The Ministry of Science and Higher Education is responsible for the development and implementation of research policy in Poland, coordination of scientific activities at the national level, financial plan regarding science budget, funding of statutory activities of research units and large research infrastructure and construction investments, as well as promotion and financing of international co-operation in the area of research. One of the tools developed for these purposes are Ministry’s special programmes which allow to allocate funds directly to science development and additional tasks, such as supporting international mobility of researchers, encouraging Polish scientists to participate in the European Research Council’s competitions and supporting research promotion carried out by outstanding young scientists, results of which are published in JRC or ERIH. The National Programme for the Development of Humanities has been set up to support national cultural heritage studies, innovation and integration studies, and to ensure the international influence of Polish humanities. The Ministry has also introduced initiatives supporting Polish participation in the European research programmes, e.g. Horizon 2020.
The Minister is supported by four opinion-making and advisory bodies. The Council of Science and Higher Education advises the Minister on country policy related to higher education, science and innovation.The Committee of Scientific Policy advises the Ministry on strategic issues related to research and innovation policy, state budget for research, national and foreign investments, new legislation regulations as well as issues related to cooperation between Polish and European scientific research. Comprehensive evaluation of R&D activities quality and proposals for research categorisation are conducted by the Committee of Evaluation of Scientific Units. Depending on that evaluation, statutory funds are allocated according to the category granted by the Minister. Another advisory body is the Council of Young Scientists. The Council prepares opinions on project development initiated by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education as well as issues its own proposals in accordance with ideas and interests of young scientists.
In Poland there are two national funding agencies:
National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR) was established in July 2007 with an aim of managing and implementing scientific and innovative state policy. NCBiR’s tasks relate most of all to financing applied research and development projects as well as to supporting research commercialization and other forms of transferring scientific research results to economy. The Centre’s initiates and executes strategic programmes in the area of scientific research and development. In addition, in order to further strengthen the cooperation between research and business sectors, NCBiR co-finances actions conducted by private sector units and other entities, thus encouraging entrepreneurs to invest in research and development activity.
National Science Centre (NCN) started to operate in 2011. Its mission is to further decentralise the system of financing science in Poland as well as to transfer the following competences to scientific community: decisions regarding directions of basic research development, priorities of scientific disciplines specification, announcement and arrangement of calls for proposals and decisions made as to financing particular activities. One of Centre’s flagship tasks includes initiatives focused on the development of scientific staff, with special emphasis placed on supporting persons starting their scientific careers (20% of the Centre’s budget). The structure and procedures of this executive agency are based on standards established by the European Research Council.
In Poland there are ca 400 higher education institutions, 79 Polish Academy of Sciences establishments and around 120 public research institutes and laboratories which focus their activities on conducting applied research and development activities.
Higher education institutions (HEIs) are one of the most dynamically developing centres of social life in Poland, which plays a major role in the development of national research potential. There are about 400 HEIs - circa 100 public (state-funded) and 300 private universities. They are of different profiles, for example: universities, universities of technology, economics, agriculture, arts, medical universities, university schools of sport, military schools, as well as Higher Schools of Professional Education. Most of them are supervised by the Minister of Science and Higher Education but some of them are governed by other relevant ministries (i.e. the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of National Defence).
A representative body of higher education institutions in Poland is the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland (CRASP) founded by institutions of higher education which have the right to award the doctoral degree (or equivalent) in at least one scientific discipline. CRASP coordinates cooperation of member institutions, represents common interests of the schools as well as undertakes activities leading to the creation of effective system of national education for the benefit of higher education, science and cultural development. The Higher Schools of Professional Education are united under the separate Conference of Rectors of Public Vocational Schools.
Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN), established in 1952. It is an independent state research institution with units across the country. The mission of the Academy is two-fold. It is a network of research centres comprising of 79 research establishments (institutes and research centres, research stations, botanical gardens and other research units) and auxiliary scientific units (archives, libraries, museums), including foreign PAN stations in Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Vienna and Moscow. On the other hand, PAN is a corporation of scholars from different institutes, also from abroad, with a president of the Academy as its chair. PAN organises and integrates research community and prepares expert opinions for public institutions. The activity of PAN has a versatile influence on the development of science and culture, while keeping the highest standards of research quality and ethical norms.Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences
The Polish Young Academy was established in 2010 by the Polish Academy of Sciences in order to promote research and development activities by outstanding young representatives of science in Poland. Members of the Young Academy cannot exceed 38 years of age. The Academy’s’ main tasks are: providing opinions to science policy, organizing debates, conferences aimed at discussing significant problems and disseminating their results, preparing opinions and scientific assessments as well as promoting ethical standards among young scientists.
Research institutes are state-funded institutions operating as separate entities in terms of their legal basis, organisational arrangements and funding mechanisms. They are supervised by various sector ministries which conduct R&D activity in line with the needs of the national economy and social life. Among 115 units, there are research institutes, central laboratories and research and development centres which focus their activities on conducting applied research and development activities. The Main Council of the Research Institutes is their representative body.
Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, photo Peter Grešner
Development units include about 700 business entities active in the area of R&D. Beside their principal activity, they also conduct experimental development aimed at application of already existing knowledge gained through conducting basic or applied research or through practical experience. The knowledge is applied to produce or significantly improve new materials, devices, products, processes, systems or services. The companies cooperate with national research units, such as universities and research institutes. However, their investments in research activities are rather low.
