As in previous years, in 2009 the activities of the Applied Research and Communications Fund (ARC Fund) focused on its two areas of expertise: innovation and information society. In both fields ARC Fund continued to aim at delivering practical results, building knowledge and competence in Bulgaria, and conducting relevant research feeding into adequate policy and strategy formulation.
ARC Fund Highlights in 2009:
- Strategic analyses of national policy focused on research, innovation and information society. ARC Fund prepared Innovation.bg, a landmark innovation policy report published since 2004, which is the only comprehensive tool that measures the innovation performance of Bulgarian enterprises and offers approaches to the development of innovation and entrepreneurial culture. For the fifth year in a row the report was presented within the annual National Innovation Forum.
- Strategic analyses of EU R&D, innovation and information society policies. ARC Fund’s analytical capacity gathered momentum in 2009 as it undertook strategic analyses at EU level for the first time. Two studies, commissioned by the EU Commission – DG Joint Research Center – Institute for Prospective Technology Studies (IPTS), were conducted, the first one on the trends in public and private investments in ICT R&D in Romania and Bulgaria and the competitiveness of their innovation systems in the field of ICT (Public and Private Investments in ICT R&D in Bulgaria and Romania), and the second one was implemented within the ERAWATCH network (ERAWATCH: The Contribution of Regional Policies to the European Research Area).
- In 2009 ARC Fund’s Safer Internet program expanded the scope of its activities after the combined Bulgarian Safer Internet Center Bulgarian Safer Internet Center was put into operation. In ad- was put into operation. In addition to receiving and processing reports about illegal and harmful to children content and conduct from the Internet hotline, the Center prepared and published information and awareness materials, held training courses and organized campaigns, roundtables and conferences.
- Technology transfer and business support. Over the year ARC Fund continued to offer a comprehensive set of services to small and medium-sized enterprises in the country, aiming to increase their competitiveness on the basis of new technological solutions and cooperation with science. In 2009 a total of 1,436 clients received specialized advice related to the funding of business, participation in European programs and finding business and technological partners. A total of 335 production enterprises were visited and consulted on the spot and comprehensive technological analyses and SWOT analyses were made at 80 of these.
- Cooperation with countries outside the EU. ARC Fund was awarded a second mandate (2009 – 2011) as coordinator of the Eastern European and Central Asian Business Incubators and Technology Parks Network (ECABIT). In 2009 ARC Fund also worked actively with Western Balkan countries – an analysis of the research potential in the field of surface transport in Western Balkan countries was made, a competition for project ideas under the Seventh Framework Program (FP7) was organized and held with the participation of 32 research organizations and universities from Bulgaria, FYR of Macedonia, Albania, Republic of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- In 2009 ARC Fund engaged in foresight activities aimed at identifying new topics for scientific research on which the EU Eighth Framework Program is to focus after 2014.
- Active work with young scientists was a new element in the ARC Fund’s work in 2009. ARC Fund conducted a survey on the need of additional training and qualification of 50 doctoral students, young researchers, specializing and post-doctoral students at the Institute of Biophysics with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Biology and Physics faculties of St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, as well as a training course dedicated to the EU Seventh Framework Program for Research and Technological Development and the EU Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Program.