FORENTIN – Forum for Entrepreneurs and InvestorsNovember 01, 2010
Entrepreneurial spirit is well developed in the ICT sphere but the lack of risk investment instruments and the insufficient business practices of the entrepreneurs restrict the development of the companies in the industry. Within its policy of improving the environment for development of SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) the Bulgarian ICT Cluster is launching a project, called FORENTIN – Forum for Entrepreneurs and Investors. The aim of the project is to support young and innovative companies from the ICT sector through consultations on the preparation of a strategic analysis and development plan and their presentation to potential investors.
The development of SMEs from the ICT sector for the past 10 years has indicated that not all companies are ready to receive investment, they do not know how to manage it and are unable to evaluate the factors that restrain their progress. As a result they fail to develop plans for a long-term sustainable growth. To solve the above problems ICT Cluster divided the work with the companies into two key phases:
• Phase 1 is devoted to the selection of suitable SMEs with a potential for development which need additional funding. The selection is made following a detailed analysis of the company’s past development. The aim is to determine the strong and weak points in the development and prepare strategic planning based on this analysis.
• Phase 2 of the project follows up with the presentation of the companies before investors. Each of the consulted companies receives at the end of phase 1 an official document called “Vision for Development” and an investment memorandum based on it is further prepared.
FORENTIN Summer School
At the beginning of the summer of 2008 ICT Cluster launched the “Summer School” initiative as part of the FORENTIN Project. After a careful selection procedure ICT Cluster gave the opportunity to 2nd and 3rd year students from economic departments of leading Bulgarian universities to apply their academic knowledge in practice.
For two months of the summer of 2008 a team of five students had a number of individual meetings with two investment seeking companies from the ICT sector. As a result of the students’ work ICT Cluster created its own methodology for strategic analysis of small and medium-sized enterprises in the sector.
During its work the team of the FORENTIN Summer School was consulted and supervised by professionals in the sphere of investment – Mr. Eftim Pandeff, Chairman of Axa Solutions, and Mr. Konstantin Stoytchev, Managing Partner in Maconis.
Presentation before Investors
The first step in the presentation of Bulgarian companies before investors was made on 2 April 2008. Within the International Forum of Bilateral Meetings organized by ICT Cluster, the Bulgarian companies had the opportunity to establish contacts with foreign companies and investors and to find new partners.
The companies from the ICT sector had their next opportunity to find investors at the Second Regional Conference of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development. The event was held on 16-18 May 2008 and for the first time pre-selected companies were given the opportunity to present their business ideas to the co-participation funds and business angels, present at the conference. ICT Cluster gave assistance to three companies in their presentation at the conference.
Through its participation in the EOS Project and through bilateral cooperation ICT Cluster created opportunities in 2007 and 2008 for SMEs from the ICT sector to present their products and services to potential clients and future business partners from Switzerland, Spain, Italy, France, Germany etc.
ICT Cluster maintains close cooperation with many European and foreign partners and is a partner in many clusters’ and SMEs networks which is an opportunity for companies to find new partners and to go abroad to foreign markets.