According to the Polish Central Statistical Office, in 2014 there were circa 115 500 researchers, including 35% women and only 1.5% foreigners. In the academic year 2014/15 Poland had 43 400 doctoral students and nearly 54% of them were females. Doctoral students from abroad account only to approx. 4%. Most of the doctoral students were enrolled in higher education institutions (93.2%), whereas the others chose the institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences and R&D institutes. In 2014 in Poland, there were around 1.5 million 1st and 2nd cycle students attending bachelor and master degree programmes at public and non-public higher education institutions.
Poland belongs to the group of the EU Member States with the lowest level of investment in research and technology development. The expenditure on research and development activities amounted to 0.94% of GDP in 2014, which is still one of the lowest percentage in the European Union (the average is more than 2%). Poland's goal for 2020 is to reach 1.7% of GDP spending on R&D. For several years business enterprise sector has been spending more and more money on R&D activity - from 0.19% of GDP in 2010 to 0.44% in 2014.
The structure of research funding in Poland (focused on financing basic research from budget funds) requires qualitative changes, including increased spending of the economic sector on applied research, as well as development and implementation activities.
Lodz University of Technology, Solar Team, photo: Jacek Szabela
Poznan Science and Technology Park, Biotechnology Centre
The situation is slowly improving. The structural funds received for conducting modern research and development of scientific infrastructure as well as for the modernization of the higher education sector amount to about EUR 4.1 billion for the years 2007-2013. Additional support for innovation research through closer cooperation with the industry is provided by the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP).
The transformation of Poland’s financial mechanism from – statutory funds towards an increase in the number of open calls – influences the modernization process of the Polish scientific research. It is assumed that by 2020 about 50% of the available funds will have been acquired through open competitions.
In Poland there is a limited access to financial sources other than the state budget. Among non-governmental organisations, the following two should be mentioned:
Foundation for Polish Science (FNP) established in 1991 as an independent, self-financing, non-profit, non-governmental organization. The Foundation provides support to individual researchers and research teams and finances investment projects which foster Polish science development. FNP also undertakes activities facilitating the transfer of research results to industry. Among others, it awards grants, scholarships and prizes, including the FNP Prize which is considered the most prestigious research award in Poland. FNP also has programmes for foreign researchers who want to conduct research in Poland. In recent years, the Foundation has also been significantly involved in supporting international research co-operation, and in activities facilitating exchange of ideas between scholars and helping young scientists to become more independent in their research work.
The beneficiaries of the Foundation’s grants established an Association of the Foundation for Polish Science Scholars which enables networking among the FNP beneficiaries, promotes their scientific achievements and supports science promoting activities in Poland.
Headquarters of the Foundation for Polish Science, photo: Bartłomiej Senkowski, project: FAAB Białobrzeski Figurski
The FNP Prize awarding ceremony 2016, FNP archives, photo: One HD
Polpharma Scientific Foundation was established in 2001 by a private company Polpharma SA which is currently the largest Polish manufacturer of generic drugs and pharmaceutical substances. In accordance with the founders’ intention, the Foundation supports pharmaceutical and medical science development by financing and initiating scientific research and practical solutions, providing scholarships and awards and promoting knowledge among representatives of scientific, social and business environments. From the beginning, NFP has been organising an annual competition for the Polish research society with an aim of financing original ideas which contribute to the development of medicine and pharmacy.
Polpharma Scientific Foundation, 2015 grant awarding gala
Laureates on the Polpharma Scientific Foundation scholarships for doctoral students
EU Framework Programmes for Research and Development
Poland officially joined the European Framework Programmes (FP) for Research and Technological Development in 1999. Under the FP5 (1998-2002) 1,323 Polish teams received funding amounting to 152 million euro and in FP6 (2002-2006) 1,876 teams received around 217,000 million euro. One of the key results of their participation was creation of Centres of Excellence in Poland – strong research teams which actively participate in international research co-operation. As a result of the preparations for the 7th FP (2006-2013), Polish Technology Platforms have been created to integrate and mobilise Polish industry.
The implementation of the EU Framework Programmes, currently the HORIZON 2020 (2014-2020), in Poland is supported by the National Contact Point for Research Programmes of the EU and the Regional Contact Points located at Polish universities and institites.
Polish research institutions, companies and individual researchers that are most active in the European framework programmes are awarded with the "Crystal Brussels" award.
The "Crystal Brussels" award
Laureates of the 2016 "Crystal Brussels" award
EUREKA and EUROSTARS
Since 1995 Poland has participated in the EUREKA initiative which aims to increase the innovativeness, productivity and competitiveness of European industry, so that it is able to fight to maintain its position in the key areas on the world’s markets. The EUROSTARS programme was established as a common initiative of EUREKA and the European Union and its objective is to develop innovation through supporting small and medium companies significantly involved in research activity. In Poland the institution responsible for the programme is the National Centre for Research and Development.
Poland joined the COST Programme, the European Programme of Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technological Research, in 1991. COST is an institutional structure maintained jointly by 34 European countries and Israel (as a co-operating country) which aims primarily to organise multilateral co-operation in the area of research and technology between its member states. The implementation of the programme in Poland is the responsibility of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
NATO Science programme
The Science for Peace and Security Programme offers grants to scientists in NATO, Partner and Mediterranean Dialogue countries to collaborate on priority research topics, which include NATO priorities and additional Partner country priorities. Grants are also offered to assist the academic community in Partner countries to set up computer networking infrastructure and to optimize their use of electronic communication. The implementation of the programme in Poland is the responsibility of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.