Companies are flooded with information on a daily basis, but it is difficult for them to sift out the right one for their growth. SCALE UP 2022 aims to offer Bulgarian small and medium enterprises the appropriate tools for development of innovative products and services, entering the foreign market and sustainable growth.
SCALE UP 2022 brought together technology suppliers, manufacturing companies, clusters and organizations funding innovative technologies from different parts of Europe. Participants had the opportunity to learn more about the planned national and European funding for innovation programs to support internationalization and market trends.
The event was organized by ICT Cluster, together with Cluster for Digital Transformation an Innovation, DigiTech 4.0 and I4MS – European initiative supporting the implementation of digital technologies in manufacturing SMEs and mid-caps, with the financial support of the European Commission within the framework of projects: C2Future, DIH-World, BRIDGE, and EXCITE. The event was supported by Sofia Tech Park as a partner and local contact point of EEN. The three-day event took place at the Grand Hotel Sofia, from June 7th to 9th.
Moderators of the event were Hristo Nikolov (Bloomberg TV) Kristian Mihailov (Association of Robotics and Automation – PARA) and Todor Mitov (ICT Cluster). The first day facilitated 71 B2B meetings between participants from 17 European countries. The organizers inform that the registrants can continue to arrange and hold meetings online meetings through the B2Match platform until the end of June. At the same time, a working visit was conducted to the Laboratory Complex of Sofia Tech Park.
The second day was dedicated to the digital transformation and funding opportunities for innovative projects. The event was opened by Mr. Petar Statev with an inspiring session on the importance of digital transformation, entering foreign markets and the role of the ICT Cluster offering custom assistance to the needs of Bulgarian SMEs. Attendees had the opportunity to learn more about the national financial instruments of the Ministry of Innovation and Growth, the Capital Investment Fund and the Fund of Funds. Sofia Tech Park and EEN presented their partnership in supported innovative companies.
SCALE UP 2022 continued with the success stories of Bulgarian companies, which with the support of the ICT Cluster have received cascading funding for their innovative projects:
– Fold – Stone paper. Europack Bulgaria M EOOD, funded by Better Factory
– CATRobo – Cloud Based Digital Twin, Stefan Karastanev, Spesima, funded by BOWI
– New products from Post Industrial Recyclable Material (PIRM), Assoc. Prof. Yavor Sofronov, 3DCLab (DIH World)
– DATE – Digital Air Traffic Unification & Management, Lulcho Georgiev, Dronamix, Dronamics, (UFO)
– 4F – Flying Forest Fires Fighting solution, Alexander Savov, Comicon (UFO)
The I4MS experts presented the open calls for cascading funding. 35 million euros are available to support the digital transformation through cascading funding. Interested companies can contact the ICT Cluster team, a local partner of the initiatives for more details and support on the following procedures:
June 9-th was dedicated to the opportunities for internationalization. The conference day started with Sebastiano Toffaletti, from the European Digital SME Alliance, who spoke about the European policy to support innovation.
The participants in the event had the opportunity to get familiar with the projects BRIDGE, C2Future and EXCITE:
- BRIDGE – supports the internationalization of high-tech start-ups from the AI and Data industries, especially in the US, Israel and the OAU
- C2Future provides access to the markets in Mexico, Colombia and the United States to companies developing products and services in the field of smart cities.
- The partners of EXCITE project – Silicon Saxony, Mazovia Cluster ICT, SCS Cluster, GAIA, Business Hive Vilnius and DTI Cluster, have presented themselves as well as the scheme for exchange of experience and the benefits for SMEs under the Cluster Excellence and Xchange scheme.
- The Space Bridge Fund – an investment in fast-growing, technology-oriented start-ups in the space, AI and IoT industries, led by Mazovia Cluster ICT
The support for internationalization of SMEs by the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA) was presented by the new director of the Directorate “Internationalization of SMEs” – Lachezar Petkov, and Slaveya Georgieva presented the initiatives of Sofia Municipality.
5 Bulgarian companies presented their innovative products:
– Smartcom Bulgaria – SYNAPSE & FYBEREYE
– Loren Networks – Angie IoT innovative IoT solution
– Nearsoft – Management of production operations and maintenance
– ICB – Digital Transformation Solutions
The event ended with an active discussion about the challenges and opportunities for clusters to support small companies. The discussion was attended by representatives of 15 clusters from 10 countries, representing 5 European Strategic Partnerships. The clusters united around the idea of continuing their cooperation, exchanging ideas and experiences in order to be more useful for business.