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Establishing an innovation ecosystem in CEE

Innovation is a driving force of economic growth and social change.

But innovation inputs and outputs are mostly concentrated in very few economies and a global innovation divide persists. Most top science and technology clusters, for example, are in the U.S., China and Germany. In Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), we have seen great progress over the last 30 years. The region has capitalised on its creative people, strong technical education and emerging technologies to foster innovation. But CEE countries are still outperformed by their Western EU counterparts in innovation rankings.

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Innovation in CEE

An interview with Vazil Hudak, Honorary Vice-President of the European Investment Bank

Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia are all ranked above the 44th position in the Global Innovation Index 2019. In 2019, Estonia’s 12th place ranking in the European Innovation Scoreboard was the highest among CEE countries.

COVID-19 has only advanced the need for a vibrant innovation ecosystem. As companies approach the recovery period, innovation will be a driving factor. According to PwC’s CFO Pulse Survey, most CFOs (63%) cite offering new or enhanced products or services as crucial to their recovery.

How can CEE continue to build on past successes to establish an innovation ecosystem? We’ve outlined five criteria that governments and public sector organisations should focus on. 

Five criteria to establish an innovation ecosystem

An innovation mindset

When innovation is rooted into governmental mindsets and ways of working, it becomes a natural element of strategy and regulatory frameworks. 

Collaborative efforts

Government, industry, academia and civil society participants can combine their efforts for a bigger impact. With different expertise and experience, each sector can bring unique insights to foster an innovation ecosystem. 

Knowledge transfer

A vibrant knowledge transfer infrastructure can make the most of emerging technologies. I.e. co-working centres, design labs and living labs. 

Incentive schemes

By introducing incentive schemes for innovative companies and start-ups, the government will improve the export of innovations and demonstrate their support for these projects.

Upskilling citizens

Through methods of upskilling our people across the region, governments and public sector organisations can demonstrate their commitment to preparing both individuals and communities for a digitalised world. 

Contact us

Agnieszka Gajewska

CEE Public Sector & Infrastructure Leader, Warsaw, PwC Poland

+48 517 140 537


Malina Jankowska

Director, Public Sector, Warsaw, PwC Poland

+48 519 508 126


Jeffery McMillan

CEE Director of Brand and Communications, Warsaw, PwC Central and Eastern Europe

+48 519 506 633


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