Edition 174 - October 2015

Bulgaria: Pioneers for the Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility

Earlier this month, the European Commission released the results of the peer review of Bulgaria’s research and innovation system under the Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility. Conducted at the request of the Bulgarian government, the review had experts from fellow member states offer recommendations on reforms for strengthening Bulgaria’s research and innovation capacity. This marked the first time a member state has sought assistance from the recently established mechanism, which aims to support policy learning in research and innovation among member states (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, edition March 2015). 

The international panel put forward 10 policy messages accompanied by specific recommendations for modernising the Bulgarian research sector in three areas: improving the funding for research and innovation, human resource development and knowledge transfer between academia and business. Among the key suggestions outlined in the report are: 

  • bring science and innovation funding up to at least 1% of GDP by 2020 from the current level of 0.65% of GDP in 2013, which is three times lower than the EU28 average of 2.02%;
  • set up a professional, independent and robust national research agency that will manage funding programmes in a transparent and impartial manner;
  • increase participation in the available European funding schemes by establishing a Sciences/ EU Funding Liaison Office in Brussels;
  • encourage excellent research by introducing performance-based funding schemes for higher education institutions and research organisations; and
  • enhance incentives for research careers to attract talent from Bulgaria and abroad.

The panel plans to revisit Bulgaria’s research sector in three years’ time to evaluate progress following the implementation of these reforms. By then, Bulgaria’s innovation profile is expected to have noticeably improved, along with the country’s ranking in the Innovation Union Scoreboard (the annual classification of member states according to their research and innovation performance, which in 2015 saw Bulgaria place second-to-last). Bulgaria’s ups and downs in this realm over the next three years will reflect, for better or worse, on the recently established Policy Support Facility. 

European Commission

Full report

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