Research Policy

The main initiatives relevant to the BIO-TSUNAMI project, which are undertaken by the Institute for Sustainable Technologies – National Research Institute, include strategic, policy-oriented research, sustainability issues, and foresight methodologies.

These have become crucial guidelines for the Institute’s R&D policy especially since 2004, when the Institute was awarded a status of a National Research Institution by the Council of Ministers. This status implies:

  • Conducting research and development works in the thematic areas particularly important for the planning and implementation of the national innovation policy, and
  • Achieving highest possible economic and industrial impact.

The management board of the Institute, in cooperation with public authorities, selected two innovation support instruments, which were expected to facilitate the above mentioned goals. These were (i) national and sectoral foresight projects; (II) strategic national R&D programmes. They aimed to set medium to long-term research agenda for the Institute itself and Poland research community in general and to allow to implement the developed research agenda.

 

Setting the Agenda

It was decided that the key feature of the research agenda must be in line with sustainable development goals and should provide for “sustainable development of Poland in a changing world”. The research agenda was set in the framework of the two national foresight programmes, which were designed and managed by the Institute. These were the following:

  • 2006 – 2009 National Foresight Programme Poland 2020, “Sustainable Development of Poland Research Area Panel”.
  • 2009 – 2011 Sectoral Foresight Project “Advanced Production and Pro-ecological Technologies for Sustainable Development of Poland”.

In the next phase the agenda was made operational through the launching of a strategic R&D programme managed by the Institute entitled:

  • 2009 – 2015 Strategic Programme “Innovative Systems of Technical Support for Sustainable Development of Economy”.

Below the key information regarding the above projects is given.

 

Foresight Experiences

Within “National Foresight Programme Poland 2020” the Institute coordinated the biggest of the three main research area panels namely “Sustainable Development of Poland” Panel, which was composed of 10 thematic panels encompassing 200+ participants. The thematic panels were:

  1. Quality of life,
  2. Energy sources and use,
  3. Key ecological problems,
  4. Environmental protection technologies,
  5. Natural resources,
  6. New materials and technologies,
  7. Transport,
  8. Integration of ecological policy with sectoral policies,
  9. Product policy,
  10. Sustainable development of regions and areas.

Foresight methodology designed by the team of Institute’s researchers allowed to set:

  • Four development scenarios for Poland until 2020, including recommendations for science and innovation policies,
  • List of major research areas,
  • List of research and development priorities,
  • List of priority technologies.

 

R&D Priorities

However, the R&D priorities determined in the National Foresight Programme “Poland 2020” were too broad to enable individual scientific-research institutions or companies to make decisions concerning detailed research projects or investment choices, which would be in line with the principle of sustainable development.  This limitation was the main reason to undertake research at the Institute aimed at identification of more detailed key research priorities addressing the policy of sustainable development. Consequently, after completing national foresight program, the sectoral foresight was launched entitled: “Advanced Production and Pro-ecological Technologies for Sustainable Development of Poland”.

One of the main outcomes of the project were 74 key technologies grouped in five thematic areas of strategic importance for the sustainable development of the Polish economy:

  • Specialised research and test apparatus;
  • Mechatronic technologies and control systems for the support of manufacturing and maintenance processes
  • Advanced material technologies and nanotechnologies and technical systems supporting their design and application;
  • Environmental technologies, rationalisation of the use of raw materials, resources, and renewable energy sources;
  • Technologies of technical and environmental safety.

The following criteria were considered in the final prioritisation procedure:

  • Sustainable development (including sub-criteria of ecological, financial and social effects); and
  • Critical level of technologies (including the level of inter-disciplinarity of solutions).

Both criteria were considered to be of equal importance, each represented numerically by the total amount of 50 points possible, however in the case of sustainable development criterion, the points could have been represented by negative values indicating negative economic impact of the ecological, financial and social effects of practical implementation of incremental and emerging technologies.

Apart from technological outcomes, the project resulted in intellectual capital scenarios discussing trends and sets of qualifications and competences required to develop and implement the identified key technologies in Poland.

 

Strategic Impact

The outcomes of the aforementioned foresight projects were used by the Institute to design and launch a national strategic R&D Programme “Innovative Systems of Technical Support for Sustainable Development of Economy”. The programme was jointly realised by the Institute and a number of Polish research organisations, universities and enterprises within the Innovative Economy Operational Programme (co-financed from the EU structural funds) in the 2009 – 2015 period.

The R&D matters revolved around four main technological areas concerning:

  • advanced technologies facilitating manufacturing and maintenance processes;
  • methods and systems of rational waste utilization;
  • systems for safe maintenance of technical objects;
  • test apparatus and unique technological devices and an interdisciplinary area of
  • system support (regarding knowledge transformation and technology transfer), which included the following interrelated issues:

 

Follow-up Effects

The creation of organisational and informational platforms facilitating sci-biz cooperation and dissemination of innovative solutions;

  • A search for effective mechanisms and structures for innovation diffusion;
  • The complex technology assessment of developed solutions,
  • The evaluation of the Strategic Programme results and its detailed R&D projects, and
  • The determination of future research directions.

The scope of scientific research and development works of the Strategic Programme generally encompassed innovative technologies, products and systems for the support of industrial processes and maintenance of advanced solutions produced as their result. It was, thus, directed at solving those research problems that are of key importance for the realization of the strategy of sustainable development of economy, such as: the rationalization of the use of resources and energy and their recovery as a result of recycling and regeneration processes; improvement of the quality of the products; environmental protection through the use of biodegradable materials and a radical improvement of technical safety as a result of system diagnostics of hazards and the elimination of the causes and results of catastrophes; production of unique product and process solutions including test apparatus, supporting production and maintenance processes.

It is worth underlying that each technology (or product and process solution), which was developed in the course of the program was evaluated for its impact on the society, environment and economic performance.

 

Present State

At the moment the Institute is re-defining its R&D agenda according to the changes in the national innovation eco-system (limited budget resulting in the preference to fund smaller R&D projects). Also, the Institute is now aiming to put more emphasis on international R&D co-operation focusing on selected areas from the main pillars of the “Horizon 2020” program concerning industrial leadership and societal challenges.

Finally, when it comes to the orientation of research and development activities carried out at the Institute for Sustainable Technologies – NRI, it is in line with the following Sustainable Development Goals set by/in the UN: quality education, clean water and energy, decent work and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production.