The Minister of Innovation and Growth, Milena Stoycheva, and the Minister of Economy and Employment of Finland, Wille Rydman, discussed opportunities for bilateral cooperation in the field of innovation. The two held a work meeting today in Helsinki within the framework of the participation of the Bulgarian delegation at SLUSH 2023. The meeting was also attended by the Deputy Minister of Innovation and Growth Martin Gikov, the Ambassador of Bulgaria in Helsinki Nina Simova, the Ambassador of Finland in Sofia Kristina Kuvaya.

“At the Ministry of Innovation and Growth, we have set ourselves the goal of developing innovation in the country by creating a favorable environment for investments, promoting scientific and development activity, supporting the entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem and effectively directing the financial tools at our disposal to Bulgarian business”, said Minister Stoycheva.

Minister Stoycheva presented the goal of the Ministry of Innovation and Growth to build a network of innovation valleys in the region to be connected in a hub. The idea is to strengthen cooperation between the countries of Southeast Europe in the field of new technologies, digitalization, scientific achievements and the development of the entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem.

Economy Minister Rydman explained that the geopolitical situation currently presents Finland with various challenges in terms of the economy and the development of innovation. He pointed to the demographic crisis as another difficulty facing the Finnish government.

The two also discussed artificial intelligence, robotics, microelectronics, healthcare, culture and creative industries as areas in which Bulgaria and Finland can deepen their economic relations. Stoycheva and Rydman agreed to start work on a memorandum of cooperation in the field of innovation between the two ministries.

The Minister of Innovation and Growth, Milena Stoycheva, also met with the executive director of the Finnish agency for trade, investment and innovation, Business Finland Kemppainen Hannu.

“Attracting high-tech investments for services and products with high added value for our economy is a leading priority for the Ministry of Innovation and Growth,” Minister Stoycheva said. According to her, Bulgaria has the capacity to be a leading country in the development of new technologies and is an attractive place for potential investors, thanks to its macroeconomic and financial stability.

The Minister of Innovation said that since the beginning of the year, a record number of attracted foreign direct investments has been reported for the last ten years, amounting to BGN 3.2 billion. Stoycheva said that the new Promotion Act is also about to be voted on of investments. It foresees state-of-the-art measures, transparency, a form of increasing state aid and various financial and non-financial mechanisms to encourage investors.

“Finland is a leader in innovation in Europe. Budgetary spending on research and development investment as a percentage of GDP is above the European average. For 2021, the spending rate is 3 percent of GDP or 7.5 billion euros. The goal is to reach 4% of GDP in 2030,” said the CEO of Business Finland. The goal is for 1/3 of these costs to come from the government and 2/3 from the private sector. The executive director of the Finnish agency Business Finland emphasized that this ambitious goal is secured in Finnish law with a new law on investment in research and development, which has been in force since this year.

The two sides agreed to continue talks on the possibilities of implementing good practices from Finland in Bulgaria and to work for the implementation of the agreement on bilateral cooperation to increase the research and development potential and investment capacity of the two countries.