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Fifteenth National Innovation Forum "Innovation and Economic Growth"

Applied Research and Communications Fund, ARC Consulting, Enterprise Europe Network – Bulgaria, ЕC Representation in Bulgaria, with the support of the Directorate General GROW and Executive Agency for SMEs and Joint Innovation Centre of the BAS in media partnership with Economy magazine and, Computer world,, magazine and held the Fifteenth National Innovation Forum "Innovations and Economic Growth on December 05, 2019.

Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Applied Research and Communications Fund, opened the forum, by marking its 15th anniversary. He stressed the key importance of the link between institutions, business and the scientific community in the development of innovation, as well as the effectiveness of public financing of innovation. These factors have a direct link to Europe's lag behind the current global innovation leaders - the United States and China, which are gradually increasing their spending for research and innovation. In Europe and Bulgaria, it is evident the strong need for concentrated efforts to grow, scale up and improve the success rate of the newly launched innovative companies. Dr. Shentov also pointed out the significant difference between the EU and Bulgaria in terms of investment in innovation - in this respect Bulgaria has to catch up with the current innovation leaders.

The President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev, described innovation as "a key tool for sustainable development", "a reflection of national ambitions for the future" and "a reflection of the effectiveness of the interaction between state institutions, business, science and education". Mr Radev pointed out that Europe is lagging behind the world's innovation leaders - the US, Korea, China, Japan, where innovation is a national policy. The Head of State highlighted the need for a better symbiosis between business, government and science in the field of innovation. He recalled his position on the need for a balanced distribution of educational and scientific infrastructure, because this is the best way to bring about and achieve the parameters of sustainable development.

Ruslan Stefanov, Coordinator of the “” group at the Applied Research and Communications Fund, presented the main results of this year's edition of the report. At the strategic level, Bulgarian innovation policy lags behind in several respects. Bulgaria has a low percentage of state funding for innovation, reaching its lowest share in 2019 as a percentage of GDP in the last 20 years. There is no clear long-term objective for financing innovation as a percentage of GDP, and it needs to be defined. In addition, there is a marked difference in the levels and rates of development of science and innovation between the regions of the country. The southwestern region remains the only Bulgarian region in the group of moderate innovators. Mr. Stefanov highlighted the need to create a strategy for improving the innovation of the lagging regions, which would identify the main drivers of development for each region and encourage key innovators in it. It is necessary to create a structure in the executive branch that deals with innovation policy at national level - something that has been a fact in most European countries for 15 years and more.

Dr Boyko Takov, Executive Director, Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency, pointed to the improving cooperation between the state and business in the field of innovation. The Ministry of Economy works closely with business associations and clusters in this area, including for ensuring that regulations are tailored to the needs of the business. Despite the “negativism” about the level of innovation in Bulgaria, Dr Takov believes that institutions and businesses are moving in the right direction. He noted that an active policy is being put in place to bring the talents back to Bulgaria. In this respect, the Innovation Forum is a landmark event that shows the good examples and potential for innovation and business development in Bulgaria. Dr Takov points out that “there is a lot of noise to be made, a lot of good news to be spread, because this is one way to bring people back to Bulgaria.”

Nikolay Kamov, Coordinator of Inocenter Bulgaria, noted the importance of the National Innovation Forum, which “for 15 years has given highly professional assessments of the efforts invested in creation and incorporation of Bulgarian innovations”. In order to improve the innovation environment in Bulgaria, the emergence of innovative leaders is crucial - and they will emerge from the business, from the associations, from the regions. Regional innovation centers will play a key role in the cohesion process of Bulgaria with the other EU countries.

Atanas Enev, Managing Partner, BAYOMIC OOD and winner of the 2018 Innovative Enterprise Award, highlighted the enormous importance that support from associations, media and initiatives such as the National Innovation Forum play in promoting the company’s achievements. According to him, to improve the entrepreneurial environment and the growth of green companies, it will be necessary to improve the quality of education and to create new systems for entrepreneurship training. An important support for green entrepreneurs in Bulgaria would be to strengthen the state’s incentives for R&D in the field of environmental technologies.

The discussion was moderated by Christina Eskenazi, Chairman of the Board, Health & Life Sciences Cluster - Bulgaria.

The president Rumen Radev awarded the two primary awards and certificates for the national competition "Innovative Enterprise of the Year - 2019".

Agenda 2019 Report
Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)

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Previous National Innovation Forums

Fourteenth National Innovation Forum 2018
Thirteenth National Innovation Forum 2017
Twelfth National Innovation Forum 2016
Eleventh National Innovation Forum 2015
Tenth National Innovation Forum 2014
Ninth National Innovation Forum 2013
Eighth National Innovation Forum 2012
Seventh National Innovation Forum 2011
Sixth National Innovation Forum 2010
Fifth National Innovation Forum 2009
Fourth National Innovation Forum 2008
Third National Innovation Forum 2006
Second National Innovation Forum 2005
First National Innovation Forum 2004


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