Bulgarian-Chinese Industrial Zone to Host Bulgaria's 1st Hi-Tech Park

Industry | November 22, 2010, Monday // 18:52|  views

The general plan of the future Bulgarian-Chinese industrial zone at Bozhurishte near Sofia. Map by National Company Industrial Zones

The future industrial zone in Bozhurishte near Sofia, which is expected to be developed as Bulgarian-Chinese project, will be the site of the first ever high-technology park in Bulgaria, CEO of "National Company Industrial Zones" Kiril Nikolov told Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency).

In an exclusive interview for Novinite.com, Nikolov made it clear that the project for an industrial zone at Bozhurishte to be managed jointly by the governments of Bulgaria and China's Zhejiang province is well under way.

"Currently, we are refining a Master Plan for the establishment of the industrial zone. It will be located on a terrain of 191.4 hectares. Concurrently, we are investigating the options for connecting the internal infrastructures (electricity, water, gas, telecommunications, roads). We have a good idea how the project will be phased and we are fulfilling the important preliminary steps," said Nikolov, who heads Bulgaria's state-owned "National Company Industrial Zones" (NCIZ) set up in 2009 to facilitate the inflow of FDI in the country by offering industrial terrains to the foreign firms.

He explained that a certain part of the Bozhurishte zone will be managed jointly by the governments of Bulgaria and Zhejiang, while other sections of the development will be set aside to be offered directly to foreign companies.

"We expect to partner with businesses from China in two major ways. Firstly, it is the creation and management of a joint venture with a leading Chinese province – Zhejiang Province. This JV will operate a portion of the total plot in Bozhurishte and will offer industrial zone conditions to interested manufacturing firms from China and the world in general. Secondly, apart from the joint Bulgarian-Chinese park, we will develop additional industrial, logistical and high-technology capabilities on the territory of the larger plot and Chinese businesses can directly talk with us about how to become residents in the park," he told Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency).

Nikolov has been positive with respect to the interest on part of Chinese companies in the Bozhurishte Industrial Zone, a project first announced by the Bulgarian government in June 2010, amidst several months of intensive dialogue between Bulgaria and the Chinese government not just on industrial outsourcing and manufacturing but also on potential concessions of Bulgarian ports and airports as well as transport cooperation between China, Turkey and Bulgaria with respect to an Asia-Europe high-speed rail.

The NCIZ CEO points out that many Chinese firms with international operations are looking for the most cost effective approaches to further expand their businesses, and Bulgaria offers quite a few advantages in that respect.

In addition to being a major Bulgarian-Chinese project, the first of its scope, and to creating new jobs, however, the Bozhurishte Industrial Zone will have the potential to transform Bulgaria's economy in a new way- by hosting the first ever hi-tech park in the country.

"The park is meant to be developed on a portion of the terrain in Bozhurishte. It will consist of a high-technology park, a business incubator and the inherent technology transfer office. The park itself will serve as a base for R&D work coming from outside firms, from research teams, or from universities. We would like this to be an in-sourced facility for pure R&D, containing labs, testing centers, and experimenting units. The incubator will provide conditions to newly formed innovative firms by supporting them in various functional aspects of their business – marketing, finance, legal, business planning, etc., while leaving the pure R&D work to the firms themselves," explained Nikolov.

He emphasized that the project is supposed to facilitate the transfer of innovative knowledge from the academia to the business world by means of offering testing, researching, experimenting and prototyping, and from the business to the academia by means of specific need communication and commissioning of applied research.

"This model works very successfully all over the developed world, and it is a base for making practical use of advanced science. Currently, we are working with several potential partners what we would like to become part of the project. We are moving very seriously ahead with this initiative," he revealed.

The efforts of the Bulgarian Cabinet and Economy Ministry, the InvestBulgaria Agency, and the "National Company Industrial Zones" has been recognized by Nikolay Brankov, the Managing Director of Industrial Developments at SIENIT Holding, a construction company which developed five private industrial zone projects in Bulgaria the past decade.

"I think that at the moment Bulgaria has clear advantages. Right now the Bulgarian Economy Ministry and the Bulgarian Cabinet, together with the National Company "Industrial Zones" are investing enormous efforts to attract Chinese industrialists to Bulgaria," Brankov told Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) in an interview.

He believes that Bulgaria has become more competitive in its quest to attract international industrial outsourcing as the labor and production costs in China's industrialized provinces have started to go up, and are now similar to those in Bulgaria.

Brankov, however, has underscored the fact that in order to attract Chinese outsourcing, Bulgaria has to do a lot of work on intergovernmental level. He has therefore hailed the initiative of the Bulgarian government with respect to the Bozhurishte Industrial Zone and has praised the cooperation that the private company that he represents has with the key Bulgarian institutions such as the InvestBulgaria Agency, the NCIZ, and the Economy Ministry.

The interview of NCIZ CEO Kiril Nikolov for Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) READ HERE

The interview of SIENIT Holding Industrial Developments Manager Nikolay Brankov for Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) READ HERE

A Special Report of Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) on Bulgaria's industrial zones, the Bozhurishte zone and the Chinese interest in joint projects READ HERE

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Tags: Bozhurishte, Bozhurishte Industrial Zone, industrial zones, China, Chinese, Foreign investors, FDI, Kiril Nikolov, hi-tech parks, hi-tech, National Company "Industrial Zones"


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