government has changed slightly, the same people are still in charge of the ministries responsible for innovation. Jarosław Gowin (who is also Deputy Prime Minister) remained Minister of Science and Higher Education. Jadwiga Emilewicz has extended her duties and now, as Minister of Development, she is responsible for economy, innovation and for construction and tourism as well. This week these two ministries have revealed what Poland’s government plans for innovation are. They did this together with other ministries and government agencies which form the Innovation Council. The country wants to focus its activities and support on four main areas.

Industry 4.0 comes first

Industry 4.0 – as in industrial revolution and digital transformation – is one of the most fashionable terms in recent years. Polish companies are also aware of this. Yet they are much worse when it comes to implementation and finding employees with the necessary competencies. Therefore, the government would like to encourage entrepreneurs to invest in automation solutions. How? First of all, it wants to use tax exemptions. “In the first half of the year, we will present a pro-investment, pro-automation and pro-robotization package. This should make it easier for entrepreneurs to make costly investments by providing them with suitable incentives in return – Minister Jadwiga Emilewicz said.

The package is to include solutions such as a pro-development CIT tax relief related to the growth of the company or solutions. This will allow a company to make tax deductions of about 2.5 PLN (approx. 50 euro cents) for each 1 PLN (approx 20-25 euro cents) invested in machinery and equipment. Secondly, the government has announced substantive support for companies that decide to introduce new technologies. There will be several places next year in Poland where small and medium enterprises can test their solutions.

Competencies of employees

On the other hand, the government wants to encourage companies to further educate their employees and increase their competencies. “Nowadays we have a situation where a graduate who leaves university and joins a large corporation knows more than the corporation,” said Minister Emilewicz. She added that the government wants to encourage companies to invest in their employees. They plan to do this via taxes. And also by continuing to run programs such as implementation doctorates whereby companies receive support so that they can hire doctoral students who are able to solve their specific technical problems. One of the areas supported by the government is artificial intelligence. “There was a lot of funding available for artificial intelligence in the recent competition for implementation doctorates. We want to compete in this area with modern Western European countries,” said deputy prime minister Jarosław Gowin.

Start-ups

Start-ups will continue to be the apple of the government’s eye. The last four years have been a time of major changes in the Polish start-up ecosystem. For example, the state programs for cooperation between start-ups and state-owned and private companies have become very popular. Changes in the law have been made so as to facilitate start-ups.

“Today, Poland is in the vanguard of Europe when it comes to legislation. In the Polish legislative system, the registration of shareholders in the distribution system is noted, i.e. in the blockchain. We have made it easier for business angels and investment funds to invest in technology companies. And we are ready for more. We will talk with the various funds and with business angels as to what tax incentives we could still provide them in this regard. That’s what Minister Jadwiga Emilewicz said. Though there will be money for start-ups too. The Polish Development Fund, which acts as a fund for funds, estimates that in the coming years it will have about 4 billion PLN (approx 1 billion euro) to support young companies. Around 300-500 companies will be set up thanks to this money.

There are also plans to establish so-called sandboxes, where young companies from particular sectors can test their solutions without any obligation to meet some set legal requirements. We’ll start with setting up a sandbox for Fintech and Biotech companies. A special program will also be launched for companies from the 4.0 industry that want to bring their inventions to the global market. Among the ideas that governors also have is a that of a “start-up leave.” As in the possibility for an employee to test their idea for business applications. In the event they fail, the employee can then return to their workplace.

The government still wants to attract foreign start-ups and innovators to Poland and encourage them to start a business in the country. The Poland Prize program had been set up in previous years. “The interest in the program exceeded our expectations. Over 2 thousand applications have been submitted and at the moment over 100 companies are being created. It’s worth our while to continue this program. Let them work here, let them become Polish start-ups, said Małgorzata Oleszczuk, President of the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development.

The last but not least is green economy

According to Minister Emilewicz, the next four years are expected to be a time of solid investment in “greening the economy.” The government is planning to use tax incentives again in this area as well as preferences for green technologies in public procurement. Along with competitions to create Polish green solutions.

Read more about the Polish innovation ecosystem on Innovation Origins here.