Fast-track in Adopting Innovative welfare solutions for Responsible business development

Welfare technologies and social innovations are key in addressing the societal challenge of accessible work and productivity for people with disabilities. Implementing such technology in different business sectors could increase the health and safety at work, provide independence and improve productivity of workers with disability. The use of these technologies in the workplace is relatively new in Europe and still widely unknown in Bulgaria. 

The Balkan Institute for Labor and Social Policy partners with the Norwegian organization FONIX to work alongside the business to build-up and showcase good practices, and support tailored case studies, where the use of welfare technologies bridges the gap between work rehabilitation and business performance. A novel approach in co-creation, called living lab, will also be showcased to welfare innovators in order to make their technology prototyping and validating user-centered and participatory. 

The project FAIR – Fast-track in Adopting Innovative welfare solutions  for Responsible business development is supported by the Norway Grants 2014-2021 in the frame of the Programme Business Development, Innovation and SMEs, Bulgaria.

Living labs in the health and well-being domain have become increasingly popular in the past decade. They place the citizen at the center of innovation and have thus shown the ability to better exploit the opportunities offered by new ICT concepts and solutions to the specific needs and aspirations of local contexts. The benefits it provides for the business as well as for the society are yet to be harnessed, as LL are something new for Bulgaria, especially as regards to welfare technologies. 

The main intellectual outputs of the project will be two practice oriented specific studies – living lab and welfare technology application for the businesse. The reports will be a base for creating targeted training materials and webinars with open access to interested companies. In addition, a digital model that illustrates the potential win-win situation of employing people with disabilities with the support of concrete welfare technologies will be created to support responsible business development. 

The Norway grants has objective to contribute to the reduction of economic and social disparities in the European Economic Area and to strengthen bilateral relations between Norway and Bulgaria. The expected outcomes of the project is improved competitiveness for wide range SMEs in Bulgaria and  strengthened business relations between Norwegian and Bulgarian businesses.

  • Increased competitiveness of welfare technology companies introduced to the living lab approach  for producing their products and services and engaging with their clients.
  • Increased competitiveness of social and specialised enterprises of PwD, by improved productivity and workability of PwDs employed there.
  • Created potential for joint business initiatives between Bulgarian and Norwegian welfare technology innovators and/or users. 

The project was implemented in a 13-month timeframe, starting on April 1st 2023 and ending on April 30th 2024.

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Project results (in Bulgarian):

Study 1: Welfare Technologies at Work (download in Bulgarian here)

Study 2: Welfare Technologies and the Living Lab Approach (download in Bulgarian here)

MOOC 1: Free online course on CSR Practices and Equitable Workforce Inclusion with Welfare Tech

MOOC 2: Free online course on Living Lab Approach for Tech Innovators

FAIR Final conference: agenda, presentations and stream HERE.

Online Welfare Tech Catalogue for Work Inclusion

Project participants from scientific, research and innovation teams, related to welfare technology:

  • Eng. (Ph.D) Petko Ivanov Stoev – head of an applied science research project
  • Alexander Kirilov – marketing expert
  • Eng. (Ph.D) Maya Angelova Stoeva – applied science expert
  • Lubomir Vassilev – head of an applied science research project
  • Boyan Sheytanov – head of an applied science research project
  • Martin Totev – applied science research expert