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In the public policy of the state, the Ministry of Development (Ministerstwo Rozwoju) and its subordinate agency, the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (Polska Agencja Rozwoju Przedsiębiorczości - PARP), play an important role in promoting the culture of entrepreneurship.
The websites of the Ministry of Development (Ministerstwo Rozwoju) and the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy (Ministerstwo Funduszy i Polityki Regionalnej) contain basic information on the country’s development and economic security policy, support for entrepreneurship (information on loan and guarantee funds, subsidies, economic zones and Corporate Social Responsibility) and on the use of European funds (use, projects and outcomes in 2004-2006, 2007-2013 and 2014-2020).
One of the main promoters of entrepreneurship in Poland is the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP) i.e. a government agency subordinated to the Ministry of Development. PARP is involved in the implementation of national and international projects financed by structural funds, the state budget and multi-annual programmes of the European Commission. Its main objective is to support SMEs. (Small and medium enterprises)
In the years 2014-2020, PARP will be responsible for the implementation of actions under three operational programmes:
- Smart Growth Operational Programme;
- Knowledge Education Development Operational Programme;
- Eastern Poland Operational Programme (supra-regional programme for 5 provinces in Eastern Poland: Lubelskie, Podkarpackie, Podlaskie, Świętokrzyskie, and Warmińsko-Mazurskie).
The Agency offers entrepreneurship training and start-up loans. It co-operates with higher education institutions by supporting start-ups established by graduates and university spin-outs. It provides assistance to business support institutions and organisations, including science and technology parks, incubators and technology transfer centres, and conducts promotional activities. In 2013, it issued a manual “How to Become and Remain an Entrepreneur”.
One of the manifestations of the Agency’s activity is the annual Polish Product of the Future competition, designed to promote new, innovative technologies.
The Ministry of Science and Higher Education supports entrepreneurial attitudes among students and graduates through training and internship schemes such as the Top 500 Innovators, the largest government scheme to support innovation in science. With classes conducted by eminent practitioners, study visits to foreign centres and internships at the most innovative companies, participants learn how to effectively commercialise the results of scientific research.
The new law of 2018 in higher education, “Constitution for Science” (Konstytucja dla nauki) promotes the launch of many initiatives focused on entrepreneurship at universities.
An example is the program launched at the University of Warsaw the University’s Integrated Development Programme (ZIP). It is a comprehensive project focused on improving the quality and effectiveness of education in Bachelor, Master and Doctoral programmes, as well as supporting adaptation of the University’s offer to the needs of the economy, labour market and the society. It has started on April 1, 2018 and will last until March 31, 2022. The main objectives of the project are:
- Strengthening the mechanism of adaptation of Masters programmes to socio-economic needs and launching a new or redesigned Master programmes in Polish and English, enriched with new didactic elements;
- Improving the quality of language education, increasing the number of fields of study taught in English and launching additional forms of education, e.g. interdisciplinary or specialized summer schools in foreign languages;
- Increasing students’ competences matching the needs of the economy, labour market and the society, especially in the areas of analytical, IT, communication, interpersonal, entrepreneurial, language and professional competences;
- Increasing international mobility of PhD students, strengthening their practical skills and scientific competences, as well as scientific contacts for developing international and interdisciplinary research projects;
- Support for organisational changes and development of university management IT tools, especially in the field of education;
- Increasing the competences of university’s staff and support the implementation of the human resources development strategy.
Activities promoting an entrepreneurial culture among schoolchildren are undertaken by the Youth Enterprise Foundation (A member of Junior Achievement Worldwide).
The foundation organises the Entrepreneurship Day competition (13th edition in 2017) Over 40,000 pupils from about 700 schools and almost 15,000 companies and institutions participate in the Entrepreneurship Day every year. The competition encourages young people to make the right decisions in planning their further education and career path. By participating in the scheme students are able to obtain information about the education, skills or predispositions necessary to go into a given profession. They can also learn how to organise and manage one’s own business.
It is worth emphasising that young people in Poland show high acceptance for entrepreneurial attitudes and willingness to set up companies. The results of nationwide studies of upper secondary school students show that young Poles want to be professionally independent (Feder, 2017). Young people want to run their own businesses in order to “take matters in their own hands” by planning their careers, increase their wages and develop on the labour market.
There are several networks of young entrepreneurs in Poland, which tend to focus on graduates of higher education institutions, such as Youth Business Poland , The Polish Chamber of Young Entrepreneurs (Polska Izba Młodych Przedsiębiorców), and Leviathan Youth Forum.
There are also many local associations of young entrepreneurs, such as the Association of Young Entrepreneurs – Wroclaw.
In principle, the support networks do not co-operate directly with each other. Efforts are being made to improve relations between the networks. The National Chamber of Commerce is carrying out a project called “Innovative Youth”, which attempts to facilitate co-operation between youth organisations, higher education institutions, business incubators and science and technology parks. The “Innovative Youth” project includes conferences, meetings with business leaders and the “Forum for Young Entrepreneurs”.
Young & Innovative Forum is one of the most popular startup conferences in Poland, which gathers approximately 300 young entrepreneurs on the spot and 15 000 online viewers (2018).