The second phase of the initiative “Sofia Meets Oslo – Oslo meets Sofia” took place on May 2-5, organized jointly by the team of Sofia Investment Agency (SIA) and Norwegian state agency Innovation Norway, which supports financially companies focusing on innovative business, and United Partners. The initiative aimed at providing opportunities for bilateral business contacts and getting to know the conditions for development within specific industries in both countries in connection with the forthcoming opening of the new grant period 2017-2021. Under this program, the Norwegian financial facility Norway Grants will allocate € 28.5 million to support Bulgarian projects. The Norwegian participation is part of Norway’s policy to award grants to EU member states for projects that are in line with its strategy of linking its economy to investment and development in new sectors, in order to reduce its dependence on the oil industry.
— EEA & Norway Grants (@EEANorwayGrants) May 2, 2017
Norwegian companies and organizations showed strong interest in our ICT sector and actively sought partnerships among the Bulgarian delegation. On the Bulgarian side, 12 companies and 2
branch organizations presented their business and the conditions for doing business in Sofia and Bulgaria. BASCOM and BAIT, and the companies Cleantech Bulgaria, Code Runners, Accedia, Atlantic Way, Nexpur, Stemo, Predistic, Melon, ICB – InterConsult, and D Consult joined the phase “Oslo meets Sofia”. For three consecutive days in two Norwegian cities – Oslo and Skien, Telemark region, companies and organizations from both countries presented projects, potential opportunities for development and ideas.
— OREEC (@OREECnorge) May 3, 2017
That’s what the program was in the three-day event:
Oslo, May 2
Mr Knut Ringstad of Innovation Norway presented the program and objectives of the new programming period for funding under the EEA grants and Norway Grants. Mrs Nadya Soultanova, head of Investment Department at SIA, gave a presentation about Bulgaria’s capital, data on priority industries and the rapidly growing ICT sector, as well as specific opportunities for investment in the city. BASCOM also presented detailed data on the development of the ICT sector in Bulgaria. There were presentations of a number of Norwegian companies, among them Enøkplan Norway – an energy and engineering technology company; InnoVius Norway – a consulting company in the field of technology solutions; NILU Norway – Norway’s largest non-governmental research institute for air and climate change, and SINTEF Norway – institute for applied research, technology and innovation.
Lillestrøm, May 3
The meetings took place in Lillestrøm Science Park – Kjeller – Norway’s largest science and technology park, in Lillestrøm near Oslo. The municipality of Oslo as well as Kjeller Innovation, the largest science centre in Norway, bringing together R&D companies located in Norway and other countries, presented their work. The science centre presented its work on bio-economy, energy and the environment. The presentations continued with OREEC, the largest cluster in Oslo of private companies in the field of renewable energy and environment, and the Institute for Energy Technology, an international organization in the field of R&D in the energy sector.
With this, the hosts presented potential partners for projects in specific areas.
Skien, Telemark region, May 4
All Bulgarian companies presented their work to business representatives of Skien. The host of the Bulgarian organisations was the local office of Innovation Norway with the participation of IKT Telemark as well as many Norwegian companies from the region. It is expected that at least 50% of the funding from the new program “Business Development, Small and Medium Enterprises and Innovation” of state agency Innovation Norway will be used to create and implement “green technologies” in the private sector. The requirement for a Norwegian partner is not obligatory, but its presence will be considered positive for the respective Bulgarian company because it means access to Norwegian experience and know-how, training and the development of bilateral relations.
We strongly believe that the three-day event was useful and interesting for both countries and will lead to the utilisation of the contacts made as well as the implementation of innovative and green projects. In a poll after the end of the initiative, the Bulgarian companies stated they considered the organization and usefulness of the Oslo meetings as excellent. They expressed the view that there is still something to be desired about the state’s knowledge of and its work to promote the strong competencies of Bulgarian companies, as well as being more active in facilitating real contacts with foreign business and attracting investments in Bulgarian projects. The participating companies also said they intended to make further contact with the Norwegian partners and would re-enter such an initiative.