SOFIA DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION was founded as non-profit organization with the decision 348
of the Sofia Municipal Council to work for the sustainable development of the capital.

WHAT WE ACHIEVED WITH INNOBRIDGE PROJECT

Sofia Development Association is completing the InnoBridge project: Bridging the innovation gap through converting R&D results into commercial success in a more effective and efficient way, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through INTERREG Europe programme.

For 60 months – from April 2016 to March 2021 - nine partners from eight different European Countries: Office of the Regional Government of Lower Austria (Austria) – Lead partner; FUESCYL - Universities and Higher Education Foundation of Castilla y León- (Spain); Autonomous Province of Bolzano – South Tyrol (Italy); Pannon Novum West­Transdanubian Regional Innovation Non­profit Ltd. (Hungary); Council of Tampere Region (Finland); ADRAL ­ Regional Development Agency of Alentejo (Portugal); Foundation "Sofia Development Association" (Bulgaria); Applied Research and Communications Fund (Bulgaria); Marshal Office of the Malopolska Region (Poland) worked together on improving their regional innovation performance.

InnoBridge in numbers:

- We included representatives of Sofia in 20 interregional learning events: workshops, peer reviews, study visits, conferences.

- We collectively identified, presented and promoted 24 regional good practices, 3 of which from Sofia.

- 15 experts from Sofia Municipality, Sofia Municipal Council, the Ministry of Education, the Consultative Council on Science, Technology and Innovation with the Mayor of Sofia, Sofia University and SDA increased their professional capacities by engaging in the project activities.

- We achieved 50 appearances in Bulgarian media.

SDA took part in the project with the Public-Private Fund for Innovations that we administer. In result of the interregional learning and exchange, the Action Plan for the improvement of this policy instrument that we developed and implemented over the last two years, included measures inspired by other regions: Uni-Business Challenge from Castilla y Leon, the , FabLab in EvoraTech, the Innovation Festival of Malopolska Region. So far over 1 million euro has been influenced by the Find and its Action Plan, varying from financial support for entrepreneurs to mentorship, from trainings to showcasing; from hackathons to SofiaLab programing. You can see a short video on the achievements and developments here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eC6s0NwCkrM&feature=emb_logo

More about the project: https://www.interregeurope.eu/innobridge/

INNOBRIDGE FINAL PROJECT MEETING

The InnoBridge project partners had their final project meeting on December 18, 2020. After 3 years of mutual learning and nearly 2 years of Action plan implementation to improve their policies and practices to support SME competitiveness and innovation, the partners from 8 European regions, among whom Sofia through SDA, met virtually to prepare for the project closure, to assess its scope and deliverables, to analyze project success and identify stories to be told and disseminated.

SDA took part in the project with the Sofia Public-private Fund for Innovations as a local instrument for innovation support. In the framework of the project a number of good practices from other regions influenced the programming, the management and the focus of the Fund. Collectively, over one million euro have been influenced so far, varying from financial support to entrepreneurs to mentoring, from training to showcasing, from challenges to SofiaLab refurbishment. The InnoBridge Sofia team is proud that our Fund has been recognized as a good European practice and shared with all other regions for replication and scaling up.

Project partners discussed areas of common interest for future exchange and learning in the new multi-annual framework period. These areas include the development of regional RIS3 strategies for the next period, the European Green deal, digital transition, social economy, innovation in general.

InnoBridge is funded by the INTERREG EUROPE programme, cofunded by EU’s ERDF.

       

Streamlining Public Support for SMEs and Innovations InnoBridge Project Final event

“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.” The words of Henry Ford captured the essence of the interregional approach of the InnoBridge project final event, organized by Sofia Development Association on September 30, 2020, and entitled Streamlining Public Support for SMEs and Innovations. The hybrid event brought together about 100 participants – mostly online but also physically in Sofia – key players from academia, research and technology institutes, regional and local authorities, managing authorities, business organizations, SMEs, experts from 29 cities in 14 countries.

“The SME sector and innovative solutions coming from the industry are critical for a speedy recovery of the economy post-COVID-19. It is also important to ensure that the next Multiannual Financial Framework will provide access to and sufficient resources for innovations, especially in support of SMEs, for further investments and development,” stated the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova at the event opening.

An outstanding group of dynamic and leading-edge speakers offered their insights and experience in developing regional policy mixes to foster innovations and make R&D results available to SMEs. While this policy area was relevant when the InnoBridge project was launched in 2016, it matters even more now after the COVID-19 crisis affected strongly our economy and society. The panelists identified important trends, such as flexible refocusing of support measures, centers of knowledge as core of innovation ecosystems, links that allow making professional decision without professional cost. Event participants shared examples of innovative actionable solutions.

Here is the hands-on quick dive into the various topics discussed: barriers and challenges to innovations in the European regions; replicable good practices; ways to connect business and universities; how to fill the missing elements in the entrepreneurial ecosystem; how to mobilize the existing skills in the region and nurture the skills for the future; policy recommendations for the way forward.

InnoBridge is funded by the INTERREG EUROPE programme, cofunded by EU’s ERDF.

All presentations and photos of the event can be found at: www.innobridge-project.eu

  

  

Sofia Development Association invites you to take part in the final InnoBridge event: "Streamlining Public Support for SME Innovation"

Date: 30 September 2020
Venue: Online
Time: 09:30 - 12:30 CET
Language: English

Early evidence shows that the current COVID-19 pandemic has affected the SMEs and businesses around Europe. Now more than ever we need good policy responses to foster SME resilience, to help them grow stronger and more innovative after the crisis.

What are the measures implemented in different European countries and which have proven to be effective? Join the conference to discuss related issues and approaches with representatives of regions from Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain. See the full program of the InnoBridge project event here.

Political figures, practitioners, researchers, policy makers, representatives of the business community and civil society will share experience and ideas on a wide range of topics: “Cities as innovation hubs,” “Connecting Danube Region SME challenges with local goals in place-based innovation policy,” “Making a difference through partnerships,” “How to foster innovation in SMEs.” We invite you to take this opportunity and to engage in a fruitful exchange with our panelists!

The working language of the event is English. It is free and open to the public, but you must register to gain access to the meeting. If you would like to participate, please register here.

InnoBridge is funded by the INTERREG EUROPE programme, cofunded by EU’s ERDF.

InnoBridge Project Ready to Share Its Results

High regional expenditure on R&D does not necessarily lead to innovation and increased regional competitiveness if the regional economy is hampered by insufficient exploitation of its own R&D results and from a lack of access to public R&D results. Increasing SMEs’ competitiveness is at the core of the InnoBridge project by improving the related policy instruments for SMEs. This would enable SMEs to better realize their innovation potential and to act as a catalyst for creating more high qualified jobs and regional growth.

After 3 years of intensive inter-regional learning and 18 months of Action Plan implementation that applied into practice actions aiming at improving their regional R&D and innovation performance and SME’s competitiveness, InnoBridge project 9 partners from 8 regions in 8 countries spread over Europe are ready to share their hands-on experience. On April 21, 2020, they met online to plan the final project conference in Sofia on September 30 – October 1st, 2020 that would bring together political figures, practitioners, academia, policy makers, business community, intermediary organizations, civil society, and would offer a platform to share best practices, to explore and discuss opportunities for streamlining public support for SME innovation.

InnoBridge is funded by the INTERREG EUROPE programme, cofunded by EU’s ERDF.

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