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There is no specific data or obvious information available about the modern use of IB in Bulgaria and we assume that activity specifically in this sector in Bulgaria is limited at present.
Who is there?
- Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia – Expertise in Environmental Biotech
Examples to watch
- Greon provide technologies for bioremediation of wastes, based on microalgae and extremeophile bacteria.
The National Strategy for Scientific Research 2020 adopted by the Parliament on 28 July 2011 stresses five priority areas for research in Bulgaria, of which biotechnologies is one, and new materials and technologies is another. Industrial Biotechnology could contribute to both of these priorities.
Bulgaria has a historical strength in producing traditional IB products, such as yoghurt, wine, spirits, beers and vinegar (acetic acid), and a strong pharmaceutical sector. The chemical industry too is well developed with the former communist regime developing huge chemical facilities, though in a state of decline with many in financial difficulties or having being mothballed. Restructuring is needed and new solutions such as IB could be adopted to make this sector flourish. Indeed, the priority areas of the chemical sector in Bulgaria for the period 2020 are related to the development of new chemical products needed on the market and not currently produced in the region, as well as the development and implementation of new products using waste as a secondary raw material and energy resource. There is currently a low level of recycling and utilization of plastics, paper and biodegradable wastes in Bulgaria, possibly in part due to the distributed nature of the population, but this area is likely to develop further as a National Public Strategy focusses on the utilisation of biomass from different sources with the emphasis on wastes of different origin.
The agricultural sector could be one route to provide such diverse wastes. Bulgaria’s agricultural resources have a large scope for improvement, both in terms of residue use and yield increases. There is a growing reluctance amongst Bulgarians to embrace modern biotechnology, with public opinion becoming increasingly hostile to GMO’s. Farmers are currently reluctant to utilise their waste residues for alternative uses, although they are aware such opportunities exist, their excitement needs to be stimulated, for example through grants for using such residues to make their collection worthwhile. Bulgaria did have a scheme for supporting biomass production but this has since closed. Bulgarian R&D into agricultural production is strong, for example the JRC, aims to investigate wheat and maize genotypes which could contribute to abiotic (eg drought, frost) and biotic (eg disease, pests) stress resistance..
Bulgaria has much of the foundations in place to establish a capability in the modern use of IB however several policies need to be connected to form a coherent whole by which to raise the opportunities offered by IB to the country can be showcased and markets to be developed. As in most European countries, the cross cutting nature of IB poses problems in terms of Government coordination as no one Government department takes full responsibility for its development. This is compounded in Bulgaria by a lack of national (industrial) biotechnology organisation to drive the sector forward. Access to finance for SMEs could be improved as for other countries, and it is hoped that the BBI-JU provides some impetus for driving investments into Bulgarian infrastructures, if not in terms of finance, but in terms of aiding raise the visibility of Bulgarian organisations in this sector.