|The Applied Research and Communications Fund, the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria and the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism organized the Seventh National Innovation Forum entitled Innovation and Competitiveness.
The Forum was held on May 17, 2011 under the auspices of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr. Boyko Borisov, with the support of Enterprise Europe Network – the largest European network for providing information and consultancy services to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Mr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Applied Research and Communications Fund, opened the Seventh National Innovation Forum and presented the general and specific features of the business environment in Bulgaria. He underlined the clear success of the Bulgarian model to cope with the financial crisis which could be compared with the one of Germany. Mr. Shentov pointed out the need for second generation policies to be directed towards economic growth through innovation and technological development and concluded that well-functioning administration, sound financing, and commitment at highest policy level, are factors strongly needed for stimulating innovation and technological development.
Ms Zinaida Zlatanova, Head of EC Representation in Bulgaria, underlined that innovation policy is given a central place among the priorities of the EU. Mrs. Zlatanova pointed out the need for new sources of growth on EU level as underlined in the EU 2020 Strategy. She outlined three main goals: i) strengthening the knowledge base and developing the European Research Area; ii) enabling the access of good ideas onto the market; iii) joining the efforts and creating European partnerships in the innovation domain.
Mr. Boyko Borissov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, welcomed what Bulgaria has already achieved in stimulating innovations and explained that the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism (MEET) has made an in-depth analysis of the Bulgarian economy, indicating the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for development. He said that investments of 200 million euro from the Competitiveness operational program shall be made and three technology parks shall be constructed, which will contribute to the innovation-based economic growth in Bulgaria.
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov awarded the winners in the Innovative Enterprise of the Year national contest. In the Small Innovative Enterprise category first prize went to PRIMAVET Sofia Ltd. and three other companies were recognized by award diplomas: Advanced Technology Corp., APEX 11 Ltd. and Interiorprotekt Ltd. In the Medium and Large Innovative Enterprise category the first prize award was given to OPTIX Co, followed by DATEX ltd. and AMK “Drive and Control Engineering”. Special award was given to ORAK Engineering for sustainable and innovative business behavior.
Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Coordinator of the Innovation.bg Group, Applied Research and Communications Found, presented the Innovation.bg 2011 report, which outlined: (a) why innovations are key factors for Bulgaria, (b) the Bulgarian state suffers from innovation deficit despite the fact that it has one of the highest growth rates of aggregate innovation index, (c) patents give potential for innovations not only now, but also in the future, (d) the business contribution increases in the research and development (R&D) expenditures in Bulgaria. Mr. Stefanov highlighted that the report introduces for the first time analysis of the construction and energy sectors that are crucial for the economy. He concluded that innovation policy must be carried out in support of national competitiveness.
The Minister of Economy, Energy, and Tourism Mr. Traycho Traykov stressed that the products in Bulgaria, which are created as result of innovation, are only about 25%, while the EU average is around 45%. In response to the question "How the country could encourage innovation?" he noted that the sectors of the industry that can provide the greatest added value such as energy should be fostered, because energy efficiency is Bulgaria’s greatest resource. Minister Traykov emphasized that a Law for innovation has to be drafted meant to regulate the policy for stimulating innovation.
The Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Mr. Rosen Plevneliv stated that Bulgaria has great potential in areas such as water reform and green buildings, however it must focus on a long-term strategy and lay priority on the key sectors of the economy. He pointed out the alarming fact that in Bulgaria there are over 2.5 million workers, of which only 500,000 are working in sectors with high added value. In addition, he added that Bulgaria's present infrastructure does not allow us to compete with other economies in the EU.
Prof. Sergey Ignatov, Minister of Education, Youth and Science, put emphasis on the cooperation between ministries in the preparation of the National Strategy for Research Development. Prof. Ignatov explained the necessity for legislative framework on education with the fact that legislation affects directly competitiveness in Bulgaria. He underlined the goal of increasing investment in R&D in order to approach the level of 3% set by the European union. Mr. Ignatov focused on some of the factors that lead to the low investment activity in Bulgaria (0,55%) such as out-dated management model, unfavorable age distribution, and limited use of modern information technologies.
Mr. Kostadin Kostadinov, Scientific Secretary, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, highlighted that the aim of business-science cooperation is the mutual benefit from applying scientific developments and products of intellectual property in business. Mr. Kostadinov justified the need of preparing IPR policies and shared some of the experience of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences on the topic.
Mr. Ognian Trajanov, President of TechnoLogica, presented the business perception of innovation. Progress was noted in increasing the intensity of innovation in industrial enterprises. A key step for progress, according to Mr. Trajanov, was the activation of Bulgarian enterprises towards cooperation with research centres and laboratories. He anticipated some other future changes he expected such as greater focus on determination of priority sectors and intelligent specialization. In the end, he presented some of the challenges faced by the Bulgarian business at present.
Moderator of the discussion was Professor Bistra Boeva, International Economic Relations and Business Department, University of National and World Economy. She pointed out the importance of persistence in the work, no matter what would determine the future discourse of development – policy or finance.
A short discussion followed after the presentations, on issues such as improvement of the administrative capacity, guidelines for the cultivation of innovative thinking in education, and others.
Agenda and presentations
Report Innovation.bg 2011 (PDF, 2,9 MB)
Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)
Previous National Innovation Forums:
Sixth Innovation Forum 2010
Fifth Innovation Forum 2009
Fourth Innovation Forum 2008
Third Innovation Forum 2006
Second Innovation Forum 2005
First National Innovation Forum 2004