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DA-SPACE - Open Innovation to raise Entrepreneurship skills and Public Private Partnership in Danube Region
GIS-TransferCenter Bulgaria
Contact person
Mr. George Voutev
Project Director
е: vutev@gis-tc.org

Start date
End date
The main objective of DA-SPACE is to pilot innovative tools and frameworks to stimulate open innovation and the implementation of new ideas, while boosting the cooperation amongst innovators from different application and technology domains. The results emerging from the pilot will lead to the development of strategy to boost innovation and entrepreneurship in the Danube.

Referring to the identified challenges, specific objectives of the DA-SPACE project are:
  • RAISE ENTREPRENEURIAL SKILLS AND REDUCE BRAIN DRAIN: DA-SPACE creates on the one hand a structure to boost the interaction between innovators (academic and business) and talents from the regions, and on the other hand a framework to teach and raise entrepreneurial skills and to guide talents in transferring innovative ideas to the market. This is achieved by providing talents with a set of personalized services (as the lab, the Entrepreneurship training and the mentoring support). By doing so, DA-SPACE aims to generate new jobs opportunities in the Danube regions, offering valuable alternatives to highly qualified people that would otherwise look for jobs abroad.
  • DEVELOP COMMON FRAMEWORK AND TOOL FOR OPEN INNOVATION: In Danube region small businesses still suffer from a lack of support initiatives and infrastructures and are still not benefitting from open innovation approaches in order to expand and internationalize their business. DA-SPACE wish to pilot innovative tools for open innovation in the lab. By doing so, the project extends the circle of classical innovator actors and fosters - via transnational actions - the cross-disciplinary links between relevant players such as decision makers, SMEs, Universities, R&D institutions and finally creates a functioning innovation ecosystem.
  • SUPPORT MUTUAL LEARNING AND COOPERATION TO INCREASE SKILLS OF EMPLOYEES AND EMPLOYERS TO BETTER ADAPT TO TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE AND MARKET REQUIREMENT: The innovation ecosystem generated by DA-SPACE benefits both seekers (SMEs, Universities, PA) and solvers (young talents). Building up cross-disciplinary networks and joint transnational actions, also the employees of companies involved in the lab can profit from a transnational exchange and enhance job qualifications and competences needed in future. Around the DA-SPACE labs, the project generates an innovation environment that – while fostering entrepreneurial skills of young talents – promotes a learning and socially innovative cultures in local SMEs.
  • EXPAND COOPERATION INITIATIVE IN THE WHOLE DANUBE AREA AND SET THE BASIS FOR SUSTAINABILITY: DA-SPACE aims to develop common framework and tool for innovation that can be extended in the whole Danube Area. Therefore, the project will transfer the lab model to other Danube areas, linking the projects results to sustainable international networks. To ensure the sustainability of the labs key stakeholders will be involved in an early stage to assure a sustainable business model operation after the end of funding

DA-SPACE team:
The Technical University of Sofia team involved in the project is from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and is headed by Prof. Dr. Lubomir Dimitrov, members: Prof. Dr. Milka Vicheva, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pancho Tomov, Senior Assistant Professor Dr. Vladislav Ivanov, PhD student Kiril Nikolov, and others.

Project website: www.interreg-danube.eu/da-space


The Danube region is very fragmented and presents great disparities among some of the most advance and most poor regions in EU. In many countries, SMEs despite been an engine of growth (e.g. they contribute to 70% to GDP only in Romania) have to struggle with an unfriendly business environment and the lack of support infrastructure for small businesses, thus being not able to internationalize their businesses. Additionally, the unemployment rates in some countries are still very high (Croatia 15,1%, Slovakia 10,3 %, Bulgaria 7.4%) while the share of highly educated people is lower than the EU 28% average. This scenario forces the most talented to go abroad. Next to this, the lack of entrepreneurship culture within the traditional learning model strongly impacts on the capacity of the Danube Regions to create new businesses with growth prospects.

DA-SPACE addresses these challenges by piloting an open innovation lab in which SMEs, PA and the civil society, can create fundaments for innovation together with young talents. Within this space, the cooperation among different stakeholders on a national and transnational level will generate new solutions and raise the entrepreneurial skills of all the actors involved.

DA-SPACE addresses the missing link between great ideas of young innovators and sustainable business creation. In a free open innovation lab these talents find support, mentors, and education to turn ideas into real innovations. Together with experts from industry and the service sectors concrete business models will be created and implemented either in new or existing SMEs. DA-SPACE fosters a sustainable innovative ecosystem in the Danube Region by developing a network among innovation stakeholders as universities, SMEs, public authorities and business sector able to produce positive effect on the local context and be a role model for further initiatives.

Interreg Danube Transnational Programme
The Danube Transnational Programme is a financing instrument of the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC), better known as Interreg. ETC is one of the goals of the European Union cohesion policy and provides a framework for the implementation of joint actions and policy exchanges between national, regional and local actors from different Member States.

The Danube Transnational Programme (DTP) promotes economic, social and territorial cohesion in the Danube Region through policy integration in selected fields. In order to achieve a higher degree of territorial integration of the very heterogeneous Danube region, the transnational cooperation programme acts as a policy driver and pioneer to tackle common challenges and needs in specific policy fields where transnational cooperation is expected to deliver tangible results. Considering its geographical coverage, this highly complex programme provides a political dimension to transnational cooperation which is unique in Europe, successfully facing challenges such as ensuring good mechanisms to contract partners who receive funding from different EU instruments.

The Danube Transnational Programme finances projects for the development and practical implementation of policy frameworks, tools and services and concrete small-scale pilot investments. Strong complementarities with the broader EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) are sought.

Additional information:
DA-SPACE web site: http://www.interreg-danube.eu/approved-projects/da-space
DA-SPACE Bulgaria web site: http://mf.tu-sofia.bg/da-space
1. City Ulm - Germany
2. BWCON – Germany
3. Association for Promoting Electronic Technology - Romania
4. "Dunarea de Jos" University of Galati - Romania
5. Institute of Management, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava - Slovak Republic
6. GIS Transfer Center Foundation - Bulgaria
7. Technical University of Sofia - Bulgaria
8. Czech Technical University in Prague - Czech Republic
9. Region of Istria - Croatia 10. Juraj Dobrila University of Pula - Croatia
11. University of Novi Sad - Serbia
12. Vojvodina ICT Cluster - Serbia
Project co-funded by European Union funds (IPA, ERDF)
Budget: 1 787 166,5 EUR
ERDF: 1 342 128,75 EUR
IPA: 176 962,77 EUR
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