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Lesser Poland is an innovative region, ranking among top Polish regions. According to a ranking of most innovative regions, published in 2021 (2021 Regional Innovation Scoreboard), Lesser Poland took the second position after the capital region of Warsaw. In the scale of entire Europe, the most innovative region turned out to be Stockholm in Sweden, while second and third position was taken by EteläSuomi in Finland and Oberbayern in Germany. Danish Hovedstaden ranked fourth while Swiss Zurich fifth. Lesser Poland has 103 accredited research laboratories, which gives it a fourth position in Poland. In total, there are 3100 laboratories in the region, 807 of them in scientific institutions (universities, institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences and research institutes). Lesser Poland represents also 20% of all projects considered in the Polish Road Map of Research Infrastructure.

Beginning with 2016, the Regional Innovation Strategy for Lesser Poland pointed the main directions for development of regional innovations policy: building regional knowledge infrastructure, complex support for modern technologies, strengthening and promotion of entrepreneurship and development of information society infrastructure.

A clearly innovative profile of Lesser Poland results also from:
• the third place in Poland in terms of reported inventions and granted patents;
• the second place in Poland in the number of patents per 1 million citizens (2017),
• a few hundreds of research and development units;
• a few dozen cluster initiatives, including such areas as medical science (MedCluster), DTP (Lesser Poland DTP cluster), industrial innovations (Tarnow
Industrial Cluster), and clean technologies (Southern CleantechCluster). LifeScience Cluster and Sustainable Infrastructure Cluster have the status of Key Clusters;
• technological and industrial parks, including Krakow Technological Park overseeing Krakow Special Economic Zone;
• 195 business service centres in Krakow;
• 64 thousand people working in BPO centres (Business Process Outsourcing), SSC (Shared Services Centres),IT Information Technologies), R&D (Research and Development);
• a high number of higher education graduates;
• high level of spending on innovation;
• a well-developed regional system of science-business cooperation;
• strategic programmes of Lesser Poland strongly supporting the idea of advanced production and innovative services;
• in the scale of regional economy and labour market, more than 25% of all employees in the region are hired in industries classified as Intelligent Specializations, and that percentage is growing year by year;
• two technological parks of Lesser Poland received recommendations to be included in the group of leading parks, with real orientation towards National Intelligent Specializations. This group is likely to receive central level support first of all for financing modernization and development of R&D infrastructure;
• the highest ratio of R&D investment to R&D staff among the regions: PLN 175.7thousand per one workplace;
• second place in terms of the number of employees in R&D per 1000 professionally active people: 10.6;
• third place in terms of entities with R&D equipment
reported as fixed assets: 198;
• fourth place in terms of active research units, 397 in total and 329 in enterprise sector;
• fourth place among regions in terms of the share of income from sale of innovative products in total sale income: 9,9%;
• third place in terms of income from sale of products from entities (with more than 9 employees) classified as medium and high tech: 45%;
• domains of intelligent specializations of the region, including many areas whose potential favours development of advanced production sector.

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