Innovation. bg Report 2020: Again, with a Total Budget of BGN 673 million, the Business Contributes the Most to the Development of R&D Activities in the Country


In the last year, about 58% of Bulgarian companies implemented innovation, and just over 30% of those who refrain from innovation are planning similar projects next year. The data are from the annual 2020 report of the Applied Research and Communications Foundation. This year, the report focuses on the European Commission’s strategic framework for 2021-2027, and the priorities and measures for a more innovative and green European economy.

The state and opportunities analysis for the development of the national innovation system is based on five groups of indicators: aggregate innovation; entrepreneurship and innovation networks; investment and innovation financing; human capital for innovation; information and communication technologies.


Highlights from 2020

In the last year, 29% of the companies with global product innovations in the last year have their research and development units, and about 12% have hired scientists in them. 44% of the enterprises have implemented organizational innovations. A relatively small share of companies, about 2%, have implemented projects related to increased automation.

In 2019, R&D expenditures amounted to BGN 1002 million, or 0.84% ​​of the GDP. The country’s research sector continues to grow steadily in terms of investment in absolute terms (21% increase annually) and as a share of GDP (11% increase yearly). However, Bulgaria remains far from its national target of 1.5% R&D expenditure as a share of the GDP by 2020, set at the beginning of the 2014 programming period.

The large and medium-sized companies in Bulgaria are the two categories of enterprises that compensate for the reduction of R&D costs and achieve a positive change of 13% for the business sector as a whole, but the total volume of R&D investment has remained many times smaller compared to the average global company. The business’s contribution to the development of research and development in the country amounted to a total of BGN 673 million in 2019 or 0.56% of GDP.

In 2019, Bulgaria’s patent activity reached another ten-year peak (181 patents of Bulgarian individuals and legal entities). The individual patent holders have remained leaders in the institutional structure of patent activity in Bulgaria. In 2019, their share was 40%.

In 2019, Bulgaria ranked among the fastest-growing business hubs in Europe with a growth in employment in high-tech activities, higher than the continent’s average levels, but it still lags behind European leaders’ innovative development.

At the beginning of 2020, about 11% of the population over 18 years of age in Bulgaria were entrepreneurs (owners of companies or self-employed). The number of foreign entrepreneurs in the country has increased by 17%. Among the new Bulgarian entrepreneurs in 2019, 44% were women, which was one of the highest ratios in Europe in 2019.

For more data and analysis, you can read the full report here.