2017 has been full of success stories of foreign companies setting up or expanding their operations in Sofia, as well as with local companies starting or growing up their business and gaining recognition. Sofia experienced yet another year of stable growth and innovation. According to the sixth annual analysis of the economic and social development of the 28 districts in the country, once again, Sofia is the richest region with the country’s highest GDP per capita (more than double the national average) and the region with the highest investment activity and relative number of active enterprises of 85 per 1 000 people. Sofia and the region were the preferred location for the establishment of many local and international companies. Sofia also experienced outstanding growth in the sectors of Tourism, BPO and ICT.
Here are some of Sofia success stories for 2017.
Lufthansa Technik Sofia
With its investment of EUR 35 million, Lufthansa Technik Sofia (LHT) has completed the expansion of its base at Sofia Airport, making it the largest in Europe. Following the investment, the capacity of the civil aviation repairs and maintenance center includes a new hangar and a new 8-storey building with offices and workshops. The investment will help the center to boost its production capacity by 60% and to be able to service 8 machines simultaneously.
Sensata Technologies opened a $3 million testing laboratory, its largest worldwide in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia. The company is a global industrial technology leader in the development, manufacture and sale of sensors and controls for mission-critical applications that improve safety, efficiency and comfort in a wide array of automotive, appliance, aircraft, industrial, military, heavy vehicle, heating, air-conditioning, data, telecommunications and marine applications. The testing lab in Sofia is already operating on a total area of 6 000 sq. m. with over 100 newly hired highly-qualified engineers and experts in safety testing and development of equipment for Sensata’s components.
Dynamo Software, the premier provider of configurable, cloud-based investment management software for the alternative asset investment industry, announced a majority investment from Francisco Partners, a global, technology-focused private equity firm. The investment from the US-based fund will provide Dynamo with a capital partner to support the company’s continued growth and product innovation.
Cargo-partner started the construction of a modern logistics center near Sofia International Airport, scheduled to open in the beginning of 2018. The investment of 15.3 million euro will create more than 20 new jobs. The international transport and logistics provider plans to build the new logistics center in Sofia as part of the company’s strategic investments into strengthening its worldwide warehousing capacities and as the next important step in the expansion of its logistics capacities throughout Europe.
The IT company Endava opened a new office in Sofia, thus making the first step towards stable expansion of its team in Bulgaria. Strengthening its delivery capability in Central Europe, Endava entered the Bulgarian market at the end of 2016, through its merger with the software development company ISDC. The company announced its intention to increase the number of employees over the next three years. Currently Envada operates with 70 local developers, aiming to grow to 180 by mid of 2018, and up to 400 by the end of 2020.
Bosch Software Innovations
Bosch Software Innovations announced its plans to significantly increase its capacity to develop IoT software in Bulgaria.The company sees Bulgaria as the Silicon Valley of Europe and in 2016 it finally completed the merger of ProSyst with Bosch Software Innovations. Currently, the company employs more than 130 specialists in Sofia.
The leading investor in the Bulgarian energy sector, AES Bulgaria, opened its expanded Regional Shared Service Center in Sofia. The company has invested a total of BGN 2 million in the center so far, as part of its move to gradually expand its portfolio activities in Bulgaria. The center serves the company’s business in the areas of Finance, IT, Supply, Human resources and Communications for Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Danish furniture chain Jysk announced its plans to build a new logistics centre near Sofia. The investment exceeds 100 million euros. The distribution centre will have an area of about 80,000 sq m and will create 300 jobs at the end of 2018. Two high-rise buildings will be commissioned next to the centre by the third quarter of 2019, where the work will be done entirely by machine automation.
On July 5, the first Bulgarian geostationary communication satellite BulgariaSat-1 reached its orbital position. The facility is an investment of BulgariaSat, which is part of Bulsatcom Group. The satellite was launched by the US technology giant SpaceX of billionaire Elon Musk on June 23 from a rocket platform at NASA’s Kenedy Space Center in Florida.
Walltopia, the Bulgarian climbing wall company, has successfully completed the implementation of one of the largest centers for sports and leisure facilities in Innsbruck, Austria. The total climbing area is 5700 square meters, of which 3000 sq. m. are indoors, and the highest walls in the center are 17 m. Climbers will be able to choose between 800 different routes. The facility has a capacity of 350 people climbing at the same time.Walltopia is the maker and executor of the entire design and construction process of the facility. This year Innsbruck is expected to hold the World Cup in climbing.
