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HESS exploratory meetings in Severen Tsentralen (Bulgaria)

The JRC has been collaborating with the municipalities of Ruse and Gabrovo in the Northern Central Region of Bulgaria as part of the Lagging Regions project, aiming to support the development and implementation of smart specialisation.

Promoting tangible actions in support of smart specialisation in Bulgaria case is especially challenging due to the system of territorial administration. Bulgaria has six NUTS2 planning regions, created for the purpose of EU funds allocation, but without administrative and financial functions. 28 NUTS3 districts have their own limited administrative powers, but no financial autonomy (they are appointed and funded entirely by the government). This case provides a welcome opportunity to explore key issues of smart specialisation at municipal level.

The JRC Higher Education in Smart Specialisation (HESS) focusses on strengthening the involvement of universities in the definition of local development policies. As a key first step in a HESS case study, JRC visited on the municipalities of Ruse and Gabrovo on 15 November.  

In Ruse the meeting brought together representatives from the Angel Kanchev University of Ruse, the District, the Municipality and the Association of Danube river municipalities to highlight the relevance of interregional cooperation. In Gabrovo, besides the municipality, the regional educational Directorate of the Ministry of Education and Science and the Technical University, there was also large participation from the municipal high schools, which have professional or dual education focus. The meetings prepared the ground for a mapping exercise of the education system - including both bottlenecks and opportunities – that will support the drafting of a comprehensive action plan to promote their active engagement in smart specialisation activities. The specificities of the local context require better adaptation of the HESS working approaches to local needs, particularly because secondary level education institutions are involved in the project.

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