The effective cooperation of the science with the industry in the climate change crisis era

In the perspective of the approaching years, the climate change can be a fundamental threat for the prosperity and peace but also the expected global growth. Even now the consequences of  climate change pressurize numerous communities in many regions of the world. The chance for obtaining global growth, which won't have a negative impact on the climate and the environment is the education and the economy based on knowledge.

The innovative, „clean” technologies play a substantial role in obtaining sustainable development. The natural resources are a common good which everyone should take care of. The low emission technologies have a big role to play, as they lower our demand for energy, new materials, and drives (for example the hydrogen as an alternative fuel) but also the regulative aspects and the financial support.

The lower and changed usage of energy

Our habits and abilities of rational usage of energy are also important. Even its minor savings, which we make everyday matter, if a lot of persons engage in them. Each of us can do something good for our planet starting from the change of our everyday habits. Also, the economic policy has to be consistent with the goals concerning the limitations of greenhouse gas emissions. Obtaining of the considerable reduction of the emission of the harmful substances requires a universal reduction of the energy usage, the development of renewable energy and drawing up and disseminating new, groundbreaking technologies and solutions limiting in a saltatorial manner influence on the climate change. In this context, the issues of the cooperation of science and industry become an exquisitely important factor, conditioning the competitiveness and the attractiveness of manufactured products and what follows the socio-economic success.

However, some questions arise: How to engage and educate both adults and the youngest in the era of the climate crisis? How to connect the world of science with business? What motivates scientists to commertialise research? What barriers to technology transfer exist on the side of scientists and what barriers are on the side of the business? How to speak with the language of benefit?

First of all innovativeness

The support of economic innovativeness has a lot of advantages:
  • First, it attracts talents, who can develop this innovativeness further. Young, Polish scientists educated at foreign universities often lack the motivation to return to Poland because of poorly developed R&D centers in the country and also the difficulty with the commercialization of products.
  • Second, innovativeness is a meaningful nexus in the improvement of efficiency and economical growth especially in current times of intense changes. The experiences of the states of the high economical potential convince that a capably used knowledge and innovativeness enables obtaining of competitive advantage. That's why one of the priorities is the promotion of the innovative attitudes and encouraging businessmen to practising modern technologies connected with the environmental and climate protection.
  • Third, the stimulation of the R&D activities of companies and spuring the capabilities of companies for perpetually changing economical surroundings is one of the most important challenges which we face. For the development of innovative companies not only their direct support is important, but also the development of their closest institutional surrounding.


That's why so many institutions in Poland realize several cutting-edge activities connected with the support of centers close to the business, with a special emphasis on institutions which transfer technology to the economy, which are entrepreneurial incubators, technology and innovation transfer centers, technology accelerators, technology parks, clusters, and local development agencies.
An example of such an efficient activity in the area of environmental protection and climate change is an authorial program of the Ministry of Climate and Environment „GreenEvo – Green Technologies Accelerator” designed to promote Polish, green technologies. The basis of its functioning is the support of the Polish environmental technologies in the country and abroad. Its main purpose is to help small and medium Polish companies in initiating international contacts. Another is to deliver knowledge and tools enabling the dynamic growth to them for example through the promotion under the governmental brand GreenEvo, the possibility to take part in an economic mission abroad, business contacts, the knowledge of foreign markets, and the expansion abroad. Those last ones are possible for example thanks to training courses on techniques of sale and presentation, construction of export strategies, obtaining resources for R&D, patent security, or entrepreneurs' support instruments. The actions undertaken in the Program in a comprehensive manner stimulate the growth and strengthen the position of the innovative, green technologies in the process of circular economy construction. GreenEvo Program in a practical way realize the premises  of „The State Environmental Policy 2030” in a range of technology transfer and undertaking ecological actions1
Innovation for Development
The Polish innovativeness is also developed thanks to international cooperation. Together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)2, Global Compact3 develops the program Innovations based on realized in 164 countries of the world program Innovation for Development. In Poland the activities coordinated by the Initiative of the UN Secretary-General – Global Compact envisions constant cooperation with the centers stimulating the development of innovation on the side of administration, science, and business. As part of the strategic partnership with the National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR) and in cooperation with the Industrial Development Agency (ARP), EIT+ and the Polish Entrepreneurial Development Agency (PARP) and also with the Ministry of Development and Technology supporting the realization of the Plan for the Responsible Development of the Polish government, Global Compact strengthens tools enabling the development of innovations and spreading solutions designed in Poland. The task of the realized in Poland Program Innovations is transferring information on solutions worked out in Poland through cooperation with universities of global fame like Stanford, Columbia, MIT, Oxford, New York, or UN University. Global Compact in Poland also takes part in the global initiative PRME4

The biggest barriers and challenges

Fear of something new

Arising on the market with new technology and proving its efficacy to a buyer is a serious challenge for manufacturers, especially from the small and medium business sector. Because of the investment and technological risk the ones purchasing technologies, especially from the public finances sector often prefer less efficient but tested and proven solutions. The new technologies can not show references from the previous usage what seriously limits their market capabilities, especially  in the context of public procurement. Furthermore, given the innovative character, the norms, certificates of conformity and technical approvals suitable for certain technologies don't reflect their innovative features which constitute their competitive advantage.

