Sofia Development Association was part of an international consortium under the Bridging the innovation gap through converting R&D results into commercial success in a more effective and efficient way (InnoBridge) project.
InnoBridge is an INTERREG EUROPE project gathering 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).
The project addressed common needs related to innovation and regional competitiveness with focus in the insufficient exploitation of R&D results by SMEs and their lack of access to public R&D results. Increasing SMEs' competitiveness is at the core of the InnoBridge project by improving the Innovation Bridge and related policy instruments for SME´s. Therefore, Universities as well as Research and Technology Organisations (RTO), indispensable actors for business knowledge transfer and the commercialisation of public R&D results like regional or local authorities, were integrated part of the InnoBridge approach.
InnoBridge followed the model "Evolution of activities and technology readiness" formulated in guide "Innovation – How to convert research into commercial success story? – Part 3: Innovation Management for Practitioners" published by the European Commission, analysing the support chain for the commercialisation of R&D results in terms of Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) and 8 activity 8 steps (Research, Interaction with users, designers & engineers, Exploring market opportunities, Protecting & managing IPR, Prototyping and industrial demonstration, Product trials & sales, Industrialisation and Innovation Management).
InnoBridge aimed at improving the implementation of regional development policies and programmes, in particular Structural Funds programmes for Investment for Growth and Jobs, that support the delivery of innovation by actors in regional innovation chains in areas of "smart specialisation" and innovation opportunity.
Its main target groups were: 1) SME's and their innovation activities; and 2) Universities and Research & Technology Organisations (RTO) as actors responsible for business knowledge transfer, aiming at commercialisation of the universities R&D results.
The duration of the project was 60 months: 1st April 2016 – 31st March 2021. The main project activities were implemented in two phases: Phase 1 (36 months from 1th of April 2016 – 31th March 2019): 1) Interregional Exchange of Experience, 2) Identification of Good Practices, 3) Elaboration of individual Action Plans for improving the policy instruments, 4) Strong communication (internal and external) with interim conference for promotion of elaborated Action Plans and InnoBridge Concept Paper with Knowledge Pool; Phase 2 (24 months from 1th of April 2019 – 31th March 2021): 1) Implementation of the Action Plans; 2) Monitoring of the implementation progress; 3)Final conference with promotion of implementation results.