The high-level event was organized jointly by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation and the Agricultural University of Plovdiv, in close cooperation with the BIOEAST Initiative.
Nikolai Denkov Bulgarian Prime Minister and Milena Stoycheva Minister of innovation and growth addressed participants on the high-level conference. They articulated that implementing EU strategies is a high priority for Bulgaria to advance upon the long tradition of agriculture, to support innovation for the industry and to create added value and job opportunities at local level.
The new EU Commissioner for research and innovation Iliana Ivanova addressed the audience in a video speech, specifically thanking the BIOEAST for its contribution to the event. John Bell,Director in the Commission introduced the concept of Regional Innovation Valleys for Bioeconomy and Food System (RIV4BFS); innovations as a secret algorithm for bioeconomy transformation are key elements for using the biomass to its full potential. RIV4BFS shall guarantee, that the regional biomass is utilized, and the generated added value will retain within the region. The primary focus of RIV4BFS is on the lagging behind regions of the Central and Easter Europe. John Bell articulated the importance of the BIOEAST Initiative, and the need to work together in this macro-region to implement this new agenda..
Barna Kovács Secretary General of the BIOEAST Initiative moderated panel discussion how to enable the transition though education, skills and financing with Jekaterina Nováková (Deputy Head of Innovation Policy and Access to Finance unit, DG RTD, Nicolo Giacomuzzi-More, Acting Executive Director CBE – JU, Sebastien Collot, Bioeconomy Senior Engineer, European Investment Bank, Martin Greimel, Head of the Bioeconomy Unit of Natural Resources and Life Science Vienna, Chair of European Bioeconomy University, Marta Mendel, Více-rector of the International Cooperation, Warsaw University of Life Science, Vise-chair of the Board of Directors, Green European University. The newly introduced Bioeconomy and Food system concept note could serve the as guiding principle for the implementation of other policies and funds, among others for the design of new national operational programs. Engaging the citizens and outreach to society should happen as soon as possible, crucial role for regional networks, HUBs or clusters, new input for stakeholders to get involved into the development of educational curricula will respond to the regional needs.
Participants’ questions clearly showed that the concept of RIV4BFS needs to be properly explained, the multiple process is a bit unclear to regional stakeholders and authorities. The join funding from Horizon Europe and Structural/Cohesion Funds adds another new element that open several questions hindering the practical implementation. Barna Kovács summarized the panel: “The BIOEAST Initiative stimulated bioeconomy transition in the Central and Eastern Europe, BIOEAST Foresight, Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda and 11 national concept papers were produced. However, the shift to knowledge and cooperation based circular bioeconomies is still requires cooperation and targeted partnerships which are developed based on identified thematic areas and should focus to the macro-region, specifically to the Central and Eastern Europe.