The next stop of our virtual trip across Europe, to closely discover partners’ Regional Action Plans, will be Bulgaria, where Business Agency Association provides guidance on how the good practices from the interregional cooperation will be used as development tool that will influence and improve the topic addressed by the project.

After the COVID-19 outbreak, many financing schemes under the Bulgarian operational programmes have been cancelled to allow the managing authorities to reallocate funds for new forms of response to the crisis. Silvia Stumpf, BAA Chairman and DEVISE partner explains that this fact has heavily affected the opportunities open to companies in Bulgaria to receive support for their digitalization.

The action plan is based on the experience gained within the project from the process of interregional learning and was consulted with over 100 different representatives of stakeholders from the tourism industry from the region of Varna and Burgas. “Business Agency Association has been reviewing good practices from DEVISE project partners that could best answer our regional needs. After a very constructive and fruitful study visit in Fomento San Sebastian, the BAA team elaborated a detailed proposal for a new funding scheme to support digitalization especially of small and micro enterprises from tourism and hospitality business based on Spanish experience”, explains our partner.

Silvia mentions that, SMEs in tourism and hospitality have great difficulty in adopting and implementing digital innovations in order to increase their competitiveness. “Regional policies should be targeted and accordingly support the dissemination of innovative digital solutions and new business models that would lead to productivity gains and provide access to new markets”, she adds. In order to face this challenge, BAA has developed two main actions for their RAP:

  • Support digitalisation micro enterprises from tourism and hospitality businesses: companies in the tourism industry cannot benefit from existing ‘Voucher scheme for providing information and communication services technologies (ICT services) of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)’, as they do not fit into the groups of activities defined in the National Strategy for the Promotion of SMEs 2014-2020 as high-tech, medium-high-tech, low - tech and medium - low - tech industrial productions or knowledge-intensive services. Designing custom digital solutions for the tourism industry offers a quick chance for SMEs to respond to the new requirements related to the Coronavirus crisis and its consequences. According to Silvia, “it will make the most of the opportunities in the digital market to increase their competitiveness by providing them with access to new business opportunities and new markets”.

To develop this action, BAA got inspiration from the following partners and good practices: DENDATICS grants programme from Fomento San Sebastian (Spain), Pays le la Loire Digital Vouchers from Laval (France) and Regional Manufacturing Digital Innovation Hub IoT-Compass from South Ostrobothnia (Finland).

  • Digital Maturity Assessment Tool (Pilot Action): BAA, along with Northern and Western Regional Assembly and Fomento San Sebastian partners, are collectively working to develop a pilot action entitled DMAT (Digital Maturity Assessment Tool). This online tool diagnostic / DMAT would help SMEs get a better understanding of the steps they need to take to advance their Digital Transformation, supports available to them and the investment in resources and training. “The idea is to offer companies in Bulgaria a free multilingual (English, Spanish, Basque, Bulgarian) software analytic tool linked to the DEVISE outputs”, mentions Silvia. According to our partner, the tool will supply respondent companies with a personalised review of their digital transformation preparedness, needs and a suggestion for a benchmarked vision and action plan.

Read here the Action Plan developed by Business Agency Association.