A research centre dedicated to smart technology and clean energy in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, is aiming to develop new products and services that will boost the country’s economy in one of its priority sectors: mechatronics and clean technologies. The Technical University of Gabrovo led the project that developed the facility which will create links between academia, students, and businesses.
The Centre of Competence: Intelligent mechatronic, eco- and energy-saving systems and technologies, is making world-class facilities available to researchers. Since the start of the project in March 2018, 59 researchers have been appointed by entities involved in the project.
Three postgraduate students are working in the field of mechatronics and clean technologies. Nine more are expected to join them. A total of 14 collaborative research projects are being developed jointly by the centre and its partners, while 24 intellectual property rights are being elaborated. These are planned to be completed by the end of the project's implementation phase.
The Centre is the result of the combined efforts of leading Bulgarian scientific organisations and universities: Technical University of Gabrovo, Technical Univercity Sofia - branch Plovdiv, Central Laboratory of Applied Physics, Institute of Robotics, Sofia University ‘St Kliment Ohridski’, Technical University of Varna and Institute of Electronics – BAS.
Research teams are focusing on new developments in clean technologies and mechatronics, a multidisciplinary field that combines mechanics, electronics and computing.
Work in the centre is divided into two areas: intelligent mechatronic systems and technologies; and energy-saving systems and clean technologies. These are spread over eight laboratory complexes devoted to thematic areas, including energy-saving systems and technologies for hi-tech products, robotics and intelligent automation systems, and intelligent energy-saving systems and technologies.
Businesses, governmental and non-governmental organisations and institutions are welcome to join as partners in the scientific programme.
From buildings to modern equipment
The first stage of the project involved reconstruction and modernisation of university buildings and purchasing and installing high-tech equipment, software and other tools.
Stage two is focused on developing new bachelor's, master's and doctoral programmes in clean technologies and mechatronics.
Efforts are ongoing to attract leading researchers and specialists from Bulgaria and abroad to work at the centre and train the next generation of scholars. The project is scheduled to end in 2023.
Strategies for growth
The National Development Programme Bulgaria 2030 sets three strategic goals for the country: accelerated economic development, demographic upswing, and a reduction in inequalities. Achieving these will include developing a knowledge-based economy in which science plays a greater role and where innovative enterprises and high-tech industries can flourish.
The country’s major development challenge is its transition to faster, more inclusive, environmentally friendly growth. This includes reducing reliance on its coal-dependent and energy-intensive economy.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “The Centre of Competence: Intelligent mechatronic, eco- and energy-saving systems and technologïes” is EUR 12 051 006, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 10 243 355 through the “Science and Education for Smart Growth” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Research and technological development”.