The driving force of innovativeness is not only universities generating research results but, to the same extent, also companies that deploy and process new technologies in the form of products and services offered on the market. However, it requires the change of business models, the policy of value and the mindset of the management to the inclusive, and agile attitude (in the understanding of Agile philosophy and techniques). The management of companies is aware of the fact that  cooperation with the scientific circle enables speeding up the realization of the set goals.

The key to success becomes the commercialization of knowledge. It lies in ended with a success quest for practical applications for scientific discoveries. An innovator can be both the author of an invention and an entrepreneur. They also can cooperate for example establish a company whose goal will be the commercialization of the results. Thanks to the commercialization of knowledge science become more useful and entrepreneurs obtain access to knowledge. The main problem however becomes the proper formulation of the transfer of the scientific thought to the industry and at the same time the clear and precise definition of the effects expected by the business entities. In other words, it is about the same understanding and perception of the same problems and the results of the projects realized together. It is enough to say that the considerable number of companies benefiting from the support used their chance for dynamic growth exactly thanks to the innovative solutions and cooperation with the R&D centers. The success was reached also by the companies developing laboratories and innovation supporting departments on their own.

The lack of experience

The meaningful barrier to the cooperation of science and industry is the lack of experience in the range of the applied research or development works. To a considerable extent the employees of universities occupy with the basic research. In many cases, the lack of such experience, derived from for example work in the industry, hinders the precise formulation of the banausic, conclusive findings, often enough carrying with themselves also serious financial effects. The achievement of the required level of specialistic, practical knowledge requires participation in many common projects or several years of experience in the industry from a scientist.

On the other side, the industry expects from scientists miraculous solutions which can be easily and cheaply implement into production. Therefore the meaningful matter becomes the proper education of the future engineers, including also the faculty, based on real contact with the industry for example through including students in the realization of projects and organizing practices and internships. The special role in this field can be played by the temporary and graduation works of the students of the last terms of the technical studies. Such works are realized as  a part of a project, on the one hand, enables a student to gain proper knowledge and skills and on the other provides to a company contact with a university and access to the modern research base. A student comes to know the work environment of the company and partly the topics of the projects realized in it and after the completion of the studies has a chance to start work.

The problems of cooperation of science with the industry lead to the formulation of certain new models of engagement, which provide mutual benefits. Such activities have to come in different forms and its synergistic impact leads to obtaining the intended goal, which is to create innovative products on the high technological level, possible for introduction in the conditions of the Polish industry. The modern forms of the activation of the scientific cooperation and definition of the common actions, which are the organization of industrial internships for participants of Ph.D. studies and employees of universities, the creation of common environmental, research laboratories, the organization of scientific-industrial consortiums for the realization of common projects and research topics, co-organizing seminars and scientific conferences and the participation of scientific employees of a university in the Scientific Board are being developed.

The potential of women, young people, and immigrants

The studious analysis of the current situation enables one to notice huge chances of the development of the economy based on knowledge. The share of the manufacturing industry in the Polish GDP positions itself in the exact, European forefront. We possess several of the best technical universities which educate excellent engineers. We have technical culture, grounded through decades, close relations with the very strong, German industry, it is accompanied by the information and communication technology, which is today a great chance for development. We can observe already that in the future, some of the main topics will be: the situation in the market place, the shortfalls of workers, the abilities to provide for the staff needs. In the difficulties, appearing even now on the Polish market some see not only challenges but also a chance indicating on the unused resources. The employers of the future must show openness and flexibility. I am a supporter of perceiving such potential difficulties as chances. We have an occasion to take matters in our own hands, engage in branding workers which we need.

It's time to open to a new potential, often unappreciated untill now, which is being released for example by women, immigrants, or millennials. In the upcoming 10 years the persons born in the years 1983 – 2001 (millennials, the generation Y) will make up 75 percent of workers in the world5. Employers appreciate their advantages. They engage quickly in their company life, they have ideas, they are open and tolerant and the exchange of experiences with representatives of the older generations positively influence the teamwork. Millennials differ from other generations as for their expectations towards a workplace, concepts of a carrier, and the speed of its development. They are very success-oriented, but at work, they often act very defensive, they focus on what is visible.

Generation Y claims, that it is smarter than its managers, can carry a task better, that managers are simply uninformed. The youngest generation expects feedback from their superiors. If they need help in solving a problem, they more often turn to their acquaintances for it or look for a solution on the Internet. A job is for them not only fulfilling  obligations in a company – they want to become its part and have a real influence on it.  As arises from the global research of Deloitte „The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey. Winning over the next generation of leaders”, the loyalty of the generation Y towards an organization in which they work is dependent on the ability of development, leadership skills, flexibility of conditions and a sense that a performed work has a goal and meaning6. They offer freshness and another look at the crucial problems connected with climate change. The problems they come across in their everyday work are a great workshop for them. They make them proven and ready to work in certain company candidates to hire in the first place.

A chance for the Polish companies

The new financial perspective will create a possibility for subsequent Polish companies to implement bold solutions, enabling triumph in obtaining climate neutrality and the competition over conquering market outlets. The successes of Polish companies should set trends of development to the rest of entrepreneurs. The most important is however so as business and science not only talk with each other but also so as they started thinking and working together. Only with this assumption, the systematic growth of the innovation index of the Polish economy will become a reality and not an expectation.

Autorka: Anna Szóstakiewicz, Krajowy Ośrodek Zmian Klimatu IOŚ-PIB0