Sofia Finds New Funds for Innovation

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SMEs in Bulgaria will compete for nearly 6 million levs in the seventh round of the National Innovation Fund session. Applicants must submit by the end of March their projects, which can be of two types. The first is research and development aimed at technological development of new or substantially improved products, processes or services. The maximum grant here is 500 thousand levs and deadlines for implementation are 12 to 36 months. The other type of projects are for technical feasibility and are oriented towards exploring the possibility of future realization of a research idea. For them, there is a maximum amount of funding of 50 thousand levs for execution period within 6 to 12 months. Under this scheme projects for overall development are not allowed if they reach to a ready product for the market, a process or a service.

Priority sectors for funding are engineering, electronics, pharmaceuticals, chemical manufacturing , furniture, food processing , ICT and creative industries. Proposals in one of these areas will get an additional 6 points in the evaluation.

“The purpose of the National Innovation Fund is to redirect the focus of the current globalizing world and open European market from the idea of labour supply and raw materials to innovation, new ideas and the relationship between science and industry,” said Executive Director of the Agency for SMEs Evgeniy Ivanov.

According to Bogdana Vatashka, Director of Programmes and Projects Department in the agency, the new rules for the management of the Fund for 2014 introduce a balance between the requirements, efficiency and simplifying the procedures for applicants and beneficiaries. They relieve the administrative burden, simplify the access to finance and implement more effective control. Much of the required documents and the circumstances will be certified and checked automatically. Significant innovation is the facilitating access of beneficiaries to the funds being made available for use in advance of the agreed subsidies.

Among other things, the strengthening of the role of the evaluation committee, which will become a permanent body, will help the monitoring the implementation of projects throughout their period of realization. Thus there will be additional technical expertise, and the monitoring process will be more effective.

Since 2005 under the National Innovation Fund were signed 405 contracts for nearly 70 million levs. The successfully completed projects, however, are for just over 35 million levs. The reason, according to the executive agency, is that some of the companies or research organizations themselves have abandoned the implementation of the proposals.



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