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Enhancing the Contribution of Bulgaria’s Public Research to Innovation: A Survey-based Diagnostic BULGARIA COUNTRY NOTE

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While Bulgaria has experienced strong economic growth in the decades following its transition from communism, it remains a largely factor-driven economy reliant on low wages and resource-based exports. Catching up to the living standards of regional peers will require boosting productivity, and a key step to increasing productivity is to strengthen Bulgaria’s science, technology, and innovation (STI) performance, which ranks among the worst in the EU across multiple indicators. Transitioning to a more productive, innovation-based economy will require improvements to the country’s poor-performing research system – particularly the public research sector, which plays a smaller role both in funding and performing research and development (R&D) compared to regional peers. Bulgarian public research institutions are largely under-funded compared to European peers, suffer from fragmented research competencies, and lack a critical mass of researchers, which contribute to the poor performance of public research institutions in terms of scientific and technological outputs and impacts. Further, these institutions lack linkages to the private sector, which inhibits the transfer of knowledge and technologies from the public sector into the economy and society. This country note was prepared as a background paper for the Country Needs and STI Policy Mix Assessment report1; a deliverable of the World Bank’s Bulgarian Public Expenditure Research on Science, Technology, and Innovation (PER STI) Project. It explores the research, knowledge exchange, and technology transfer activities of public research institutions in Bulgaria and aims to identify the factors that enable or constrain these activities. The findings in this report are based on two surveys: an in-person survey of administrators from a sample of public research organizations (PROs) and higher education institution (HEI) technology transfer offices (TTOs); and an online survey of over 4,000 public sector researchers in Bulgaria.
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  
Enhancing the Contribution
of Bulgarias Public
Research to Innovation:
A Survey-based
Diagnostic
Public Disclosure AuthorizedPublic Disclosure AuthorizedPublic Disclosure AuthorizedPublic Disclosure Authorized
    , 
  
Enhancing the Contribution
of Bulgaria’s Public
Research to Innovation:
A Survey-based
Diagnostic
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 3
Contents
Acknowledgements 
Abbreviations and Acronyms
Executive Summary
Introduction 
. The Bulgarian Public Research System: The Challenges 
. General Trends 
. Policy Reforms for HEIs and Public Research Organizations 
. Public Research Institutions in Bulgaria 
. Survey Results: Enabling Factors and Policy Drivers of Technology Transfer Performance 
. Governance and Performance Evaluation 
.. Institutional Autonomy 
.. Stakeholder representation in governance 
.. Institutional Funding Sources and Performance Implications 
.. Monitoring, Evaluation, and Performance Management 
. Research Capacity and Institutional Strategies 
. Technology Transfer Capacity and Policy 
. Research Outputs, Knowledge Transfer, and Technology Transfer Activities 
. Academic Incentives 
. Recommended Areas for Action 
References 
Appendices 
Appendix I: Survey Methodology 
Appendix II: Bulgarian Research Performance 
Appendix III: Performance-based Funding Indicators 
Appendix IV: Researchers and Institutional Views on Major Barriers
to Research Excellence and Technology Transfer 
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 4
Acknowledgements
This report was prepared by a World Bank team led by Anwar Aridi (Senior Private Sector Specialist,
Task Team Leader), and comprising Daniel Querejazu (Innovation Policy Specialist), Pluvia Zuñiga
(Senior Innovation Policy Expert from the United Nations and Maastricht University -UNU-MERIT),
Teodora Georgieva (Research and Innovation Expert), and Lyubomira Dimitrova (Research and
Statistical Expert). William Shaw edited the report.
The report benefited from the guidance of the World Bank management, Fabrizio Zarcone (Country
Manager) and Ilias Skamnelos (Practice Manager), and from feedback and comments provided
by Smita Kuriakose (Senior Economist) and John Gabriel Goddard (Lead Economist).
The team would like to thank the public research institutions, universities, technology transfer
offices, and individual researchers who took part in the researchers and public research organi-
zations survey and questionnaire.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 5
Abbreviations and Acronyms
AA Agricultural Academy
BAS Bulgarian Academy of Science
CoC Centre of Competence
CoE Centre of Excellence
EC European Commission
ERDF European Regional Development Fund
ESF European Social Fund
EU European Union
GBARD Government Budget Appropriations on Research and Development
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GERD Gross Expenditures on Research and Development
HEI Higher Education Institution
IP Intellectual Property
M&E Monitoring and Evaluation
MoES Ministry of Education and Science
NCID National Center for Information and Documentation
NSF National Science Fund
PBRF Performance-based Research Funding
OP SESG Operational Programme Science and Education for Smart Growth
PER STI Public Expenditure Review for Science, Technology, and Innovation
PRO Public Research Organization
R&D Research and Development
STI Science, Technology, and Innovation
TTO Technology Transfer Office
WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 6
Executive Summary
While Bulgaria has experienced strong economic growth in the decades following its transi-
tion from communism, it remains a largely factor-driven economy reliant on low wages and re-
source-based exports. Catching up to the living standards of regional peers will require boosting
productivity, and a key step to increase productivity is to strengthen Bulgaria’s science, technology,
and innovation (STI) performance, which ranks among the worst in the EU across multiple indica-
tors. Transitioning to a more productive, innovation-based economy will require improvements
to the country’s poor performing research system – particularly the public research sector, which
plays a smaller role both in funding and performing research and development (R&D) compared
to regional peers. Bulgarian public research institutions are largely under-funded compared to
European peers, suffer from fragmented research competencies, and lack a critical mass of re-
searchers, which contribute to the poor performance of public research institutions in terms of
scientific and technological outputs and impacts. Further, these institutions lack linkages to the
private sector, which inhibits the transfer of knowledge and technologies from the public sector
into the economy and society.
This country note was prepared as a background paper for the Country Needs and STI Policy Mix
Assessment report1; a deliverable of the World Bank’s Bulgarian Public Expenditure Research on
Science, Technology, and Innovation (PER STI) Project. It explores the research, knowledge ex-
change, and technology transfer activities of public research institutions in Bulgaria and aims to
identify the factors that enable or constrain these activities. The findings in this report are based
on two surveys: an in-person survey of administrators from a sample of public research organi-
zations (PROs) and higher education institution (HEI) technology transfer offices (TTOs); and an
online survey of over 4,000 public sector researchers in Bulgaria.
Key findings from the survey include:
Institutional Governance: A lack of clear missions and objectives at the institutional level restricts
the ability of Bulgarian PROs and HEIs to develop long-term strategies, with a majority of public
research institutions lacking long-run research and technology investment strategies. Although
the legal framework officially makes PROs/HEIs autonomous, in practice this autonomy is limit-
ed by the dependence on public funding and practical restrictions to strategic decisions. Exter-
nal stakeholders, such as representatives from industry, are not represented in the governance
of PROs (although they are in HEI governance), and most public institutions do not consult with
Aridi, et al. 2020. Bulgaria Country Needs and STI Policy Mix Assessment. Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 7
industry or other external actors in the definition of research or educational agendas. As a result
of the lack of external stakeholder input, research agendas are not oriented toward industry needs,
which is a major impediment to public-private collaboration, technology transfer, and research
impact. Performance-based research funding (PBRF), which can help concentrate resources in
high-performing institutions, has been introduced but currently only accounts for a small share
of direct institutional funding.
Research and Technology Transfer Capacity and Policy: PRO/HEI policies for research are gen-
erally in line with national policies and strategies, but the lack of research capacity, especially in
the area of human capital, appears to be a major barrier to improved research outcomes. Lack of
funding for research and a lack of adequate research facilities are also cited as major challenges.
Bulgaria has key elements of intellectual property (IP) law in place, but there is no clear legisla-
tion governing who owns IP generated by public research institutions and there is also no spe-
cific technology transfer law that governs the transfer of public research to private applications.
Public institutions generally lack sustainable funding and resources for IP and tech transfer ac-
tivities, and there is a general lack of awareness among researchers of national and institutional
technology transfer policies.
Research Outputs and Innovation Linkages: Public sector publication and patent activity are
largely aimed at addressing accreditation requirements and meeting career development mile-
stones, rather than the pursuit of impactful research, and there are very low levels of patenting
overall. Knowledge linkages though personnel mobility, PhDs in industry, or through other staff
exchanges with industry are not common, which severely limits opportunities for networking and
collaboration with industry. The general lack of linkages to industry is cited as a major challenge
to knowledge exchange and tech transfer activities with the private sector. Very lile commer-
cialization activity is reported among surveyed institutions and researchers.
Incentives and Obstacles: The career development framework for public researchers does not
provide adequate or coherent incentives for commercialization. Although incentives for career
promotion recognize intellectual property outputs, such as patents and other IP, the actual transfer
of knowledge and its exploitation by innovation actors is not recognized. By contrast, the evalu-
ation system for institutions does include an economic impact component. Financial incentives
for commercialization activity are not in place, as it is not mandatory to recognize researchers`
participation in revenues from technology commercialization and licensing, nor are there provi-
sions of equity participation rights from academic spinoffs.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 8
Survey evidence shows that reinforcing both financial and non-financial incentives and the rec-
ognition of knowledge collaborative linkages boosts technology transfer performance among
Bulgarian researchers:
• Researchers who receive financial and non-financial incentives from their institutions partic-
ipate in more industry-science collaboration.
• Researchers who participate in staff mobility activities (PhD projects with industry, joint po-
sitions, exchanges, sabbaticals in industry, etc.) engage in more public-private collaboration
and technology transfer.
To address these challenges, this report provides a set of recommendations for improving research
and technology transfer outcomes in public research institutions:
• Reinforce governance and strategic orientation of public research institutions and ensure that
they have clear missions and objectives, in line with national strategies and priorities. Provide
support for PROs and HEIs in the articulation of their institutional research and technology
transfer strategies for achieving these objectives.
• Strengthen monitoring and evaluation (M&E) for research and operation of PROs and HEIs and
align M&E frameworks with institutional objectives and missions. M&E schemes should place
more weight on knowledge transfer and research collaboration activities than they do presently.
• Strengthen PRO/HEI-Industry linkages. Mandate representation of industry and other rele-
vant external actors in the governance bodies at both PROs and HEIs and encourage formal
consultation with these actors in the definition of research and technology transfer agendas.
Strengthen public-private connections and idea flows by allowing and incentivizing personnel
exchanges between public research and industry.
• Increase the role of PBRF. Revise indicators and weighting schemes for performance-based
funding to focus on research quality indicators (impact factors, external research funding,
PhDs), and research commercialization and tech transfer activities (licenses, spin-offs, con-
tract research, industry research collaboration, etc.).
• Foster a coherent national IPR and technology transfer framework, rather than devolving the
question of ownership of IP to individual institutions. Clarify ownership of equity stakes in spin-
offs from academic research institutions at both individual and institutional level.
• Improve resources and capacity for technology transfer support, including sustainable finan-
cial commitments and training to support TTOs and staff.
• Improve incentives for public researchers to engage in high quality research, knowledge transfer,
and commercialization activities by including technology transfer and collaborative research
activities in career development and salary progression schemes and by allowing researchers
to financially benefit from the commercialization of their research.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 9
Introduction
Despite strong economic growth over the last three decades, Bulgaria has not achieved a tran-
sition from a factor-driven economy to an innovation-driven economy. While the economy and
income levels grew rapidly during the period following the transition from communism, Bulgaria’s
innovative outputs plunged post-1990 due to an erosion of the country’s technological and sci-
entific competences (World Bank, 2012). Although Bulgarias research capacity has experienced
a slow recovery, it still lags behind most European countries in innovation performance. One of
the primary areas for improvement is Bulgarias low performing public research sector. There is
an urgent need to strengthen both the capacity of researchers and the impact of public research
on the economy and society through technology and knowledge transfer activities.
Part of the reason for the weak role of public research in the Bulgarian innovation system is that
government investment in public R&D is the lowest in the EU on a per capita basis (€19.50 per
inhabitant, compared to the EU 28 average of €206.30 per inhabitant), resulting in poor scientif-
ic productivity and low impact of research outputs. Private investment in R&D is also low, which
further constrains the potential for knowledge exchange and collaboration between science and
industry. Yet, despite the relatively low levels of spending and performance, the public sector still
represents a significant portion (29 percent) of R&D performed nationally. Bulgaria has set an
ambitious new GERD target of three percent of GDP by 2030 (currently 0.7 percent of GDP), and
achieving this target will require a significant increase in both public spending and performance
of R&D, along with a sustained expansion of private R&D.
With significant new investment in public R&D will come expectations for new knowledge and
technologies that address major national needs, and new innovative companies that grow and
generate employment. A more efficient public research sector will also require more effective use
of public resources through improved management procedures and oversight to ensure public
value is generated from public money, which is ultimately the goal of modern public science and
technology organizations.
Modernization of the public research sector will require continuing institutional and policy re-
forms to improve the performance, accountability, and governance of public research organiza-
tions. This includes the need to review their strategic orientation (e.g., beer orient research and
educational agendas around industry and societal needs); revisit funding mechanisms; diversify
sources of funding; increase knowledge linkages within the national innovation system, especially
with firms; and increase focus on technology commercialization and entrepreneurial activities.
A comprehensive approach to the reform of the public research sector, as has been undertaken
in other countries (see Box 1), is essential to success.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 10
Box 1: The 2018 Science Law of Poland: A package of structural reforms touching institutional change,
incentives, and funding systems
In many cases, countries need to engage in system-level structural reforms
to modernize the public research and higher education sector to make the
system more efficient and globally competitive and ensure societal impact.
Examples include Spains reform of its public research organizations (PROs)
in 1986 and the 2008 reform of science in the Czech Republic.
More recently, the Polish 2018 Science Law (“the Constitution of Science”)
introduced a series of institutional and funding reforms to strengthen re-
search capacity and institutional seings to foster performance, research
excellence and impact. The main reforms include:
• A major financial injection with long term perspective, anticipating an increase in funds
in the science and education system by PLN 47.5 billion (€10.7 billion) over 10 years
(compared to 2018).
• Increased autonomy of higher education institutions (HEIs), allowing for more indepen-
dence in the seing of research priorities and in the internal allocation of funds.
• Governing bodies of public HEIs will include a new body, the university council, chosen
by the university community. These councils are required to include industry represen-
tatives for consultation on defining research strategies.
• The law creates a special career paths for researchers and introduces several amend-
ments to salaries, raising minimum salaries for academic teachers.
• Changes are made to university performance assessments so that money will follow
individual researchers and their field of specialization, and no longer faculties. Univer-
sities will then be assessed based on aggregate measurements of individual scientist
performance.
• The law introduces a more equitable evaluation of scientific achievements and requires
researchers to select the 3 most meaningful outputs for evaluation. Three criteria are
considered (reducing the number of metrics): (i) publications and patents; (ii) income
from grants, R&D projects, and commercialization; and (iii) societal impact.
• The law also allows the creation of federations of universities to boost inter-disciplinary
research. The University of Warsaw is already planning to establish such a federation with
the Medical University of Warsaw, a move that could boost interdisciplinary research.
Sources: Srholec (2015), Good et al, (2015), Jonkers and Zacharewicz (2016).
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 11
This country note aims to provide evidence on the state of progress in knowledge and technolo-
gy transfer activities from public research institutions in Bulgaria and to identify the factors that
enable or constrain these activities. The analysis is guided by the following policy questions:
• What is the role of public research organizations (PROs) and higher education institutions (HEIs)
in the provision of new knowledge and innovation opportunities in Bulgaria? What is the state
of development and what are the most common types of knowledge and technology transfer?
• Are the current governance and regulatory frameworks conducive to technology transfer and
industry-science collaboration?
• Are external stakeholders (e.g., industry, government, etc.) considered in research strategies
and priorities in PROs and HEIs?
• Are academic incentives in line with technology transfer policy goals? Are academic and fi-
nancial incentives in place and in line with international practices?
• What are the key barriers that keep public research organizations from beer contributing to
national innovation and development?
The analysis and findings in this report are based on a recent methodology and survey design de-
veloped by Zuniga (2020) and Cirera, Kuriakose, and Zuniga (2020) that aims to identify and mea-
sure the different channels through which public research institutions and researchers transfer
knowledge and technologies to industry (and other innovation actors), as well as the policy and
institutional factors that influence such activities. Data for this report were gathered through an
online survey for researchers employed at public institutions and through in-person surveys of
directors and TTO managers for a sample of public research organizations and university TTOs.
The first part of this report reviews the general conditions of public sector R&D in Bulgaria in
terms of funding, performance, and outputs of public R&D activities and provides an overview of
the STI policy framework and institutions in the country. The second section describes the sur-
veys utilized by this report, including topics covered and methodology, while the third section
presents the survey findings. The final section of the report provides policy recommendations
for improving public research performance and outcomes.
12
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic
1.
The Bulgarian
Public Research
System:
The Challenges
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
        
