Political forces have identified education and science, not the economy, as priorities for stimulating and developing innovation in the country, according to an analysis of the programmes of the ten largest parties and coalitions for the March 26 vote. Experts from the Applied Research and Communications Fund analysed the platforms of BSP for Bulgaria, Volya, GERB, Yes Bulgaria, ABV – Movement 21, DOST, DPS, New Republic, United Patriots and Reformist Bloc.
The survey shows that the political forces are planning goals and measures, primarily aimed at three sub-areas:
– Improving existing and creating new financial instruments and tax incentives to support priority target groups – small and medium-sized enterprises, (young) entrepreneurs, high-tech and start-up companies;
– modernising and improving the efficiency of science and education to achieve higher competitiveness;
– increasing funding for science and education. The majority of objectives and measures are aimed at increasing funding for specific areas or activities, but not at improving existing weaknesses in current institutions and their functions.
There are far fewer objectives and measures to improve the business environment, such as anti-monopoly policies, an efficient judiciary and reduction of administrative burdens, more efficient management of public funds. Outside these areas, two groups of measures stand out which, although aimed at fulfilling a specific objective, represent horizontal priorities for stimulating innovation: the development of e-government and support for innovation-promoting organisations such as technology transfer centres, R&D centres, high-tech parks, e-tech exchanges, etc.
The overview of the party programmes is part of the preparation of the annual report Innovation. bg, the Foundation’s flagship initiative in support of national science, technology and innovation policy.
The analysis of the objectives and measures for the development of science, technology and innovation in the party programmes shows that the majority of the political forces propose recommendations that were also mentioned in the Innovation.bg 2016 report.
The coalitions BSP for Bulgaria and Movement 21-ABV come up with specific proposals for increasing public funding for innovation, while Yes Bulgaria proposes complex solutions.
GERB is the only party that plans to develop the intermediary infrastructure as an important element of the national innovation system and a factor for shortening the links between science and business. “Volya” and “United Patriots” do not envisage in their platforms measures for the development of science, innovation and education.
Two problems remain entirely outside the focus of the political parties – the reporting of research activities to the National Statistical Institute, and the problem of differential pay for researchers from Central and Eastern Europe compared with those from Western Europe.
The first problem has a direct link to comparative analyses within the European Union in terms of innovation potential and defines Bulgaria’s place in the European Innovation Scoreboard. As is well known, Bulgaria proves to be a persistently modest innovator (Innovation.bg 2016), in some of the last years only managing to outperform Romania. The submission of correct information by innovative enterprises in Bulgaria to the National Statistical Institute in relation to their research and innovation activities is not only evidence of an established innovation culture, but has a direct impact on this unenviable position for our country, which in practice is highly underestimated.
The second problem is key in terms of the ongoing outflow of research staff and highly qualified specialists to Western research centres and universities. It requires the joint efforts of all countries in the CEE region, as well as a strong national initiative. A partial solution to this issue is the possibility of receiving an additional bonus for working on projects funded by Horizon 2020.
For more details, see the attached tables.
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