Bulgarian PM Denkov Kick-Starts Davos With Recommendations For Scientific Innovation In Europe

Politics |Author: Iveta Cherneva | January 16, 2024, Tuesday // 15:05|  views

Nikolai Denkov

Today, Bulgarian Prime Minister, Nikolai Denkov, kick-started the World Economic Forum in Davos with recommendations for EU scientific innovation. Denkov participated in the first session of the Forum under the title "Europe's Rush to Innovate", alongside EU Commissioner, Iliana Ivanova.

Bulgarian leaders' presence at the Forum has never been so robust. Bulgarian foreign minister, Mariya Gabriel, is also scheduled to address Davos on the topic of EU enlargement later today.

There were years when Bulgarian leaders were not even invited to Davos. Then there was Bulgaria's presidency of the EU and Bulgarian leaders made it to the Forum. This year, Bulgarian leaders will not only be seen but will be heard, as well.

In the first Davos session today, Bulgarian Prime Minister Denkov argued for a strong push for scientific innovation in Europe, comparing Europe to Asia. Denkov said that Europe was a leading innovation power in the 60s, 70s and 80s. "But then what happened is that states in Asia realized faster than Europe that we should not oppose the fundamental basic science to the applied science", Denkov said. The Asian powers combined the two faster and were able to attract the talent, the Prime Minister added.

"They developed their ecosystem with science linked to innovation faster than Europe; I want to say as a scientist, as a person working with ERC for years, this was really an example how the basic, fundamental science can be supported at the public level", Denkov said.

There are several points on which Europe should focus. First, Denkov said, to have a successful product you need to make experiments. The second point, according to Denkov, are the public-private partnerships. "Again, we were late in Europe. There is progress but I can easily show a difference in the two approaches", the Prime Minister explained. An example is Europe's thermo-nuclear power efforts to get energy. "Big funding, big project, very difficult to implement", Denkov said and added that Europe is still struggling to see the end of this project. "These are the types of lessons that Europe is learning but Europe started a bit late", Denkov said.

"Regulation is a big part of it", Denkov pointed out. European regulations can also be seen as an impediment, if regulations don't allow for experiments. "Then Europeans don't have the chance to compete with others", Denkov concluded.

The question raised on the panel was whether Europe should play in artificial intelligence.

Denkov made the point that in AI, we should distinguish between the funding coming from the public sector and the funding coming from a combination of the public and the private sector. "The public sector must select some of the more promising high-tech projects that are not obviously fundable by the business, and Artificial Intelligence was one of them just a few years ago", he said. Now it is different but it is different because there was funding years ago.

Another example Denkov gave is brain research. "It is not immediately giving money but who knows how the brain works", he added.

"These projects have a big advantage for medical application combining what we know from biology and what we understand from artificial intelligence research. At some point, these two will merge. It is not obvious how this will happen when we want to develop the next level of artificial intelligence that is not just large language models", Denkov explained.

These types of topics, such as space technology, have to be publicly funded at first with a clear understanding they should be transferred for massive funding by the private sector later, Denkov recommended.

"This is the way of thinking we have to implement because initially you need the public funding to create a scientific and innovation area but after that you should give this to the market to develop", Nikolai Denkov said. "Then you can make money after some level of development of the technology", he added. These are the types of transfers from public to private that we need to learn better.

"The biggest problem that I see", Denkov said, "is the way the results of a project are evaluated". "Typically it goes with a lot of administrative procedures", he said.

"The only thing that matters is what are the final results. The rest is just details in the story. If I have a recommendation, try to reduce the reporting, focusing on the real scientific innovation results", Denkov concluded.

/Iveta Cherneva

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Tags: Denkov, Bulgarian, Davos, innovation


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