And more success stories
The V-Ray software for 3D visualizations of the leading Bulgarian developer company Chaos Group is one of the 18 holders of Oscars for scientific and technical achievements in cinema for 2017.
Kristina Tsvetanova, CEO and co-founder of the Austrian company, BLITAB Technology, which has produced the first tablet for blind users, won the EU prize for Rising Innovators Award for Women Innovators 2017. This is the fourth edition of the contest and the Rising Innovators Award which Tsvetanova won is a new category introduced this year. It recognises excellence in female entrepreneurs aged 30 years or under.
Seven Bulgarian teams and individuals have been listed in the New Europe 100 Challengers 2017. For a fourth year in a row the edition acknowledges the brightest and best citizens of central and eastern Europe’s – those who are changing the region’s societies, politics and business environments and displaying fresh approaches to prevailing problems. Find them here.
Bulgarian companies won three of the 12 categories in the international competition of Central European Startup Awards, competing with 10 other countries in the region. Bulgarian start-up company Bee Smart Technologies, the LAUNCHub Ventures investment fund and the Puzl CowOrKing co-working space won awards in the fourth edition of the European start-up competition for Central and Eastern Europe. For the first time Sofia hosted the regional final. The finalists from the region gathered in the hall of “John Atanasov” building in Sofia Tech Park. Find out more about the winners here.
For a second year in a row, five Bulgarian companies have been included in London Stock Exchange Group’s (LSE Group) “1000 Companies to Inspire Europe” report. Walltopia, El Stomana Ltd.q Fert Bul Ltd., Most Energy JSC and Furniture Videnov have made it to the prestigious list. The Bulgarian five among Europe’s 1000 are listed here.
Titan Gate and Accedia have been ranked as the fastest-growing technology companies in Bulgaria according to Deloitte 2017 Fast 50. Deloitte CE Technology Fast 50 ranks fast growing innovative tech companies in Central and Eastern Europe. Titan Gate ranked 16th and Accedia ranked 26th.
The international entrepreneurial network Endeavor selected three new entrepreneurs from Bulgaria at its 75th International Selection Panel (ISP). Part of the Global network now are Zornitsa Chugreeva, executive director of HelloHungry – the largest platform for food delivery in Bulgaria (BG Menu) and Romania (Oliviera) together with Vladimir Davchev, founder and majority owner of HelloHungry. The third winner is Raycho Raychev, founder and executive director of EnduroSat, which designs, builds and deploys nano-satellites for orbital missions and exploring the Solar System.
The number of Bulgarian companies included in the annual Coface CEE Top 500, the annual publication on the biggest companies in the CEE region, is 18. The state-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding is the top ranking Bulgarian company and is the 25th ranking company in the index.
Bulgaria is moving forward
Bulgaria went up 4 positions in the Global Competitiveness Report for 2016-2017 of the World Economic Forum.
Bulgaria ranks 50th among 190 economies globally in the fifteenth Ease of Doing Business report of the World Bank. Read more here.
Bulgaria ranks 50th among 176 countries in the Measuring the Information Society 2017 Report. Find out more about the report here.
Bulgaria’s position in the ranking of the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index is moving upwards for the sixth consecutive year. In the Global Index 2017/2018 Bulgaria is 49th out of 137 countries included in the ranking.
International rating agency Moody’s confirmed Bulgaria’s issuer rating at Baa2 with with stable outlook. The rating is supported by the indicators of sustainable economic development, a good fiscal position and a stable expectation for GDP growth in the medium term.
Fitch also raised the outlook for Bulgaria’s rating with the assessment that the external metrics of the country have improved significantly. The outlook was changed to “positive” from “stable”. According to the IMF, the financial system in Bulgaria is stable and does not pose a risk to public finances.
Bulgaria ranks higher than previous years in two 2017 index editions – The Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index and Best Countries for Business by Forbes. Bulgaria ranked 47th in Economic Freedom Index (up from 60th place) in 2016 and falls into the group of moderately free economic countries together with Cyprus, Montenegro, Turkey, Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Forbes annual list of best 139 countries for business 2017, Bulgaria climbed up 7 positions higher, up to 38th in the list.