The National Center for Research and Development is an executive agency of the Minister of Science and Higher Education. It was established in the summer of 2007 as a unit implementing tasks in the field of science, technology and state innovation policy. At the beginning, it was the first unit of this type, created as a platform for effective dialogue between the science and business environment.

Currently, it operates on the basis of the Act of 30 April 2010 on the National Center for Research and Development (Journal of Laws 2010, No. 96, item 616). The reform of science introduced in autumn 2010 allowed the Center to have more freedom in disposing of financial resources as part of a strategic research program.

In addition, on 1 September 2011, the NCBR extended the scope of its activities to include new initiatives and opportunities. Taking over the function of an Intermediate Institution from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in three operational programs: Human Capital, Innovative Economy and Infrastructure and Environment, the NCBR has become one of the largest centers for supporting innovation in Poland. In the EU financial perspective 2014-2020, NCBR performs the function of an Intermediate Institution in the operational programs: Smart Growth and Knowledge Education Development.

The Center's activity is financed from the state treasury and the European Union funds.