,

, , ,
,
, ,
   
Source: Eurostat.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 13
1. The Bulgarian Public Research System: The Challenges
Public investments in R&D are low compared to peer2 economies and pub-
lic institutions suffer from a lack of stable funding and resources. Although
steps in reforming and modernizing the public R&D system have taken place,
further work is needed to consolidate research competences, beer organize
the sector, and improve performance standards and impacts.
Public research institutions in Bulgaria face important challenges in improving the quality and
relevance of their research. We first discuss general trends, then turn to recent efforts at reform
and finally describe the institutional structure of the research sector.
1.1 General Trends
Bulgaria lags behind all peers except Romania in terms of gross expenditure on R&D (GERD) as a
percentage of GDP, which can be seen in Figure 1. GERD as a percentage of R&D has been trend-
ing down since 2015, dropping to 0.7 percent in 2018, well below the country’s 2020 target of 1.5
percent of GDP and its new 2030 target of three percent. The country also has the lowest level of
government budget appropriations on R&D (GBARD) per capita in the EU at €19.5 per inhabitant,
compared to the EU 28 average of €206.3 per inhabitant.
Figure 1: Bulgaria lags behind most peers in terms of GERD as a percentage of GDP
For this country note, Bulgaria is benchmarked against the following peers: the Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Poland,
Romania, Slovakia, and the EU 28 average.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 14
The Bulgarian public sector plays a smaller role both in funding and performing R&D relative to
peers. Bulgaria reports the lowest share of GERD financed by the national government among
peers (Figure 2), and the public sector (higher education and government) performs a lower share
of GERD than found in peer countries. In particular, Bulgarias institutions of higher education
contribute very lile to R&D, only performing six percent of GERD in 2017, the lowest rate among
peers by far and less than a third of the EU average (Figure 3).
Figure 2: The Bulgarian public sector played a relatively small role in funding R&D in 2017
          







#



   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
       
Source: Eurostat
Source: Eurostat
          







#



   
  
   
   
  
   
   
   
   
   
     
Figure 3: The Bulgarian public sector played a relatively small role in performing R&D in 2017

Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 15
The low R&D contribution and poor performance of the public and higher education sectors are
due to several issues, the largest of which is a lack of funding; Bulgarian research institutions are
largely under-funded compared to peer institutions in Europe. The absence of lasting multiannual
commitments for the support of scientific research has been cited as one of the main reasons
for the deterioration of science and scientific performance in Bulgaria, and improving financial
commitments are one of the main focus areas of the current National Strategy for the Develop-
ment of Scientific Research, 2017-2030. Research funding for national research grant programs
(as opposed to EU-funded programs) is very low and has been relatively static since 2014, with the
total research grant allocations from the National Science Fund hovering at or below €12 million
from 2014 to 2018, before increasing slightly to €15.6 million in 2019.
Another key factor in the poor research performance is the fragmentation of research capabilities
across many small- or medium-sized public research institutions in different areas of specializa-
tion, which results in a high dispersion of competences and a lack of concentration of resources.
There is a lack of critical mass of research talent necessary for specialization and impact due to
this fragmentation and to the continuous exodus of research and technology talents in Bulgaria,
which stems from low salaries and a poor incentive structure for public sector research careers
(European Commission, 2015; World Bank, 2013).
The recruitment of new scientists is a major challenge. As discussed in Zhechkov and Mahieu
(2017), there are only 0.6 new doctoral graduates per 1,000 population (aged 25-34) in Bulgaria,
compared to the EU average of 1.7, even though the number of doctoral candidates in the country
almost doubled between 2000 and 2015. The lack of researchers demonstrates the need to stim-
ulate human resource development policy in higher education and public research institutions
and in the economy more broadly.
The lack of national funding and resources for public research in Bulgaria underscores the impor-
tance of EU structural funds as a source of STI investment in the country, as the current Opera-
tional Programme for Science and Education for Smart Growth 2014-2020 (OP SESG) represents
the only new source of funding for public research in a fiscally constrained environment. OP SESG
has thus far focused exclusively on the development of a series of research centres (the Centres
of Excellence [CoEs] and Centres of Competence [CoCs], detailed further in Section 1.2) that aim a
bring together the research capabilities of the BAS, national universities, and other key scientific
and business organizations, with the primary objectives of consolidating research capabilities and
improving research infrastructure. Notably, OP SESG does not currently include research grant pro-
grams or technology transfer support programs outside of the CoC and CoE projects. Implementa-
tion of the CoC and CoE projects has been slow, with the funding only being allocated in 2019, which
has added to the fiscal constraints experienced by public research bodies over the last five years.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 16
In terms of research outputs, Bulgaria lags behind most of its peers in both quantity and quality
of research outputs, though publication productivity has improved markedly in recent years, with
publication output increasing at a rate of almost 9 percent per year from 2015 to 2019. Research
outputs, in terms of scientific publications and intellectual property (IP) are lower than in most
peers and tend to have lile impact on the international scientific community, while commer-
cialization outcomes (licenses and startups) from public research are extremely limited. Only a
small number of Bulgaria’s PROs conduct research that meets international standards (World
Bank, 2013; Scimago, 2020), and beyond the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and a few high per-
forming universities in Sofia, there are very few national institutions that meaningfully contribute
to the scientific literature.
Bulgaria’s publications tend to be less cited and less impactful that those of its peers. Bulgaria
ranked last among its peers in scientific publications among the top 10 percent of most cited
publications worldwide as a percentage of total publications in the country in 2019 (Figure 4).
Bulgaria and Romania had the lowest share of publications that were cited from 2013-2018, with
46 percent of all publications going uncited during that timeframe (Scimago, 2020).
Figure 4: Bulgaria lags behing all peers in top ten percent most cited publications as a share of total national
publications relative to EU average, 2019
      
    






    
   
,
, ,
, , , ,
,
 ,
Source: European Innovation Scoreboard (2019)
Other bibliometric indicators such as the H-index3 and the average citations per publication
also show under performance compared to most peers and leading European economies (see
Appendix II). During the period 1996-2018, Bulgaria ranked the last among peers in the H-index,
The H-index is a metric that measures both the productivity and citation impact of a body of publications. The index is based on the
most cited papers in a set and the number of citations that they have received in other publications. The H-index is an aggregate
measure that combines data on citation and paper count and is preferred over comparing paper counts alone. The H-index can vary
across fields due to their publishing and citing frequencies. For more information, see Hirsch 2005.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 17
       
   









   ,
   
which is a measure of scientific impact of publications based on citations. In terms of average
number of citations per publication, however, Bulgaria ranked slightly above Romania, Croatia,
Slovakia, and Poland, but only half of the average number for German publications.
Looking at the institutions contributing to scientific production, the Bulgarian Academy of Sci-
ences plays an outsized role nationally in academic publication outputs; researchers from the
Academies authored or co-authored 46 percent of the publications in Bulgaria from 2010 to 2019.
However, the importance of BAS has diminished somewhat in recent years, with the University
of Sofia and a few other high-performing universities in the Sofia region accounting for a larger
share of the competitive funds available and producing research outputs of similar quality to
those of BAS. Only the Academies, the University of Sofia, and the Medical University of Sofia
had an H-index score above 50 from 2010-2019 (See Appendix Table A2.1).
For a relatively small national research system that is part of the European research area, inter-
national collaborations (both within and outside the EU area) should be an area of emphasis for
Bulgarian research institutions, yet participation in international networks of research, in terms
of international co-publications adjusted per million inhabitants, is low relative to peers (see Fig-
ure A2.4 in Appendix II).
Bulgaria also underperforms relative to peers in public-private collaboration, with the number of
public-private co-publications per capita ranking behind all peers except Turkey and only 18 per-
cent of the EU average in 2019 (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Bulgaria is well below the EU 28 average in public-private co-publications per capita, 2019
Source: European Innovation Scoreboard (2019)
,
, , ,
, ,
,


,
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 18
A key factor in the weak linkages between public R&D institutions and industry is low demand for
innovation from the private sector. Bulgarian firms very rarely rely on knowledge from public re-
search institutions for their innovation activities, as reported in national innovation surveys (Figure
6). Only two percent of firms consider knowledge from government or public research institutes as
an important source of innovation and less than six percent believe that information from higher
education institutions are a meaningful source of knowledge and innovation. Yet the share of firms
that consider scientific publications as very important source of information is not minor (13 percent,
or about twice the European average), which suggests that companies mostly rely on international
scientific outputs, rather than on local institutions, as sources of innovation and new product de-
velopment. This suggests either a lack of relevance of local research for business innovation and/
or insufficient quality or novelty of this research to impact innovation in domestic firms.
A weak absorptive capacity of firms also limits the potential for interaction and collaboration with
public research institutions. Bulgaria ranked 47th globally in the economic complexity index (ECI)
in 2018, reflecting lower levels of economic sophistication than most peers in the types of products
and services in the country’s export basket (Observatory of Economic Complexity, 2020). Commod-
ities, such as oil, copper, and wheat, and basic assembling (e.g. pharmaceuticals) continue to have
a large share of the export basket. Furthermore, there are major constraints to competitiveness
in several sectors, which make innovation and R&D second order priorities.4 The labor and skills
shortages are also cross-cuing innovation obstacles in Bulgarian industries (World Bank, 2015).
For instance, in food processing industries the lack of technological and equipment upgrading and insufficient supply chain is a ma-
jor constraint for competitiveness, whereas in R&D-based industries such as pharmaceuticals the lack of transparent regulations
and procedures for clinical trials are major issues (World Bank, 2015).
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 19























, , , , , , , , , ,

  

 
 

  
 

