Applied Research and Communications Fund, ARC Consulting, Enterprise Europe Network – Bulgaria, the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria, with the support of the Directorate General Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of the European Commission and the Joint Innovation Centre of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, in media partnership with Bulgarian National Television, “Ikonomika” magazine, Economic portal Economic. bg and Uspelite.bg, held the Fourteenth National Innovation Forum on “Smart Policies for Innovation Growth” on 06 December 2018.
Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Applied Research and Communications Fund, noted the challenges to the realization of Bulgaria’s innovation potential, including the low innovation activity, the decline in R&D spending, and the decreasing number of researchers. At the same time, he welcomed the growing private sector investment in innovation, but stressed the need for long-term support and commitment from the state, which could help Bulgaria catch up with Central and Eastern European countries.
The President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr. Rumen Radev, highlighted the role of innovation as “the most effective tool for achieving high and sustainable economic growth”. The Head of State pointed out that given Bulgaria’s competitive advantages, such as the availability of young talents, growing private investments and easy access to broadband internet, the country is still in the group of “timid innovators”. He shared his support for a comprehensive approach to support innovation, through targeted funding programmes, investment in education, incentives and administrative relief.
Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Coordinator of the Innovation.bg group at the Applied Research and Communications Fund, presented the main results of this year’s edition of the Innovation.bg report. Bulgaria’s performance in the European Innovation Scoreboard is improving year by year, but the country is still among the weakest countries. This is a result of the centralised administrative structure of innovation policies, with limited involvement of local authorities, the lack of targeted and coordinated policies and the still weak rule of law, which increases uncertainty for investors and negatively affects innovation processes in the country. In order to ensure the long-term improvement of the Bulgarian innovation ecosystem, more flexible administrative structures and mechanisms, the establishment of intermediary units for dialogue with business and science at the local level, as well as support for existing examples of successful cooperation between research organisations and the private sector are needed.
Ms. Karina Angelieva, Deputy Minister of Education and Science, joined the opinion that Bulgaria has a great innovation potential and many research achievements that should be promoted outside the country. She presented some of the measures planned to support business during the 2021-2027 programming period and highlighted the increasing participation of private enterprises in EU framework programmes in recent years, a sign of their accumulated innovation capacity. Ms Angelieva stressed that support for innovation should be accompanied by investment in basic science and young scientists, and that collaboration between science, business and civil society should be encouraged.
Mr. Hristo Alexiev, co-founder of Playground Energy Ltd., awarded with the Innovative Start-up Enterprise 2013, emphasized the importance of natural intelligence, the role of education and the focus on young people. He said that for innovation to flourish, it is necessary to invest in “people who can do a lot, want moderately and know what they need to do”.
Ms. Nikolina Hinkova, Member of the Board of Directors, Mechatronika Ltd, Gabrovo, winner of the Innovative Enterprise of 2013 Award, presented the point of view of big business and stressed that the development of innovation potential requires trained personnel, a good technological base and consistent policy. In this regard, she presented several basic recommendations for measures, including a shift towards a more positive perception of the manufacturing sector, the introduction of educational programmes in response to business needs, fewer administrative obstacles and the creation of a regional network of shared research spaces.
The moderator of the discussion was Ms. Ralitsa Angelova, CEO of BalBok Engineering AD, winners of the Green Innovation Award – 2014.
President Mr. Rumen Radev presented the two major awards and honorary diplomas to the awarded enterprises in the National Competition “Innovative Enterprise of the Year – 2018″.
Programme of the Fourteenth National Innovation Forum
Innovation.bg Report 2018 “Smart Policies for Innovation Growth
Summary of Innovation.bg report