EU Commissioner Maria Gabriel discusses eco-system with innovative companies with easier access to finance and resources

Our goal is to create a Pan-European Network to support innovation for the benefit of business and society, explained to more than 40 representatives of startups, innovative companies and people from the academic community Gabriel

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Dozens of representatives of Bulgarian innovative companies gathered in the co-working space CoShareHive, where they discussed with EU Commissioner Maria Gabriel the possibilities for financing their ideas. Photo: Georgi Velev / 3eNews.

Georgi Velev

An innovative ecosystem of companies with easier access to finance, discovering talents and skills for finding resources are among the key activities around which more than 40 innovators and representatives of the academic community in our country have united. They met in a special meeting with EU Commissioner Maria Gabriel, in charge of innovation, science, education and youth in the EU. The event was also attended by Hristo Borisov - the founder of the first Bulgarian unicorn company Payhawk.

The intention of the native companies is to take a new initiative to help them present their ideas on the big European stage. This is a new field for expression, where the Bulgarian innovation system has something to show to the Old Continent. It is clear to these people that with their projects, with their visions, they can really contribute to the well-being of the whole of Europe, and they are ready to make them happen.

A functioning Bulgarian innovation ecosystem in the near future may be part of the Pan-European Innovation Ecosystem, which is currently being discussed and is about to be created.

The difficulties

For the companies in our country, however, it turned out that there are a number of difficulties that hinder the process of implementing a project. One major problem is access to finance, explained some of the native innovators. According to experts, a large part of the financial burden for an idea can be borne by pension funds. At present, however, these funds invest mainly in low-risk assets. However, startup companies are reaching the depths of human capabilities and are increasingly talking and looking for deep tech technologies. And in Europe, this will be the next priority for funding, because that is where the next visionary in the development of humanity may emerge.

The Bulgarian EU Commissioner posted on Twitter a collage from his meeting with Bulgarian innovative companies.

Of course, it can take a long time to create and validate an idea and its development, technology transfer and the emergence of an endeavor at European level. Many companies have failed to do so - whether it's too early for such innovative solutions or simply because someone else has overtaken them with the idea - it doesn't matter. It is important that people try, even though they know they may fail. And yet - we are already witnessing a number of innovations that change our lives every day. That is why it is important to have a place and a center in which to create new proposals, ideas and to be able to finance them in one way or another. This is the root of the idea of ​​a Bulgarian innovation forum.

Where can talent meet idea and realization?

According to EU Commissioner Gabriel, the access of talented people to such innovations is currently crucial for the EU. Here we are not just talking about school, but about growing up throughout life. That is why it is important for the innovation and education systems to work together for such initiatives to succeed, the commissioner said.

"Our vision is ambitious. We want to make the European educational area a reality by 2025. Our approach is comprehensive, addressing measures at every stage of the educational process from early childhood through primary, secondary and higher education to opportunities for retraining and lifelong learning. It is important to ensure access to high-quality digital education for all and skills related to the "green transition", said Maria Gabriel at the presentation of the new strategy for European universities and their incubators.

The challenge now is to connect existing universities with incubators. There are currently cases in which two geographically close incubators do not know who is developing what and this problem needs to be solved. "Our goal is to create a European network of universities and incubators. This is also the idea of ​​the Innovation and Education Summit being prepared for June this year, where innovators and university representatives will be able to exchange experiences and ideas in one place ", the Bulgarian EU Commissioner explained to the entrepreneurs. She recalls that there are currently 41 European University Alliances in the EU, involving 284 universities. Five Bulgarian universities are also participating here, and the idea is to create a common European network of universities with incubators.

According to the vision of European politicians, it will be important in the future to have innovators even at school. And only people with ideas and even unicorn companies can inspire young people to take the risk of participating in such initiatives.

The third ambitious goal of the EC is to have an event of the year where talents meet with innovators and unicorn companies. "That is why our idea is to hold such an event in the future," said EU Commissioner Gabriel.

Connecting hubs

An important element for the future development of scientific achievements and business will be the connection of all European innovative hubs. This will ultimately lead to a common European ecosystem, but this process will be long and time consuming. This is the idea of ​​the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), which is an independent body in Brussels that supports such ideas. The Commission has also set a goal of training 1 million people to create and develop deep tech ideas over the next three years. It is in this market that the future can be relied on, European experts believe.

It also became clear at the meeting that all these difficulties are shared not only by Bulgarian innovators or startup enthusiasts who want to realize their ideas. However, such meetings really lay the foundations for cooperation and the development of innovation. That is probably why the Bulgaria Innovation Forum is starting now - a place for exchange of experience and growth of startup ideas to resonate in Europe.

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