Since 1991, the State Committee for Scientific Research (KBN) has been acting as a ministerial-level institution in Poland, responsible for the development and realisation of R&D policy and for supporting the transition process in Poland. As such it was the major central governmental source of funds for research.
On 1st April 2003 the Ministry of Science and Information Technology was formally established. The new Ministry has been created by entirely integrating the former organisation of KBN into the new ministry where KBN continues its activities under the roof of the new ministry.
The main tasks of the Committee are:
- to present to the government and the parliament guidelines for the country's scientific policy,
- to submit to the government plans for budgetary expenditure in the area of research in science and technology,
- to distribute funds among institutions and research teams and to control their spending,
- to sign international agreements on cooperation in the field of science and technology.
In short, the Committee combines the role of a 'typical' ministry of science and technology with that of a funding agency. All governmental support for individually budgeted research in Poland is channeled entirely through KBN.
The work of the Committee is headed by its chairman, the Minister of Science. The management of KBN consists of 5 ministers and 12 representatives of the scientific community in Poland. Each elected KBN member heads one of 12 KBN units representing different sciences, among them transport.
In 2005 KBN was merged into "Ministry of Science and Higher Education".
When funding scientific R&D work, tasks and expenditures contributing to the following aims will be prioritised:
- Enhancing innovation and increasing the competitiveness of the Polish economy. That is the most important task, as its realisation will have an impact on the economic growth, a reduction of unemployment, and successful integration with the European Union.
- Supporting the scientific fields in which Poland enjoys international recognition.
- Linking Polish science with international science, in particular with the European Research Area.
- Strengthening educational effects of research.
- Carrying out of multidisciplinary research programmes, geared to strategic goals.
- Effective utilisation of the structural funds of the European Union, including specifically support financed with means orientated directly towards an increase in innovation and competitiveness of regional enterprises.
- Negotiation and effective utilisation – to support innovation in the economy with the R&D sector – of offset funds made available by foreign investors in connection with large contracts, mainly to meet the needs of the country’s defence and partnership with NATO.
The R&D projects for the transport sector are compiled by the Ministry of Infrastructure based on the ministry's R&D policies and objectives and proposed to KBN for financing and implementation.
Decisions on financing research projects are made by the 12 KBN units in consultation with specialists representing the sciences and technologies. The allocation of budget funding of the 12 individual research disciplines is fixed. KBN finances R&D from funds earmarked for that purpose in the governmental budget and in accordance with agreed financing objectives:
- Financing statutory tasks of scientific institutions (subject subsidies). The amount of funds allocated depends on the achievements of these institutions in research and development.
- Financing of construction investments, purchase of equipment and infrastructure for projects necessary to facilitate research (earmarked subsidies).
- Financing of research projects selected for the 12 KBN Units after project competitions held bi-annually.
- Co-financing of goal orientated projects pursued jointly by research teams and future users.
- Financing of international scientific co-operation stipulated by intergovernmental agreements.
- Supporting research aiding activity (publications, libraries, databases, scientific conferences, promotion of science).
The planned budgetary expenditure for science in 2004 is set at 2 892 million zlotys (approx. EUR 650 million) which makes up some 0.34% share of the GDP and a 1.4% share of the state budget expenditure (preliminary). 6.5% are planned for research and goal-oriented projects in natural sciences, 15.4% in technical sciences and 1.8 % in social and humanistic sciences. For statutory and investment activities of scientific institutions and universities’ own research, 74% are planned in 2004.
A goal-oriented project involves research, implementation and investments essential for, e.g. the start-up of new production or new services. The science budget covers only part of R&D costs (up to 50%, and in the case of small and medium-sized enterprises up to 70%), other costs are borne by the interested enterprise. Goal-oriented projects may be submitted by entrepreneurs. Those projects are then financed on the basis of competition of applications. In the case of larger undertakings, KBN announced calls for proposals to carry out a goal-oriented project of a prescribed topic. The State Committee then selected the best offers of the realisation of research work and the implementation of its results by one or more companies.
All entities conducting research, be it private or state-owned, have an equal right to apply for