Figure 6: The importance of knowledge sources of innovation as reported by product and process innovators, 2016
Source: Eurostat, CIS Innovation Statistics.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 20
1.2 Policy Reforms for HEIs and Public Research Organizations
The country’s current science technology policy framework is set by several key documents, in-
cluding the Innovation Strategy of the Republic of Bulgaria of 2004, the National Strategy for De-
velopment of Research 2020 of 2011, the Innovation Strategy for Intelligent Specialization of the
Republic of Bulgaria 2014-2020 (i.e., Smart Specialization strategy) of 2014, as well as the current
National Strategy for Development of Scientific Research 2017-2030. These documents lay out
the legal basis for developing STI policies and programs, define the government ministries and
agencies involved in STI policy formulation and implementation, and establish the mechanisms
for funding research and innovation programs. Under this framework, the key national actors for
research policy are the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES), which oversees the public ed-
ucation and research system and designs and develops national science and scientific research
policy; the National Research Fund (NSF), which is the primary national funder of basic research;
and the Managing Authority for OP SESG, which implements OP programs focused on science
and education funded by ESF and ERDF.
Bulgaria’s policies and legislation governing public research have seen continuous reform since
early 1990s. These efforts include laws governing public research institutions, development of
the national IP system, and establishment of statutory career paths and incentives for public
sector researchers.
The 1990s saw the passage of important legislation that laid the framework for the establish-
ment and operation of public research institutions (HEIs and PROs) in the Higher Education Act
of 1995 and laws governing patents, utility models, and copyrights (1993), and industrial designs
(1999). The 2010 Law on the development of academic staff and the corresponding Rules for the
implementation of the Law on the development of academic staff established statutory incen-
tives for public researchers to engage in impactful research by stipulating the minimum national
requirements for obtaining an academic title or being promoted into an academic title. The 2018
amendments to the Rules for the implementation of the Law on the development of academic
staff added career development requirements related to IP generation (for example, number of
applications for patents, number of published patents, and number of copyrighted works), de-
pending on the researcher’s field of study.
The last five years have seen a number of important regulatory developments related to technology
transfer and commercialization of public research. The 2016 amendments to the Higher Educa-
tion Act state that every HEI should have a system for IP protection, management, and ownership.
It also removed the nonprofit status of HEIs and PROs and gave them the right to own shares
in other companies and establish spin-offs. More recently, a new regulation set out the rules for
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 21
PROs and HEIs to create commercial units: the 2020 Terms and Conditions for Establishment of
Commercial Companies from State Higher Schools for the Purpose of the Economic Realization
of the Results of Research and Objects of Intellectual Property regulation defines the procedures
for the establishment of commercial companies by public research institutions. Public HEIs/PROs
can establish limited liability companies and joint stock companies in accordance with the Terms
and Conditions for Establishment of Commercial Companies, as well as hold shares in such com-
panies. While the amendments to the career paths of academic staff are well understood and fully
implemented by public research institutions, there is still a large degree of confusion around the
recent reforms that allow the establishment of academic spinoffs. Bulgarian institutions find the
Terms and Conditions for Establishment of Commercial Companies vague, lacking in concrete
details and procedures needed to create such spinoffs.
In parallel to these legal developments, many recent national R&D strategies have focused on
strengthening the country’s lagging STI capacity and ensuring long-term continuity in the imple-
mentation of national priorities. The most important of these strategies are the Beer Science for
a Beer Bulgaria 2025 and succeeding National Strategy for Development of Scientific Research
of the Republic of Bulgaria 2017-2030, both developed by MoES. Beer Science 2025 lays out plans
for several structural reforms, such as a gradual shi to the use of performance-based research
funding (PBRF), an increase of competitive funding (i.e., project-based funding) as a share of total
funding for public research, and consolidation and other measures to address fragmentation of
the research system. The National Strategy for Development of Scientific Research sets out and
defines activities and measures in many of the policy areas envisioned in Beer Science 2025.
PBRF was introduced in the Strategy for the Development of Higher Education in Bulgaria 2014-
2020, with the aim of concentrating resources and consolidating research competencies. A 2014
revision to the Higher Education Act states that at least ten percent of direct institutional fund-
ing to public research institutions should be performance based. The BAS General Assembly has
adopted an even higher target of 20 percent of the total government subsidy to BAS institutions
should be performance based. However, at present the share of direct institutional funding that
is performance-based varies from roughly 2.5 to five percent, depending on the type of institution.
Performance is measured through a complex set of indicators, which include quality of education,
the volume and value of research and publication outputs, the educational environment, services,
direct contribution to the labor market, and accreditation scores. In 2018, the PBRF indicators
were amended to include measures of knowledge and technology transfer activities, including
research funding received from external sources and commercialization revenue (a full list and
weighting of Bulgaria PBRF indicators is provided in Appendix III).
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 22
The development of six Centres of Excellence and ten Centres of Competence, funded under the
OP SESG, are key components of the research system consolidation effort. These Centres are in-
tended to bring together the research capabilities of the BAS, national universities, and other key
scientific and business organizations, with the objective of consolidating research capabilities,
improving research infrastructure, forming partnerships and linkages between research actors,
and raising the level and market orientation of the research activities of participating research
organizations. However, the design and implementation of these Centres have faced a number
of challenges, including delays due to administrative and public procurement processes. Other
challenges include the supply-driven design of the Centres, lack of coordination, and uncertain-
ty as to how the Centres fit within a larger national R&I vision. The EC Joint Research Centre is
currently providing expert support services to the CoC and CoE effort with a focus on developing
improved legal and organizational frameworks and guidance on the use of state aid, and technol-
ogy transfer and commercialization practices. The JRC recommendations are intended to inform
the development of the centers and their future sustainability.
Another key initiative aimed at developing research infrastructure and spurring public-private
collaboration and technology transfer is the Sofia Tech Park (STP). STP, which opened in 2015, is
a public-private partnership that provides commercialization support services, educational pro-
grams, and incubation space for companies in ICT, energy, life sciences, as well as other tech-
based industries. STP is the first science and technology park in Bulgaria and received funding
from EU operational programmes from both the current and previous programming periods. Sev-
eral leading universities, Sofia University, Technical University of Sofia, and the Medical University
Sofia, are members of a research consortium that manages the laboratories and other research
infrastructure in the park, though no other universities or PROs have a role in STP. A recent eval-
uation of the Park by the European Commission Joint Research Centre found that the park is
highly focused on upstream (or academic) research activities, indicating a lack of interest and
engagement from the private sector, and STP has thus far experienced a lack of R&D commer-
cialization, IP generation, start-up finance, and similar activities to target a pipeline of start-ups
and spinouts in non-ICT sectors (European Commission 2018b).
1.3 Public Research Institutions in Bulgaria
The public research sector in Bulgaria comprises public higher (or tertiary) educational institu-
tions; the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS); the Agricultural Academy (AA); and a small set
of research institutes and hospitals under different sectoral ministries or agencies. The largest
research-performing institutions in Bulgaria are the BAS institutes, followed by several Bulgar-
ian universities that are based in the Sofia capital region (e.g. Sofia University and Technical
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 23
University of Sofia). According to recent data, the number of researchers employed by industry
and academia has been steadily growing since the early 2000s (particularly in academia), while
the number employed by the government and PROs has been declining over the same period
(Zhechkov and Mahieu, 2017).
The national Higher Education Act defines four types of HEI institutions: colleges (non-university
higher education institutions); universities; specialized higher education institutions (equivalent
to technical universities); and academies (such as the institutions of the BAS and AA). The High-
er Education Act specifies all of these as self-governing and autonomous institutions overseen
by MoES.
Bulgaria’s HEI system is comprised of 51 institutions, of which 14 are private and 37 are public in-
stitutions. Of the 51 HEIs in the country, 37 have STEM-related programs and degrees and 12 have
university research centers.
There are also 91 PROs in Bulgaria:
• The Bulgarian Academy of Science (BAS), a public-funded autonomous body overseen by the
Ministry of Education and Science and composed of 50 independent institutes, with 36 insti-
tutes in STEM fields. BAS is the preeminent Bulgarian research organization.
• The Bulgarian Agriculture Academy (AA) is a public research organization, managed by the
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry that carries out fundamental and applied research
and service and support activities in the fields of agriculture, breeding, and food. AA is com-
posed of 25 institutes; 4 research centres; and 13 experimental stations.
• There are also three military research centers, three national medical centers, and four uni-
versity hospitals.
24
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic
2.
Survey Results:
Enabling Factors
and Policy Drivers of
Technology Transfer
Performance
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 25
2. Survey Results: Enabling Factors and
Policy Drivers of Technology Transfer Performance
This study aims to capture the extent to which Bulgarian public research institutions (HEIs and
PROs) transfer knowledge and technology to industry (and to other innovation actors). In the Eu-
ropean Union and around the world, there is a growing recognition of the need to demonstrate
the returns of public investments in R&D – i.e., to show how public investments in research activi-
ties lead to economic and societal benefits in the form of new knowledge, new or improved prod-
ucts and services, new companies, and ultimately to improved productivity and living standards.
Identifying the returns on public R&D investments requires recognition of the different channels
through which research impacts economic development and innovation, including particular fo-
cus on the factors that enable or constrain industry-science collaboration and knowledge transfer
(Aridi & Cowey, 2018). These factors include availability of advanced skills and human capital and
the ability of that human capital to move across sectors and institutions, as well as incentives
for public-private collaboration (Zuniga, 2020). In designing research and technology transfer as-
sessments, governments also need to consider the differences across scientific disciplines when
measuring and evaluating the results of research and technology transfer activities.
This study uses two surveys designed to measure Bulgarian HEIs and PROs knowledge and tech-
nology transfer and the factors that influence these activities5 : 1) an online survey of active pub-
lic sector researchers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, conducted from
February to April 2020;6 and 2) an in-person surveys of administrators from Bulgarian PROs and
university TTOs between March and June 2020, based on institutions’ academic field, location,
and size.7 More details on the methodology, survey population, and a complete list of institutions
interviewed can be found in Appendix I.
These surveys were conducted as part of the World Bank Public Expenditure Review on science, technology, and innovation.
The sample of public sector researchers was drawn from the website of the National Center for Information and Documentation
(NCID), which maintains an online register of public sector research staff. Academic fields were identified using the ISCED-F 2013
classification provided by UNESCO, which identified 4,260 researchers; 739 completed responses were received.
A total of 13 PROs and seven university TTOs were interviewed.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 26
The surveys cover three key enabling factors that influence a public research organization’s abil-
ity to perform high quality research, engage in knowledge exchange activities, and translate re-
search results into societal and economic impacts (Correa and Zuniga, 2013; OECD, 2003; 2018;
Zuniga, 2020; Cirera et al., 2020):
• Governance and institutional seings: These factors include institutional autonomy and gov-
ernance structures; external stakeholder representation in governance; funding schemes, such
as the inclusion of performance funding systems; and monitoring and evaluation practices
(OECD, 2014; 2018).
• Research competences, and research quality and relevance: These factors include resources
and policies for carrying out research, having adequate human capital for research and ad-
ministration, and connection with industry and societal needs for knowledge and innovation.
• Technology transfer policies and regulatory frameworks: These factors include the set of rules
and regulatory frameworks (incentives) for institutions and researchers to engage in collabo-
ration and technology transfer, and funding and specialized resources for technology transfer,
such as IPR skills and management.
Each of these enabling factors are explored in the following sections, along with an analysis of the
research outputs and knowledge and technology transfer activities of the surveyed institutions.
2.1 Governance and Performance Evaluation
In Bulgaria, in principle most PROs and all universities are autonomous as
defined in their governing laws and statues. However, their governance and
level of independence, including at the operational decisions and policy levels,
differs widely across institutions, especially across PROs. The survey shows
that PROs, in particular, suffer from weak governance design, as they do not
include external actors (such as industry representatives) on their governing
boards or councils. Universities have industry representation on their gov-
erning bodies, but in practice do not consult with the business sector for
the definition of research and educational agendas and strategies. The sur-
vey also confirms that most public institutions surveyed are heavily reliant
on institutional block funding, as opposed to PBRF or competitive funding.
These factors limit the effective functioning of these institutions and their
performance, in terms of interactions with external actors and knowledge
transfer impact.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 27
The governance of research institutions, including the level of institutional autonomy in decision
making, funding schemes (e.g., the combination of block funding with performance-based fund-
ing and competitive funding) and monitoring and evaluation systems, influences the effective-
ness of research and knowledge exchanges (Zuniga, 2020; Cirera et al., 2020). The experiences of
leading PROs in Germany, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, and the US show that industry involvement
in steering and advisory boards and funding schemes are key factors that influence how relevant
research is to industry and society, as well as influence the level of knowledge transfer outside of
institutions. Governance structures also influence the way institutions maintain research stan-
dards, engage in collaborative research, and interact with other actors in the innovation system
(Intarakumnerd and Goto, 2018). This section reports survey results on institutional autonomy,
stakeholder representation in governance, institutional funding sources, and monitoring evalu-
ation and performance management.
2.1.1 Institutional Autonomy
In developed countries, institutional autonomy has been key for PROs and HEIs to develop their
own internal policies and procedures regarding major strategic decisions, such as recruitment
procedures, criteria for career promotion, rules regarding IP creation and technology commer-
cialization, and the seing-up of support programs for knowledge transfer and commercialization
(Zuniga, 2020). Recent evidence from Cirera, Kuriakose and Zuniga (2020) for East Asian countries
(Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam) shows the key role autonomy plays in enhancing technology
transfer and collaborative linkages with industry in both PROs and university research depart-
ments. Autonomous institutions (both PROs and HEIs) are by far more intensively engaged in
collaborative linkages and technology transfer activities.
Although the legal framework officially makes most Bulgarian PROs and higher education institu-
tions autonomous (although there are some exceptions among the BAS institutions, as described
in Box 2), in practice the level of independence and autonomy varies across PROs and across de-
cisions. PROs tend to look to their parent ministries for the definition of institutional policies and
seing research agendas, despite their legal autonomy to act independently in these areas. As
described in the next section of this report, autonomy is limited by a large dependence on public
funding, which means PROs focus their strategies and policies on the research objectives, targets,
and indicators aached to institutional funding from their parent ministries.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 28
Box 2: Governance Structure of the BAS and AA
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
BAS was established by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Act, which spec-
ifies the Academy’s structure and management, as well as the conditions for
creating, transforming and closing down the BAS institutes and the other
independent research entities. However, the institutes under BAS do not
have uniform legal statutes: while most institutes were registered under the
BAS Act, granting them the status of a public research organization, some
of the institutes were established by a decision of the National Assembly
or the Council of Ministers, which makes them autonomous units following
national and European regulations. Still other BAS institutes were created
through consolidation of several separate units by a decision of the General
Assembly of BAS and are not recognized by MoES as public research organi-
zation, creating problems related to funding, eligibility for research programs,
and reporting. BAS’ highest governing body is the General Assembly that
oversees and guides BAS as a whole, while each BAS institute has a scien-
tific council that guides the strategic development and research agenda of
the specific institute. By statute, industry representation is not permied on
these scientific councils.
Agriculture Academy
The Bulgarian Agricultural Academy is classified as an autonomous organi-
zation under the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry according to the
2018 Agricultural Academy Act. The management structure of AA consists
of a Board of Directors and an Executive Bureau, while individual institutes
have a director’s council, which performs a similar function to the BAS sci-
entific councils. Like BAS, by statute industry is not represented in the gov-
ernance of AA institutions.
Sources: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Act, Bulgarian Agriculture Academy Act
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 29
Universities, as defined by the Higher Education Act (see Box 3), are independent and self-gov-
erned; they can independently define their governing structures and regulations, their manage-
ment, research strategies, and the development of curricula and research projects. Unlike the
BAS, university boards must include industry representatives, although survey responses show
that, in practice, industry is not consulted in the definition of research or education agendas at
Bulgarian universities.
Box 3: Governance in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)
HEIs are governed by the Higher Education Act, which states that Bulgarian
higher education institutions have academic autonomy, including the ac-
ademic freedoms and academic self-government. Academic autonomy is
expressed in election of the internal governing bodies, the right to regulate
institutional structures and activities based on internal regulations, manage-
ment of the structure and career path of scientific and teaching staff in ac-
cordance with the national legislation, development and implementation of
curricula and research projects, selection of the specialties in which training
is carried out, formation of own funds and conditions for their spending, the
ability to conclude contracts for carrying out scientific and applied research;
etc. Unlike BAS, the Higher Education Act specifies that universities’ boards
of trustees must include representatives from the private sector.
Sources: Bulgarian Higher Education Act and European Commission (2017)
The survey shows that perceived autonomy varies a lot by institution:
• University TTOs perceive they have much less autonomy than PROs. In every area included
in the survey, from operational management to seing research objectives to hiring staff and
seing salaries, TTOs believe they have less autonomy than PROs.
• Surveyed PROs and HEIs believe they have the most autonomy in the operational manage-
ment of the institution, with 85 percent of PROs and 40 percent of TTOs believing they are
fully autonomous in the day-to-day operations of their institutions (Figures 7 and 8). PROs
also largely feel they have full autonomy in hiring research staff, with 85 percent reporting full
autonomy in staff hiring.
• However, only half of the interviewed PROs and no TTOs believed they have full autonomy in
seing staff salaries. While all public research institutions have legal autonomy to set staff
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 30
salaries, HEI budgets (including staff budget pools) are allocated based the total number of
students at the institution. Therefore, as the survey results show, in practice HEIs feel con-
strained in their ability to set salaries for research staff. A 2015 peer review of the Bulgarian
research system finds that, while Bulgarian institutions have a high level of autonomy in terms
of seing salaries when compared to other EU countries, this autonomy is meaningless be-
cause the overall low level of funds available for salaries gives PROs and HEIs lile ability to
use their discretion to aract researchers and reward excellence (European Commission, 2015).
• PROs and HEIs reported less autonomy in defining institutional policies and seing research
agendas. Only 21 percent of the surveyed PROs and no TTOs feel they were fully autonomous
in defining institutional policies, while 60 percent of TTOs believe they have no autonomy in
seing institutional policies. Roughly half of surveyed PROs and 20 percent of TTOs believe
they have full autonomy in seing research objectives (Figures 7 and 8). It should be noted,
however, that very few institutions reported having a research strategy in place (see Section
2.2). These responses are likely due two key factors: First, many public institutions feel that
they do not have clear institutional missions and objectives (see Section 2.1.4), limiting their
ability to develop long-run research objectives. Second, PROs and HEIs depend heavily on pub-
lic funding (e.g., direct institutional funding, operational programmes, National Science Fund
programs, or government contracted research) for a large share of their budgets, and thus
they focus their research agendas on the priorities defined by these government programs.
Figure 7: Perceived PRO Autonomy
Source: Authors’ calculations
 
