Strengthening the innovation capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is a precondition to improve the competitiveness and sustainable development. The innovation capacity of SMEs in Varna region, Bulgaria, IS lower than of large enterprises. In order to increase it the web-base group was created to establish qualified and fitting frameworks to motivate SMEs for innovation and to bring them closer to the results of research and development (R&D) activities.
In 2012 Varna Economic Development Agency (VEDA) within the EU-funded “Asvilok Plus” project created a social network of young innovators, entrepreneurs, and managers to support small business initiatives, to motivate them to join efforts in implementing their innovative ideas, get online education, consultations and opportunities for information exchange with VEDA and members of the network.
The initiative aimed at:
- creating a platform for knowledge sharing, communication and networking;
- providing up-to-date information on funding opportunities for innovative projects and ideas as well as for training and scholarships aimed at innovative capacity building of human resources;
- taking advantage from an innovative ICT application with regard to the dissemination of information regarding EU financial support and project implementation, for better visibility and transparency.
The initiative comprises of the following activities:
- dentifying and establishing a creative environment that allows people interested in the area of innovation and entrepreneurship to learn from each other by sharing knowledge, experience, and information;
- promoting the initiative and attracting people to the group who participate and frequently use social networks for communication and exchange of information (including people with hearing disabilities);
- group management including general support and dissemination of updated information on innovation, training and financing issues relevant to young high-tech companies and innovative products (to overcome the lack of management skills and financing).
Since the group creation, the number of its members has risen to 542. The people networking on the platform actively post information on upcoming events, trainings, programs, etc. and develop business relations amongst each other. Thus, the VEDA’s initiative enables the economic environment of the involved regions to turn more innovation friendly setting up a virtuous circle at regional level where supply of new ideas and demand for new solutions both push and pull innovation.
After the project end, the group continues to function and expand its network by accepting new members. On a volunteer basis its members regularly exchange information on new funding schemes for entrepreneurs, start-ups, SMEs and innovation, for free training, workshops, meetings, exhibitions, mission travels and similar opportunities, for current competitions and awards in the country and abroad, and other topics relevant to the competitiveness and innovation.
Partners: The EU’s South East Europe Transnational Cooperation Programme (SEE Programme)
Budget: during the project lifetime a salary of virtual network’s manager.
Varna Economic Development Agency
Contact person: Todorka Dimitrova, VEDA Director
Phone: +359 887 934526