Flanders Investment & Trade – the trade office of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Bulgaria, is organizing a trade mission to Bulgaria for multi-sectoral bilateral business meetings with Belgian companies from the Flanders region of the Kingdom of Belgium. The event will be hosted by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and will take place between May 31 and June 1, 2023, at the “Da Vinci 1&2” hall, “Grand Hotel Millennium” in Sofia.
On behalf of the organizers, we kindly invite companies based in Sofia to participate in the meetings as an opportunity for new partnerships and international business expansion.
On both days of the event, individual meetings between Flemish and Bulgarian companies are planned, with plenty of opportunities for networking and creating contacts. The profiles of registered companies that will be present from the Belgian side are published on the Flanders Investment & Trade website here.
Companies from Sofia and Bulgaria that wish to participate in the meetings should register no later than May 10, 2023, via the registration form here.
On the initiative of the Center for Sustainable Communities Development and the Bulgarian School of Politics, the team of Invest Sofia presented the Jobs in Sofia platform to the newly formed Refugee Advocacy Board. Our Senior Experts from the Investment Analysis Department, Joanna Dragneva and Georgi Brezin, met with refugees from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, Syria and Kuwait and gave guidance on the opportunities the website offers to people who have sought asylum in our country.
On Jobs in Sofia, any foreign national who wants to establish their daily life in Sofia and Bulgaria can search for a job by creating a professional profile and apply for vacancies that Invest Sofia’s business partners publish on the platform. The website allows candidates to have their own profile, which is accessible to employers at any time. The website is available in Ukrainian, Russian, English and Bulgarian and was created by the Sofia Municipality and Invest Sofia in the first days after the war in Ukraine to help the refugees. To update the platform, Invest Sofia not only worked with companies in Sofia, but also collaborated with other major municipalities in Bulgaria.
The formation of the Refugee Board in Bulgaria is part of the project “Partnership for Sustainable Refugee Inclusion”, implemented by the Center for Sustainable Community Development and the Bulgarian School of Politics with the financial support of the Active Citizens Fund in Bulgaria. Its members have already been trained in three modules and are currently implementing meetings with representatives of different institutions to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to enable their integration, social participation and be able to provide assistance to other refugees in Bulgaria.
The feedback we received during the meeting was that the platform is both interesting and useful and although it was launched in connection with the refugee flow from Ukraine, it can be further developed and adapted to provide opportunities for asylum seekers from other countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Kuwait, etc.
The Speed Match International Networking Event 2023 to be held on 24-25 May 2023. The event will focus on the aviation, rail and automotive sectors and all services and suppliers in the field. Large, small and medium-sized enterprises, chambers, clusters, investors, public institutions and associations will join the B2B event – a great platform to establish business and technological partnerships with pre-scheduled 1-1 meetings. Companies from nearly 30 countries have already registered. The event is free to participate. You can publish information about your products and services and schedule one-on-one meetings with partners on the event site here: https://speedmatch2023.b2match.io/
The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a co-organizer of the Forward Green (FG Expo) circular economy event. The forum will take place between June 8-10 in Thessaloniki and is aimed at companies, agencies, organizations active in adopting modern practices in the use of raw materials, construction materials, technology, energy, recycling and packaging and innovative solutions with a positive impact on the environment and increasing resilience. To register for participation, see the BCCI’s announcement here.
The European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP) has announced an open call to RE-CENTRE for financial support to small cross-sectoral partnerships that create or adopt new collaboration models incorporating digital and/or environmental innovations and/or technologies.
The project will support SMEs from the following three sectors: Traditional furniture and living sector, IT, and Green/Circular Economy. The vouchers for the projects that will be selected for support are worth 52,000 euros. Detailed information about the call is available on the ECCP website here. The deadline for submission of proposals is 27 June 2023.
Applications are now open for the 6-month EIT Food-funded TeamUp program at the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The program aims to connect leading technologists with entrepreneurs, providing them with tools and support for joint projects in the food industry. The call is looking for experts in the food industry, as well as people with entrepreneurial skills to build a successful startup in the sector. TeamUp includes team-matching process between industry professionals and entrepreneurs, training sessions and expert support, €2000 per team to develop their idea and business model. The best projects will have the chance to raise an investment from EIT Food of up to €40,000. Check out how to apply on the initiative’s website here.
