SZMAL Arkadiusz The Silesian University of Technology

Polish steel industry makes good use of the macroeconomic conditions of the Polish economy. GDP grew by 4.3% in 2011. The main stimulus for growth came from the investments in infrastructure, high domestic consumption and export. They had a positive impact on the steel industry in particular. Steel consumption in Poland increased by 11% in 2011 reaching the level of 11 million tons. The membership in the EU and access to structural funds have created a number of opportunities for the steel industry. The beneficial situation in steel production (a rise of 10%) and in its domestic consumption (a rise of 11%) have significantly improved the financial situation of steel companies. The financial result was positive, the rate of return amounted to 3.5%. A significant cost discipline of enterprises greatly contributed to the result. The cost optimization has its limits, and thus this aspect of building competitiveness is slowly running out. Innovative activities constitute a key element of development. Innovation rarely occurs in isolation; it is a highly interactive process of cooperation in the growing and diverse network of stakeholders. Enterprises gain knowledge from many sources through partnerships, alliances and joint ventures or through acquisition of knowledge in the form of agreements for conducting R&D or purchased licenses. The cooperation is becoming a means to extend the scope of development projects, a way to complement the enterprise’s competence. A new period of research funding and regional activities at the level of regional innovation strategies offer new prospects for innovation.