Programme officers and beneficiaries of National Innovation Fund shared their insights with ESSPO partners at the on-line peer review session for Bulgaria on the 3rd of November 2021. The programme has been running since 2004 with the aim to promote research and development in the business sector and thus increase the competitiveness of enterprises by encouraging the development of new or improved products, processes, or services.
For these years the program has gained appreciation of beneficiaries, who nevertheless would prefer the program to ease paperwork requirements and long and rigid procedures. They value the recent digitalisation of the application process , which make it simpler and less time consuming. The staff working with the instrument would like to be more connected with the beneficiaries and the applicants, so as to understand better the needs of the applicants. They believe that this way the instrument could evolve to better meet the needs of the target group. The ESSPO partners identified 3 areas that could be a subject for ESSPO:
- Positioning of NIF among other sources of funding.
- Reduction of red tape.
- Proximity to SMEs.
They advise incremental approach to the improvements to capitalise on the existing awareness and positive image among SME beneficiaries.
These challenges as well as the outcomes of all the other partner peer reviews will make an input for the interregional brainstorming workshop planned at the beginning of January.