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Sixth National Innovation Forum Science, Technology and Innovation: Policies for Growth in the next Decade

On March 01, 2010 the Applied Research and Communications Fund, Enterprise Europe Network – Bulgaria, the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism , and the World Bank Mission to Bulgaria organised the Sixth National Innovation Forum under the auspices of the Prime Minster of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr. Boyko Borissov.

The Sixth National Innovation Forum was opened by Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Applied Research and Communications Fund. In his opening words he outlined three essential issues related to innovation policy:
- Innovations are on the top agenda of European policies and are of key importance for Bulgaria not only in adopting them but to take active role in their formulation and implementation ;
- The SMEs and the research organizations are the main drivers of innovation;
- The constitutional state plays crucial role in innovation policies formulation and implementation and in the good performance of the market economy and establishment of a favourable business environment.

Mr. Florian Fichtl, Resident Representative of the World Bank Mission in Bulgaria , pointed out the significance of the innovation for transition to a knowledge based economy and for overcoming the economic crisis. He stressed that education of quality and good management of the education system are the ground for innovation. Removing the administrative and financial barriers faced by the Bulgarian business is likewise a must.

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr . Boyko Borissov , expressed concerns about Bulgaria’s lagging behind on the innovation scene which would seriously impact the country’s future economic development. A positive sign of overcoming this slowdown is the “defrosting” of the European funds, with their efficient absorption being among the government’s priorities. A delightful observation is the activation of municipalities beneficiaries of the operational programmes and as factors creating favourabl local business environment. A good tax and public basis is created to attract significant foreign investment.

The Forum featured the award ceremony of the Innovative Enterprise of the Year national contest. The winners were awarded by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr. Boyko Borissov.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, coordinator of the group at ARC Fund presented this year report 2010: Bulgaria’s Innovation Economy – Competitiveness and Growth Policies. The report revealed a considerable increase of innovation activity of Bulgarian enterprises in 2009 (71% - share of companies with innovations) compared to 2008 (43%) . It reflected the positive consequences of the country’s accession as a full member of the European Union and the efforts of business to respond to the requirements of competitive European markets and legislation. The crisis encouraged enterprises to seek ways to differentiate their products and services, as well as to send clearer messages to consumers, which led to an increase of market innovations.

The report highlights the possibilities that 2010 presents for critical decision-making and mobilization of enterprise and innovation activity, human and intellectual capital to achieve economic recovery from the crisis and sustainable growth . For Bulgaria this means updating of the current National Innovation Strategy, providing linkages to the guidelines for the development of science and the economy, and a clear commitment at the highest level of government.

Mr. Rosen Plevneliev, Minister of Regional Development and Public Works , presented the regional aspects of innovation and related policies. According to the research of his ministry over 80% of the innovation potential of the economy is concentrated around the capital, namely in the South-West Planning Region. Other Bulgarian planning regions also have strong potential and have developed their own Regional Innovation Strategies, which currently remain unimplemented. Substantial efforts must be made in the correct programming of the next programming period 2014-2020 for the EU funds through public debate, which has to be based on active participation of local administration, industry, science and non-governmental organizations. The Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works can assume the coordinating role for the implementation of future Regional Innovation Strategies and their integration through appropriate indicators and financial resources.

Mr. Martin Dimitrov, Chair of the Economic Policy, Energy and Tourism Committee at the National Assembly, stressed on the creation of a favourable business environment that stimulates innovation development, competitiveness and economic growth. The legislative framework is of high significance, especially when combined with impact assessment of each law as a good approach of decision making. Though establishing good business environment would normally be opposed to by supporters of a status-quo, it is absolutely needed for the implementation of good innovative ideas that are of benefit to the public. A step towards a favourable business environment could be the delivery of administrative services through e-government.

Mr. Traycho Traykov, Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism, highlighted the active role of the Ministry for the imposition of innovation as a national priority in several directions:
- Implementation of the OP "Competitiveness" and the upcoming call for proposals for the development of start-up enterprises through financial support for implementation of innovative products;
- Functioning of the National Innovation Fund, which strengthens the links between SMEs and research organizations;
- Provision of government co-financing for projects of national importance, such as the Enterprise Europe Network and the Eurostars.
Minister Traykov designated as a priority the reduction of administrative burden on businesses.

Mr. Tomislav Donchev, Mayor of Gabrovo , pointed out the positive impacts of knowledge economy – generation of profit and increase of competitiveness. The support by the state is to be spelled out in removing barriers to innovation development by improved administrative services, decreased corruption and far-sighted and transparent planning. This especially important for innovative companies as their activity is often related to high market risk. The local authorities could translate their support into providing the business with full range of e-services, simplification of the administrative burden and decrease of local taxes.

Mr. Ognian Trajanov, President of the TechnoLogica Company , laid forward the key role of non-governmental organizations as mediators in the dialogues between government, academia and business. In contrast to industry, innovation activity is linked with risk management. That is why provided a sustainable economic environment is in place the business would be able to plan the risks stemming from its innovation activity.

Agenda and presentations
Video archive report 2010 - full text (PDF, 4 MB) report 2010 – summary
Contents of the report
Press release (PDF, 0,2 MB) report 2010 on Cordis
Media Coverage (in Bulgarian
Media Coverage (in English)

Photo Gallery

Previous National Innovation Forums:
Fifth Innovation Forum 2009
Fourth Innovation Forum 2008
Third Innovation Forum 2006
Second Innovation Forum 2005
First National Innovation Forum 2004


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