A single market for innovators must be created in Europe, where they are supported and competitive. This was stated by the Minister of Innovation and Growth, Milena Stoycheva, at the opening of the largest event in Europe for startups, innovation and technological progress “Startup Ole 2023”. It is held in Salamanca, Spain for the tenth year in a row, and this year Bulgaria is the guest country. More than 100 start-ups, 150 corporations and investors and a total of more than 2,500 participants from all over Europe took part in it.

The Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA) organized a business delegation of representatives of the Bulgarian startup ecosystem, who participated in exhibitions, meetings and panels, through which they positioned Bulgaria as a place of innovation, which offers good conditions for starting a business.

„One of the main priorities of the Ministry of Innovation and Growth is to support and develop the entrepreneurial culture both in Bulgaria and in Europe,“ said Minister Stoycheva. According to her, it is important that all stakeholders start working together on the “open innovation” model – the academic community and its research and development capacity, business, start-up companies, the community and government. Minister Stoycheva emphasized that in order to develop innovations in Europe and be competitive with the rest of the world, it is necessary for European countries to partner and interact.

The Minister of Innovation and Growth participated in a discussion on the internationalization of entrepreneurship, in which she discussed the construction of innovation ecosystems, finding talent and qualified labor, as well as the mechanisms for supporting start-up companies and entrepreneurs in Bulgaria.

The way the “open innovation” model applies to start-ups should also apply to regions – smaller countries should be included in the innovation ecosystem to provide a different perspective and at the same time use the successful practices of well-developed countries.

“Bulgaria is in third place in Southeast Europe in terms of the number of start-up companies and in second place as an attractive destination for opening startup offices. Bulgaria is in third place in the world in terms of IT specialists per capita,” Stoycheva also said. She emphasized that this is indicative of the well-developed entrepreneurial ecosystem in our country, as well as the potential of talents.

The Minister of Innovation and Growth stated that in addition to human potential and a good environment, our country also has a financial resource under the Ministry of Innovation and Growth to support startups and entrepreneurs, through the Fund of Funds and the Bulgarian Development Bank. She said that a “company with variable capital” was recently introduced in Bulgaria. This is expected to keep Bulgarian startups in Bulgaria, which contributes positively to the local economy, rather than requiring them to register abroad.

Within the framework of the event, the organizers presented Minister Stoycheva with the special award for our country – “Best Global Impact” for the promotion and development of start-up companies.