 
  
  
  
  
  
 
     














 
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 31
Figure 8: Perceived TTO Autonomy
Source: Authors’ calculations
2.1.2 Stakeholder representation in governance
In most OECD countries, public research institutions’ governance structure includes a board,
which is typically the main decision-making body responsible for seing institutional priorities in
education (in the case of universities), research, and knowledge transfer.Stakeholder represen-
tation (e.g., private sector, government, and civil society organizations) in such governing bodies
is important to help institutions understand the research and innovation demands of society and
industry and to develop research agendas that respond to these demands. A recent study by the
OECD (2018) shows involvement of external stakeholders in governance is a widespread practice:
university boards in 28 of the 34 countries studied have outside stakeholder representation (in-
dustry or government-civil society or both); in 25 countries, these boards include private-sector
representatives – mostly from large firms, but sometimes from SMEs – while 21 countries have
boards with representatives from both the private sector and civil society.
Bulgarian PROs do not have industry representatives on governing boards due to statutory re-
strictions, nor is industry consulted on the definition of institutional research priorities by PROs
or HEIs. These statutory restrictions do not apply to universities, and Bulgarian universities are
mandated to have industry representation on governing boards. All public research institutions
have some form of governing body (e.g., scientific councils, boards of trustees, etc.) to help artic-
ulate research priorities and objectives; of the surveyed institutions, 93 percent of PROs and 66
percent of HEIs reported that they have a steering or trust board for the definition of strategic
goals. However, for PROs the lack of formal consultation mechanisms with industry and society
limits the effectiveness of such steering bodies and hinders the relevance of research undertak-
en by these organizations.
 
 
  
  
  
  
  
 
     
 
 

 

 

 

Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 32
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
None of the surveyed organizations have formal mechanisms to consult with industry on defin-
ing research priorities. This is a major gap in the link between the public and private sectors and
means that decisions that inform the supply of public research are not necessarily in line with in-
dustry demands. However, 53 percent of public researchers believe that their institutions consult
with industry for the definition of research agendas and human capital formation, which indicates
that more informal consultations with industry are occurring at these organizations.
The consideration of industry demands for knowledge (largely in the form of technological chal-
lenges) in public research agendas is a fundamental factor in making publicly-funded research
relevant to the economy, and mechanisms for soliciting industry input must be in place in public
research institutions. Evidence from the researcher survey (Figure 9) shows that researchers whose
institutions have mechanisms in place for consultation with industry show higher propensity to
engage in collaborative linkages and technology commercialization. Researchers in institutions
that have such mechanisms report a much higher rate of engagement in collaborative research
(71 percent) and commercialization activities (33 percent), as opposed to researchers located in
institutions without such consultation (54 percent and 22 percent respectively).
Figure 9: Researchers whose institutions consult with industry on research priorities engage in more knowledge
exchanges and technology transfer activities
Source: Authors’ calculations
,
 
 
 


 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 


 
  
    
     
  
,
,
,
, ,
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 33
2.1.3 Institutional Funding Sources and Performance Implications
Sources of funding, to a large extent, influence the strategic focus and innovation activities of
research organizations. For example, performance-based funding can help direct PROs to further
engagement in technology commercialization (if commercialization outcomes are part of an in-
stitutions performance metrics), whereas access to private funding for R&D allows institutions
to strengthen linkages with industry. Performance-based funding, where a portion of the agency
budget is allocated according to specific performance targets, is way to incentivize desired insti-
tutional behaviors and outcomes, such as research excellence, greater industry-research linkages,
and knowledge transfer (see Box 5). In Europe, the introduction of performance-based funding
systems has been one of the central mechanisms through which many EU member states have
tried to increase the effectiveness and performance of public sector research systems (European
Commission, 2011; Jonkers and Zacharewicz, 2016).
External funding is also highly encouraged by policy makers (e.g. industry funding and compet-
itive grants) as a signal of research relevance and linkages with industry and the international
community in research and innovation. Boxes 5 and 6 report examples of performance-based
research funding systems in Scandinavian countries and Czech Republic.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 34
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
For the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, institutional funding represents the
largest source of funding overall, on average making up over 45 percent of
funds received by institutes in 2018. Institutional funding for BAS is made up
of three components:
. Block funding (i.e., unconditional funding) makes up about 85 percent
of direct institutional funding of total annual revenue for BAS institutes;
. Performance-based funding, which makes up approximately 10 percent
of direct institutional funding for BAS institutes and is allocated based
on reported scientometric impacts, the research capacity of the unit, the
number of PhD students, and external funds raised; and
. Facility overhead and maintenance funds, which make up the remaining
five percent of direct institutional funding.
Internal revenues (revenues from the commercialization of IP; access to re-
search infrastructure, services provision, fees, etc.) were the second largest
funding source in 2018, representing on average 28 percent of funding received
by institutes. Competitive funding (project-based funding and collaborative
research agreements) was the smallest source of funds in 2018, making up
on average about 25 percent of funding received by institutes.
Agricultural Academy
The budget for the Agricultural Academy primarily comes from direct insti-
tutional funding, which accounted for 63 percent of AA funding in 2017 and
2018. AA is eligible to receive performance-based funding, but it is difficult
to discern the exact share of direct institutional funding that is performance
based.8 All other funding sources, which include revenues from research
contracts and consulting services, funding from competitive grant programs,
Correspondence with MoES indicates that PBRF makes up a maximum of three percent of total direct
institutional funding to AA institutions.
Box 4: Bulgarian PRO/HEI funding schemes
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 35
revenue from commercialization, and other sources, accounted for the re-
maining 37 percent of AA funding. It is difficult to separate these external
revenue sources from each other due to the way AA funding is reported.
HEIs
Bulgarian HEIs receive direct institutional funding for research activities
amounting to approximately ten percent of their budget for education. Like
BAS and AA, HEIs are eligible to receive performance-based funding.9 A
2003 ordinance stated that each HEI’s academic council should determine
the internal allocation of the funding among professors, researchers, and
departments on a competitive basis. However, in practice these councils
instead aim to maintain a relative balance of funding among departments,
faculties, natural and social sciences. Between 2011 and 2014, HEIs allocat-
ed an average of 2.6 percent of their budget on research. A 2016 ordinance
removed much of HEIs autonomy to internally allocate budgets (Zhechkov
and Mahieu, 2017). Universities can also receive other external funding for
research through contract research, donations, and other sources.
Correspondence with MoES indicates that PBRF makes up a maximum of three percent of total direct
institutional funding to public HEIs (private institutions are not eligible to receive PBRF).
Source: BAS 2019 Annual Report; Agriculture Academy 2019 Annual Report; Ministry of Education and Science 2019 Annual Report
Correspondence with MoES indicates that PBRF makes up a maximum of three percent of total direct institutional funding to public
HEIs (private institutions are not eligible to receive PBRF).
Interviewed institutions are highly dependent on direct institutional funding, accounting for about
half of total funding (49 percent) for PROs (Figure 10). PROs’ own revenues from consulting, con-
tracts, and fees made up 23 percent of funding received; other public funds, largely in the form of
competitive grants, represented 19 percent of funds, while private-sector funded research was
less than one percent of funding received (only two of the 13 surveyed PROs received any funding
from the private sector). In principle, this ratio of own revenues (in total funding) is not far from
the average in European PROs, although it is still low compared to leading PROs such as VTT in
Finland, where about two thirds of funding comes from external sources, or the Fraunhofer Insti-
tutes in Germany in, where one third of total funding is self generated.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 36
The survey of public researchers also shows low levels of private sector funded research: in 2019
only 21 percent of surveyed researchers conducted privately funded research and 11 percent pro-
vided technology extension services to companies. This low level of engagement with the private
sector may be indicative of a lack of connections between the public and private sectors, but also
may be the result of regulatory barriers for such linking.
Figure 10: PRO funding sources
Source: Authors’ calculations
While all public research institutions can receive PBRF through the use of multiannual plans and
performance contracts (Ministry of Education and Science, 2016), survey results suggest that it is
not yet a meaningful source of funding. 46 percent of surveyed PROs receive block funding with
no target requirements of any kind, and 23 percent receive “informal” performance-based fund-
ing based on negotiated basic performance indicators. While 69 percent receive some formal
performance-based funding on an annual basis, only eight percent received performance-based
funding from multi-year contracts (Figure 11). When asked about the importance of these different
types of institutional funding, 45 percent of PROs consider block funding with no performance re-
quirements to be a very important source of funding, while no PROs consider performance-based
funding to be a very important source of funding (Figure 12).
  

 

 

  

  

Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 37
Figure 11: Institutional funding schemes of surveyed PROs
Source: Authors’ calculations
Figure 12: Importance of funding sources for surveyed PROs
Source: Authors’ calculations
Bulgaria has set a target for at least ten percent of direct institutional funding to be performance
based. However, at present, PBRF only accounts for roughly 2.5 to five percent of total institutional
funding for PROs and HEIs, depending on the type of institutions. Accelerating cultural change will
require that Bulgaria gradually increase the share of PBRF to meet and potentially exceed its ten
percent minimum target for PBRF. In the Czech Republic, 20 percent of total funding for research
is based on the results of research performance evaluation (Box 5). In Denmark and Sweden (see
Box 6), this ratio is 19 percent and 20 percent respectively, with planned increases over time. A
much higher percentage of PBRF for higher education institutions is found in Finland, where 33
percent of total institutional funding for research is performance based.
  
