REGIONAL INNOVATION STRATEGY
ARC Fund started the RIS (Regional Innovation Strategy) initiative in October 2001 as a joint project involving the Regional Commission for Economic and Social Cohesion of the South Central Region of Bulgaria, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, tti Magdeburg GmbH - a company which had implemented a similar RIS RAHM for the land of Saxony-Anhalt in Germany, and the University of Thessaly, which manages the RIS of Thessaly in Greece. ARC Fund coordinates the activities of this consortium.
The project is expected to produce a regional innovation strategy with a corresponding Action Plan for the South Central Region of Bulgaria. This strategy will provide the basis for enhancing the innovative capacity of the region and will facilitate its integration with the Network of Innovating Regions in Europe, currently involving almost 120 regions across Europe.
The RIS Mission
The mission of the project is to define a strategic framework for the South Central Region of Bulgaria with the goal of improving the innovative capacity of regional firms, the regional workforce and institutions. The overall objective is to create a climate conducive to innovation in the South Central Region through further developing and improving the regional innovation system by proposing feasible measures to secure economic growth, competitiveness and employment in the region. One of the key questions addressed by the RIS/SC-Bg initiative is the importance of matching the regional companies' needs for innovation support with the supply of such support.
Benefits /Major achievements
The project is aimed at producing the following end results:
• Establish an innovation community with many participating actors in the region;
• Set the ground for future planning of investments in regional innovation and R&D - i.e. development of non-material regional infrastructure;
• Contribute to an improved regional innovation infrastructure that increases the flexibility of the labour market and the attractiveness of the region to foreign investments. The final beneficiaries will be all existing and future firms, which will operate in a better environment;
• Improve the strategic planning culture of the region by placing innovation on top of the regional development agenda;
• Improve the cooperation and networking among the regional and national key actors;
• Facilitate greater cooperation with the EU partnering regions in the field of innovation, R&D, and technology transfer. This collaboration could lay the groundwork for joint high-quality project proposals under different bilateral and international programs;
• Initiate new RIS projects for other Bulgarian regions under the EU Sixth Framework Program for Research, Technology and Demonstration.