How to Become an
Innovation Champion
The Case ofPoland

Warszawa, Poland

Since 1989, Poland has been the European growth champion, more than doubling its GDP per capita in the period.

Change in GDP per capita between 1989 and 20141989=100

But Poland’s pace of growth may slow without enhanced innovation. Despite a substantial increase in R&D spending over the last decade, Poland still occupies a close-to-the bottom position in innovation rankings.

Warszawa, Poland
European Innovation Scoreboard

In 2016, the EU granted Poland almost €10 Billion to create innovation. The challenge was how to use these funds efficiently to start shifting from imitating others to generating new ideas, from quantity to quality, and from potato chips to microchips.

Wielowieś, Poland

Through a new process called “Entrepreneurial Discovery” Poland identified 15 innovation drivers.

This new bottom-up approach helps identify the real needs of enterprises and their innovation potential so that the public sector can adjust support instruments accordingly.

Katowice, Poland

Case Study: Computer numerical control machines (CNC)

The Smart Lab process in Dolnoslaskie identified a business area with large potential - a second generation CNC machines - which could help verify or strengthen one of the National Smart Specializations - Automation and Robotics.

CNC Tuning Center

By following this bottom-up approach, this survey was able to identify a small company leveraging second generation CNC machines with tremendous success and influence similar innovative approaches in the area.

The government, ultimately responsible for the decision on where to allocate the EU money, would have never considered this technology as part of their strategy, proving the validity of this bottom-up approach to discovering innovation champions.

How to recognize an “Innovation Champion”?

Based on analysis performed on 500 questions per questionnaire, the following 5 key features were the most significant factors that characterize an “innovation champion”:

  1. Average rate of revenue growth over the last 2 years
  2. Expenditure on R&D
  3. Percentage of export sales
  4. Number of STEM employees
  5. Innovation perceived as a key source of strategic competitiveness
Is your firm a Champion in innovation? Find out with our Innovation Simulator
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If you would like to learn more, please visit the project website: https://www.worldbank.org/poland/innovation/edp.