   
   
   
 
    
 
  
 

     






  
   
  
 
..  
    
 
  
  
 
   

          


    
 
 
  
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 38
Box 5: Research Performance Evaluation and Performance Funding in the Czech Republic: the recognition
of non-scientific outputs
In 2016, the research evaluation and funding distribution system was re-
vised. Under the previous evaluation and funding system evaluation was
only based on output metrics, making research funding fully dependent on
output performance (Srholec, 2015; Good et al, 2015). The current system is
based on informed peer review and output metrics but relies much less on
these types of measures. It has three main components:
• A first part of the assessment concerns scientific performance and is
based on journal (impact factor)-based bibliometrics.
• A second part of the evaluation is based on high impact results. Each or-
ganization selects several high-quality results in each scientific domain
under consideration. The number of results selected is then related to
funding which the organization receives in the preceding year. Results
are peer reviewed and the best outputs are selected for funding bonuses.
• A third part of the evaluation concerns non-scientific outputs of R&D,
including patents and commercialization outputs. The different catego-
ries considered come with a set number of points per item. The remain-
ing points are allocated based on an examination of revenue generated
through applied projects, technology services and collaboration with
industry.
The funding allocation decisions are based 75 percent on an assessment of
the scientific output, 10 percent on an evaluation of high impact research
outputs, and 15 percent on an assessment of applied research (Malek et al,
2014). To stabilize the funding flows, at present 20 percent is allocated us-
ing the results of performance evaluation while 80 percent is divided in the
same proportion as in the previous year.
Sources: Srholec (2015), Good et al, (2015), Jonkers and Zacharewicz (2016).
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 39
A recent expert study (European Commission, 2018a) strongly recommended to increase the use
of the PBRF in Bulgarian public research institutions as a tool for change. However, greater use
of PBRF will not solve all of the structural problems that hamper the performance of the Bulgar-
ian public research sector. The study noted that “It is unlikely that alone it [PBRF] could correct
the various inefficiencies, overlaps and systemic failures in Bulgarias research system quickly
enough and profoundly enough to reverse the current path of decline in the system. Unless the
performance-based funding system is combined with a structural reform, it cannot be expected
to help overcome research fragmentation”. Structural reforms of the Bulgarian public research
landscape are a pre-condition for PBRF to be effective. It is imperative to address the problems
of institutional fragmentation and research capacity in order to improve the effectiveness and
impact of research and funding policies (European Commission, 2018a).10
2.1.4 Monitoring, Evaluation, and Performance Management
Bulgaria needs a more consistent and comprehensive research evaluation framework, one that
considers the use and expected outcomes of research (on the part of both researchers and in-
stitutions) and recognizes knowledge exchange and technology transfer activities.
Public education and research bodies are monitored by the Accreditation Board of the National
Agency for Assessment and Accreditation and must renew their accreditation every three to six
years, depending on the previous score the organization received. Accreditation is based on the
quality of education provided, faculty, and facilities. Beyond this accreditation to ensure specific
standards are met, the only institution-level performance evaluation occurs as part of the newly
implemented PBRF framework to determine whether and how much PBRF funding an organiza-
tion will receive on an annual basis.
The new PBRF framework (detailed in Appendix III) includes three primary components: scientific
results and impact (accounting for 50 percent of the total score); PhDs produced and internation-
al co-publications (accounting for 25 percent); and economic impact (accounting for 25 percent).
The economic impact component includes relevant measures of commercialization, compris-
ing several sub-items: funding received from contracts with foreign companies (weighted at 5X
value of monies received), followed by licensing revenues from IP (4X value), funding received
 This European Commission study found that Bulgarian authorities need to address the fragmentation in the research system in a direct
manner, including a restructuring (concentration/merging) of the higher education sector to reap the full benefit of the Academies
research capacity. This would be a system-wide reform to create synergies based upon the missions of the research organizations.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 40
from contracts with domestic companies (3X value), and funding from European and national
programs (1X value).
Linking this evaluation framework to performance-based funding is a positive step towards en-
hancing the impact of institutional monitoring and evaluation and fostering cultural change and
technology transfer activities in public research institutions. However, the weighting scheme
from this framework is not in line with international practices, which typically weight commer-
cialization revenues higher than revenues from contract research. This institutional evaluation
framework would also benefit from recognizing other non-monetary knowledge transfer activities,
which can be key to enhancing the impact of public research organizations, such as collaborative
research with industry, staff exchanges in industry, and researcher involvement in firm creation
through startups and spinoffs.
PROs and HEIs are also evaluated at the project level for competitive grant schemes by implement-
ing ministries and agencies. The monitoring and evaluation schemes for EU and nationally funded
grants schemes generally do not include indicators for technology transfer or economic impact.
Internationally, there is a policy trend towards the inclusion of technology transfer and innova-
tion impact measures (such as industry linkages and technology commercialization activities)
in research performance evaluation assessments. In Scandinavian countries, the use of perfor-
mance-based research funding started in the early 2010s and currently considers indicators such
as external funding and external research as performance metrics (Box 6). In these countries, the
adoption of PBRF systems contributed to the institutionalization and consolidation of research
performance metrics and as organizing principles of research and strategies (Söderlind et al.,
2019). Poland has followed this trend and has been gradually updating its PBRF funding system
(Kulczycki et al. 2017). The revision of 2013 expanded the evaluation framework and metrics, in-
cluding research quality indicators (e.g. impact factor and specific journals) and indicators of
technology transfer activities such as research and industry cooperation, industry funding and
the level of revenues from commercialization.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 41
Box 6: The use of performance-based funding in PROs and universities: Scandinavian countries
Although models differ across countries, the use of PBRF is primarily moti-
vated by the pursuit of research excellence, resource concentration (focus-
ing funding on high performing institutions) and efficiency in the use of re-
sources. The international experience calls for a balance between traditional
(block) funding and performance-based funding. This allows PROs and HEIs
to have a minimum of funding certainty and stability while still incentivizing
desired institutional targets. Maintaining a level of block funding helps to
cover operative costs and basic service provision, while PBRF provides fo-
cus on more strategic (long-term) commitments, such as research. Perfor-
mance based funding can also take several forms, including forward-looking
(e.g., seing goals for institutions to aain) or backward-looking (e.g., evalua-
tions of performance based on reported metrics) funding, or a combination
of these approaches (OECD, 2010; OECD, 2012). There is also an increasing
recognition of the need to combine quantitative metrics with qualitative
assessments and combining metrics with external expert assessments (i.e.
see Czech Republic).
    
    
  
 of institutional
research funding and
increasing every year
 of total
institutional funding
 of total
institutional funding
 of institutional
research funding and
annual additions

Publications
(fractionalized)
External funding
(including industry
funding)
PhD production
Student throughput
Publications
(fractionalized)
External funding
(including industry
funding)
PhD production
Publications
(fractionalized)
External funding
(including industry
funding)
EU research funding
PhD production
Publications
(fractionalized)
Citations
External research
funding
Source: OECD, 2010; OECD, 201211
 Fractionalized publication counts aribute a share of a publication to each author based on the number of authors of said
publication. For example, for a publication with two authors, each author would receive 0.5 publications to their name; while
for a publication with four authors, each would receive 0.25 publications to their name.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 42
Nearly all of the surveyed PROs and HEIs are subject to monitoring and evaluation of their re-
search activities by their funding ministry (Figure 13). For most interviewed organizations, M&E
procedures are set by the ministry (62 percent) and/or by the institution’s strategies and policies
(54 percent) (Figure 14).
Figure 13: Monitoring and Evaluation of PROs and TTOs
Source: Authors’ calculations based on survey results.
Source: Authors’ calculations based on survey results.
Figure 14: Who defines monitoring and evaluation procedures for PROs and TTOs
 






  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
 




 
      
   

 
  
 
  
 
       






Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 43
Most interviewed PROs and TTOs have established management practices around M&E (77 per-
cent), rewarding performance (77 percent), performance goals (85 percent) and implementation
plans to achieve those goals (85 percent). However, only 62 percent of the interviewed organiza-
tions feel they have a clear mission and goals, 31 percent have a long-run research and technology
investment strategy, and only 15 percent have a research management unit. These deficiencies
severely handicap research performance and impact and the effective organization of research
efforts over time. Technical support might be needed to help institutions conduct a profiling as-
sessment and define research strategies and investment plans.
Having a research management unit is key for organizing research capacity and funds within in-
stitutions. As proven by the experience of leading UK and US universities, an RMU is fundamental
to leveraging public and private funds and accessing funding programs, identifying partners, and
supporting the preparation of applications.
The lack of clear institutional missions and long-run research strategies reinforces findings from
recent assessments (World Bank, 2013; European Commission, 2017; 2018) and interviews with
leading administrators at surveyed PROs and HEIs, which report that public STI institutions do
not have clearly defined strategic objectives to work towards (Figure 15), making it difficult for
them to develop long-term research and investment strategies.
Figure 15: Established management practices at PROs and TTOs
Source: Authors’ calculations
based on survey results.
  
   
   
   
  
   
  
..   
    
   
 
  
    
  
   
   
    
 


  
   ,  
   
 
          










 

 
  
 
 
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 44
2.2 Research Capacity and Institutional Strategies
Bulgarian PRO and HEI research strategies and plans are largely aligned with
national-level strategies, though not all organizations have established such
strategies. Research capacity appears to be a major challenge for Bulgarian
research institutions, due to limited of funding and human capital and inad-
equate research infrastructure.
A majority (79 percent) of interviewed PROs and HEIs have a defined research strategy or plan for
the institution, and another six percent are in the process of developing one (Figure 16). Public
institutions are heavily reliant on public funding, and public funding instruments are aligned with
the research priorities in one of the country’s key research strategies, which include the National
Strategy for Development of Scientific Research 2017-2030 and the Innovation Strategy for Smart
Specialization. PROs and HEIs are monitored by MoES regarding their impacts in achieving the
priorities of each program. Because of their dependence on national funding instruments, most
PROs and HEIs have established an institutional strategy or plan for research aligned with these
national research priorities.
Figure 16: Institutional strategies at PROs and TTOs
Source: Authors’ calculations
Research capabilities appear to be a major challenge for public research institutions, which in-
cludes an insufficient critical mass of human capital, lack of adequate research facilities and in-
frastructure, and lack of funding for research activities (Figure 17).
  
, ,   
 
   
     
  
         


Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 45
Figure 17: Capacity issues impeding research and technology transfer according to PROs and TTOs
Source: Authors’ calculations
Insufficient research funding was cited as a very important or important challenge by 100 per-
cent of PROs/HEIs and researchers surveyed. As described in the section on general trends in
public research, public investments in R&D are the lowest in the EU on a per capita basis, and
public research institutions perform a very low share of research nationally, due in large part to
the low levels of research funding available to these institutions. The only new source of public
research funding in the current programming period is the OP SESG, which has focused on the
development of the Centres of Competence and Excellence and the allocation and disbursement
of funds for those centres did not begin until 2019. Outside of the CoCs and CoEs, there are no
OP instruments that specifically fund public research, although some of the instruments in the
current Operational Programme Innovation and Competitiveness (OP IC) can provide funding to
PROs and HEIs as partners in research collaborations with industry. Low levels of public R&D in-
vestment also contribute to the lack of human capital and adequate infrastructure.
A lack of a critical mass of human capital was cited as a very important or important challenge
to conducting impactful research by 92 percent of PROs/HEIs and 60 percent of public research-
ers, highlighting the need to improve the size and quality of the public sector research workforce
with more competitive salaries for researchers and academics. Public researchers receive very
low average salaries relative to their CEE peers (as shown in Figure 18) and the domestic and in-
ternational private sectors, making it difficult for PROs and HEI to aract and retain researchers.
In the 2017 Survey on Researchers in European Higher Education Institutions, Bulgarian public
researchers at all career stages expressed dissatisfaction with their renumeration – sentiments
shared by researchers in many CEE peer countries (Janger et al, 2017). As in the case of Poland
with the recent 2018 Science Law reforms, it is important to conduct a revision of remuneration
policies and more broadly of science careers in the public research and academic sector.
  
