Prof. Teodora Georgieva, Senior Expert at the Applied Research and Communications Fund, commented on Radio Sofia how the National Innovation Fund and the Innovation Norway Programme support Bulgarian small and medium-sized enterprises.
A record number of applicants are currently being evaluated in the 8th session of the Fund. Professor. Georgieva stressed that the budget of the Fund is decreasing, but for some of the companies that apply for funds under it, this is the only opportunity for support because they cannot work with the operational programmes. The Fund also works as part of the Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation 2014-2020.
The expert also explained the functions of the Innovation Norway Programme, part of the activities of the eponymous Norwegian State Agency, which has 35 offices worldwide. It supports the financing of innovative projects of small and medium-sized enterprises with funds from the European state, as well as seeks business partners.
Prof. Georgieva stressed that Bulgaria is still a modest innovator in Europe according to the European Innovation Scoreboard, but is making progress with the 36th place out of 127 countries in the 2017 World Innovation Index of Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The ARC Fund monitors and analyses the activities of the NIF and the Innovation Norway Programme in the framework of the Efficient Support Services Portfolios for SMEs (ESSPO) project. Together with organisations in 8 European countries, Prof. Georgieva and her colleagues are working on recommendations to improve the monitoring and evaluation mechanisms of SME support instruments in eight European countries. ESSPO was launched in January 2016 and will end in December 2020.
Read the full interview here.