Bulgaria Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s economic performance was significantly affected by the global financial crisis. Despite the fact that subsequent annual growth rates have been robust its GDP was 52% of the EU average in 2018. The country had recovered its pre-crisis employment levels by 2017, and its 5.2% unemployment rate in 2018 compared favourably to the EU average of 6.9%. However, levels of poverty, social exclusion and income inequality are still among the highest in the EU and regional disparities are growing. Five of Bulgaria's six planning regions are among the 20 poorest regions in the EU, whilst the Sofia region (accounting for just 18.8 % of the population) generates nearly half of the country’s GDP.

Bulgaria is a Modest Innovator according to the European Innovation Scoreboard, ranking 27th in the EU in terms of innovation performance. Its GERD (expenditure on R&D as a % of GDP) was 0.75% in 2017. The public sector’s R&D spending is among the lowest in the EU amounting to only 0.21 % of GDP in 2017, far from the EU average of 0.69 %. Business R&D expenditure is 0.53% of GDP, with the private sector the main actor within the national innovation system. Nevertheless, Bulgarian enterprises show low levels of innovation, competitiveness and collaboration with academia. The country has a large number of universities and research institutes, but most of them show low performance in research and production of high-quality scientific publications.

Bulgaria has a National Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation 2014–2020 as well as some regional / local S3s (Severen – Tsentralen Region, Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Ruse). The national strategy identifies four thematic priority areas for the whole country: Mechatronics and clean technologies; Informatics and information and communication technologies; Industry for a healthy life and bio-technology; and New technologies in creative and recreational industries.

The Bulgarian S3 is managed at the central level by the strategic body. This is supported by an Interinstitutional Working Group and an Administrative Partnership Network. A central technical body ensures overall coordination of S3 governance in the country and the bottom-up body consists of the centrally appointed Regional Partnership Network and other stakeholders. 


Events Events

S3 Targeted Support – Horizontal Activities

The event will explore the issue of international collaboration in relation to the implementation of S3 policies. The day will include...

Connecting present and future Smart Specialisation Strategy: the challenges for governance, industrial transition and international collaboration

The JRC Lagging Regions project organised a seminar “Connecting present and future Smart Specialisation Strategy: the challenges for governance,...
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Workshop Highlights: “Strengthening RIS3 Governance and the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process” – Chios, Greece

As part of the RIS3 targeted support project on Lagging Regions and with the objective of supporting preparations for the next programming...

An initial exploratory meeting took place in Seville on the Review of the Industrial Transition in Andalusia

The Joint Research Centre in close collaboration with the Agency for Innovation and Development of Andalusia (IDEA) and the Andalusian Energy...

First fact-finding and stakeholder consultation meetings for the Review of Industrial Transition of Greece took place in Athens

First fact-finding and stakeholder consultation meetings for the Review of Industrial Transition of Greece took place on the 10th October 2019...
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