    
 
   ,
   
   
 
 

          


  
 
 

Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 46
Figure 18: Public research salaries are low compared to those in peer countries, 2019
Source: Eurostat
A lack of adequate research facilities was also cited as a very important or important challenge
by 83 percent of PROs/HEIs and 80 percent of researchers. Substantial investments have been
made in the construction of new public research infrastructure under the current OP SESG, as
well as under the National Roadmap for Research Infrastructure 2017-2023 and National Science
Programs 2018-2022. However, there are scant funds available for the maintenance and operation
of existing infrastructure. PROs and HEIs oen need to find funding sources to cover operational
costs, such as utilities, replacement equipment parts, and research materials, as these costs are
not fully covered by institutional or project funding.
2.3 Technology Transfer Capacity and Policy
In Bulgaria, IP ownership policies vary significantly by institution. Public in-
stitutions generally lack sustainable funding and resources for IPR and tech
transfer activities, and few of these institutions have a defined strategy for
technology transfer and/or entrepreneurship in place. There is also a gener-
al lack of awareness among public researchers of national and institutional
technology transfer policies.
Naitonal legislative framework in the areas of IP, technology transfer, and science-business link-
ages represent a serious impediment to the capacity of HEIs and PROS to commercialize the
results of the research activities. Procedures are vague, bureaucratic, and not well understood
 
       
 








   

,
, , , ,
,
, ,
 
 
 
     







Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 47
by the public research institutions, which makes it difficult on the part of PROs and HEIs, as well
as private sector counterparts, to collaborate in technology transfer or reseach activities. While
national IP and technology transfer legislation is generally in line with international norms and
standards, there is no clear legislation governing who owns IP generated by public research insti-
tutions (PROs and HEIs) and there is also no specific technology transfer law, such as the U.S.’s
Baye-Dole Act, that clarifies the ownership and commercialization rights of actors and governs
the transfer of public research to private applications (Spacic et al, 2019). The question of owner-
ship of IP generated by public research institutions was devolved to the individual institutions by
the 2016 amendments to the national Higher Education Act, which states that every HEI should
have a system for IP protection, management, and ownership, as well as IP protection training.
To address these requirements, each institution had to develop its own internal regulations, so
the ownership of IP derived from public research differs from one academic institution to another.
Among surveyed organizations, most public institutions (92 percent of PROs and 67 percent of
HEIs) retain ownership rights over IP resulting from research funded by public sources, while
roughly half of the organizations (58 percent of PROs and 50 percent of HEIs) provide ownership
rights to inventors (Figure 19).12 A smaller share of organizations (50 percent of PROs and 17 per-
cent of HEIs) provide ownership rights to public funding organizations.
Figure 19: Ownership of IP funded by public sources at PROs and TTOs
Source: Authors’ calculations
 Note that in many instances, ownership of IP is not mutually exclusive: ownership can be shared by PROs/HEIs, funding organiza-
tions and/or inventors, depending on the circumstances.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 48
Unsurprisingly, IP policies appear more flexible for privately financed research, with PROs and
TTOs ceding ownership to third parties more oen – 67 percent of PROs and 86 percent of HEIs
provide ownership to private sector funding organizations (Figure 20). Still, a relatively large share
(42 percent of PROs and 33 percent of HEIs) retain ownership of IP for themselves in privately
financed research (which runs counter to standard international practices) and 25 percent of
PROs and 67 percent of HEIs provide ownership to inventors. This shows there is a large degree
of heterogeneity in IPR ownership rules across public research institutions.
Figure 20: Ownership of IP funded by private sources at PROs and TTOs
Source: Authors’ calculations
Only 16 percent of the interviewed institutions have a defined strategy for technology transfer
and/or entrepreneurship; half of the interviewed TTOs have a tech transfer strategy and none of
the interviewed PROs have such a strategy in place. As noted in the previous section, public re-
search institutions, which are heavily reliant on public funding instruments, have adopted strate-
gies aligned with the research priorities in one of the country’s key research strategies. However,
none of the key national strategies have technology transfer priorities. Thus, these institutions
do not have funding-related incentives to develop their own technology transfer strategies.
According to the results of the public researcher survey, researchers feel that there are IP and
technology transfer policy challenges at both the national and institutional levels. 57 percent of
researchers believe that the lack of a clear national legal framework on IPR ownership and laws
regulating interactions with industry present an important or very important barrier to technolo-
gy transfer impacts, and 62 percent believe that the lack of (or unclear) technology transfer pol-
icies at the institutional level also represent an important or very important obstacle (Figure 21).
  
 
 
 
     







Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 49
Figure 21: Challenges related to national and institutional TT policies according to public researchers
Public institutions generally lack sustainable funding and resources for IPR and tech transfer ac-
tivities. Not all PROs and HEIs have dedicated TTOs, and some of the TTOs are more project-ori-
ented and do not have the transfer of technologies from the institution to industry as a central
feature of their business model. BAS has a single centralized tech transfer unit, and the individ-
ual institutes may not have dedicated IPR experts. Public tech transfer offices suffer from a lack
of sustainable funding – in the previous EU programming period, significant investments were
made, primarily with EU funding, to develop TTOs at several Bulgarian public research institutions.
However, when the EU funding ceased, national funding was not made available to maintain these
offices, which then lost much of the staff and skills that had been developed (Spasic et al, 2019).
A recent World Bank analysis of the Bulgarian STI policy mix finds no instruments that provide
direct funding for technology transfer activities or TTOs (Aridi et al. 2020). The current OP SESG
does not include any instruments that support technology transfer activities or TTOs at public
institutions outside of the CoC and CoE projects.
The public researcher survey shows that a lack of resources for technology transfer presents a
challenge to improved commercialization impacts of public research, with over 60 percent of re-
searchers stating that the lack of funding, technology evaluation mechanisms and IPR manage-
ment skills are important or very important barriers to improved tech transfer impacts (Figure 22).
     
   
    
    
  
    
   
 

          

  
Source: Authors’ calculations
based on survey of public researchers.
  
  
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 50
Figure 22: Availability of technology transfer resources according to public researchers
Source: Authors’ calculations
2.4 Research Outputs, Knowledge Transfer, and Technology Transfer Activities
Public sector research outputs, in the form of publications and patents, are
largely aimed at addressing accreditation requirements, rather than the
pursuit of impactful research. While some knowledge exchange activities
are relatively common, such as research collaboration with government
and industry, long term staff exchanges with industry (e.g., sabbaticals and
secondments) are rare among surveyed researchers. Researchers in engi-
neering fields are more active in knowledge exchange activities than other
disciplines, but all fields show very low levels of commercialization outcomes
(licenses and spinoffs).
Scientific publications are the most common type of research output of Bulgarian public research-
ers, with 76 percent of surveyed researchers producing one or more publications from 2018 to
2019, while only 1.6 percent were granted an international patent, and 7.8 percent registered a util-
ity model over the same period (Table 2). As detailed in the general trends in the public research
section of this report, Bulgarian publications tend to be less impactful than those produced in
peer countries, and public sector publication and patent activity is largely oriented to addressing
accreditation requirements and meeting career development milestones, rather than the pursuit
of impactful research or the practical implementation of research results by the private sector.
    
 
    
     
   
 
 

          

  
  

 
  
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 51
Public researcher career development indicators place equal weight on utility models and patents
and do not differentiate between domestic and international patents. Because utility models are
less expensive, faster, and easier to obtain, public researchers have increasingly turned to pro-
tection through utility models. The widespread lack resources for IPR activities means funding
is typically not available for patenting under international patent regimes, which has resulted in
the low international patent outputs reported by respondents.
Table 2: Research outputs of surveyed public researchers, 2018-2019
       >
Scientific publications in international peer-reviewed journal  .
Domestic patents granted . .
International patents granted . .
Number of utility models . .
Source: Authors’ calculations | Note: Responses are weighted by distribution of reserchers by academic field.
The most common form of collaborative research undertaken by public researchers are collabo-
rative R&D projects with industry: 27.8 percent of surveyed researchers worked on a collaborative
project with industry in 2019 and 42 percent have worked on such a project over the course of
their career (Table 3). Contract research to companies (R&D services commissioned by industry
through a contract) and collaborative research projects with other government agencies are also
fairly common forms of collaboration -with about one in five researchers engaged in contract
research with firms in 2019, and around 13 percent taking part of contract research with govern-
mental agencies.
However, technical assistance services to firms (such as engineering, design, and quality test-
ing services) and technology extension services (assistance in the transfer and adoption of new
technologies) are less common activities, with only 16 percent and 11 percent of surveyed re-
searchers participating in these activities in 2019, respectively (Table 3). These advisory services
are important forms of knowledge transfer of public sector expertise to small businesses and are
particularly important in the Bulgarian context, where the private sector lags behind EU peers in
labor productivity, firm digitization, and the adoption of new technologies.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 52
Table 3: Research collaborations of surveyed public researchers
  
 
, 
 
, 
  ,
 
Collaborative research involving companies . . .
Contract research to companies . . .
Technical assistance services to companies . . .
Technology extension services to companies . . .
Collaborative research with government . . .
Research contract services to government . . .
Source: Authors’ calculations | Note: Responses are weighted by academic field.
Looking at staff exchanges with industry and other research and government organizations, and
other forms of knowledge transfer, short-term activities such as consultancy and advisory ser-
vices are the most frequent form of knowledge transfer, followed by training services and PhD
projects with industry (both were performed by 20 percent of surveyed researchers in 2019). (Table
4). Looking more closely at PhD projects in industry, only five percent of junior researchers par-
ticipated in such projects in 2019, whereas 16 percent of senior researchers participated (likely as
a supervisor) in one or more PhD projects in industry in 2019. Personnel exchanges (sabbaticals
or secondments or short employment residency) are less common, with slightly more than one
percent of researchers being engaged in this activity. The share is larger for researchers engag-
ing in personal exchanges with other government or public research organizations (14 percent of
surveyed researchers in 2019).
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 53
Table 4: Staff exchange activities and other forms of knowledge transfer by surveyed public-sector researchers
(total sample)
   
 
, 
  ,

  ,
 
Conducting PhD projects with industry . . .
PhD projects in industry (junior researchers) . . .
PhD projects in industry (senior researchers) . . .
Training activities provided to industry
or government
. . .
Sabbatical or short employment residency
in industry or spinoff
. . .
Personal exchanges with other public research
institutions or governmental agencies
. . .
Other consultancy services and advisory work . . .
Source: Authors’ calculations based on the results of the World Bank Survey of Bulgarian Researchers (2020).
Notes: (1) Responses for Bulgarian researchers are weighted by the distribution of population of researchers (at both PROs and HEIs) per large
sector field of research following the classification of UNESCO. (2) We considered researchers as junior researchers if he/she reports job status
1: Full time young researcher (Doctorate student or Post-doctorate) or 3: Part time young researcher or has at least 15 years of experience and
without managerial position.
Bulgarian researchers perform far below European average trends in knowledge and staff exchange
activities, especially in terms of contract research with industry and training and consultancy ser-
vices (Figure 23). Only 1.3 percent of Bulgarian researchers participated in staff exchanges with
industry in 2019, as opposed to an average of 23 percent in European countries. Similarly, the EU
average for collaborative research with industry is 59 percent, while only 28 percent of Bulgarian
researchers engaged in such activities. The only area where Bulgarian researchers perform close
to the EU average is in collaborative research with government (or with other PROs). While there
is no EU survey data on PhDs in industry, a recent survey of Danish academics finds that one-third
of Danish academics are or were involved in PhD projects in industry, compared to less than a
quarter of Bulgarian researchers. Involvement in contract research with government is also much
higher in the Danish survey (42 percent vs 12 percent of Bulgarian researchers).









 


 

  

 

 
 


 
 


 

    
  ,    
  
 
 
 
 


,
,

,
,

,


, ,

,



,
,
,
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 54
Figure 23: Participation in collaborative research and research services: Comparison with EU average participation
Sources: Indicators for Bulgarian researchers come from the World Bank Survey of Bulgarian Researchers (2020); indicators for the European
averages are from Davey et al., (2018), a European Commission study based on a survey of researchers at HEIs. Indicators for Danish researchers
are from the 2017 Triple-I-Research Survey of Academics.
Commercialization outcomes, in the form of licensing agreement, spinoffs13, or startups14 are very
low. Among surveyed researchers, the leading forms of commercialization outcomes in 2019 were
entering into confidentiality agreements15 (six percent of surveyed researchers entered into such
agreements in 2019) or material transfer agreements16 (three percent of surveyed researchers in
2019) (Table 5). Only two percent of surveyed researchers entered into a licensing agreement or
the reassignment of IP rights in 2019, while three percent participated in the creation of a spinoff
and only two percent participated in the creation of a startup involving licensing of IP rights or
other results from their research. VTT in Finland provides a useful example of an approach to im-
proving incentives for commercialization through the creation of a commercial unit to manage
IP and licensing and utilize beer strategies for industry collaboration and funding (see Box 7).
 Spinoffs are defined as new firms involving the participation of an academic or student.
 Startups are defined as new companies founded by entrepreneurs external to the HEI or PRO and based on technology created by
the HEI or PRO.
 Confidentiality agreements are legal agreements that bind one or more parties to non-disclosure of confidential information.
 Material transfer agreements are contracts that govern the transfer of tangible research materials between two organizations, where
the recipient intends to use said materials for their own research purposes.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 55
Box 7: The transformation and reform of the VTT in Finland: An effective applied research organization and
innovation partner to industry
VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland) is the most important non-uni-
versity research institution in Finland. It is a multidisciplinary research orga-
nization which conducts commissioned research for domestic and foreign
companies and organizations, and for public authorities. It primarily provides
applied technical and techno-economic research services. It is an interest-
ing example of a public organization that has evolved over time following
changes in national and global innovation needs.
In 2006, VTT experienced an important structural reform. The VTT 2006
Law introduced important changes in its regulation and autonomy, which
allowed the institution to introduce radical changes in its organization and
to establish a beer legal and operational capacity for technology commer-
cialization engagement.
• The Law allowed VTT’s ownership in spin-offs and technology commercial-
ization through startups. The VTT Act states that VTT’s Board can decide
on the extent of VTT’s ownership of newly formed business enterprises.
VTT may use its technology assets as capital contributions and receive
shares in the new firm.
• A new commercial unit, “VTT Ventures”, was created to manage intel-
lectual property rights (IPR), licensing and the creation of new business
ventures for VTT’s technologies. External funding became more import-
ant, and direct funding budget for research organizations has decreased
over the past 10 years.
• The external sources of PRO funding are mainly from commissioned re-
search and co-financed research (industry collaboration). At VTT, exter-
nal funding represents approximately 70 percent of total funding, with 30
percent coming from contract research.
Source: Loikkanen et al., (2011).




