The awards were presented Thursday by Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev who also addressed the Fourth National Innovation Forum titled "Science, innovations and regional development - Bulgaria policies in the European Union", organized by the Ministry of Economy and Energy, the Applied Research and Communications Foundation and the World Bank mission in Bulgaria, BTA reports.
The government will continue to increase the funds for scientific research and innovation, Stanishev said, noting that in spite of the difficulties of transition a considerable scientific potential has been preserved in this country, while business has realized that without innovations it cannot be
The government innovation strategy, adopted in 2004, has already expired and does not correspond to the needs of the European Union's new priorities. Along with the updating of this strategy there should also be a careful reconsideration of the Scientific Research Act.
According to the updated Lisbon Strategy, the EU countries should set aside 3 per cent of GDP each for science and innovation. Two-thirds of these funds are expected to come from business, Stanishev underscored.
He recalled that there is a considerable increase of the funds for scientific research and for higher educational establishments in Budget 2008 and recommended a careful selection of priorities in which this financial resource will be invested.
Florian Fichtl, World Bank Country Manager for Bulgaria, also addressed the forum, stating that cheap labour, investments in new machines, facilities and buildings and other such assets is no longer a solution for Bulgaria enabling it to rely on fast economic development and prosperity.
According to Fichtl, new ideas and the creation of new opportunities for growth are important for this country. Investments in R+D in 2007 amounted to some 100 million euro - a large sum which, however, represents the annual budget for such activity of a large or medium-large company in some countries, he noted. Nevertheless, the budget for such research in Bulgaria is considerable, but the question is whether these funds are spent effectively and are distributed on a competitive principle.
Support for competition is necessary, for when a company's revenue and profit depend on that it is forced to develop innovations, Fichtl was adamant. Another important condition for the introduction of innovations is the existence of qualified labour and the creation of opportunity for life-long learning, he added.
This year's forum also marked two special events, related to Bulgaria's EU membership. The parallel launch in Sofia and Brussels of the largest European information and consultancy
network, Enterprise Europe Network. In Bulgaria, it unites the activity of what was the European Information Centre - Bulgaria (www.irc.bg) and the eight Euro-Info Centres (http://www.eic.bcci.bg/bg). The new network will provide Bulgarian enterprises integrated business, information and consultancy services on all matters related to European