On May 17 and 18, the twelfth edition of Sarajevo Business Forum – an annual economic and business conference organized by Bosna Bank International (BBI) and partners – was held in Bosta and Herzegovina. Again, the event brings together business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders from the Balkans, Europe, the Middle East and beyond. The forum is a prestigious and recognizable platform for business networking, researching investment destinations and business opportunities in the countries of South-Eastern Europe.
This year, part of the Agenda were four large discussion panels. The CEO of Invest Sofia, Ph.D. Maria Hristova joined the panel Successful Investment Stories of the Region to share real case studies for companies in Sofia and Bulgaria, their expansion over the years and subsequent investments that show their long-term intentions for business in our capital. Maria Hristova also presented instruments and incentives that Sofia Municipality and Invest Sofia use to attract investments in priority sectors.
The session started with an introductory speech by Martin Vickers MP, Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to the Western Balkans, UK Government, Department for Business and Trade. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Nina Pobrić, Head of the Investment Promotion Department, Foreign Investment Promotion Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FIPA). Along with Maria Hristova, in the panel took part Mr. Branimir Muidža – General Director/ President, Foreign Investor Council (FIC), Mr. Paul Cronin – Managing Director & CEO at Adriatic Metals PLC, Mr. Anastasios Spanidis – President & CEO at G.P.A. ecosystem of companies, Mr. Mattias Sjoborg – Chairman and CEO at Plena Group.
The Sarajevo Business Forum focused also on the future of the financial industry, regional business cooperation, sustainable development and sustainability, innovation and boosting investment and growth in tourism. Over 1,500 local, regional and global institutions, ministries, investors and representatives of business communities from nearly 50 countries around the world participated in the forum this year. Part of the forum were also presentations of over 200 investment projects and business opportunities, more than 400 G2G organizations, and over 200 media representatives from BiH, countries of the region and the world.
On May 12th, the international discussion forum “The Future of Geothermal Projects in Sofia and the Country” was held in Sofia, organized by the Bulgarian Energy and Mining Forum. Invest Sofia was an institutional partner of the event, and Victor Gusev, Head of the Investment Analysis Department, participated in the discussions.
The event focused on an expert analysis of practical approaches to the utilization of geothermal energy for diversifying the production and consumption of electricity and heat in Sofia and the country. Interest in the opportunities in the field is increasing due to planned energy production decarbonization, municipal measures to reduce the share of fossil fuels in the energy balance of municipalities, air pollution issues, and more.
The forum presented the latest information about technologies and projects released on the market by leading companies in the field. Data on the geothermal potential of Sofia and other regions in Bulgaria were also presented, with a vision for harnessing these resources and exploring opportunities to attract investor interest in the field.
The Sofia region is extremely rich in underground and mineral waters. Most of them have temperatures between 40 and 60 degrees Celsius, but there are also hot ones, such as the well in Ravno Pole village, which has a temperature above 80 degrees. For years, the Sofia Municipality has been working on the analysis of various options for utilizing thermal waters not only in the field of balneology and spa tourism but also for the decarbonization of buildings through heating systems that utilize geothermal energy. Unlike solar and wind energy, geothermal sources are a renewable source that is available 8,700 hours per year. You can learn more about the benefits of investing in geothermal energy from the interview with Anton Ivanov, Deputy Chairman of the Bulgarian Energy and Mining Forum, on the “Business World” on Bloomberg TV.
Our partners from the sustainable solutions platform GreenUp are inviting companies developing solutions in the field of green technologies and circular economy to apply for two open aopen calls. Students, scientists, and experts are also encouraged to participate.