   
,
    
  ,  
 
 
 
 
,
,

,
,

,,
,
, ,
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 56
Table 5: Technology transfer activities of surveyed public-sector researchers -average number of activities or
contract/’project involvement, 2019 (Total Sample)
            >
Licensing and/or assignments of IP rights . .
Material transfer agreements . .
Confidentiality agreements . .
Spinoff creation . .
Startup creation through licensing of IP rights . .
Source: Authors’ calculations based on the results of the World Bank Survey of Bulgarian Researchers (2020).
Notes: Responses for Bulgarian researchers are weighted by the distribution of population of researchers per large sector field of research, fol-
lowing the classification of UNESCO and distribution population of 2017.
Similarly, patenting and commercialization rates of Bulgarian researchers are low compared to the
results shown in recent European surveys of public researchers. While 19 percent of researchers in
European HEIs were awarded a patent in the 12 months before being surveyed, only six percent of
Bulgarian researchers were awarded a patent in 2019 (Figure 24). The share is even lower for Bulgarian
researchers working in HEIs (three percent). Only two percent of researchers in Bulgarian researchers
participated in startup creation in 2019, while 20 percent of surveyed European researchers did in 2017.
Figure 24: Commercialization of research results through licensing and new firms (total sample)- Comparison
with EU trends (% of researchers involved over the last twelve months)
Sources: Indicators for Bulgarian researchers come from the World Bank Survey of Bulgarian Researchers (2020); indicators for the European
averages are from Davey et al., (2018), a European Commission study based on a survey of researchers at HEIs. Figures for the Bulgarian data cov-
er researchers at both HEIs and PROs. Notes: In the European Survey, spinoff participation refer to the proportion of academics who have been
involved in the creation of one or more spin-offs created from their research in the last 12 months.17
 The indicator on patenting in the European Survey refers to registered patents (applied patent applications) based upon their research
during the last 12 months. The same definition is used in the Bulgarian Survey, but here we report whether researchers participated
in patent applications filed domestically.









.

 
 

 




 

 .


 



.





 



 

         
,
, ,
,
,
,
, ,
,
,
,
,
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 57
Commercialization activity differ across the disciplines of surveyed researchers. Researchers in
engineering and technology fields are more likely to engage in knowledge exchange activities with
industry and less likely to engage in exchanges with other government or research organizations,
compared to researchers in other fields (Figure 25). Engineering fields report the largest shares
of researchers’ involvement in research collaboration and research contracts with industry -with
rates about two or three times larger than the average- as well as high shares in the provision of
training services and PhDs in industry. Researchers in computer sciences are more likely than
those in other disciplines to participate in knowledge exchanges with government and other re-
search organizations and to engage in technology extension services. Notably, commercialization
outputs are low across all disciplines.
Figure 25: Knowledge exchange and commercialization activities by field of respondent
Source: Authors’ calculations based on the results of the World Bank Survey of Bulgarian Researchers (2020).
Notes: Responses are weighted by the distribution of population of researchers (at both PROs and HEIs) per large sector field of research fol-
lowing the classification of UNESCO and population distribution of 2017. Engineering and technology research areas covers: Mechanical Engi-
neering: Electrical Engineering Chemical Architecture, construction and surveying, technology Environmental Engineering and operation and
Transportation, and biotechnology. Natural and Basic Sciences: biology, chemistry physics, mathematics & computer sciences.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 58
2.5 Academic Incentives
The legal and regulatory framework governing public research in Bulgaria does
not provide adequate incentives for industry-science research collaboration
and technology commercialization, and there is a widespread lack of knowl-
edge among public researchers on the specific policies and incentives for tech
transfer offered at the national and institutional levels. However, evidence
from the researcher survey shows that financial and non-financial incentives
are associated with stronger industry-science collaboration engagement by
scientists, and staff mobility (allowing PhD projects in industry and staff ex-
changes) is a catalyzer of public-private collaboration and technology transfer.
Academic incentives for engaging in industry collaborations and knowledge and technology
transfer activities are set by the national statutes18 stipulating the minimum requirements for
academic titles at HEIs and PROs. These statutes, while including measures for IP generation, do
not include indicators for commercialization outcomes (such as licenses or spinoffs) and collab-
orative research activity in the career development metrics of faculty and research staff in HEIs
and PROs. Such indicators are also not present in the reviewed policies of individual institutions.
This is a major gap in the incentive framework, as the international experience has showed per-
formance evaluations that only include IP metrics without considering the actual transfer and
exploitation of research results are limited in their ability to change behavior to achieve desire
tech transfer results.
There is also no legislation that defines the benefits that should come to inventors if their inven-
tions are commercialized; these issues are regulated by institutional IP policies and the individual
contracts between PROs and researchers. This regulatory gap is in large contrast with national
incentive frameworks in most European and OECD countries, which in many cases cover these
maers in in national technology transfer laws, innovation laws, and in national-level reforms to
S&T regulations.
Previous reports on the incentive framework in Bulgaria reinforce these findings; Soete et al,
(2015) find a lack of coherent policies and incentives for encouraging the creation of IP, which
has impeded the commercialization of public research. Galev (2011) and WIPO (2019) find that,
 Law on the development of academic staff and the corresponding Rules for the implementation of the Law on the development of
academic staff.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 59
due to the lack of incentives and resources for technology transfer, public researchers will oen
commercialize IP as individuals and sometimes create their own spinout companies without in-
stitutional knowledge or support.
The most common incentives are related to recognition of research and tech transfer achieve-
ments and funding for research projects, as more than 50 percent of surveyed researchers said
these incentives were offered by their institutions. Assistance in IP protection and management
(38 percent), grants for IP protection costs (28 percent), and secondment opportunities (28 per-
cent) were less common, while financial rewards for inventors (25 percent), assistance with start-
up/spinoff creation (17 percent), equity participation in spinoffs (12 percent), and equity funding
for a spinoff (7 percent) were very uncommon incentives offered to public researchers.
Surveyed researchers are largely unaware of their institutions policies and incentives related to
technology transfer and knowledge exchange, with more than half of respondents unaware of
the availability of many of the forms of incentives included in the survey (Figure 26).
Figure 26: A large share of Bulgarian researchers had lile information on incentives for technology transfer
engagement, 2020
Source: Authors’ calculations
  
   
   
  
  
  
   
  
   
   
    
   
  
 
   
   
    
 
     

  









 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 60
The lack of incentives offered to public researchers is concerning because the availability of such
incentives has a demonstrated impact on Bulgarian researchers’ knowledge activities, IP outputs,
and commercialization outcomes.
Among surveyed researchers, those researchers who engaged in mobility programs with indus-
try, such as sabbaticals and secondments (or having joint positions industry-academia) are more
likely to engage in research collaboration and contract research with the private sector, and have
higher levels of licensing and startup activity (Figure 27).
Figure 27: Staff exchanges with industry are key catalyzers of knowledge exchange and technology transfer
Source: Authors’ calculations
 
  
 
  ,
,  
 
  
, , , , , ,
   
, , .
    
,
,
,
,
,
,
  
,
,
,
,
,
,
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 61
Similarly, researchers who received financial rewards for licenses of academic spinoffs engage
significantly more oen in industry collaborations, patenting and commercialization (Figure 28).
This is in line with a large body of research that confirms the importance of royalty participation
rights in the involvement of university researchers in technology licensing activity and patenting.
Figure 28: Financial incentives are associated with stronger industry-science collaboration
Source: Authors’ calculations
It is unclear whether recognition through performance evaluations and career advancement en-
courage more technology transfer or knowledge exchange activity among surveyed researchers.
There were no significant differences between researchers who receive such evaluations and
those who do not in terms of publications, linkages with industry, or commercialization (Figure
29). This could be due to several factors: First, the national performance evaluation framework
was only recently amended in 2018 to include IP outputs and project funding raised, and there
may not have been enough time for these changes to have an impact. Alternatively, the evalua-
tion framework does not include commercialization outcomes (only IP outputs, such as patents
or utility models), and thus does not incentivize technology transfer activities directly. Another
possibility is that the effects of the updated framework and its impact on career progression and
salaries may not be apparent to researchers, thus limiting its effects on researcher behavior.
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
 
     
  
     
  
     

  
    
     
  
,
,
,
, ,
  
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 62
Figure 29: It is unclear whether performance evaluations encourage technology transfer participation by
researchers
Source: Authors’ calculations
  
 
 
 
 
, , , ,
  
   
 

,
,
,
,
,
,
  
,
,
63
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic
3.
Recommended
Areas for Action
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 64
3. Recommended Areas for Action
Previous studies on the Bulgarian knowledge transfer framework have identified a number of
obstacles to technology transfer. A 2015 peer review of the Bulgarian research and innovation
system found that public research institutions suffer from a lack of professional management
of research and knowledge transfer; a lack of policies that encourage IP disclosure, IP moneti-
zation, and public-private collaboration; and a lack of stable funding and resources for existing
TTOs. It also found that knowledge transfer is not part of the mission and core strategy of public
universities (EC, 2015). A 2019 WIPO assessment of knowledge transfer between the Bulgarian
public and private sectors found that public institutions need stronger and more standardized
IPR management institutional, legal and organizational infrastructure, as well as improved staff
and resources developed to technology transfer activities (WIPO, 2019).
There are several examples from international experience of the need to revise institutional mis-
sions and legal or regulatory frameworks to beer enable PROs and HEIs to engage more effec-
tively in technology commercialization activities and for research and collaboration. In some
country cases, major leading PROs have undergone substantial institutional reforms in order to
address these handicaps or regulatory bolenecks.
Research institutions (PROs and TTOs) and public researchers agree on the major obstacles to
research excellence and technology transfer: a lack of communication between the public and pri-
vate sectors, research that is not aligned with the needs of industry, a lack of policies to promote
public-private collaboration, lack of funding for research, insufficient human capital, and a lack of
adequate research facilities (see figures in Appendix IV). It is clear that the ongoing structural re-
forms for the public research system need to continue. In particular, further consolidation of BAS
and AA is required to reduce fragmentation and improve specialization and efficiency in research.
This section lays out seven recommended areas for action based on the key challenges identified
in this report in the areas of the national policy framework, institutional governance, research
and technology transfer capacity and policy, and academic incentives19.
 These recommendations are further highlighted and discussed in the policy recommendations section of the Bulgaria Country
Needs and STI Policy Mix Assessment (2020)
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 65
Increase the role of performance-based funding to incentivize research excellence and
knowledge transfer impact
  Short-term
 • Ensure that MoES meets its minimum target of ten percent
PBRF as a share of total direct funding and consider raising
this share over time to achieve greater resource concentra-
tion and efficiency.
• Review the PBRF weighting schemes to give more emphasis
on research commercialization and tech transfer activities
(licenses, spin-offs, contract research, industry research col-
laboration, etc.). The PBRF framework should also recognize
other non-monetary knowledge transfer activities, such as
collaborative research with industry, staff exchanges in in-
dustry, and researchers’ involvement in firm creation through
startups and spinoffs.
   Programmatic
  MoES
Improve resources and capacity for tech transfer support
  Short-term
 • Address the performance of existing technology transfer of-
fices and non-academic intermediaries active in supporting
research commercialization through reliable and sustainable
funding, capacity building, and training (invention disclosure,
patenting, licensing, market assessment, startup/spin-off
formation, etc.)
• Promote awareness of the technology transfer framework
and available financial and capacity building resources
   Programmatic
  MoES, MA SESG, NSF, State Agency for R&I
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 66
Improve governance and strategic orientation of public research institutions
  Mid-term
 • Strengthen the autonomy and operational independence
of PROs and HEIs
• Ensure that public research institutions have clear missions
and objectives, aligned with local industry specialization, and
in line with national goals and strategies as well as regional
Smart Specialization Strategies
   Institutional (Governance and Coordination)
  MoES
Strengthen M&E for research and operation of PROs and HEIs
  Mid-term
 • Align M&E frameworks with institutional objectives and
missions.
• Revise M&E frameworks to place more weight on knowledge
transfer and research collaboration activities.
   Institutional (Governance and Coordination)
  MoES, State Agency for R&I
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 67
Strengthen PRO/HEI-Industry linkages to ensure alignment in the supply and demand of
knowledge and skills
  Mid-term
 • Improve the relevance of public research and education
agendas through industry representation in PRO/HEI gov-
erning bodies (steering/trust boards) and consultation in
the definition of research and knowledge strategies.
• Strengthen public-private linkages and opportunities for
collaboration by encouraging mobility between public re-
search institutions and the private sector through second-
ments, sabbaticals, joint positions and especially through
PhDs in industry.
• Leverage private sector R&D funding through collaborative
grants schemes with industry
   Legal, Programmatic
  MoES, State Agency for R&I
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 68
Develop a coherent national framework for IPR and technology transfer
  Mid-term
 • Create national-level legislation or policy that governs own-
ership of IP generated by publicly funded research and the
transfer of public research to private applications, rather
than devolving the question of IP ownership to individual
institutions.
• Clarify and mandate the provision of financial rights for re-
search. Make inventors’ participation in revenues from com-
mercialization obligatory, such as the right to participate
in royalties from IP resulting from their research activities
(licensing and selling of IP). Additional financial incentives
could be considered.
• Clarify ownership of equity stakes in spin-offs from academ-
ic research institutions at both individual researcher (rights
to participate in equity in startups) and institutional level.
   Legal
  Council of Ministers, MoES, Bulgarian Patent Board,
State Agency for R&I
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 69
Improve incentives for public researchers to engage in high quality research, knowledge
transfer, and commercialization activities
  Mid-term
 • Include technology transfer and collaborative research
activities in career development and salary progression of
researchers.
• Strengthen financial incentives through researchers’ partic-
ipation in licensing revenues and provision of equity rights
(in startups/spinoffs).
• Increase salaries for researchers at both HEIs and PROs at
all levels, in order to encourage productivity, reduce emigra-
tion of highly qualified researchers and consolidate national
research competences in key areas of S&T.
   Legal, Institutional (Governance and Coordination)
  MoES
70
        :   
References
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 71
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73
        :   
Appendices
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 74
Appendix I: Survey Methodology
This study uses two surveys designed to measure Bulgarian HEIs and PROs knowledge and tech-
nology transfer and the factors that influence these activities:
. An online survey of active public sector researchers in science, technology, engineering and
mathematics, conducted from February to April 2020; and
. An in-person survey of administrators from Bulgarian PROs and university TTOs, which took
place between 27 February 2020 and 14 April 2020.
Public Researcher Survey
Bulgaria’s National Center for Information and Documentation (NCID) maintains a register of all
public research staff in the country, from which the survey population was drawn. Because this
survey focuses on researchers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics
(STEM), public researchers were filtered by field using the ISCED-F 2013 classification system20 to
ensure only researchers from relevant fields we selected. The selected fields were:
• Natural sciences, mathematics, and statistics (ISCED-F 2013 05, excluding 0524 Statistics)
• Information and communication technologies (ISCED-F 2013 06)
• Engineering, manufacturing, and construction (ISCED-F 2013 07)
• Agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and veterinary (ISCED-F 2013 08)
• Health and welfare (ISCED-F 2013 09, excluding 092 welfare)
To ensure that only currently employed researchers were selected, only those staff with data on
their current academic rank were included in the survey population (retired or former research
staff do not have data on current academic rank in the NCID database).
The resulting population of public researchers engaged in STEM fields was 4,260. The NCID data
was downloaded on the 02 January 2020 and includes the name of the researcher, their academic
degree, current academic rank, and the name of the public institution for which they is currently em-
ployed. Email addresses for the public researchers were retrieved from the PRO/HEI public websites.
 ISCED-F 2013 is an international classification developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) to facilitate comparisons of education statistics and indicators across countries based on uniform and internationally
agreed definitions.
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 75
Table A1.1: Distribution of the survey population by ISCED-F 2013 classifiaction
   
