On 25 September 2015, the lower house of the Polish parliament (Sejm) passed the Act on supporting innovation. This Act has been highly anticipated by the start-up community.
The Act introduces many changes to the laws on research activity and taxation. The start-up community had for a long time been criticising the Polish taxation system as unfavourable to innovators. Shareholders who brought intellectual property or patents to a business as in-kind contributions for shares had to pay tax on these shares. This discouraged scientists from commercialising the results of their research. Further, the existing taxation system did not enhance the operation of venture capital funds, as these funds had to pay tax on the sale of shares. The new Act addresses these two restraints and introduces some additional tax incentives to encourage investments in R&D. All the changes aim at increasing the expenditures on R&D to 1.7% of gross domestic product in 2020. This is double the level of 2013.
The new Act also introduces changes to the laws on R&D institutions. It encourages the commercialisation of academic research by increasing academic institutions’ competence to enter into agreements without the assistance of the Minister of the Treasury. It also facilitates the employment of young and foreign scientists in R&D institutions.
The Act was passed by the upper house of the Polish parliament (Senat) on 1 October and now awaits the President’s signature. Once signed by the President, the Act on supporting innovation will come into effect in 2016. Hopefully, it will give effective support to R&D in Poland, and raise Poland’s ranking among innovator countries in the EU – from a very low 25th place in 2014.