“New I” JSC facilitates the access of Bulgarian companies to the necessary financing for recovery from the crisis, says Dimitar Ganev
“New I” JSC is a consulting company founded in 1995. It offers services in the field of management consulting, preparation and management of projects with European and national grant funding. The company is among the founders of the Bulgarian Association of European Program Consultants .
We talk to Dimitar Ganev, executive director of “New I” JSC , about the environment and the opportunities that are opening up for Bulgarian businesses and the consulting industry.
– Mr Ganev, we have entered a year that poses new challenges for Bulgarian businesses, caused by rising fuel and electricity prices and higher prices for end users of goods and services. How do the consultants see the situation and what impact does it have on your activity?
– Like all other businesses, ours was also affected. First of all, the delay in the start of the national operational programs limited the work opportunities and, accordingly, affected the opportunities for obtaining free financing for Bulgarian businesses. When looking for grant funding, companies in the country mainly apply under the Bulgarian operational programs. Businesses currently rely on state support schemes, but they are not timely and do not reach all branches. Larger companies are holding back and postponing major investments, while smaller ones are forced to make tough decisions related to their survival. The business of consultants in Bulgaria is no exception. The current processes – the delay of the national operational programs, the series of political elections in the country, as well as the covid crisis forced several colleagues to take cuts in the teams, which is a pity because the capacity of many experienced experts was lost, forced to redirect their careers elsewhere.
– What measures did the BACEP companies take, what is your recipe for the success of “New I” JSC in the current situation?
– Of course, there is no exact recipe. Everything is individual because it is related to the available internal expertise of each consulting company, the accumulated experience, also the desire for rapid adaptation and development. “New I” JSC is a company that has always been well-positioned in both the private and public sectors. It has its development strategy and project options. Our work is directly related to projects of importance to society and business, and our clients include both numerous state and local government structures, as well as business representatives, including leading business leaders in the country. In the current situation, taking into account the current restrictions at the national level, we have focused our work on the preparation of projects for grant funding under programs directly managed by European Commission structures: for example, the LIFE program for green projects, Horizon Europe, the Innovation Fund, as well as the so-called “Norwegian programmes” – the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and Innovation Norway. These programs constantly offer various opportunities for free financing of businesses – investment projects, innovations, and research activities. From our experience so far, we can say that there is a growing interest in them from the business side, and we are happy to see more and more companies with clear and already prepared development plans and innovative ideas that are just looking for their support. These are also successful candidates.
– What do you recommend to businesses that have ideas but are hesitant to implement them due to the economic situation?
– If the survival of a given business is not threatened, investments should not be stopped to increase competitiveness. The priority of the European Commission at the moment, and in the coming years, will be to support enterprises in their “green transition” and “digital transformation”. That is why there will be many opportunities for grants to finance such investments, and the application process can be facilitated as much as possible by us, the consultants.
– According to your observations, which companies (in general) are at risk of a crisis during the green transition and digital transformation, if they do not rely on non-grant financial support?
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute to over 75% of total employment and 65% of added value in the Bulgarian economy. Despite their importance, compared to large enterprises, SMEs experience difficulties in finding financing. Without grants and financial instruments for technological modernization, SMEs in the Manufacturing sector, as well as those businesses that offer knowledge-intensive services, risk losing their competitive advantages.
– What is your forecast for the development of the consulting business related to the European projects in Bulgaria? What changes do you expect in the changing work environment?
– Changes are ongoing and at first, they led to a reduction in the number of people employed in the sector. The second thing is related to the fact that survival and success require flexibility and investment in personnel and internal capacity. Our analysis of the industry showed that almost all colleagues mainly specialise in national programs, which turned out to be a weakness. “New I” already had experience in international programs at the European Commission, which made the transition easier for us. At the same time, in the work with clients during the new program period 2021-2027, a reorientation is observed mainly towards innovations, green ideas and projects involving communications and connectivity in their diversity. This is also evident from the set priorities within the National Plan for Recovery and Sustainability, which has the potential to become a key factor for the stabilisation of Bulgarian business.