American University in Bulgaria
Office of the Provost
Phone: (+359 73) 888 410
Mobile: (+359) 894 531253
October 1, 2016
Dear Mrs. Mayor Hristova,
Dear distinguished guests, and
Dear participants in the Innovation Camp Gabrovo,
As an education institution that carries the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship since its establishment 25 years ago, the American University of Bulgaria is proud to be a partner of Gabrovo Innovation Camp. We are proud to support the first initiative in the country and the region that demonstrates that innovation does not have to be restricted only to private-sector organizations and that the public sector is ready to pursue innovation-driven approaches to improving in the socio-economic environment.
I regret that I our leadership or myself cannot be part of such an exciting event but it perfectly coincides with the celebration of our 25-year anniversary. Nevertheless, I would like use the opportunity to share a few thoughts about why we as an institution celebrate innovation and why we eagerly support Gabrovo Innovation Camp.
The American University in Bulgaria was established quarter of a century ago as the “different” higher education institution. We were born and nurtured as an institution with the mission to offer education that advances knowledge but places special importance on the personal growth of the individual and their ability to impact society in a positive way. Our model, grounded in the liberal arts tradition in education, is designed to engage students in learning that develops their ability to create and innovate regardless of their academic field and career ambitions. The ability to assess an environment and situation critically, to find the opportunity and produce a solution to the challenges, is at the heart of the success of many of our graduates who are leaders in business, non-governmental organizations, and public institutions.
We live in times when success is almost impossible without innovation. Today’s leaders in many economic sectors are newcomers who have disrupted industries by innovating business models, processes or technologies. Alongside them are players with long traditions who have remained alert and have found ways to stay relevant and innovate themselves. And then there are the ones who have lost leadership positions only because of the delay in grasping the importance of innovation. We must learn from the success stories as well as from the lost opportunities. We must learn and transfer these lessons across the different sectors of society, and this is what we believe in at the American University in Bulgaria.
We believe that innovation and the ability to innovate is just as important when it comes to social issues as to business challenges. Dynamics in our societies are accelerated by advancing technologies, changing generations and shifting models of behavior. These new dynamics require new ways of thinking and new answers to questions such as: What will be education like in the future and how can we make it accessible to communities in every corner of the Earth? How are values of democracy changing and what is the democracy of tomorrow? How to streamline processes of innovation across regions and levels of society? These are questions, the answers to which require innovative thinking that combines past knowledge with the opportunities of the future. At the same time, the scale of these questions is so big that answering them cannot happen without the active role of public sector institutions. This is why, Gabrovo Innovation Camp is such an important, I dare say transformational event for our society because it is the first large-scale initiative of a public institution that invites collaborative innovation towards finding new directions on important societal issues such as growth, learning and democracy. We are happy that we are able to support this event and that a number of our students are participants in the camp and will invest their sharp and innovative minds in generating new ideas. Moreover, we as an educational institution, will be eager to learn about the generated ideas in the area of education and attempt to instill them in our programs and our education strategies.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the Mayor of Gabrovo Mrs. Hristova for the pioneer initiative and of course, for the honor of accepting our partnership in this extraordinary for the country event. I would like to wish all participants energy and limitless imagination in pursuing the new ways to address the challenges in our 21st century society!
Docent Dr. Emilia Zankina,
American University in Bulgaria