AmCham Bulgaria Establishes Research, Innovation & Start-up Committee

  • The new committee aims at further shaping a result-oriented startup and innovation business environment in Bulgaria.
  • RIS committee is chaired by George Alexandrov, Board Member.

December 2nd, 2021, Sofia – The Board of Directors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria decided at yesterday’s regular meeting the establishment of the “Research, Innovation & Startup” Committee. It will be chaired by Mr. George Alexandrov, Board Member. This decision is aligned with the Chamber’s strategic priorities for the period 2021 – 2022.

Over the past couple of months, Mr. Alexandrov with the support of the AmCham Team collected feedback from various stakeholders that have role in the current business environment of startups, venture funds, authorities, academia, and members. The latter took part in an internal survey to answer how they can contribute in the future committee.

“We see this new committee as instrumental in our pursue to further develop the business environment of Bulgaria. AmCham is among the organizations with highest impact in the country. This, we believe, should be materialized in fostering and shaping a business climate that supports and nurtures startup companies and it is a catalyst for innovation,” said George Alexandrov.

Research and Innovation Goals

The committee aims at fostering the creation of an ecosystem with successful models for technology transfers from AmCham members or sister organizations to the State Agency for Research and Innovation. The ultimate goal is to create and implement a local model for technological transfer.

The committee will work closely with academia and Amcham members to fill the gap between the scientific potential of the universities and the needs of the business.

Its leadership will constantly push to improve the quality and type of data collected and shared via the open data website.

Startup Support Goals

Based on stakeholders’ feedback, including from BESCO, there is a need to amend the existing Commercial Law to meet the new startup reality. This should become a joint cause to be realized working with other AmCham Committees and bilateral- and/or business associations.

The committee will work to identify other ways of sourcing and funding of startups and scale-ups. There is, also, a need to create an environment to help startups by validating their ideas. Instrumental here could be AmCham members and academia. The chamber is rich with built relationships and is in position to create new ones to be the fuel to Bulgarian companies in their U.S. market entry.

Committees and Working Groups Development

Current committees of AmCham Bulgaria are Energy and Mineral Resources, Healthcare, Human Capital and Education Committee, Tax and Finance, Digital Economy (and E-Governance), Rule of Law and Legislative Reform, and Research, Innovation & Startups.

In addition, there are several working groups: EU Green Deal, Payments & Fintech, Quality Management, and Communication & CSR.

AmCham Bulgaria Priorities in Detail

The four strategic priorities are Regional and Transatlantic Advocacy; Sustainable Business Climate and Investments; Digital Economy and Innovation; and Human Capital Development.

Regional and Transatlantic Advocacy priority continues to position AmCham Bulgaria as the main transatlantic voice in Bulgaria. It aims at promoting trade and investment between the United States and Bulgaria via various regional (CEE, SEE) and international initiatives (EU-level, EU-U.S. dialog). This priority includes engagement with strategic transactions, sector-wide cooperation within the AmChams in Europe network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria, and the Bulgarian Government. The Chamber continues to put specific emphasis on the cooperation and dialog with the Western Balkan countries. An important engagement remains the Three Seas Initiative.

The Sustainable Business Climate and Investments priority includes, on the one hand, the general efforts for promoting the country as an attractive investment destination that is rich in talents, opportunities, and resources, and on the other hand – putting serious efforts to improve the business and investment climate in Bulgaria. The Chamber will continue to focus on the transformation of strategic sectors, such as Energy (Energy Transition, EU Green Deal) and Healthcare (Healthcare System Reconstruction). The bottom line is that Rule of Law remains its highest priority that goes horizontally in each activity and advocacy of the Chamber. The goal is to eliminate the remaining hurdles in front the sustainable economic development in Bulgaria, red tape, fair justice, etc.

The Digital Economy and Innovation priority involves focusing on the development and deployment of policies and activities that foster digital transformation, and improve cyber security & privacy. Within this scope, the Chamber will work towards the creation of a fully functional Start-up & Innovation Ecosystem in Bulgaria. Based on previous experience, it is critical for the country to have its own development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Strategy that comply with the EU regulation and that benefit from the technological advancement of the United States of America.

Furthermore, the Chamber will continue striving to promote the already signed bilateral agreements between Bulgaria and the United States, such as “Clean Networks”.

The topics related to human development and labor market improvement go under the umbrella of Human Capital Development priority. The activities will focus on creating policies to strengthen the labor market, and addressing the demographic challenges with quality measures. The leadership will work towards the development of a multi-stakeholder ecosystem and approach in three main streamlines: future of work, education, and legislation improvement to attract international talents and ease their access to the Bulgarian labor market.

There are two overarching imperatives that are the real enablers of all priorities above. They are Rule of Law, as well as continuing to increase the engagement of the members. Thus, the added value to all stakeholders certainly will lead towards an improved reputation of the Chamber.