The Council of Ministers has adopted an amendment to the Programme for Supporting Investments of Strategic Importance to the Polish Economy for 2011–2030, under Resolution 91/2023 of 5 June 2023. The changes will be in effect until the end of the support period (2025).
The purpose of the programme
Poland’s Strategic Investment Programme for 2011–2030 is designed to support investment projects (in five categories: strategic investments, innovative investments, centres of highly advanced services (R&D), centres of advanced business services, and centres of business process excellence) aimed at increasing the innovativeness and competitiveness of the Polish economy throughout the country (excluding Warsaw and some neighbouring communes). Support may be provided for initial investments, in particular establishment of a new plant, or reinvestment involving an increase in the production capacity of an existing plant, diversification of plant production, or a fundamental change in the production process.
Support is provided in the form of a grant. It is made on the basis of a bilateral agreement between the minister for economy and the investor for the costs of creating new jobs or costs of investment in fixed assets and intangibles (and may be increased in the case of offering training to employees).
Before, only manufacturing investments qualified as strategic and innovative investments. The amendment to the programme now also allows for strategic and innovative investments in services for strategic sectors.
In the quantitative criteria for large enterprises, the amendment to the programme:
- Reduces the minimum number of new jobs to be created under a strategic investment by 50% (from 100 to 50)
- Reduces the minimum capital expenditure for business service centres (from PLN 1.5 to 1.0 million) and the minimum number of new jobs (from 150–250 to 100)
- Does not change the criteria for innovative investments (PLN 7 million and 20 jobs) or R&D (PLN 1 million and 10 jobs).
At the same time, the category of “developing business” (with fewer than 1,000 employees and an annual turnover or balance sheet total of less than EUR 250 million) was introduced. The quantitative criteria are relaxed for developing businesses.
The changes adjust the programme’s entry thresholds to the size of the business. Thus the minimum investment costs and number of new jobs are reduced by:
- 98% for micro enterprises
- 95% for small enterprises
- 80% for medium-sized enterprises
- 70% for developing enterprises.
The quantitative criteria are reduced by 50% for location in an area at risk of exclusion.
In the case of reinvestment, the minimum employment requirements for reinvestment in an existing plant have been reduced by 90% when a business applies for investment cost support.
The amendment to the programme partially modified the existing qualitative criteria for investments, also reducing the number of such criteria. The current qualitative criteria are:
- Investment in a strategic sector or activity involving advanced processes
- Conducting R&D activities
- SME status
- Creation of specialised or high-paying and stable jobs
- Conducting business activity with low negative environmental impact or in a building with low negative environmental impact
- Geographically balanced development—siting investments in less-developed areas
- Supporting the acquisition of education and professional qualifications and cooperation with trade schools
- Taking action in the field of employee care.
At the same time, some criteria have been replaced by others, such as unleashing of the potential of human resources (hiring employees with certified disabilities), robotics and process automation, and investment in renewable energy sources.
Additionally, the minimum number of points for the qualitative assessment necessary to apply for support has been reduced to as low as 40% (previously 60%), depending on the location of the investment (aid intensity). Quantitative criteria
Cooperation with the education and science system
The amendment to the programme does not change the investor’s obligation to allocate 15% of the value of the grant to cooperation with entities from the higher education system during the period of implementation and maintenance of the investment. But the amendment expands the catalogue of such entities to include secondary schools, and extends the list of forms of cooperation with these entities, adding for example:
- Participation in research consortia co-financed by the National Centre for Research and Development
- Purchase of patents and licences from entities in the higher education and science system or special-purpose vehicles of such entities
- Supplying entities from the higher education and science system, as well as secondary schools, with equipment necessary for conducting research, instructional or practical tasks.
The amount of support under the programme depends on the location of the investment (maximum aid intensity), the investment costs incurred, and the quality assessment and training costs per employee (if a training grant is used).
In the support of investment costs, the amendment to the programme assigns a premium to SMEs and developing businesses, offering a higher level of maximum support than before (up to 25%). At the same time, the amendment limits support for large businesses in the location section—even up to 5% for certain categories of investments if they are located in particular:
- Outside of medium-sized cities losing socio-economic functions or communes in which these cities are located, or outside the communes bordering these cities or communes
- In counties (including municipal counties) where the unemployment rate is at least 160% of the average unemployment rate in the country, excluding cities where the province governor or assembly is located.
In the support for creation of new jobs, the changes support the siting of investments in less-developed areas of the country, reducing the level of support in the rest of the country.
The programme limits support for larger investment projects. For investments smaller than PLN 1 billion, the calculation of support includes costs up to EUR 50 million, while in the case of investments of PLN 1 billion or more, costs up to EUR 100 million are included in the calculation of support.
At the same time, the amendment to the programme abolishes these limits for investments whose costs are greater than PLN 9 billion and those grounded in policies or measures to achieve common European goals (e.g. the European Green Deal, digital strategy, industrial strategy or data strategy).
Combining other types of support
The programme provides for the possibility of combining support with other regional investment aid (e.g. income tax exemption based on a support decision in the Polish Investment Zone). The amendment to the programme also modifies the criteria for allowing combination of different types of support—relaxing the criteria (reduction of minimum costs) for strategic and innovative investments and tightening the criteria (increase of minimum employment) for service centres (in some cases).
The Strategic Investment Programme for 2011–2030 enjoys unflagging popularity, as evidenced by the record number of grants issued in the programme. The changes may further increase its popularity. Above all, the possibility of combining support under the programme with income tax exemption in the Polish Investment Zone may serve as an incentive, especially since the new qualitative criteria of the programme are almost identical to those in force in the Polish Investment Zone.
Dr Joanna Prokurat, attorney-at-law, tax adviser, Tax practice, Wardyński & Partners