Dr Jan Krzysztof FRACKOWIAK

State Committee for Scientific Research
Komitet Badan Naukowych
Wspolna 1/3
00-529 Warszawa, Polska

Polish Government


The Act of 12 January 1991 on establishment of the State Committee for Scientific Research (KBN) laid down the legal basis for introduction of an in-depth reform of the Polish science policy, particularly of the science budgetary financing system in Poland. The reform itself reflected the changes in political and economic system (transition to the democracy and market economy) and used the experience and examples of highly developed countries.

The KBN exercises two broad responsibilities: that of a typical Ministry of Science and Technology and that of R&D funding agencies. KBN defines and implements S&T policy in co-operation with scientific community, governmental bodies and a number of non-governmental institutions.

Innovation-oriented science policy in Poland is defined in two important documents worked out by KBN and accepted by the Government: "The basis for a national S&T policy" and "The guidelines for innovation policy in Poland".

The basic goals and expectations of the S&T and innovation policy in Poland could be formulated as follows:

1. Increase of educative role of research - to develop human resources (human capital) for economy, social services, science and education itself.

2. Development of innovation-based economy (industry included) accelerated by:

3. Increase of quality of life - through better health and environment protection, better social services, etc.

4. Increase of participation of Polish scientists and scientific institutions in European and world R&D activity, status improvement of Polish R&D achievements on world ranking lists.


KBN has a hierarchical structure. At the top level there is a Committee making basic decisions on science policy and financing. It consists of 19 members:

The lower structure of KBN are Basic Research Commission and Applied Research Commission. Traditional names of the Commissions do not reflect nor formal, nor meritoric separation of basic and applied research.

The Basic Research Commission consists of 33 members including 28 persons elected by scientific community. The Commission works in 6 groups:

The Applied Research Commission consists of 42 members including 30 persons elected by scientific community. The Commission works in 6 groups:

Nearly 70 specialized sections, consisting in average of 7 or 8 persons, co-operate with groups evaluating research projects in the peer-review system and preparing other opinions and evaluations demanded by the groups, within areas of their respective competences.

Executive body of the Committee is the KBN office of about 240 employees.


Research budgetary funding is executed by KBN through six allocation streams (in parenthesis is given allocated fund as a part of total budget in the year 1995):

During the period 1992-1995 the Polish science budget in US dollars was 600 - 700 millions, but in PPP (purchase power parity) was 1000 - 1200 millions US dollars.

Since 1991 till 1995 the science budget in Poland rised by 235% in current prices, but decreased by 28% in fixed prices. The last two years the budget is nearly constant in fixed prices; prospective data for 1996 inflation rate allow to anticipate an increase by 7%.

In the period 1992 - 1995 non-budgetary R&D funding was rising much faster (352% in current prices) then public funding (194%). In 1992 total spendings for R&D (GERD) were covered in 74.3% by budgetary sources and in 25.7% by non-budgetary sources. In 1995 the relation was better balanced: 61.4% and 38.6%.


4.1. Goal-oriented projects co-funded by industrial units.

Goal-oriented projects are evaluated and possibly accepted upon proposals raised by economic entities, governemnt administration or local administration bodies. Executor of the project pays 35% up to 50% of the costs of the research involved in the project (the remaining 50% to 65% being paid by the KBN) and full cocts of implementation of the results. Projects serve mainly innovativeness and competitiveness of the market companies.

Since 1992 till the middle of the year 1996 more then 3000 goal-oriented project proposals were presented, out of which nearly 1600 (53%) KBN approved for budgetary co-financing. A significant number of projects apply to the defence sector. Rough estimation shows that 75% of goal-oriented projects prove to bring profits to the interested entities.

4.2. Ordered projects - aimed to elaborate/improve and implement new technologies of wider use.

Ordered research projects (ORP) serve implementation of sectoral or regional policy of the state. They are organized upon a proposal by a head of a central or supreme state administration body (usually a minister) or by a voivode (head of provincial administration). After the project is evaluated and accepted and therms of reference are determined, the tender is publicly announced inviting prospective realizators. Foreign competitors are also welcomed.

In the years 1992-96 more then 200 ordered research projects were qualified for financing out of 550 proposals.

Institutions proposing ORP bear responsability for implementation of the results. Voivods propose for exemple projects concerning regional management, environmental protection, tourism development, locally specific form of entrepreneurship. Proposals made by ministers depend on area of their competence.

4.3. Strategic governmental programmes - aimed to achieve social or economic goals important for the country.

Strategic governmental programmes (SGP), established by Council of Ministers, are aimed to support execution of important tasks stemming out of governmental policy. The research part of SGP (if exists) should eventually be financed on the same basis as ordered research projects. The principles of SGP establishing, elaborated by KBN were approved by the Government in March 1993. So far only four SGPs has been established concerning defense industry (new helicopter and antyaircraft mobile system), radioactive substances safeguarding, human health protection in labour environment.

4.4. Accreditation of laboratories for testing products, processes and services

During two years 1993-94 has been financed by KBN investments enabling organization (within the structure of research and development units) and accreditation of laboratories authorized to issue certificates to those products, processes and services, for which such certificates are required. Attestation of domestic products is a prerequisite of their competitiveness on world markets, especially during the period of Poland's entering the economic structures of the European Union. From 15% to 20% of all investment funds in the science budget was spent on organization of, and equipment for, nearly 50 certified laboratories. They help to create mechanisms improving the articulation of technological needs, to develope the knowledge market and the network connecting R&D units and market oriented industrial companies.


