Science has to be useful – these words were a recurring theme at the Polish Economic Congress “Science for business, business for science”, opened on October 22nd under the honorary patronage of President of Poland Bronisław Komorowski. The event organized by Employers of Poland and attended by nearly five hundred guests is one of the most important occasions in the celebration of the Organization's twenty-fifth jubilee.
– The Congress is intended as a platform for substantive, creative discussion on the need for close relationships between science and business – said President of Employers of Poland Andrzej Malinowski at the opening of the event. – Taking up this topic now, after 25 years of transformation, is almost a civilizational obligation, one which is addressed late anyway. Without revolutionary changes in the economy – education – science triangle, the paths of academia and business and Poland may drastically diverge – warned President Malinowski. He added that the national interest of our country demands the establishment of an effective, flexible and creative system uniting the economy, education and science – a system which will allow Poland to join the group of technologically developed countries and permanently place Poland among those states that base its existence and development on the intellectual potential of their citizens.
Lena Kolarska-Bobińska, Minister of Science and Higher Education, drew attention to the fact that European development strategies are based on science, which is why we need to reconfigure our economy on several levels. – Changes are already underway. The government counts on science, hence this year’s 10 percent increase in expenses on research and the guarantees of a significant increase next year – she said. However, she believes that civilizational changes cannot rely solely on government funding. – We hope that business gets involved at this stage of the process – added Minister Kolarska-Bobińska. She stressed the need for changes in higher education. – Excellence – this is the European keyword in education. We have to stop tolerating mediocrity. One has to be aware that today the mission of science and higher education is not the same as it was years ago – universities have to be useful, science has to be the driving force for the development of the country as a whole. Higher education can no longer produce unemployed graduates, we need creative young people. There is no time to lose – said the Minister.
Bronisław Komorowski, President of the Republic of Poland, underlined the importance of employers’ contributions to the development of Polish freedom. The fact that Poland has enjoyed continuous economic growth for the last twenty years is a result not only of changes of the economic and political systems, but also of a change in attitudes towards entrepreneurship. – We should look for mechanisms which would enable us to maintain that growth – one of such mechanisms is the cooperation between business and science. It is particularly important as in terms of innovation we are still close to the end of the list of EU countries. This is both a challenge and a warning – said President Komorowski. He also drew attention to the fact that today, research and development is for the most part financed by the state, which runs counter to global trends.