UPEE presented the progress of Cyber4AllSTAR to the European Commission in Sofia and to local businesses in Burgas

The Union for Private Economic Enterprise (UPEE), which participates in the work of the Monitoring Committee of the National Program “Research, Innovation, and Digitalization for Intelligent Transformation” (PRIDIT 2021-2027), presented the results achieved so far in the project “Cyber4AllSTAR” to the members of the Committee and representatives of the European Commission at a working meeting held on May 22 in the building of the Institute “GATE” in Sofia.

“Cyber4AllSTAR” is the name of the European Digital Innovation Hub “Trakia” coordinated by UPEE, according to the European nomenclature of digital innovation hubs. It is one of the four Digital Hubs in Bulgaria supported by the Digital Europe Programme of the European Commission (EC) and represents a strategic operation for the Ministry of Innovation and Growth (MIG) under the PRIDIT.

The results reported for the first 18 months of the project include the establishment of a training and business center on the street “Drava” № 2 in the town of Plovdiv with a rich program of information and consulting events beneficial to local entrepreneurs. On May 18, another forum was held, dedicated to volunteer intervention in disaster and emergency relief, including cyber-attacks in the public and civil sectors. According to recent data, as many as 69% of citizens are not aware of which institutions in Bulgaria are responsible for cybersecurity. Even fewer are aware of the possibilities to provide alternative forms of support in the event of an incident.

On the international front, UPEE noted to the leaders of the MIR and the representatives of the European Commission the participation of the Trakia Hub in the creation of two pan-European digital infrastructures for connectivity and mutual assistance – the “European Cyber Security Corridor” under the auspices of the European Cyber Security Organization (ECSO) and the initiative for the connectivity of innovation centers along the North-South axis, which is fully coordinated by EDIH Trakia.

The top priority for the project for the next 18 months has been highlighted as the establishment of interconnectivity between the training and certification cyber range of the Trakia EDIH in Plovdiv and the existing infrastructures within the academic system in Bulgaria and other partner countries from the intergovernmental Three Seas Initiative (3SI). Specifically, in line with 3SI, in May EDIH Trakia signed a cooperation agreement with the Budapest-based European Institute of Technology and Innovation (EIT Digital) and its Digital Innovation Hub, which, like the Trakia EDIH, is focused on cybersecurity.

Svetlin Iliev from the EDIH Trakia team and ECSO leadership with the chairman of the Budapest Digital Hub

Days before the meeting with the representatives of the European Commission in Sofia, the experts of EDIH Trakia participated in an innovation forum in Sofia. They presented the results of the pilot study on the attitudes of Bulgarians towards cybersecurity. This nationally representative survey, commissioned by the UPEE and the Bulgarian Cybersecurity Association (BCA), was prepared for the needs of Cyber4AllSTAR project in the previous year but is being presented to local businesses just now, as the Digital Hub has moved into the active phase of providing its grant-funded cybersecurity services, which has been launched following a co-funding agreement with the Ministry of Innovation and Growth.

The Hub’s services have been adapted to the specific needs of the Bulgarian market based on the good international experience of the Institute for Information and Communication Technologies (IICT) at BAS from previous projects such as “ECHO” and are in line with the perceptions on the topic of cybersecurity and the resulting challenges and problems identified in the above-mentioned UPEE study on local cybersecurity. The role of BAS in the “Cyber4AllSTAR” project consists precisely of providing R&D and consulting expertise on the most current and pressing cybersecurity issues, including protection from ransomware attacks, which hold the largest share of cyber incidents in the corporate sector in Europe, according to recent data presented during the forum in Burgas.

Here is a photo from a recent seminar held on May 9 at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, dedicated to Hub Trakia’s strategy for addressing the cybersecurity-related business needs of Bulgarian small and medium-sized enterprises.

In addition to their visit to Burgas, the experts from Hub Trakia seize every opportunity to meet with local businesses to promote the portfolio of free cyber services available to businesses and the public sector. Similar meetings have been held with e-commerce sector companies during the Digital4Plovdiv Forum; the DigiPay Online Payments Forum in Sofia; during the European Startups Week; and at many other corporate and public events since the launch of the Cyber4AllSTAR project in 2023 and 2024.

Digital4Plovdv with the participation of Yasen Tanev from UPEE and Kiril Grigorov from BAC from the team of EDIH Trakia
Yassen Tanev from UPEE and Miglen Evlogiev from BAC at the forum “DigiPay”, organized with the support of EDIH Trakia
Dr. Hristian Daskalov at the information point of EDIH Trakia during a business forum in the capital
European Startup Week with the participation of Vladimir Danailov from UPEE
Presentation of Hub services at the Defence Industry Club International Cooperation event

While meetings and discussions with European and national institutions, as well as those with larger companies in the process of digital transformation, are held in the main economic centers of the country, the team of EDIH Trakia maintains a constant focus on providing support for the development of the digital economy in the smaller settlements of the South Central Region, as well as throughout the country.

For example, during an information day on May 29 at the municipal administration building in Hisarya, organized by the local developer community “DevHisar”, the team of the Digital Innovation Hub “Trakia” will present the audience with support opportunities across all four main areas of the Hub’s work: “Test Before Invest”, “Training & Skills”, “Access 2 Finance”, and “Ecosystem Development”. Additionally, ongoing “Cybersecurity Basics” training sessions continue upon requests from the public and private sectors in smaller municipal centers, and these will be held at least until the end of 2025 with funding from the “Digital Europe” program and PRIDIT.

Training in Bansko Municipality, May 2024.
Training in Belovo Municipality, May 2024.
Training in Bratsigovo Municipality, May 2024.
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