The government will implement its innovation policy through instruments of economic and financial policy and will create the necessary legal and organizational framework. A particularly important strategic goal is to implement standards necessary for full participation in the European Union. These standards concern technological levels, international quality standards (attests, certificats), protection of intellectual property rights.

Examples of economic regulations that have been introduced during the last few years:


6.1. R&D units, higher schools

In the Polish R&D sector there are about 250 units (institutes and centers in areas of technology, medicine, agriculture, etc.), 130 of them being industrial units supervised by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. More then 160 higher schools and 80 institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences (executing mainly basic research) employ nearly 90% of the Polish scientists.

KBN co-funds statutory activity of more then 100 industrial R&D units providing in average 25% of their total income. The units specialize in disciplines related to different technologies and offer their clients wide range of R&D based services. Important source of their incomes is often small scale production, expert services, data processing, publishing etc.. Among higher schools there are more then 20 of technological profile, but only few of them are active in the field of technology commercialization.

6.2. Agency for Engineering and Technology

Recently was voted by the Parliament the bill on the establishment of the state Agency for Engineering and Technology. The Agency would complete the activities of the State Committee for Scientific Research (KBN) which is responsible for budgetary funding of science, research and development, but is not allowed to support directly implementation of scientific results to the practice.

The tasks and functions of Agency would include, inter alia:

The functioning of the Agency would be supervised by the Minister of Industry and Trade, but KBN will be represented in the steering board of the Agency.

6.3. Innovation and technology centers, business (entrepreneurship) incubators

In 1995 was published by "Polish Business and Innovation Centres Association" and Foundation "Incubator" the first detailed report on Polish centres of business (entrepreneurship) and innovation. The authors collected data on 24 business incubators, 8 technology centres, 55 centres for business supporting. Their organization and functioning is based on examples and experience of developed countries.

The next report on innovation centers is expected to be prepared this year.


Only some topics were touched concerning innovation oriented science policy in Poland. One can point out numerous other issues, as for example:

7.1. Statistics and information.

International standards for statistical indicators are implemented providing for international comparisons and managerial or political decisions. A system of collection, utilisation and dissemination of information is being created or developed, concerning for example human resources (expertise) in R&D sector, strength and weakness evaluation of research institutions and areas, material base of science (research equipment). The Central Statistical Office in Poland, co-operating with KBN, announces yearly about 100 indicators describing input and output of the Polish R&D sector. Further development of statistical instruments is planned to be supported by KBN.

7.2. Priority setting and monitoring of research results

Even if significant progress has been made in this direction, further work on defining research priorities should continue.

The priorities should emerge as a result of broad consultation involving researchers, politicians (governmental bodies) and industrialists. The "Technology Foresight" procedures are planned to be used to that end.

Till now priorities were defined in governmental documents concerning R&D policy, innovation policy and prioritary research directions to rise the competitivity of Polish economy. Some balance is expected to be maintained between preserving the traditional values of academic autonomy and freedom of research on the one side and the steering role of policy makers on the other side.

Constant efforts are essential to improve and develop the effective system for monitoring and evaluating projects outputs.

The primary goal of the system is to inform the decision makers about the effectiveness and impact of research. Well formulated priorities and objectives, independent evaluators, mechanisms for taking into account of evaluation results - are necessary elements of such a system.

7.3. Collaboration between researchers from higher education institutions, institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences, industrial R&D units.

Poland, like other post-communistic countries, inherited stronger basic then applied research. For the best use of existing intellectual potential to realize the innovation-oriented policy of the country, the significant improvement of cooperation between "academic" and "mission-oriented" science is to be achieved.

Important goal could be to introduce new funding schemes facilitating and encouraging collaboration, mobility of researchers, emergence of "research and technology networks". Computer communication networks are essential infrastructure of such an activity.

7.4. Development of the informatic infrastructure,

Wide, metropolitan and local area computer networks, supercomputer centers and data basis have being rapidly developed in the last few years. The NASK (Scientific and Academic Computer Network) serves actually more then 300 000 users, the rate of growth reaching even 300% yearly. Linked to the Internet, NASK

provides respective links for Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania as well.

The MANs operate today in eleven metropolitan areas; in five of them (Warsaw, Cracovie, Poznan, Gdansk and Wroclaw) super-computer centers are linked to the network.

7.5. Other topics


Innovation-oriented policy creates an important support for the Polish rapidly growing economy. Even if new, high technology implementation involves a great risk for investors, it is a must for any country and for the whole world. The risk should be shared by states playing limited intervention role.

Certainly, it is difficult task to perform successful S&T policy concerning sophisticated interactions between science, technology, implementation, industry and other market players.

The highly developed countries present many examples of successes and some those of failures when following that difficult way. The advantage and opportunity for catching up countries - like Poland - is that they can learn not only by following the best examples of powerful economies, but by avoiding their costly mistakes as well. Sharing the knowledge and experience is a basic precondition for the successful innovation-oriented policy, as well in the local, as in the global scale.