The 3rd Stakeholders Workshop in Gabrovo was focused on the analysis of the results of the online survey of SMEs capacity for innovations, planning of the next steps for improvement of the communication environment between SMEs, experts, science and business organizations in Gabrovo innovation eco-system and next steps for establishment of the new instrument – Gabrovo SMEs support system.

Workshop outcomes:
The main conclusions from the meeting are as follows:
1.    Companies in Gabrovo approved the need of provision of expert support for development of innovative projects (based on the analysis of the results from the online survey)
2.    A new type of communication environment should be created in order to stimulate interlinkages between companies with innovative project ideas, available experts and interested research organizations/universities and students, in order to improve the expert support/services during the preparation phase of the projects. (a new innovation platform as a part of the new SMEs support system will be developed, funded by the Municipality of Gabrovo)
3.  Gaps in the innovation eco-system of Gabrovo should be filled through establishment/involvement of new intermediaries/business support structures in order to stimulate innovations in companies.

What change should the new instrument bring?
•    Meeting the companies’ needs with available experts’ capacity through establishment of efficient communication environment in the innovation chain – a new platform for innovations.
•    Boosting innovations in companies through provision of better expert support and services because the companies don’t have enough capacity for development of innovative projects, lack of experts with specific expertise, limited knowledge/ know-how and human resources.
•    Improving the effectiveness of EDP in the region through enhancement of companies’ awareness of available experts and funding opportunities for their innovative business ideas/projects. They need expertise and assistance to develop and fund their innovative projects.
•    Involving new intermediaries/bodies/structure to support SMEs innovative projects during the preparation phase.
•    Improving the role of public administration, which should become a mentor of the innovation chain in the region, but it has no enough knowledge about business projects and companies’ needs, no credibility and feedback from SMEs to be able to design and effectively implement a support scheme, no available local public funding opportunies.
•    Lack of innovation intermediaries/experts with capacity and knowledge about companies and their needs, no enough skills, specialisation and competent employees. The quality of provided services is not on a good level and the companies credibility is low for the provided advice. Ongoing and continuous diagnosis of SMEs innovation potential and needed assistance in innovation process is the key for success.
•    Intermediaries and public authorities need to work more closely and to find appropriate funding in advance according to SMEs needs based on good knowledge of project ideas on long term basis according to their performance. Public authorities need to receive relevant feedback on intermediaries performance in terms of achieving policy objectives.