„VALLEY OF DEEP TECH INNOVATIONS – PLOVDIV“ (VDTI – Plovdiv) was established on 6th April 2023 as an association in public benefit under the Bulgarian Law on Non-Profit Legal Entities.
The “VDTI_Plovdiv” Association is developing a regional innovation ecosystem in the South Central region of the Republic of Bulgaria as a key component of the New European Innovation Agenda within the European Union’s framework.
The initiators of establishing the “Valley of Deep Technological Innovations – Plovdiv” association are “Plovdiv Tech Park” PLC, “Technology and Innovation Corporation” PLC and “IT Academia” JSC.
Currently, the members of the association are more than 80 legal entities and individuals: scientific research organizations, researchers, entrepreneurs, investors and innovative start-ups from Plovdiv and the region. The innovation ecosystem is built on the Quadruple Helix Model of innovation with the four main actors: universities, industry, government bodies and civil society, which is about moving from a knowledge economy to economy of the society.
WHAT IS DEEP TECH?
According to the European Institute of Innovation and Technology Deep (EIT) Deep Tech is a classification of an institution, an organization or a start-up company, with the expressed objective of providing advanced and emerging technology solutions to deep societal challenges. They present scientific or engineering challenges requiring lengthy research and development, and large capital investment before successful commercialization. Their primary risk is technical risk, while market risk is often significantly lower due to the clear potential value of solution to society. The underlying scientific or engineering problems being solved by deep tech companies generate valuable intellectual property and are hard to reproduce. Moreover, the solutions provided by deep technology and applications are critical for solving the complex global challenges that humanity faces, including climate change, sustainable energy or health.
EIT SUGGESTS A LIST OF FIFTEEN DEEP TECH SECTORS AS FOLLOWS:
1. Advanced Computing / Quantum Computing
2. Advanced Manufacturing
3. Advanced Materials
4. Aerospace, Automotive and Remote Sensing
5. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, including Big Data
6. Biotechnology and Life Sciences
7. Communications and Networks, including 5G
8. Cybersecurity and Data Protection
9. Electronics and Photonics
10. Internet of Things, W3C, Semantic Web
12. Semiconductors (microchips)
13. Sustainable Energy and Clean Technologies
14. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Metaverse
15. Web 3.0, including Blockchain, Distributed Ledgers, NFTs
According to the European Commission, the purpose of deep tech innovation is to provide concrete solutions to societal problems, the source of which is the deep interaction between the latest scientific and technological achievements and the deep impact in the target areas of application.
Deep-tech innovations are often radical and can create new markets or disrupt existing ones. The time required to move from basic science to applied technology in deep technology exceeds the development time spent by start-ups based on pervasive technologies (“shallow technologies”) such as mobile applications, websites and e-commerce services. For example, AI technology took decades to develop, and now AI companies are developing rapidly in many fields.
Almost every startup pitches itself as tech, yet a company selling a traditional product or service implementing existing technology (like commercial platforms) is not the equivalent of actual technological and scientific progress with corporate implications. To distinguish one phenomenon from another, the term “deep technologies” was coined.
Deep tech is technology that is based on cutting-edge scientific advances and discoveries and is characterized by the need to stay at the technological forefront by constant interaction with new ideas and results from the lab. Deep tech is distinct from ‘high tech’ which tends to refer only to R&D intensity.
Support from universities and research organizations:
On June 19th, 2023 “VDTI-Plovdiv” received a letter of support from the University of Food Technologies, Plovdiv – a unique academic center for education and research in food science and technology – the only one in the Balkans.
On July 4th, 2023 a Memorandum of Strategic Partnership was signed between the “VDTI-Plovdiv” Association and “Institute of Food Preservation and Food Quality” – Plovdiv (IFPQ).
On July 31st, 2023 “VDTI-Plovdiv” Association received a letter of support from the Rector of the Agricultural University – Plovdiv.
On September 11th, 2023 a Memorandum of Strategic Partnership was signed between the Association “Valley of Deep Technological Innovations-Plovdiv” and the Higher School of Agribusiness and Regional Development, Plovdiv.
