Title: Challenges for R&I policy-making in Bulgaria
Devoting targeted efforts to implementation and capacity building. The delayed implementation of the policy and budget arrangements leads to the perception of lack of financial support to the whole R&D&I system. What is highly needed is speeding-up of project implementation for beneficiaries in the public sector and providing institutional support for both public and private sectors with respect to EU-level programme participation, esp. Horizon 2020. The new Implementation Agency for Operational Programme “Science and Education for Intelligent Growth” set up on 18 October 2017 is expected to contribute to the improved functioning of the system.
Directing the reforms towards rewarding quality and excellence. There is slow progress in increasing the attractiveness of the national R&D&I system for national and international scientists and researchers. The initiated differentiation of the higher education institutions (HEIs) and the changes in the model for financing public research organizations (PROs) constitute positive developments in this direction. However, the differentiation needs to be additionally improved, so that research-performing universities and other PROs are rewarded for R&D performance, while the other universities and colleges are funded for labour market contributions and workforce training results. The forthcoming Centres of Excellence (CoE) and Competence Centres (CC) in 2018 can play the key role in this process.
Capitalizing on smart specialization, EU-level research infrastructures and initiatives. There is a strong need to further support the integration and Europeanization of the Bulgarian science, research and innovation. The system deficiencies so far stem from both insufficient national public resources allocated to R&I and inadequate participation and success of national actors in EU framework and other programmes and initiatives. Although evaluating the impact of RIS3 and ESFRI participation of Bulgaria cannot be currently substantiated by quantitative evidence, it has become clear that those have led to improved coordination and cooperation in three important ways: among different levels of governance and also among administrative spheres; among government, industry, education and research institutions, as well as citizens; and among national and EU players. The Presidency of the EU of Bulgaria in 2018, as part of the Troika with Estonia and Austria, provides an additional stimulus for increased EU visibility of the Bulgarian R&D&I system.