Sofia Tech Park Opens to Help Academia and Businesses Interact
Bulgaria's President Rosen Plevneliev and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov have officially opened Sofia Tech Park, a project that has long-been described as a key step toward a knowledge-based economy.
From the beginning (in 2012) it has been aimed at helping science and research in Bulgaria interact with businesses more efficiently, and strongly supporting startup companies in Bulgaria. Its CEO Elitsa Panayotova has repeatedly said projects encouraging public-private partnerships will be backed by the company.
Eleven laboratories for information and communications technology (ICT), biotechnology and green energy will be located on the territory of the park based on Tsarigradsko Shose Blvd, on the outskirts of Sofia.
There will also be a special laboratory for swift development of prototypes, with the laboratories expected to be fully completed by March next year.
The official name of the project is Innovation + Technology Network, with its aim being to ease the cooperation between different companies and to become the first place which generates added value for the economy.
Among the first residents of the park are the Eleven fund together with three of the companies it has invested in.
EU investment into Sofia Tech Park is estimated at EUR 36.2 M (through the European Regional Development Fund, allocated under 2014-2020 operational programs), while the rest comes from the state and private companies.
Additional funding is expected to be disbursed under the next program period to complete construction.
In the words of President Plevneliev, who officially inaugurated the facility, the project generating 15 700 IT job openings would place Bulgaria "on the map of the future".
Bulgaria's Economy Minister Bozhidar Lukarski was also present at the inauguration.
EU Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Cretu, Slovakia's President Andrej Kiska, and Bavarian Minister-President Horst Seehofer were among the foreign officials attending the event.
"To me, Sofia Tech Park is not only buildings. It is a symbol of innovation, new energy. We should openly speak and be ready for the challenges of the contemporary world," the website Dnevnik.bg quotes Kiska as saying at the ceremony.
"The most important thing for us as politicians is to encourage young people, to make our societies stronger. To keep thinking how our countries should develop, to make a transition from the Iron Age to the age of technology... Sofia [the name of Bulgaria's capital] means "Wisdom". We should be wiser."
The Bulgarian government is pinning its hopes on the project as a means to retain young and talented people in the country, providing them with opportunities for the future.
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