Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

LAURA support centre south central bulgaria

As a main outcome of the activities under the tasks in the project LAURA, ARC Fund established a LAURA Support Centre in the South-Central Region of Bulgaria (Plovdiv Region). This Bulgarian region is one of the six "regions for planning" according to the Law on Regional Development. The South Central region, covers 27,553 km² and has 2 million inhabitants. Plovdiv, Pazardjik, Haskovo, Stara Zagora, Kurdjali, and Smolyan are the 6 districts within the region.

In order to set up the LAURA Support Centre, ARC Fund established close relationships with the Regional Development Agency with Business Support Centre for SMEs, which is located on the fairground in the city of Plovdiv - the main city in South-Central Region of Bulgaria. The host organisation provided the necessary premises for the LAURA Support Centre activities, together with the required infrastructure and equipment. The host organisation is also able to provide the Support Centre with meeting space and when needed larger rooms where training activities will take place.

After a short negotiation phase, both organisations reached an agreement and from the beginning of June 2004 the Support Centre is fully operational in the abovementioned organisation. A server with the developed by the consortium partner "Unisoft Bulgaria" SA LAURA software was installed in the ARC Fund's premises. The server is accessible online on the following internet addresses:
- User view -
- Support Centre view -

A specific person in the Regional Development Agency with Business Support Centre for SMEs was assigned to operate the Support Centre. ARC Fund provided him with 2 days training on the LAURA system. At the end of the project (month 24) there are 16 companies registered and using the platform provided by the Support Centre. The Regional Development Agency with Business Support Centre for SMEs provides them with the required support.

Activities, Products and Services provided by the LAURA Support Centre.

The LAURA Support Centre in the South-Central Region of Bulgaria operates as a node of the LAURA Support Centres infrastructure and provides its clients with value added services and products on an intraregional and interregional level. The services and products are:
- The main product that the Support center offers to its clients (SMEs from this Less Favourite Region), is the possibility to use the B2B LAURA system, which helps to open up the European (and world) markets to them. They are currently too weak and do not have the relevant technological equipment and abilities to make it without the help provided by the LAURA system;
- The Support Centre offers training to the regional SMEs on the developed state of the art B2B technology;
- It provides the required Technical Support to the LAURA system clients;
- The Support Centre promotes the LAURA system, its activities and the EU IST policy through different means (organisation of promotional events, publications in newspapers and magazines, etc.);
- The Support Centre is the natural focal point for information and advice regarding B2B e-commerce;
- It supports dispute arbitration and supervises trading activities;
- It cooperates closely with the other Support Centres thus providing its customers with smooth operation of the system.

At this stage, there is one more LAURA Support Centre in Bulgaria for the South-West Region. It was established in the Center for Innovation and Technology Transfer-GLOBAL Ltd. CITT-GLOBAL is a Bulgarian company set up with the aim of facilitating transfer of innovative knowledge and technologies on international level. Official cooperation agreement between CITT-GLOBAL and the consortium partner Unisoft Bulgaria SA was signed on 23/07/2004. Currently CITT-GLOBAL is working on the actions needed to set up the Support Centre - server installation, initial companies acquirement, dissemination activities etc.

If there is a demand from companies from the other uncovered 4 regions in Bulgaria, the 2 Support Centres will serve them until a Support Centre in their region is established.

Initially the targeted industrial sectors by the LAURA Support Centres in Bulgaria are:
- agriculture - food-processing;
- timber - wood-processing - furniture production;
- construction materials - construction.

These sectors are an outcome from the initially made survey. The targeted customers have to be export/import-oriented. The other industrial sectors are also addressed and specifically -Textiles and Machine building.

The establishment of a LAURA Support Centre is a very important and innovative activity for the South-Central and South-West Regions of Bulgaria as they contribute to the regional economy and support the improvement of the local SMEs competitiveness and business efficiency through the introduction of state-of-the-art electronic commerce.

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1113 SOFIA
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