The “Valley of deep technological innovations – Plovdiv” project has the support of managers of Technical University Sofia – Plovdiv Branch, “Maritsa” Institute of Vegetable Crops, Institute of Fruit Growing – Plovdiv, Plovdiv Energy Agency, “Academician Blagovest Sendov” Professional High School of Informatics and Computer Science – Plovdiv and many other scientific and scientific-applied organizations in the Plovdiv region.
Support from European, Governmental and Local authorities and Employers’ organizations:
On April 28th, 2023, the regional project for the development of “Valley of deep technological innovations – Plovdiv” was supported by the National Council of the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association – the biggest employers’ organization in Bulgaria.
On June 9th, 2023 “VDTI-Plovdiv” received a letter of support from the Regional Governor of Plovdiv Region, Mr. Angel Stoev, and a Memorandum of Strategic Cooperation was signed between the Regional Administration Plovdiv, Bulgaria and DDTI-Plovdiv
On July 18th, 2023 “DDTI-Plovdiv” received a letter of support from the Mayor of the Municipality of Plovdiv and the Chairman of the Development Council of the South Central Region of the Republic of Bulgaria.
On August 7th, 2023 “VDTI-Plovdiv” received a letter of support from the Minister of Innovation and Growth of Bulgaria, Mrs. Milena Stoycheva.
On 14th September 2023 the “VDTI-Plovdiv” association organized an International Conference in International Fair Plovdiv (UFI and CEFA member) “The New Wave of Deep Tech Innovations in EU” and the participant of the Conference were greeted with greeting addresses by the President of Republic of Bulgaria Mr. Rumen Radev and by the Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mrs. Maria Gabriel.
On 10th October 2023 the “Valley for Deep Technological Innovations – Plovdiv” Association achieved success in the preliminary procedure and the South Central region of the Republic of Bulgaria was included on the European map of regions which expressed interest in building a Regional Innovation Valley and creating partnerships with other valleys.
On 16th November 2023 representatives of the “Valley for Deep Technological Innovations – Plovdiv” Association were official guests at a meeting with the European Commissioner Iliana Ivanova on issues related to development of regional innovation valleys under the New European Innovation Agenda, which was launched in 2022. The European Commissioner noted that such meetings at the regional level are extremely important for her.
European Commissioner Iliana Ivanova expressed the opinion that the development of regional innovation valleys is the future, because even strong innovators cannot be competitive on the international stage alone, but must work together.
The Goals of the VDTI-Plovdiv Association are:
- Development of a regional valley for deep technological innovations as a key component of the New European Innovation Agenda within the European Union’s framework.
- Foster a thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurs, researchers, and investors who collaborate and share their knowledge and expertise in the field of deep technologies.
- Encourage deep technological innovations rooted in cutting-edge science, technology, and engineering, often combining advancements in the physical, biological, and digital domains, with the potential to deliver solutions that address global challenges and drive transformative changes.
- Support scientific research by fostering a culture of collaboration, diversity, and experimentation among top researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors. This collaborative environment will nurture new ideas and technologies, stimulating economic growth and solving global challenges by bringing together stakeholders from various sectors and disciplines within the region.
- Establish a network of universities and industries in the region, along with research and technological infrastructures, to facilitate the creation, utilization, and dissemination of new knowledge, which is vital for advancement.
- Stimulate investment in research and development, while promoting experimentation and risk-taking. These endeavors will provide resources and funding for startups and researchers to explore new ideas and delve into deep technologies.
- Drive efforts to transform higher education institutions into regional innovation engines.
- Provide support in accessing financing through diverse sources, including European programs, venture capital, business angels, national subsidies, and more.
- Create an environment that attracts the brightest minds in the region, fostering collaboration among them to develop and commercialize disruptive technologies capable of creating new market opportunities and shaping the world.
- Support the establishment of vibrant labs and incubators, facilitating connections between innovators and public administration representatives to deliver innovative solutions that address societal needs.
- Enhance cross-sector mobility, higher education, research, and technological infrastructure to encourage more effective engagement with regional and international industrial partners.
- Initiate programs to attract and retain the best talent, including top researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors from around the globe. By providing access to research facilities, mentorship, and funding opportunities, these programs will enable them to develop and commercialize their innovations.
- Develop schemes for newly established enterprises that promote policies favoring startups and facilitate access to talent, including international resources.
