Банкеръ Weekly


New Filter on EU Money for Businesses

Health Tourism, Automotive Industry, Technology Parks and Clusters Set in the Centre of the new Innovation and Competitiveness Programme

Many Bulgarian companies will be left without access to European funding after 2014. The project for the new Operational Programme Competitiveness and Innovation, which was released a few days ago, found place above all for business clusters, parks and incubators. Again quite scarce resources are provided for administration under the pretext to support the business. Tens of thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises, as in the past period, will be just looking from aside to the financing schemes. Only a handful of workers in a handful of selected industries will be able to enjoy the EU bliss. Large companies in general will not have access to the programme.

To a large extent, the future EU funding rules for businesses were written during the caretaker government and there is no wonder the new rulers do not like them. However, the terms in which documents must be submitted for consultation to Brussels expire and there is hardly any time for major changes.

Firstly, it is clear that the operating programme will focus on sectors that generate growth. Special attention is given to export-oriented sectors, including information and communication technologies, electronics and electrical engineering, food processing, automotive sector, textiles, clothing and design, creative industries and health tourism. It is these areas that the new Priority Axis 1 Innovation and Entrepreneurship has been designed. Generally it will support the development and introduction of innovative products, processes and business models, investment in Ramp;D and the development of shared infrastructure and services for innovative small and medium enterprises. It's about creating innovative parks, centres for knowledge transfer and commercialization of innovation labs to demonstrate the concepts, certifying bodies, supporting cluster development, financial instruments (accelerators, venture capital funds financing) and others.

A more detailed look at the description reveals some pretty interesting details. For example, in the field of information and communication technologies, which undoubtedly has a great potential for development in the country, the main part takes a single project - Sofia Tech Park. The development of this technology centre whose creator and main proponent is the President Rosen Plevneliev will take almost the entire resource for the ICT sector. In the current programming period to has already attracted a diverted 50 million of the money for business development, although more than a thousand companies were ready and had projects approved for funding. Apparently in the next programming period Sofia will be working primarily for the President's ambition. And it would be interesting to see how this will be accepted by the current government, because its own idea was in place of Sofia Tech Park to build a new government centre.

In such a privileged position is another favourite project of ex-ruling GERB party - the industrial zone Bozhurishte. From the description given in the Innovation and Competitiveness programme, it becomes clear that this will be the place to host the future Innovation Park as well as the coordination centre for the sector Electronics and Electrical Engineering.

Besides, both projects are the beneficiaries of separate measures for promotion and advertising.

To put it mildly, strange are the intentions to use EU money to turn Bulgaria into an automotive industry country. A special Innovation Park with laboratory for tests in automotive industry is to be built. Unfortunately, small and medium-sized companies will hardly benefit anything from this whole endeavor. Rather, it seems that everything is done in the name of the only car manufacturer in the country.

Another big balloon is named Health tourism and long-term healthcare. The idea of ??the officials who have created it is Bulgaria to become a medical haven for retirees from Western Europe, Russia and the Middle East. As incredible as it sounds, according to the experts it can meet the increasing demand for services not traditionally covered by health insurance funds, such as reproductive treatment, dental caret, surgery related to obesity, plastic surgery, innovative methods treatment such as stem cell therapy, etc.


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