Like most of the Eastern Europe economies, in the early 90s Bulgaria experienced transition from a centrally planned economy and undergone market liberalisation. The economic growth has been significant in the service sector and the industry where substantial increase in the innovation activities has taken place.
Our presence in the country started in 2014. We are currently working on two projects related to Green Industry Innovation and development of more efficient and enviromental friendly factory performance.
The need to motivate and support young people classified as NEETs (youth not in Education, Employment or Training) to start their own business has brought together 6 organizations, aiming to boost youth employment across Europe, under a strategic 3-year project called “Active Youth Entrepreneurship Network”, known as “AYEN”*. The aim of the project is to build a transnational entrepreneurial network that facilitates NEETs primarily in the age group of 25-29 to see needs/opportunities within their own community that can be developed into new businesses and jobs.
Many young people that are nowadays classified as NEETs have the necessary education and skills to contribute to the development of their societies, but, according to the European Commission, are often disconnected to the demand side (economy). The objective of the project AYEN is to build a transnational entrepreneurial network that facilitates NEETs primarily in the age group of 25-29 to see needs/opportunities within their own community that can be developed into new businesses and jobs. Through a comprehensive set of innovative tools, the partners from five Southeastern European countries will use and strengthen existing regional entrepreneurial communities to foster sustainable job creation.
The main output of the project will be strengthened regional entrepreneurial support communities with integrated support schemes for NEETs with entrepreneurship potential. It will be
achieved through 300 empowered former NEET youth establishing 150 startups and generating 600 new jobs across the five countries where the project is taking place. The direct target groups are entrepreneurial support communities, experienced mentors, investors and the end beneficiaries are NEET 25-29.
The project lasts for 36 months (from 01.06.2018 – 28.05.2021) across the six project locations, represented by the project partners. They are:
Supported by Innovation Norway, IDN and technology partner ICB Digital is developing a Cloud-based Smart Factory solution for manufacturing SMEs. The development takes place in close collaboration with manufacturing partner HTS Maskinteknikk.
Going digital and running a digitalization project has become priority number one on the agenda for many enterprises in all sizes and various sectors of the economy. Digitalization and automation are transforming manufacturing in several ways including intelligent products communication (IoT), digital supply chain, automation based on robotics and computer-aided manufacturing and automation of internal processes.
However, researches show that so far mostly large enterprises have managed to empower their digitalization projects, supported by extensive investments into IT infrastructure and human capacity. Considering that for larger enterprises enabling the SMART factory could be a matter of planning and managing their available IT budgets, for the small and
medium-sized business, keeping up with the new digital market trends is a challenge in terms of available financial and human resources.
Looking at the European level statistics, only 5% of SME enterprises have started their digitalization projects. If we look into details into the Norwegian manufacturing industry, we won’t be able to see much better results. Moreover, the industry is literally struggling for the past five years, not being able to generate profit and to grow.
IDN and its partners aim at developing an Industry 4.0 solution that is affordable, accessible and relatively easy to integrate and tailored to the business needs of the customers, this will enable manufacturing SMEs to become Factories of the future.
The main objective of Industry4SME is to offer an affordable pay-as-you-go Industry 4.0 solution in the cloud (Microsoft Azure), tailored to the production processes of small to medium enterprises. The platform will drive the digital transformation of the production in the direction of smart maintenance, digital supply chain, and new data-driven business models.
Following the key Industry 4.0 design principles, Industry4SME aims to inter-connect business-level software systems (such as ERP, PLM, CRM) with operational data from the field, thus allowing observed manufacturing operations to be compared against planned. In a contribution to the third Industry 4.0 pillar, the system will support human operators in their day-to-day decision-making tasks.
In Sofia prison in Bulgaria’s capital a new green production facility is set up. The prisoners now get valuable training producing solar panel collectors and water heaters. IDN has been involved in sharing expertise on equipment and design of the production workshop as well as expertise on EU regulations regarding working conditions and environmental impact.
In a renovated building in the yard of Sofia prison – the largest prison in Bulgaria, a new green production facility for production of solar panel collectors and water heaters opened recently with support from the Norway Grants green industry innovation programme. To date, more than 130 prisoners have been trained to produce solar panels and boilers for heat and hot water. The workshop is equipped with modern machinery following environmental requirements. The technological process is based on the principles of efficiency, recycling and almost no-waste production.
“The project is a good example for a green business model, where environmental practices will be incorporated across the value chain of the products,” said Norway’s ambassador to Bulgaria Guro Katharina Vikør after visiting the workshop recently.
The project is carried out by the state enterprise GE ‘Prisons Production’ in cooperation with International Development Norway AS. GE ‘Prisons Production’ is responsible for economic activities in places of detention in Bulgaria and placement on the market of the products produced in the prisons. IDN has been involved in sharing expertise on equipment and design of the production workshop as well as expertise on EU regulations regarding working conditions and environmental impact.
