Plovdiv will become the home of the first regional innovation valley in Bulgaria this October. It will operate in the field of bioeconomy and food and will be one of hundred similar structures in the entire European Union. This was announced by the new Bulgarian European Commissioner Iliana Ivanova and Prime Minister Academician Nikolay Denkov after their meeting today.
“The goal of the initiative is to help especially small and medium-sized enterprises to establish a link between research, innovation and the business and thus to encourage entrepreneurship,” explained Iliana Ivanova, who is responsible for Innovation, education, culture, science, youth and sport in the European Commission (EC). The desired end result is greater economic growth in the respective regions.
As a specific weakness of Bulgaria, Academician Denkov pointed out the insufficiently regulated opportunities for turning scientific research into innovations. “For more than 10 years, various governments have been talking about an Innovation Act, but there is still no such thing. We do not have a regulation for the protection of intellectual property from the point of view of scientific innovation and the relationship between science and innovation,” he explained.
To overcome this gap, the government has prepared a draft law on scientific research and innovation, which will be voted on in the Council of Ministers in the coming weeks and submitted to the National Assembly.
In addition to an agricultural one in Plovdiv, Bulgaria will also have a hydrogen innovation valley in Stara Zagora, which is connected to the energy transition in the country’s largest coal region. The Prime Minister also emphasized that the changes in the energy sector, as well as in the justice system, are not being made because the EC wants them, but because “Bulgarian citizens, Bulgarian energy workers, need them in order to ensure a better future for the people of Bulgaria.”
Even when Maria Gabriel was European Commissioner, she announced that the application for 170 million euros of European money was opening. This is how the creation of innovation networks, innovation centers and funding funds in 100 regional innovation valleys in Europe is supported.