A free 8-week startup accelerator program is now open for projects in the circular economy – Circular Startups Challenge. It will include an online mentorship programme for innovative circular startups. The initiative is looking for ideas that transform waste into valuable resources or innovative services that adapt to the future dynamics of the circular economy. Both individuals or teams can apply. The three-month programme aims to work on projects from idea level to creating a prototype that will be presented to investors at a final event on September 1st. The application deadline is until May 15 at the following address: https://green-up.earth/bg/circular-startups-challenge
The second open competition is for sustainable engineering projects – Green Engineers. It is organized by GreenUp in partnership with Atamiq and seeks to reward and support students and young professionals under the age of 35 who have experience with sustainable engineering projects that solve environmental challenges. Theoretical and implementation stage projects are accepted in the following categories: Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Water Sector, Decarbonization Technology, Geothermal Energy, HVAC Sector (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Air Quality), Energy Sector Adjacent Technologies (Automation, Drones, Robotics, etc). The deadline for submitting applications is until July 31 at: https://green-up.earth/bg/green-engineers/
More about GreenUP
GreenUp is a sustainable solutions platform that aims to promote entrepreneurial culture as well as support the most promising startup companies and solutions in the field of circular economy, green technology, agro-technology, food, anti-plastic and new materials as well as other sub-sectors of the green industry. GreenUp provides various initiatives, events, and programmes for both idea-phase projects and market-ready solutions. GreenUP organizes workshops, challenges, awards, bootcamps, hackathons, and acceleration programmes to nurture sustainable startups. The platform regularly has new initiatives announced on: https://green-up.earth/
Sofia-based Dynamic Pricing AI raised EUR 600,000 from Sofia Angels Ventures, Vitosha Venture Partners and international business angels. With the investment, the startup will accelerate its growth and expand its customer portfolio in a wide variety of industries. Dynamic Pricing AI product is targeted at retailers and product brands and aims to increase sales, optimize pricing strategy and increase revenue. The company targets Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brands, a business model that is becoming increasingly popular among brands that want to bypass traditional distribution channels and establish direct contact with their online customers. Dynamic Pricing AI’s artificial intelligence-based learning models work with data about product inventory, page visits, and transactions and target promotional activities to the right customers at the right time through the customer experience. The startup plans to expand its team of product developers and attract new customers.
Kenya has launched into orbit Taifa-1, an Earth observation satellite constructed with components of the SOfia-based micro and nanocarrier company EnduroSat. The Kenyan satellite was launched aboard SpaceX’s Falcon-9 Rocket in California, USA. The Bulgarian aerospace manufacturer partnered with the testing and manufacturing of the parts and had a decisive role in optimizing the costs of the satellite’s design, Space in Africa reported.
French company Ingenico, the largest manufacturer of POS terminals in the world, has acquired 100% of the Sofia-based Phos – the creator of the mobile application that turns any merchant’s Android phone or tablet into a POS terminal for contactless card payments with no need of additional devices. The amount of the transaction remains undisclosed. The development of Phos is in the so-called SoftPoS niche of the fintech sector. SoftPoS solutions enable portable devices to function as payment terminals meeting the highest security standards. The use of such solutions is expected to quadruple in the next five years. The deal is of strategic importance to Ingenico as the company will be able to complement its portfolio with a service that requires minimal investment in technology from customers for a service that has the potential to penetrate many business segments.
With an investment of nearly BGN 9.2 million, the private port operator BMF Port Burgas opened an intermodal terminal in the Sofia – Bozhurishte Industrial Park. The facility has an area of 27,000 sq.m. and has an annual capacity of 60,000 TEU. The terminal will be a connecting point between the Port of Burgas and the European network of
At the invitation of Policy Dialogue with Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Maria Gabriel, Invest Sofia participated in the policy dialogue “Education and Innovation – Interactions and Challenges”. The meeting took place at the European Commission Representation in Bulgaria in Sofia, under the hostage of Commissioner Gabriel, and the active participation of school directors, university rectors, business representatives, associations, and students from all over the country.
The dialogue was organized on the occasion of Europe Day, May 9th. The focus was on innovation, education, entrepreneurship and regional innovation ecosystems. Challenges and opportunities were discussed, as well as key European initiatives and programmes in these areas.
Our CEO, Maria Hristova Ph.D., joined the discussions. Speakers, along with Commissioner Maria Gabriel, were the Rector of the Technical University of Sofia – Prof. Ivan Kralov, the Mayor of Gabrovo – Tanya Hristova, and the Executive Director of JA Bulgaria – Milena Stoycheva. Students and pupils also participated in the discussions.