GE “Prison Production” is a public enterprise responsbile for economic activities of Bulgarian places of detention and placement of their products on the market. Main activities include: development and improvement of manufacturing units (workshops) in places of detention and their equipment with security and technical facilities, construction, Prisoners are occupied in production activities in the following fields and respective workshops: Construction/Repairs/ Livestock and crop/Metallurgy/ Furniture manufacture/Clothing manufacture/Production of PVC window frames/ Woodworking/Ceramic manufacture/ Industrial services;
“The project results will not only have economic and environmental impact, but is also having a very important social impact. The prisoners will acquire new skills, which will give them a good advantage on the labor market after leaving the prison,” Vikør said.
To involve the prisoners even more, the renovation work of the building was done by the prisoners.
The project was funded by Green Industry Innovation Programme in Bulgaria and covered adaptation of the building and provided equipement in order to set up a new “green” workshop in place of detention in Sofia for production of solar panel collectors – black, selective and vacuum-tubular and water heaters for environmentally friendly manufacturing of heat power for heating and hot water.
Company Cherkezov OOD sine 2005 is working with the processing of marble, limestone and granite. Te goal to achieve within a project is to introduce water recycling into the production proces and improve green performace of the company. The investment done in the project will cover instalation of the waste water treatment plant wihich will reduce water consumption in m3 per year – from 50 000 m3 to 5 000 m3 and in pararell in order to increase sales and buisness opportunities new polishing line will be installed in the factory. IDN will provide in to the project knowledge, especially support in designing terms of reference, advisory in production layout and operation and most of all we will help to develop possible solution of efficient management of the waste and sludge obtained in the proces.
Last but not least Cherkezov OOD is an active community stakeholder. Aside from its common business activities, its working closely with Strumyani Municipality, Blagoevgrad Municipality (the capital of the south-west region) and Blagoevgrad Chamber of Commerce due to the relevance of the project for the regional economic and environmental development, which also go along with the strategy and values applied in IDN
The company was established in 2005 and its main activity is the manufacture of marble, limestone and granite. The company is located in close proximity to E-79 main road and Struma River. It exports it’s production to Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and Austria. The company’s production equipment includes Bulgarian and Italian machinery. It is a direct importer of marble from Greece and granite from Italy.
The production equipment of the company comprises of:
The company’spremisesencompass10 da. The approximate annual water usage for production purposes (stone cutting and processing) is between 40 000 and 50 000m3. Currently there is no wastewater treatment plant (WWTP).
Mr. Stølan holds a M.Sc. degree at the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH), within technical-economic planning in regional and urban areas. Master thesis focused on Regional and Local Economic Impacts of Petrochemical Industrialization.
Presently he is the President/CEO of International Development Norway. He was a Research Director at SINTEF, one of the largest Scandinavian research institutes , in the period 1997-2003, and 2004-2008, as well as scientist in SINTEF Industrial Management, Economics and Logistics. As a researcher on “commercialization of technology” he was engaged at Surrey Technology Centre, Surrey University, Guildford UK, 2003-2004. He also has experience as assistant professor, Department of Managerial Economic and Operations Research, at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
Mr. Stølan has extensive international experience in project development management and consulting, local economic development, innovation and trans-national technology transfer. More than 20 years of practice experience in delivering and managing SME innovation and competitiveness actions. In total more than 12 years of experiences in building up and manage research activities in SINTEF and proven competences in terms of R&D and innovation within Norway, Europe and developing countries. Direct access to numerous institutions and networks regarding technology innovation, innovative SMEs, regional development and science and technology policy. Experience in managing projects funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA), EU funded: Framework Programmes, Competitiveness Innovation Programmes (CIP), EEA grants, but also private clients (industry).
Of significant importance is his engagement at the projects with technology transfer and commercialization of technology, innovative solutions in solar energy and their contribution to decentralized robust solutions and job creation (project Technology & Business Cooperation Norway-Uzbekistan), Waste Treatment Solutions (2011-2013 Serbia), Process and Supplier Industry Development based on Natural Gas in Uzbekistan (2010-2011), Local Innovation and Business Development in Bioenergy and Plastic Recycling, Romania (2009-2011¬). In the period 2008-2012 he also provided support in Technological Innovations in Micro Combined Cooling Heating Power Romania (mCCHP Innovation), WEEE Technology Transfer and Promotion between Norway-Poland, as well as Environmental Technology Transfer Mid-Norway Poland and Joint Applied Research and Economic Cooperation between Norway and Kharhov Region.
Graduate from International Relations faculty at the University of Wrocław , Administration at Law and Administration Faculty in at the University of Warsaw in progress. International experience in development, management and implementation of projects related to the technology transfer, innovation and SME support, funded by public mechanism, mainly of EU Structural Funds and EEA FM projects. Expertise in feasibility studies, application and tendering documentation Experience in running commercial entities in international environment.
Rune have a Master of Science, Political Science and Government from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). He specialized within the fields of International political economy, political risk analysis and foreign direct investment. Through his education Rune has gained valuable International experience in India and London.
He came from the position as Project Manager / Consultant in the Industrial Development Unit in the Municipality of Stjørdal, where he facilitated for new and existing businesses within sectors such as transportation, logistics, trade, travel and tourism and manufacturing. The position within an governmental institution gave him valuable experience from policy development and opportunities within the public sector.
Rune is currently engaged as Project Manager at IDN (location: Oslo, Norway).