- Contribute to the deepening of international partnerships, diversify trade relations, and leverage the openness and attractiveness of the EU single market.
- Establish programs promoting entrepreneurship and women’s leadership, ensuring their inclusion in innovative projects and providing resources to turn their ideas into reality. Enhancing the visibility of women in the innovation sector, these programs also aim to recognize and appreciate their contributions to progress and innovation.
- Advocate for and protect the interests of innovative companies and research organizations in the region through effective communication, advocacy, benchmarking, networking, and sharing information about deep technological innovations.
- Create conditions for higher education institutions, scientific organizations, and innovative companies in the region to internationalize through partnerships and the application of the latest advancements in deep innovations, particularly by collaborating with deep technology firms and research organizations
Activities for achieving the Goals:
- Organizing roundtable discussions, conferences, seminars, and webinars on issues related to deep technologies and deep-tech innovations to promote open communication and knowledge sharing.
- Conducting extensive research and development activities with a focus on deep technologies and deep technological innovations.
- Establishing a connected ecosystem through collaboration memoranda for the coming years, planning the Association’s activities, and securing funding from membership funds and grants from the EU, as well as providing Foundations with access to the growing philanthropic activities of the EU and India.
- Taking actions to attract and retain talent in the region through activities that ensure the development and flow of crucial talents in the field of deep technologies within the region, the country, and the EU as a whole.
- Developing a strategy for building industrial clusters based on the shared use of research infrastructure, higher education institutions, research and technology organizations, and the industry.
- Organizing a talent festival that facilitates connections between students and newly established enterprises, supporting the creation of incubators in higher education institutions in the region, and introducing new initiatives for innovators in schools.
Additional economic activities:
- Development or implementation of projects and programs, organization and conduct of trainings, interviews, round tables, seminars, conferences, and other events related to deep technologies and deep-tech innovations.
- Activities to support education in higher education institutions in the region, including participation in alliances of European universities, enterprises, and centers for scientific research and innovation, which involve training specialists in fields such as data science, artificial intelligence (AI), cyber security, and quantum technologies to support the future implementation of such technologies in all economic sectors.
- Activities to recognize the importance of vocational education and training – support for centers of excellence in vocational education and training, which provide a high-quality environment for innovation throughout the EU and within the regions, including through services such as clusters and business incubators for newly established enterprises, alongside entrepreneurial initiatives for participants.
- Development of analyses and reports on the state of deep technologies and deep-tech innovations in Bulgaria and Europe.
- Publishing and dissemination of periodic and non-periodic publications and online media
The management body of the “Valley for Deep Technological Innovations – Plovdiv” Association is the Management Board, which consists of thirteen members.
The Management board ensures the implementation of the decisions of the general assembly, determines the order and organizes the performance of the association’s activities.
The Association is represented before third parties by:
1. Dimitar Gishin – Chairman of the Management Board
2. Venelin Yordanov – Executive Director
3. Angel Angelov – Secretary General
The Scientific Board is a body that supports the activities of the Management Board in achieving the goals of the “Valley for Deep Technological Innovations – Plovdiv” Association.
Currently, the Scientific Board consists of twelve leading scientists in their field with the Chairman Prof. Dr. Vladislav Popov
REGIONAL COORDINATION BOARD
The Regional Coordination Board is an organizational body of the Association.
The Regional Coordination Board is elected by the General Assembly and consists of fifteen natural persons.
The District Governors of the districts of the South Central region of the Republic of Bulgaria – Plovdiv, Pazardzhik, Haskovo, Kardjali and Smolyan are members of the Regional Coordination Council by law.
The Regional Coordination Board determines the guidelines for the work of the Management Board; Develops and adopts strategies for innovation development in the region and supports the development of long-term and short-term innovation plans; Evaluates and selects innovative projects for funding; Monitors the progress and effectiveness of programs and projects undertaken by the association; Develops policies aimed at promoting innovation in the region; Interacts with municipal, regional and national authorities to support innovation efforts, etc.
The control body of the Association is the Control Board, which consists of six members.
The Control board checks the activities of the Association and reports its work to the General Assembly.
The Chairman of the Control Board is Dr. Eng. Petar Neychev