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Thirteenth National Innovation Forum "Bulgaria in the Global Value Chains"

Applied Research and Communications Fund, ARC Consulting, Enterprise Europe Network – Bulgaria,    ЕC Representation in Bulgaria and Joint Innovation Centre of the BAS with the support of the Directorate General GROW and Executive Agency for SMEs, EC in media partnership with BNT and Economy magazine, are organizing the Thirteenth National Innovation Forum "Bulgaria in the Global Value Chains".

Dr Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Applied Research and Communications Fund, opened the Forum by stating that the report is now already an established platform for performing an analysis of the national innovation ecosystem. Dr Shentov highlighted the tendency for the Bulgarian private sector to be a primary driving force for innovation development in the country.

The President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr Rumen Radev, emphasized the importance of the Forum for the promotion of the Bulgarian innovation system. He added: ‘Innovations are key for improving the potential of the national economy. They offer the most fruitful ground for integrating business, education and policy.’ Mr Radev highlighted that despite having an insufficiently supportive environment for innovation growth in Bulgaria, in recent years the country has registered considerable improvement with respect to the innovation effectiveness index. In conclusion, the President noted that the National Innovation Forum attests to the fact that Bulgarian society has matured in its ability to recognise the importance of combining the efforts of industry, education and public institutions towards achieving a more favourable innovation environment and called for stronger collaboration on this front.

‘Bulgaria has never showed more consistent progress in the area of innovation, but there still are a few important challenges on which more work is needed.’ This sentiment was shared by Mr Ruslan Stefanov, Coordinator of the group at the Applied Research and Communications Fund. In his overview of some of the main conclusions from the report, Mr Stefanov stressed on the need for developing a more effective national innovation policy and establishing a dedicated national agency on innovation. In line with these efforts, he continued, a key building block would be the creation of regional structures for innovation development. In order to improve the overall performance of Bulgaria in the field of innovation another key prerequisite would be for the ICT and the automotive sectors to become a more meaningful part of the ongoing discussion and agendas on national and institutional levels.

Mr Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria, discussed the target for 2020 to devote 1.5% of the national GDP to innovation as realistic and achievable. He highlighted the importance of wider changes in the education system as a way to stimulate creativity and critical thinking among younger people, which may in turn contribute to boosting the innovation capacity within the country. He wrapped up his address by saying: ‘We are talking about a whole new world […] so we cannot simply watch by as novelties emerge on different scales, but rather we need to actively create them. A dose of creative madness is needed’.

Atanas Kiryakov, the founder and CEO of Ontotext JSC, pointed out that the size of one of the key drivers of the Bulgarian innovation environment – the ICT industry - has doubled over the past 5 years. A clear example of success that he shared in this regard was the integration of Bulgarian software companies into global technology chains. Mr Kiryakov also proposed that business and government should work together to strengthen the innovation environment in Bulgaria.

In his speech, Mr Peter Statev, Chair of the Bulgarian ICT Cluster, drew attention to the unsatisfactory quality of the innovation environment. The challenge that he highlighted was the quality of methodologies and bureaucratic procedures related to operational programmes and other financial instruments which Bulgarian companies are applying for and are being evaluated by. ‘This is the field where efficiency, transparency and meaningfulness are lacking’, Mr Statev said and gave concrete examples of companies that received high recognition at European level and at the same time received low rating in Bulgaria. In conclusion, Mr Statev urged the business and the political class to work actively together in order for invested public resources to have a stronger multiplier effect.

Mr Ognian Zlatev, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria, was the last one to give address to the participants in the Forum. He drew attention to the considerable resources that the European Union devotes to innovation and research activities. In addition, Mr Zlatev pointed out that in Bulgaria there is a clear will on the part of the Presidency, the government and the business community to support innovation.

Moderator of the discussion was prof. Stefan Hadjitodorov, Institute of Biophysics and Biomedical Engineering, Center for National Security and Defense Research, Bulgarian Academy of Science.

President Rumen Radev awarded the two major awards to the winners of the Innovative Enterprise of the Year 2017 national contest. The honorary diplomas were presented by Mr. Ognian Zlatev, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria.

Agenda of the Thirteenth National Innovation Forum "Bulgaria in the Global Value Chains"
Media Coverage (in Bulgarian) 2017 " Bulgaria in the Global Value Chains"
Website of the Innovative Enterprise of the Year 2017 national contest
All editions of the National Innovation Forum

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