AmCham Bulgaria Member Ivan Mihaylov was Speaker at CEE AmChams Conference

The American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria took part in the first international conference of its kind “The Future of Investing in Central and Eastern Europe”. The virtual event was organized by the American Chambers of Commerce in Croatia, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Montenegro and Bulgaria on November 10th, 2020 through the Cisco Events platform.

On behalf of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria participates Ivan Mihaylov, Director of the Visteon Technical Center in Bulgaria and Romania and Chairman of the Automotive Cluster in Bulgaria, outlining the main challenges and advantages for Bulgaria and the CEE region, incl. and in the context of the global transformation resulting from the COVID-19 crisis.

He was part of the Sustainable Manifacturing panel, moderated by Michel Pere, Carrier Refrigeration’s General Manager for Europe. It was attended by Ruža Tomić-Fontana, General Manager of Coca-Cola HBC for Croatia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia, and Milan Slapak, President and CEO of General Electric for the Czech Republic. The other two panels discussed the future of the tourism industry and the digital economy.

“I believe that education is at the core of progress. In our country we have highly trained specialists, because of the good positions of Bulgaria from the 80s until today. Business in our country is strongly connected with universities and schools. We are trying to demonstrate how important investing in human resources is. This will pay off in time. Although education is a conservative system, it requires some push and persistence and “open” thinking on the part of business. Because, after all, universities have already created a “product” that becomes a workforce for business. The third important party in these relations is the government, without whose support this development cannot be achieved. ”- Ivan Mihaylov outlined the interactions between business and education.

The key trend in the region of Southeast and Eastern Europe is the increasing coherence in educational programs. In the last 5 years we have witnessed a drastic increase in cooperation between business and universities. To ensure continuity and development, students must have access to equipment or an environment as close as possible to actual production. That is why they must enter the companies from an early age in various programs. This is the reason why almost every company has an internal academy to create its own engineer in R&D and technology.

Another trend we are seeing is the change in the labor market due to the situation with COVID-19 and the need to adapt, not only to the people, but also to the countries. Digitalization is a factor that provides many opportunities and this process has developed positively as a result of the Covid crisis. “Furthermore, an initiative aimed at overcoming the difficulties created by the crisis in securing supplies and the labor market could be the nearshoring initiative. This is a key project between 14 bilateral chambers in Bulgaria, incl. and AmCham Bulgaria with the Ministry of Economy and the Bulgarian Investment Agency. ”- shared Ivan Mihaylov.

Мain focus of the initiative are two mega-sectors Mechatronics and Chemical Industry. The first includes companies from the automotive industry, the automation and robotics sectors, as well as R&D and ICT companies. The second involves companies in the biotechnology, chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

Another important aspect – especially because the organizers are the American Chambers of Commerce – is the transatlantic effect on the labor market and investment. ” The workforce can be from anywhere in the world. There is a dynamic system of startups on both sides of the ocean. This holistic aspect also has an impact on Bulgaria, as we are not isolated from it, but we are part of this process.”- said Ivan Mihaylov.

Regarding the development of electrification in the automotive sector, Ivan Mihaylov pointed out that Europe is the leading continent in this direction. The dilemma here is that the infrastructure is not ready to take over the electrification with the necessary charging stations. The expectations are related with the governments again, to build the necessary infrastructure in an appropriate way and in cooperation with the business.

Watch the full video of the conference