Chapter 35. Poland

Figure 35.1. Structure and performance of the SME sector in Poland
Figure 35.1. Structure and performance of the SME sector in Poland

Sources: Sources: Chart A. C, D: OECD Structural and Demographic Business Statistics Database 2018,; Chart B: OECD Timely Indicators of Entrepreneurship Database 2018,; Chart E: OECD Structural and Demographic Business Statistics Database 2018, Employer Business demography dataset.


SME business conditions and access to strategic resources

Institutional and regulatory framework

The government is streamlining business regulations. Key measures include an increase in the annual income threshold for the status of small taxpayer, from EUR 1.2 million to EUR 2 million. Micro firms with a turnover below 50% of the minimum wage will no longer be required to register, and start-ups might be exempted from social contributions in the first six months and can benefit from lower social contributions for the following two years. Ministries will be required to publish simple explanations of administrative rules and tax laws. Since 2015 an ambitious deregulation of professional services is in place. The government has also reformed bankruptcy procedures for firms and individuals and it has come up with a new company succession law.

Market conditions

Poland’s participation in GVCs is in line with the OECD median. The government is reorganising tax relief for foreign investments with a view to support investment quality rather than location. Support criteria have also been revised to increase investment coming from small businesses. In 2018, the Polish Investment and Trade Agency launched Polish Tech Bridges project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, to support foreign expansion of start-ups and SMEs with high potential. The government also aims to strengthen domestic market conditions and took actions to lower stringent market entry regulations. Since 2015 an ambitious deregulation of professional services is in place. In addition Poland endeavours to combat late payment and to streamline public procurement legislation.


The digital infrastructure has being improving fast in Poland. Substantial investments are also made in transport and energy networks. Poland is the largest beneficiary of EU structural funds with EUR 86 billion channelled over 2014-20 through different programmes. Yet, infrastructure gaps remain. Uncertainty about the availability of EU funds after 2022 also calls for finding new financing sources and prioritising spending. The Strategy for Responsible Development sets out a vision to strengthen industry, innovation and infrastructure with an emphasis given to digitalisation and energy investments.

Access to finance

SMEs’ access to finance has improved in Poland in recent years, with more accommodative conditions. In 2017, the share of Polish SMEs citing access to finance as their most important concern stood at 7%, in line with the EU average. As in other OECD economies, government loan guarantees are the most common policy tool to facilitate SMEs’ access to finance, amounting to about 0.8% of GDP in 2016. Poland has seen a sharp increase in available venture capital funding, feeding a nascent start-up scene.

Access to skills

Poland performs below the OECD median in terms of adult tertiary education and core ICT skills. Too many workers have weak basic and digital skills, affecting in particular the large group of low-productive SMEs. In addition, vocational training suffers from limited business engagement and adult learning is not well developed. Business surveys reveal that more than 75% of Polish firms complain about skills gaps and 30% of those that do not invest in training point to a lack of training measures that suit their requirements. The Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP) supports SME training and skills improvement, with various initiatives aiming to engage employers more in training, such as Sectoral Skills Councils set up to identify needs and develop guidelines for schools and employers to work together.

Access to innovation assets

Polish SMEs are active in R&D, technology acquisition and innovation networks, with performance on par with the OECD median. However, they lag in adopting new digital solutions and innovating. The government is introducing a Strategy for Responsible Development that combines greater R&D tax incentives and increased public support to SME innovation, together with further venture capital and infrastructure development. The range of eligible costs to R&D tax relief and the amount conceded have been extended, with an enhanced deduction rate of 100% in 2018. A new Intellectual Property (IP) Box (2019) offers a preferential 5% tax rate on IP-based income. Since 2016 “Start in Poland” consolidates public support for incubation, acceleration and development phases with a view to improving the entire start-up ecosystem, including cooperation with large firms. University-industry collaboration is also encouraged with the PARP innovation voucher and an efficient incubator and accelerator landscape.

The full country profile is available at

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