The Sofia Municipal Privatization & Investment Agency was awarded the “Successful Project Management, Application of Best Practices and Investments” award by K&P Advertising. The award was presented to the CEO of the Agency, Ph.D. Maria Hristova, at an official event dedicated to the release of the “Sofia and Sofia Region – Business, Culture, Tourism” handbook.
The media company K&P Advertising is the publisher of the magazine “Destination Bulgaria”, the handbook “Sofia – Business, Culture, Nature, Tourism” and other publications. Invest Sofia is part of the latest bilingual edition of the book, featuring its mission, activities, and the services we provide to investors, including business analyses, industry-specific opportunities, local legal requirements, and assistance in legislative procedures, among others.
The addition will be distributed both as a print and web version at www.destinationbulgaria.bg and provides information about the history, culture, tourism, and attractions of Sofia and the Sofia Region, making it a detailed tourist guide. The handbook is distributed for free to companies and diplomatic representations, in municipal centers, as well as at international exhibitions and congresses.
During the official presentation of the publication, mayors of municipalities and districts, managers, and partners were also awarded in categories for their successful policies and application of good practices in the areas of business, culture, and tourism.
The University of National and World Economy (UNWE) hosted a student scientific conference on Contemporary Concepts for the Development of Smart Cities. The event was held on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Regional Development Department at UNWE, led by Assoc. Prof. Georgi Nikolov PhD. At the invitation of the University our CEO Maria Hristova Ph.D. took part in the discussions.
Yes, a smart city is one that “uses digital technologies to improve the quality of life of its citizens, enhance sustainability and increase the city’s economic competitiveness”. But as someone who works every day with businesses and people here and for the development of the city, I know how crucial active citizen participation is. We need ongoing discussion, awareness and public support for all the issues important to the city. Particularly important is the role of young people and their involvement in city issues. To be considered sustainable, a city must meet the needs of its current inhabitants without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Only in this way can we create cities that are not only smart and efficient, but also liveable, inclusive and sustainable., Maria Hristova said during the conference.
The scientific conference Contemporary Concepts for the Development of Smart Cities was held under the patronage of the Rector of the UNWE Dr Dimitar Dimitrov MD PhD and brought together students from different majors, university teachers, business experts and organizations whose activities contribute to the development of Sofia as a green and smart European entrepreneurial center.
The Sofia Municipality opened the applications for its annual “Academy for VISIONERS” – an initiative that supports smart solutions for the benefit of the community and innovative ideas for a cause of young people aged 15 to 29. Participants will work with mentors and renowned experts in four thematic areas – Culture and Art, Environmental Protection, Science and Innovation, and Animals at Risk. Part of the academy are training and practical sessions and support from ideation, through implementation, to assessment and reporting of the impact, as well as organizational and logistical support, assistance in promoting the projects, and more. The best ideas to be supported with funding of up to BGN 5,000. For more information and a registration link, please visit the website here.
The international agency S&P Global Ratings confirmed Sofia’s long-term credit rating – ‘BBB with a stable outlook. According to the analysis, the Sofia Municipality demonstrates stable economic indicators, which are better than the average for the country, a diversified local economy, and low unemployment, as well as good financial discipline. The stable long-term credit rating of the city gives the municipality the opportunity to obtain good financial conditions for funding large infrastructure projects necessary for the development of the city.
The sixth edition of the “My Green School, My Green Kindergarten” program has been launched. This year, nearly 50 institutions will take part in the initiative, and more than 600 trees will be planted by the children themselves. In Sofia this year, more than 4,000 trees will be planted on the sidewalks near streets and boulevards, as well as in parks, gardens, and green areas. The “New Forest” initiative is also underway. The forest planted a few years ago near the Suhodol landfill is growing, and last year the planting of a new forest near the village of Negovan with 86,000 saplings began. The Sofia Municipality is planning a third new forest near Novi Iskar.
After two years of negotiations between the Sofia Municipality and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, the Sofia Zoo was approved to be the home of two black jaguars. The animals are part of the Association’s special program for priority species breeding in zoo settings and come from a national park in France. In 2018, the Sofia zoo expanded the cages of the big cats and created conditions for the