There are four Polish regions that have participated in the Lagging Regions project. All are categorised as modest innovators under the Regional Innovation Scoreboard. In Poland, smart specialisation is defined at national and regional levels, with some convergence across the two levels in terms of selected specialisations. Regional smart specialisation strategies are coordinated independently by Marshall’s offices in the 16 regions.

Warmińsko-Mazurskie is among the 20 lowest EU regions in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which stands at 49% of the EU average (2017).  Innovation performance decreased from 43.3 index points in 2011 to 38.9 index points in 2017. In 2015 R&D funding from the business sector (BERD) was the lowest in Poland at 18.1%, although it would double in 2016, reaching 36.0%. The business sector tends to lack qualified scientific personnel and business-academic links are weak. Smart specialisation areas are water economy, food and wood products. 

Lubuskie has a GDP of 57% of the EU average (2017) but unemployment below the national average. The region has the lowest R&D expenditure per capita in the country and the lowest ratio of people working in R&D to 1000 professionally active people of all Polish regions. The small number of research institutions in the region means that innovation tends to originate in larger enterprises and entrepreneurs. 

The RIS3 focuses upon: health and quality of life, green economy eco-innovation, and innovation and sustainability of traditional industries such as metal, automotive, furniture, mining and paper. The emerging industries of space and ICT have been incorporated since 2018.

Podlaskie’s GDP was 50% of the EU average in 2017, although unemployment is below the national average. Podlaskie is one of the least R&I-intensive in Poland although a number of R&I-related indicators have shown improvement recently: the region is home to rapidly developing clusters and leading scientific institutions. However, low levels of academic cooperation with industry and of business internationalisation limit technology transfer.

The approach towards regional RIS3 focuses upon promoting ‘eco-innovation’ and the region as the ‘gate to the East’. Regional smart specialisation covers: Medical sector, life sciences; Eco-innovations, environmental science; Agri-food and Metal and machinery industry and shipbuilding.

Kujawsko-Pomorskie’s GDP per capita is 56% of the EU average and its GERD less than half of the Polish national average. The region is characterised by high employment in traditional sectors such as agriculture, mining and manufacturing, and high outmigration of educated young people.

The region has lost ground compared to 2014 when it was a Moderate Innovator, and lags behind the national average on most key indicators around education and innovation and RD&I and entrepreneurship. Despite a strong scientific-research base, the region suffers from low levels of tertiary education, low levels of business innovation and limited academia-business collaboration. 

The RIS3 themes are: Healthy and safe food; Health and health tourism; Advanced materials and tools; Transport and mobility; Cultural heritage, arts and creative industries; ICT services; Eco-innovation and Industrial automation.