FIRMS ASK FOR BGN24MN FROM INNOVATIONS FUND
The Bulgarian Innovations Strategy projects an increase of the National Innovations Fund budget from BGN5MN to BGN13MN in 2007. The preparation of the strategy was financed by the Dutch Government and was officially presented on Tuesday (June 21) at the Bulgarian-Dutch Cooperation in the Sphere of Innovation forum in Sofia. Bulgarian Economy Minister Milko Kovachev, the Dutch Ambassador to Bulgaria H.E. Baroness Henriette van Lynden, and Eli Anavi, Director of Policy Regarding Enterprises department with the Economy Ministry, were among the participants in the event. The document stipulates that the innovations fund may finance some 25-50% of the approved projects. The remaining finances will be provided by the candidates. The ceiling for research projects with scientific application is BGN500,000 and three years term of implementations, and that for preliminary market research is BGN50,000 and one year term. A total of 118 companies applied for financial support form the fund during the first session, held in March 15 - May 5. 107 of them are for research projects with scientific application, and the other 11 - for feasibility studies, Mr. Anavi specified. Although we are in the era of info and communication technologies, they account for just 14 per cent. Most of the projects - 34 - are in the sphere of machine-building and instrument-making. Proposals in the sphere of chemical industry, power engineering and construction are ten in each sector, there are eight in each biotechnology and services, four in ecology, and two in the foods industry. The projects add up to a total value of BGN49MN. BGN24MN of that amount is requested from the fund. This, however, exceeds almost five-fold its budget for 2005, totalling BGN5MN. Some 50 projects from the entire country have been approved so far, Stanimir Barzashki, Executive Director of the Agency for Encouragement of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, said on June 20 at a meeting with business representatives in Veliko Turnovo. According to expectations, the subsidy for each of the projects will be known within two weeks, and contracts with the executors will be signed.The Ministry of Economy has applied to the Dutch Government with a project of its own: Establishment of Entrepreneur Centres in institutions of higher education. It is in fact a part of the measures in the innovations strategy. Such centres are currently projected in the technical universities only. Technological centres are currently being established in the technical institutions of higher education in Sofia, Varna, and Gabrovo, and in the University of Agriculture in Plovdiv, but they are financed by the EU's PHARE programme.