Innovation refers to the creation of new or significantly improved products, processes, marketing methods and organization structures that add value to markets, governments and the society. Investments in Research and Innovation (R&I) are driving long-term growth, and it is widely accepted that countries that invest in R&I are recovering faster from the current economic crisis.

Across Europe Research and Innovation is identified as one of the key drivers that will enable the European economy to get back on track. Europe is facing many challenges, and needs to create job opportunities for all – especially the young, make companies more competitive in the global market, solve the challenges of an ageing population, secure resources like food and fuel, fight global warming, and improve smart and green transport.

While ideas need an innovation-friendly environment to grow and become products or services that will benefit citizens and economies, Europe faces multiple hurdles, like weaknesses in public education and innovation systems, poor availability of finance, costly patenting, outdated regulations and procedures, slow standard-setting, failure to use public procurement strategically, and fragmented efforts among member countries and regions. By improving conditions and access to finance for Research and Innovation in Europe, innovative ideas can be turned into products and services that create growth and jobs.

The Innovation Union, the European Union’s new flagship initiative to address the R&I challenge, forms part of the Europe 2020 strategy to create smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The initiative aims at making Europe a world-class performer in science, revolutionising the way the public and private sectors work together, notably through Innovation Partnerships, and removing bottlenecks – creating an internal market for skills, patents, venture capital, innovation procurement and standard setting to foster ideas being quickly implemented on the market. Beneficiaries of the Innovation Union initiative are citizens and public authorities, entrepreneurs and industry/business, and researchers and engineers.

The financial instrument implementing Europe’s new R&I strategy is Horizon 2020, succeeding the FP7 which, together with CIP, have been EU’s main instruments for funding research in Europe in the period 2007-2013. Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU R&I programme ever, with nearly €80 billion of funding for 2014-2020 – in addition to the private investment that this funds will attract. Seen as a means to drive economic growth and create jobs, Horizon 2020 places emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling of societal challenges, is open to everyone, and will be complemented by further measures to complete and further develop the European Research Area.

Research and Innovation constitutes a key area within PLANET’s Bulgaria spectrum of activities, aiming at the continuous enhancement of the company service portfolio and the creation of new service offerings that integrate PLANET’s leading position in the field of management consulting. These activities have been developed by PLANET, assimilating relevant know-how from international co-operations, and exploiting European R&I funding possibilities.