Regional Innovation System in the Pomeranian Province of Poland
The concept of an innovation system stresses the role of interaction and co-operation between different agents creating and distributing knowledge and innovation. In the post-communist countries like Poland, most of the institutions similar to those of mature market economies are already established. However they not yet embedded in the economy. That is one of the reasons why co-operation between agents in the Polish innovation system is very weak, which results in a very low level of innovation throughout the entire economy. In 2001, The Gdansk Institute for Market Economy undertook research into the regional innovation system of one of the Polish regions – the Pomeranian Region. The results of the research showed that the majority of firms in the region do not co-operate in the innovation process, especially on the regional level. Horizontal linkages between firms almost do not exist. Firms perceive other firms mainly as competitors and are afraid of co-operation. They believe co-operation leads to the theft of their ideas and precious workers. If co-operation occurs, it concerns only less risky and costly phases of the innovation process like joint development, joint conferences and exhibitions as well as joint marketing strategy. The Pomeranian firms also have very weak linkages to the public scientific sector. They very rarely co-operate with scientific research institutions or technology transfer institutions. The weak interaction between firms, both among themselves and with those in academia, results in a very low overall and especially business R&D expenditure. The Pomeranian region, similar to the entire country, is mainly a user, not a producer of technology. The majority of the firms’ capital is imported from foreign countries. To sustain the long-run competitiveness of industry it is crucial to enhance the R&D activity of Polish firms, preferably basing this on co-operation with other agents of the innovation system. A policy stimulating interactions in the innovation process could be cheaper than a policy establishing new institutions as co-operation steers resources into a single effort and it has multiple effects. An important source of new knowledge might be the exchange of information and ideas during conferences, exhibitions, co-operation of firms in chambers of commerce, etc. However, the majority of Pomeranian firms belong to different firms’ associations on the domestic level. As co-operation on the regional level might be more effective, regional authorities should induce dialogue between firms and other regional agents. In the Strategy of Development of the Region originating in the year 2000, one of the main priorities is building an effective regional innovation system. However, it is important that all the actions undertaken are based on their usefulness for enterprises, which are the most important agents in the RIS.
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