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Digital and sustainable Bulgaria: THE SMALL ONE ON FOCUS

On September 20th, 2021, the International Round Table was held on the topic: “DIGITAL AND SUSTAINABLE BULGARIA: THE SMALL ONE ON FOCUS”.

The event was organized by the Union for Private Economic Enterprise (UPEE), the Executive Agency for Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises (BSMEPA), the European Cyber Security Organization (ECSO) and the Bulgarian Cyber Security Association (BAC).

At the opening of the event, the President of the Union for Private economic enterprise (UPEE), Mrs. Violina Nakova, underlined the importance of the topic for discussion, quoting the President of the European Commission, Mrs. Ursula von der Leyen, who in her second speech on the state of the European Union highlighted that “Digital technologies are the key to success or failure”

The round table was held under the patronage of Mrs. Maria Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.

Ms Gabriel called for the challenges of digitalization of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to become opportunities. She also outlined the necessary concrete steps forward, which require the mobilization of all opportunities and stakeholders.

In her speech, EU Commissioner Gabriel noted that there is much room in Bulgaria for interaction in the public and private sectors. She spoke about the need to promote dialogue between business, academic and public authorities, the implementation of an ecosystem approach and the innovations that Horizon Europe provides for SMEs

Her opinion is that the implementation of a holistic approach regarding the digitalization, information and communication technologies will forward them ahead and using specific tools, supported by the European Union, the Bulgarian economy could benefit a lot of advantages

The Bulgarian EU Commissioner believes that sufficient attention should be paid to cybersecurity.

She announced the Student Competition “MY DIGITAL BULGARIA!”, initiated by The Union for Private economic enterprise (UPPE) and which will be under her patronage of EU Commissioner Maria Gabriel.

The organizers and participants were greeted by Mr. Atanas Pekanov, Deputy Prime Minister for European Funds Management, who was the main panelist of the first panel “Digital Bulgaria”. According to a study conducted by the Digital Quality of Life Index – DQL, quoted by Mr. Pekanov, only 5% of Bulgarian small and medium enterprises are engage in online trade in the country and only 3% in international online trade. Bulgaria ranks 85th in terms of “digital quality of life” among 110 analyzed countries. At the same time, our country ranks 22nd in terms of Internet access, 34th in terms of Internet quality, 51st in terms of e-security and 49th in terms of e-government development.

According to the Deputy Prime Minister high added value SMEs with export potential needs to be developed, but investments for this are required. Such an opportunity will be provided through the Recovery and Sustainability Plan (CVP), the Economic Transformation Program, whose resource has been significantly increased in its latest version. Mr. Pekanov also spoke about the opportunities for financing SMEs to ensure cybersecurity.

In the first panel Dr. Boyko Takov, Executive Director of BSMEPA, co-organizer of the event, spoke about the opportunities and initiatives of the Agency for supporting SMEs in digitalization and cybersecurity. He informed that the Agency together with the State Agency “Electronic Government” is currently conducting a study on the cybersecurity condition of small and medium enterprises in our country.

Based on the data obtained, we will draw a precise picture of the cyberdefence of the business and it will help us as well to design our future activities in the area of cybersecurity,he completed.

Mr. Takov emphasized that the business should receive timely and competent information on the expert and financial assistance that can be used and that BSMEPA makes a number of efforts in this direction through its information channels, online seminars and etc.

The second panel was dedicated to cyber-resistant Bulgaria. The main panelist was Mr. Luigi Rebufi, Secretary General of the European Cybersecurity Organization (ECSO). He emphasized on the importance of cybersecurity at this level of the socio-economic development of the European countries and in the future. Mr. Rebufi paid special attention to the opportunities provided by the European Union and European programs to ensure a sustainable cyber environment.

The world’s leading cybersecurity consultant from the State of Israel and Executive Director of Cyberteam 360 Mr. Oren Elimelech spoke about trends in risks and threats to SMEs.

Mr. Krassimir Simonski, Chairman of the State e-Government Agency (SEGA) outlined Bulgarian direction to cyber resilience, and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Velizar Shalamanov, Deputy Director of the Institute of Communication and Information Technologies at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) focuses on Cyber-resistant Bulgaria in the Euro-Atlantic family.

A number of export-oriented companies in the field of new technologies and cybersecurity also participated in the event. Mr. Ivan Dudin, Commercial Director of Acronis Bulgari and Mr. Kiril Grigorov – CEO of CyberOne made their statements during the panel. Mr. Grigorov presented cyber risk management for SMEs

He presented the cyber products offered by the company he manages, which are accessible to SMEs and are a solution to one of the most difficult problems of Bulgarian SMEs in the process of ensuring cybersecurity for their business, namely accessibility and trust.

At the end of the Second panel, a dynamic discussion held. Ms. Violina Nakova stated that the ides, discussed during the event and the achieved results should not remain unrealized. Thatis why she announced that UPEEs round table will hold two sessions yearly.

This way we will see where we made a mistake, where we succeeded and how to continue! “, she completed.