{"title": "Bulgarian think tank calls for R&D strategy as a way out of economic crisis","content": "
The leading think tank in Bulgaria, the Applied Research and Communications Fund, has published its fifth annual innovation policy appraisal report, titled Innovation.bg 2009, at the Fifth National Innovation Forum to an audience of 200 academics, entrepreneurs, government officials and non-governmental organisations.Giving the keynote speech, the President of Bulgaria, Georgi Parvanov, noted that Bulgaria needs to do more to achieve tangible results from its R&D investments, and Innovation.bg 2009 provides good suggestions of how to do this.Innovation.bg 2009 provides an annual assessment of the innovation potential of the Bulgarian economy, and the condition and opportunities for development of the Bulgarian innovation system. It makes recommendations for the improvement of public policy on innovation, drawing on the latest theoretical and empirical studies worldwide and adapting them to the specific framework of Bulgaria’s innovation system.The report’s Innovation Index of Bulgarian Enterprises also tracks the state and development of innovation activity among Bulgarian enterprises. The index is compiled on the basis of an annual survey of 1,000 Bulgarian enterprises that is carried out by the Applied Research and Communications Fund.The index is a composite measure of innovation activity, and distinguishes between the degrees of innovation involved, such as new to the company, new to the national market and new internationally, and measures innovation within companies in product processes, marketing and organisation.According to 2009 Index, between 2006 and 2008 the overall number of enterprises engaged in innovation in Bulgaria increased by 9 per cent, reaching 29 per cent at the end of 2008. Around a third of Bulgaria’s innovative companies innovate each year, with 90 per cent having stable innovation budgets, and half having increased these levels in 2008 compared to 2007.However, between 7 and 10 per cent of Bulgarian innovative enterprises innovate only sporadically. The Index demonstrates that the innovativeness of Bulgarian enterprises is influenced by a number of internal and external factors, the most important of which are: the characteristics of the market in which a company operates, the adoption of quality standards, the presence of long term planning and the features of a company’s IT systems.The report advises the Bulgarian government to:1. Develop an integrated national policy for research, technology and innovation, based on a consensus on the priorities of economic development. Bulgaria, says the report, needs an integrated strategy that would protect the interests, and enhance the competencies, of all participants in the national innovation system.2. Establish a clear centre of policy responsibility on innovation, which would coordinate various public bodies and take decisions on the design and implementation of national research, technological and innovation policy. The report argues that the current system is fragmented, uncoordinated and inefficient. The report calls for the establishment of a strong structure, such as a ministry or an agency for research, technological development and innovation, under the direct authority of the Prime Minister.3. Develop sustainable and effective interactions within Bulgaria. The interaction between different parts of the ‘innovation system’ needs richer content and improved models of operation, argues the report, which urges the government to strengthen the networks of intermediary and transfer organizations.The full version of the Innovation.bg 2009 report is accessible at www.arcfund.netAuthor: Science|Business