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Eleventh National Innovation Forum "Development of the innovation eco-system for sustainable economic growth in Bulgaria"

Applied Research and Communications Fund, ARC Consulting, Enterprise Europe Network – Bulgaria and Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria, with the support of Directorate General GROW, EC, the Executive Agency for SMEs, EC, and the Norway Grants are organizing the Eleventh National Innovation Forum "Development of the innovation eco-system for sustainable economic growth in Bulgaria". The Forum featured the award ceremony of the Innovative Enterprise of the Year 2015 national contest.

Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Applied Research and Communications Fund, opened the Forum by outlining the key external and internal factors for the development of the innovation potential of the Bulgarian economy and highlighted the growing input of ICT sector to the national GDP. Mr. Shentov emphasized the importance of the external funding for the national innovation ecosystem’s further development. He focused also on the higher education which continues to lag behind in the recent years and characterizes with ever growing brain drain.

Mr. Ognian Zlatev, Head of EC Representation in Bulgaria, highlighted the importance of the economic growth, based on knowledge and innovation, which stays on the top of the list of the priorities of the European Commission despite the topical issues related to the security. He also stressed on the high potential of the country’s advanced economic sectors, on the significance of the public investment in the national entrepreneurial ecosystem, mentioning in particular the Juncker Plan for 315 milliard Euro of investments in the EU economy.

The President of Republic of Bulgaria Mr. Rossen Plevneliev acknowledged the importance of the findings in the report and also emphasized the high potential of the Bulgarian innovation ecosystem and the importance of education and innovations for the growth of every modern economy. Mr. Plevneliev highlighted the strategic place of the ICT sector in the country’s economy and gave examples of innovative Bulgarian enterprises that earned leading positions on the international markets - Walltopia, Aglika Trade, Roo’Bar, all of them awarded in previous editions of the Innovative Enterprise of the Year national contest. The reform in the education system and the need for implementation of e-government were also outlined in his speech.

The President of Republic of Bulgaria, Mr. Rosen Plevneliev awarded the winners in the Innovative Enterprise of the Year 2015 national contest.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Coordinator of the group at the Applied Research and Communications Fund, presented the main challenges for the development of the national innovation system, as outlined in this year’s and Green reports. Mr. Stefanov underscored the need to promote innovation in the public sector, especially on a regional level, and suggested that Bulgaria would benefit greatly from a centralized institution that supports all innovation activities in the country, following the example of Innovation Norway.

Dr. Milen Vrabevski, founder and executive director of Comac Medical, emphasized the importance of working with young talents and investing in their development from an early age and presented his company’s policy for selecting candidates from the leading Bulgarian universities and providing scholarships to children from vulnerable groups. Mr. Vrabevski also shared his successful experience with EU framework programmes and Horizon 2020 in particular. Comac Medical is one of the three Bulgarian companies, which has received funding by the European Commission’s SME Instrument.

Mr. Vassil Momtchev, Member of Board of Directors, Ontotext, highlighted the difference between innovations and traditional research activities and expressed his positive outlook on the development of innovations in Bulgaria, and more specifically in the IT industry. He shared his experience at Ontotext, which was founded exclusively with Bulgarian capital and has become one of the top three software providers of semantic technology in the world. Mr. Momtchev also highlighted the recent positive trend of young motivated professionals, who studied abroad and are now returning to Bulgaria in search for career development.

Mr. Elvin Guri, Executive Director of Empower Capital, concurred with the results and conclusions of the reports and shared his experience as an investor in the healthcare, software and food industries. He pointed out that despite the lack of good management practices and strategic thinking in Bulgaria, there are many strong local companies, which are already well-established on the international markets and are set to boost the growth of the national economy.

Agenda and presentations 2015 (PDF)
Green 2015 (PDF)

Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)



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