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Commission presents policy reforms to improve Bulgaria's research and innovation structures

Sofia, 08 October 2015

The European Commission has presented today key policy recommendations that will help modernise the research and innovation sectors in Bulgaria. This is the first time that an EU Member State makes voluntary use of the Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility (PSF), a new instrument that gives governments practical support to identify, implement and evaluate those reforms needed to enhance the quality of their public research and innovation structures.

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "I congratulate Bulgaria for being the first Member State ever to benefit from the assistance of the Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility. Committing to investments and reforms will lead to more efficient, higher quality and more impactful science and innovation. And it will help Bulgaria on its transition to a modern, sustainable and much more knowledge-intensive economy ".

The Bulgarian Peer Review panel has been comprised of senior officials from other EU governments (Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain) and high-level independent experts (Germany, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands and the UK). The next steps for the implementation of the recommendations from the Peer Review analys are currently being discussed with the Bulgarian authorities.

Ten key policy messages have been put forward to Bulgaria:

  1. Bulgaria has a historic opportunity to strengthen its economic potential by increasing science and innovation funding to at least 1% of GDP in 2020. Achieving sustainable impact from such increased funding will require major structural reforms of the research and innovation system to boost efficiency and quality. More and better funding will also need coordinated and effective planning and use of the European Structural Funds.
  2. Establish long-lasting support for science and innovation investments and reforms by seeking broad political consensus in matters of science and innovation, and launch a structured, committed and sustained dialogue with the Bulgarian science and innovation community.
  3. Set up a professional, independent and robust national research agency.
  4. Improve the processes for the evaluation and funding of project proposals, and bring those processes to international standards.
  5. Increasingly concentrate funding for institutions that perform research, so as to reward high performance.
  6. Encourage the participation of Bulgarian scientists and innovation entrepreneurs in European programmes.
  7. Take rapid action to rebuild incentives for research careers at all stages and to retain and attract young talent from Bulgaria and from abroad into science and innovation.
  8. Incentivise the opening up of Bulgaria's science base to businesses and step up the schemes to support public-private cooperation.
  9. Create the conditions for specific regional and local innovation ecosystems to develop in Bulgaria using the Sofia Tech Park as a strategic innovation testbed.
  10. The Bulgarian government should favour an assessment of the implementation of those recommendations within a three-year time span.

Background

The Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility is a new instrument to give EU Member State governments practical support to identify, implement and evaluate those reforms needed to enhance the quality of their public funding, such as opening up public funding to competition and introducing performance assessments of universities, or stimulating cooperation between academia and business. It supports government officials from other countries to peer review the effectiveness of research and innovation policies and provides access to independent high level expertise and analysis. It is funded under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme,with up to 20 million euro.

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