Natural sciences, mathematics, and statistics 
Information and communication technologies 
Engineering, manufacturing, and construction 
Agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and veterinary 
Health and welfare 
Email addresses for the public researchers were retrieved from their respective PRO/HEI web-
sites.A total of 3700 emails were collected, or 86 percent of the total population. Emails were sent
to all the addresses collected with a link directing them to the online survey. To secure as many
responses as possible, an additional leer of support, signed and stamped by the Ministry of
Education and Science was aached. The dissemination of the emails took place on four waves.
The first was sent on 27 February 2020, the second on 05 March 2020, the third on 12 March 2020
and the fourth on 6 April 2020. The survey was closed on 14 April 2020. To boost the response
rate, additional reminding leers were sent to the directors of the relevant public research insti-
tutions on the 5 March 2020.
A total of 1,010 responses were collected, of which 726 completed the full survey. The responses
cover approximately 23 percent of the total population. Table A.1.2 shows the distribution of re-
spondents by field, and Figure A1.1 presents the distribution of the respondents by years of expe-
rience. The margin of error is around 3% with a confidence level of 95%.
Table A.1.2: Response rate among research areas
  
Natural sciences and mathematics  
Information and communication technologies  
Engineering, manufacturing and construction  
Agriculture, forestry, fisheries and veterinary  
Health  
Total:  
 The number is higher than the total number of respondents as some of the researchers have marked more than one research area
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 76
Figure A1.1 Distribution of the respondents by years of experience
Source: Authors’ calculation
PRO and University TTO Survey
PROs and university TTOs was selected for interviews based on several criteria in an aempt to
cover the breadth of the Bulgarian public research system. These criteria included:
• Type of research institutions (PRO or HEI)
• Affiliation (BAS, AA, or other)
• Technical field
• Number of employees
• Location
A total of 21 institutions were interviewed, including 14 PROs and seven university TTOs, as shown
in table A1.3. The interviews took place between 27 February 2020 and 14 April 2020.





   
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 77
Table A1.3: Interviewed PROs and TTOs


  
,   
   
Central Laboratory of Applied Physics – Plovdiv
Institute of Biophysics and Biomedical Engineering
Institute of Catalysis
Institute of Chemical Engineering
Institute for Information and Communication technologies
Institute of General and Inorganic Chemistry
Institute of Information and Communication Technologies
Institute of Mineralogy and Crystallography “Academician Ivan Kostov”
Institute of Neurobiology
Institute of Organic Chemistry with Centre of Phytochemistry
Institute of Physical Chemistry “Academician Rostislaw Kaischew”
Institute of Polymers

  
,   
   
Agriculture Academy – central body
Agriculture Institute – Shumen

  
,  ~ 
   
Joint Innovation Centre of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (JiC-BAS)
Research Centre with TTO at Sofia University
TTO at Technical University of Gabrovo
Intellectual Property Technology Transfer Center at Ruse University
High-tech park Technical University - Varna EOOD at Technical University Varna
RC of Technical University -Sofia and TU-Sofia Technology EOOD
TTO UFT- Plovdiv
The majority of the respondents of the PRO survey have stated that their organization works
mainly in the field of chemistry, and in the TTOs chemical technology is as popular as computer
technology (Figures A1.2 and A1.3).
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 78
Figure A1.2 PROs by technical field
Source: Authors’ calculation
Figure A1.3 TTOs by technical field
Source: Authors’ calculation





 
 

 
 
 



 ,
 

 
 

 
 

.
.
.
.
 
 
 
 

 
 ,
 



 
 
 
 


Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 79
The majority of the PRO respondents have a total number of employees between 50 and 100 peo-
ple. (Figure A1.4).
Figure A1.4. Distribution of PROs by number of full-time employees
Source: Authors’ calculation
   < 
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 80
Appendix II: Bulgarian Research Performance
Figure A2.1: Publications per million GERD, 2018
Source: Scimago, Eurostat, authors’ calculations
Figure A2.2: Share of publications that have been cited, 2013-2018
  
      






   
Source: Scimago
     
   








   
 
   
 

Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 81
Figure A2.3: Ratio of H-Index to average citations per publication, 1996-2018
Source: Scimago | Note: The size of the bubble represents that total number of publications.




   
       










Figure A2.4: International scientific co-publications per million inhabitants relative to EU average, 2019
       
   






  
   
,
,
,
,
, ,
,
 ,

Source: European Innovation Scoreboard
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 82
Table A2.1: Top Bulgarian institutions in publication activity, 2010-2019

 

 
  
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences , . 
University of Sofia , . 
Medical University Sofia , . 
Technical University Sofia , . 
University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy , . 
Plovdiv University , . 
Agricultural Academy  . 
Medical University Plovdiv  . 
Source: Web of Science
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 83
Appendix III: Performance-based Funding Indicators
Table A3.1: Performance-based funding indicators
.   
. Scientific results and their scientific impact during the reporting period (U) U1 = (a + b + c + d)
..
Number of scientific publications in journals indexed in Scopus and / or Web of Science (All
databases) (a), of which: in magazines of category Q (a), Q (a) and Q (a) on the Web of
Science. All other publications in Scopus and / or Web of Science (All databases) fall into the
indicator (a). When reporting articles with co-authors of more than ten institutions the number
of these articles is multiplied by a factor ..
a = 5a1 + 3a2 + 2a3 + a4
.. Number of scientific monographs indexed in Scopus databases and / or Web of Science (b) b = 10b1
..
Arithmetic mean of the number of independent citations in Scopus and Web of Science, obtained
during the estimated period, of publications of researchers from the current list composition (c),
taking into account the impact of citations normalized by scientific fields, according to indicators
from Web of Science and SCOPUS with coefficient α and coefficient k, reflecting the specifics of
citations in different areas from table. . Taking into account the citations of an article with co-
authors from more out of ten institutions the number of citations to this article is multiplied by
a factor of ..
c = 0.5c1αk
..
Number of patents registered by HEIs and research organizations and patent applications, incl.
from concluded contracts with companies, from who: Patent applications: national (d) and PCT
(d) Registered patents: national (d), European, US or etc. international patents (d)
d = d1 + 3d2 + 3d3 + 6d4
. Scientific capacity and reproduction of the academic community during the reporting period (U) U2 = e + f
.. Number of PhD students defended during the reporting period: within  years from their enrollment
(f) and aer  years from their enrollment (f) e = 10e1 + 2e2
.. Number of “doctors of science” defended during the reporting period (f) f = 10f1
.. Share of publications co-authored with institutions from other countries (ai) relative to the total
number of publications (indicator in stage on observation) pi = ai/ (a1+ a2+ a3+ a4)
. Social and economic impact during the reporting period (U) U3 = (g + 1) / 25
.. Cash spent during the reporting period in thousands BGN received from the European Frame-
work Programs for Research and innovation (g) and other international scientific projects (g) g = 5 (g1 + g2)
..
Cash spent during the reporting period in thousands BGN, received from external financing for
the organization under national projects and programs (l), from scientific contracts activity with
Bulgarian (l) or foreign companies and enterprises (l), from sold copyrights, prepared concepts,
expert opinions and licensing agreements for the realization of intellectual products (l)
l = l1 + 3l2 + 5l3 + 4l4
Overall rating: U = 0.5 x U1 + 0.25 x U2 + 0.25 x U3
Notes:
. In the analysis of the effectiveness of higher education institutions and research organizations, the obtained evaluations are divided by the num-
ber of researchers for the respective evaluated faculty or institute (e.g., U1e = U1/ N,…, Ue = U / N, where N = number of researchers in the unit).
. When publishing results of clinical trials, only those included aer the title of the publication should be accepted as co-authors.
. WoS’s Journal Citation Reports ranked scientific journals in each scientific category in four quartiles (quarters) - Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 -
hps://incites.thomsonreuters.com.
. Indicators 2.3 and 3.3 are used in the preparation of the analysis of the research activity of the organizations and are not taken into account
when forming the evaluations
Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 84
Appendix IV: Researchers and Institutional Views on Major
Barriers to Research Excellence and Technology Transfer
Figure A4.1. Institutional barriers according to PROs/TTOs
Source: Authors’ calculation
Source: Authors’ calculation
Figure A4.2. Institutional barriers according to researchers
    
    
   
    
    
   
   
   
   
    

   
   
      
     
    
     
 
          
  







   
   
    

   
   
    
    
    
    
   
   
   
      
     
    
     
 
          
  
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Enhancing thE contribution of bulgaria’s Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic 85
Figure A4.3. Research and technology transfer capacity barriers, according to PROs
Source: Authors’ calculation
Figure A4.4. Research and technology transfer capacity barriers, according to researchers
Source: Authors’ calculation
     
    
    
   
  
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   
     
  
    
    
   
 
 
          
  
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    
     
   ,
   
   
 
     
  
   
  
    
    
 
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  
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Bulgaria has achieved impressive economic performance over the last two decades. Nevertheless, recent growth of GDP and productivity has slowed since the global financial crisis, and the country faces medium- to long-term labor shortages and skills mismatches driven by an aging population and high emigration rates. Maintaining income growth in the face of these challenges will require boosting productivity, and a key step to increase productivity is to strengthen Bulgaria’s science, technology and innovation (STI) performance, which ranks among the worst in the EU across multiple indicators. A review of STI policies is critical in preparation for the next EU programing period to ensure that the expected increase in resources to support research and innovation is used effectively. This report provides a comprehensive assessment of the country’s research and innovation needs and an original analysis of the policies devoted to supporting STI in Bulgaria, including nearly all national-level STI-related policy instruments (118 instruments operational from 2013 to 2019 with €843 million in disbursed funding). An analytical framework is used to compare the coherence of the STI policy mix to the country needs, and a set of policy recommendations is presented to reduce misalignment or gaps between policy support and the research and innovation needs of the nation’s public and private sectors.
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We study the potential impact of introducing performance‐based funding systems (PBFS) on national research systems, using information on the number of publications and their scientific impact (citations or publications in top‐ranked journals) for 31 countries over the period 1996–2016. The analysis is performed both at the aggregate level and looking separately at each of the six main scientific areas identified according to the Organisation for Economic Co‐operation and Development (OECD) classification. On average, PBFS are found to increase the number of publications, though the effect is only temporary and fades after a few years. Looking at the scientific impact, PBFS are found to have a negligible effect on excellence as measured by the share of articles published in the top journals, irrespective of the type of assessment adopted. On the contrary, PBFS have some influence on average research quality, as measured by the number of citations per paper normalised with respect to the field.
Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic References aRiDi, anWaR, anD CoWEY, lisa
contribution of bulgaria's Public rEsEarch to innovation: a survEy-basEd diagnostic References aRiDi, anWaR, anD CoWEY, lisa. 2018. Technology Transfer from Public Research Organizations. A Framework for Analysis. World Bank Group, Washington, DC. http://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/ en/384851539285043693/pdf/Technology-Transferfrom-Public-Research-Organizations-A-Framework-for-Analysis.pdf aRiDi, anWaR; quEREJaZu, DaniEl; KilinC, umuT;
Why Do Scientists in Public Research Institutions Cooperate with Private Firms?
  • D C Washington
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Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group.https:// documents.worldbank.org/en/publication/documentsreports/documentdetail/160181603106305560/ bulgaria-country-needs-and-sti-policy-mix-assessment auDRETsCH, DaviD B., WERnER BönTE, anD sTEfan KRaBEl. 2010. "Why Do Scientists in Public Research Institutions Cooperate with Private Firms?" DRUID Working Papers 10-27. DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
Performance-based funding for public research in tertiary education institutions: Country experiences
  • S Box
BoX, s. (2010). "Performance-based funding for public research in tertiary education institutions: Country experiences", chapter 3 in: OEC D (2010): "Overview of models of performance-based research funding systems", OECD Publishing. doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264094611-en