Intellectual capital


A vital vision of the ORLEN Group is to ensure its long-term competitive advantage by strengthening innovation both within and outside the organisation. The strategic areas of investment in innovation, new technologies and business models that are key to improving the Group’s competitive position in the 2030+ horizon are defined in the Strategic Research Agenda of 2019. A vital element of the efforts to expand intellectual capital is dialogue and collaboration with universities, research and development centres, inventors and innovators, accelerators and technology start-ups, and manufacturers and suppliers of innovative technologies.

Key facts about the capital

  • Knowledge and unique experience – over 22,000 committed and highly qualified employees, including staff with extensive experience in the refining, petrochemical, power generation and upstream sectors.
  • Management systems – unwavering focus on strong operational standards and operational excellence achieved through the Integrated Management System.
  • Due diligence policies and procedures for individual areas of our operations, ensuring the highest management standards.
  • Research and development – projects seeking to improve oil refining efficiency, ensure compliance with environmental protection requirements and increase petrochemical capacity utilisation.
  • In-house R&D units: establishment of the Research and Development Centre in Płock (scheduled to open in late 2020) and operation of the Czech-based – Unipetrol Research and Education Centre  and  Polymer Institute Brno.
  • A culture of innovation:
    • Motivating staff to develop innovative technical and technological solutions, for instance by implementing internal projects and intranet platforms to promote innovative processes and knowledge management.
    • Motivating staff to implement innovations originating outside the Group, including by active participation in the Group’s initiatives to source innovative solutions, for instance those developed by start-ups.

The capital management

  • Building an innovation ecosystem around PKN ORLEN. The strategic areas of investment in innovation, new technologies and business models that are key to strengthening PKN ORLEN’s competitive position by 2030 and in subsequent years are defined in the Strategic Research Agenda of 2019. The Strategic Research Agenda is a long-term strategy for promoting innovation, which translates strategic business goals into specific R&D and innovation activities.
  • Efforts to build dialogue and collaboration with universities, research and development centres, inventors and innovators, accelerators and technology start-ups, and manufacturers and suppliers of innovative technologies.
  • Deploying innovation acquisition tools: accelerator and CVC fund.
  • Fostering collaboration with start-ups.
  • In-house research and testing to improve processes, products and inputs.
  • Developing proprietary technologies.


  • More than 50 R&D projects were in the pre-implementation or implementation phase in 2019, of which five were co-financed out of national public funds (the INNOCHEM sectoral programme) and under EU programmes (Horizon 2020). Some of the projects carried out by PKN ORLEN in 2019 are presented in „Research and technological development”.
  • The following activities were completed by the end of 2019 under the Research and Development Centre project design work for the main facilities, construction work on the office building, and major works related to external networks and utilities. The Centre is scheduled to open at the end of 2020.
  • Implementation of key capex projects: one of them being the start-up of a PPF splitter at PKN Lietuva in Mažeikiai, enabling production of polymer grade propylene from sub-standard gas feedstocks; start of a fertilizer production capacity expansion project comprising the construction of three key units (nitric acid, neutralisation and granulation units) at ANWIL; a contract signed by ORLEN Południe for the construction of Poland’s first unit for the production of bio propylene glycol and for the purchase of front-end engineering design and licence for a next generation bioethanol production unit.
  • Projects supporting the culture of innovation:
    • Fourth edition of the Creator programme rewarding employees for ideas and initiatives in the field of technology innovations that can be applied in and outside the PKN ORLEN Group. 106 initiatives have been submitted since 2015, 16 of them (including five inventions) received the awards.
    • President of the Management Board’s awards programme recognising the best research work for PKN ORLEN; the awards are presented to representatives of the scientific community.
    • Promoting employee initiatives – the ‘Innovative Project of the Year’ competition; the winner of the 2019 edition was ‘Implementation of a virtual reality (VR) model for key operations in production units – Phase 1: Olefins’.
    • Engagement of employees in acceleration programmes, including ‘Electro Scale Up’ and ‘Scale Up’, designed to estimate the need to search for innovative solutions and to carry out their pilot implementations.

Cooperation with scientific and research institutions

  • Several dozen research studies, concepts and projects are carried out by PKN ORLEN every year in partnership with research centres and universities.
  • Under the Implementation-based PhD Programme Project, PKN ORLEN has already completed ten implementation-based doctoral programmes in collaboration with universities in Poland.
  • Organisation of profiled internships/work placements and recruitment of the best students and graduates.
  • Competitions for the best research papers and student theses.
  • ORLEN Knowledge Day – an educational project in the form of a series of workshops and lectures presenting how theoretical knowledge gained at school or university is put into practice. The schools and universities covered by the programme include Warsaw University of Technology – Płock Branch, Education Centre Schools in Płock, Warsaw University of Technology, AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków, University of Technology and Life Sciences in Bydgoszcz.
  • Industry seminars – a series of sessions held at the Faculty of Chemicals of the Warsaw University of Technology seeking to equip students with practical knowledge based on actual business cases and to inspire them to choose specific development paths with a view to getting a job with a given company.
  • Business Networking Day organised by the Career Office of the Warsaw University of Technology and the Industry Open Days (Refining Industry Open Days), run in partnership with the Warsaw University of Technology – Płock Branch, in the form of an open technical presentation of business and production projects combined with a tour around the Płock plant.
  • Innovation Day (workshops with scientific organisations and universities devoted to the presentation of R&D and technological challenges faced by PKN ORLEN, and projects run by universities/scientific institutes) and seminars. It is important to note that those events cover both our core business themes and new fields.
  • Joint R&D projects geared towards technology advancement and implementation.
  • Ordering of research, conceptual work, analyses and expert studies.

Collaborative partnerships with Polish startups

  • Participation in the ‘GovTech Poland – Activate Your Ideas!’ programme, a government-sponsored initiative supporting the collaboration of state-owned companies and public administration bodies with small and medium-sized enterprises in the IT sector. PKN ORLEN announced a competition to develop a technology enhancing mobile payments at service stations.
  • Participation in the Pilot Maker Electro ScaleUp’ acceleration programme,encouraging startups to develop innovative solutions for technology users in the field of electromobility. In 2019, PKN ORLEN completed, in partnership with a business accelerator operating under the ‘Electro ScaleUp’ programme, the first innovative project proposed by the Enelion start-up. It involved three AC charging stations with an innovative system of dynamically alternating current voltages, and was successfully implemented in the underground car park of a Warsaw office building.
  • Participation in the Space3ac ScaleUp II’ acceleration programme, involving partnership with selected start-ups to implement innovative solutions in retail sales, production, logistics and environmental protection.
  • Strategic partnership and participation in Europe’s largest stationary hackathon – HackYeah.

How intellectual capital interacts with other capitals

Intellectual capital requires large outlays to develop but it has immense impact on human, social and production capitals. An example is the in-house Research and Development Centre, to be established in Płock. The facility will employ specialists with extensive R&D knowledge and skills, providing a cutting-edge platform for collaboration with the scientific community. The project will enable PKN ORLEN to develop and implement its own technologies.

Key development projects pursued by the ORLEN Group are aimed at improving the efficiency of crude oil processing at its production plants, ensuring environmental compliance and intensifying petrochemical production, with concurrent process and energy efficiency gains, through the implementation of the Petrochemicals Development Programme. Improved efficiency of production assets and expansion into new business lines is expected to boost financial capital indicators in the short term.

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