Over the past 10 years, budget spending for science and research in Bulgaria has remained nearly unchanged and its level is very low - 0.5-0.6 percent of the country’s GDP. In the past, Bulgaria used to spend 2.5 percent of the GDP for science, while the level in EU countries reaches 3 percent, said Professor Rossitsa Chobanova from the Institute for Economic Studies with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences during an international conference entitled "Economic Growth - Incentives and Constraints".
Ministries, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and universities receive budget financing for research, but the state does not have a clear policy and priorities in science.
"After 2010, despite the scarce state resources, research funding increased thanks to European funds, but it is aimed at the business sector. This leads to an imbalance in spending for different sectors - government, universities, businesses, non-governmental organizations, as well as an imbalance in performance," says Ms. Chobanova.
Despite the limited funding, the results remain in the public sector and come mainly from the Academy of Sciences, which has the biggest number of scientific publications in reputable journals.
Since 2010, there has been an 8-fold increase in financing for science in the business sector, which has not led to an increase in high-tech exports, labor productivity, or registered intellectual property of companies. It was only profit that marked a rise.
"The results achieved thanks to additional financing for scientific and technological activities in the business sector are small, while the state has no clear priorities, which also leads to insufficient results," Rossitsa Chobanova says further.
In order to improve efficiency, the policy related to science and innovation needs to change.
Besides the allocation of necessary financing, there should be a consensus about the most important issues in this country that require scientific solution. According to Rossitsa Chobanova, the biggest social problems are the situation in healthcare, education, culture, and unemployment. Next come business problems associated with the needs for innovations in information and communication technologies and databases. It is important that Bulgarian priorities are linked to the European research area. Bulgaria should find its potential and focus on developing certain areas in order to receive funds.
"The business needs to use more effectively the funds it receives for research, attracting BAS consultants, universities and others in order to solve its problems," Rossitsa Chobanova adds.
Bulgarian economy is highly fragmented, dominated by small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It is hard for them to have a long-term vision and link clusters based on value chains and supply in regional and international level. This leads to isolation, despite the global trends of globalization. SMEs can join forces with research institutes and become part of international networks. In order for this to happen, we need to learn how to live together and communicate better in order to find solutions.