During an official delegation visit to Sofia, led by the Mayor of Sejong, Mr. Choi Min-ho, an official Cooperation Agreement between Sofia and the South Korean city was signed. The two cities thus entered a city-to-city partnership for activities in urban management and urban development.
‘We are pleased that the collaboration between our cities so far has led to this official agreement. Sejong has become a model city throughout Asia for a municipality with a long-term vision of digitalization and the application of new smart city technologies from scratch. Their experience is impressive and I am glad that we have the opportunity to learn from their know-how and apply best practices here. We are happy that our innovative city policies in mobility and transport, data collection and evidence-based decisions, the digital city twin are topics on which the two cities will partner actively in the future” – Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said.
“Long-term collaboration with Sofia is a priority for Sejong and South Korea. We see in you a promising ally in areas such as smart city, business and economic development, mobility, urban planning, and many other areas related to urban environment. In Sofia, you have an impressive and recognizable startup and business ecosystem. I’m excited about everything new we can bring into action together,” said Minho Choi, Mayor of Sejong. “I would also be very happy, in your honor, to make a garden with Bulgarian roses in Sejong named after the city of Sofia. Rose oil is a symbol of prosperity and a high standard of living in Korea, and it will be an honor for us to tribute in this way our successful work,” added the Mayor of Sejong.
Our team participated in the meeting at the invitation of the Deputy Mayor for digitalization and Innovative Sofia – the digitization and innovation department of Sofia Municipality. We presented economic data about Sofia and Bulgaria, the local investment profile, and business opportunities to the South Korean delegation, and discussed possible synergies.
The areas in which Sofia and Sejong will partner are:
* Business and economy
* Smart sustainable cities
* Mobility and transportation
* Urban planning and development
* Startup and SME support
* Science and technology
* Innovative, sustainable, and carbon-neutral ecosystems and strategic sectors
The Bulgarian capital and Sejong entered into city-to-city partnership activities under the EU International Urban and Regional Cooperation Programme 2021-2023 (EU IURC).
Invest Sofia has been featured in the annual edition of the AI Report Bulgaria 2022 by AI Cluster Bulgaria and SeeNews. The document covers areas such as Regulations and Strategic Frames, Trends and Challenges, Ethics of AI, Events, mapping of the ecosystem supporting AI, as well as key facts and figures from the state of the sector in Bulgaria between 2019-2022. Invest Sofia is listed in the mapping of local and state organizations supporting AI in Bulgaria, among the governmental and public ecosystem players along with Invest Bulgaria Agency, BSMEPA, Sofia Tech Park, Ministry of Innovation and Growth, Innovative Sofia, and more.
Quick facts from the analysis:
According to the report, some 60% of Bulgarian AI companies have used internal investments for their first AI project. One in five vendors has received financing through venture or private equity rounds.
The Bulgarian AI ecosystem is enhanced by a number of non-AI enterprises which are developing or using AI technologies to
Bulgaria will now issue a Startup Visa for quick access to long-term residence in our country to entrepreneurs from third countries who want to develop high-tech and/or innovative projects in our country. Thus, our country joins a large part of the EU countries that have established regulations for the procedure.
“The certificate provides foreign citizens the opportunity to start and develop projects involving high-tech and/or innovative activities in the country, and is one of the mandatory documents for obtaining a long-term residence permit”, states the regulation.
According to our partners from the Bulgarian Startup Association – BESCO, the regulation will help the companies that will come to Bulgaria to develop here for the benefit of the Bulgarian economy, accelerate growth, pay taxes in our country, attract foreign investments, attract experts from abroad who will bring new skills, technologies and practices, enrich our business ecosystem and create new jobs.
The Startup visa is a certificate for a high-tech and/or innovative project that helps foreign founders (citizens of non-EU countries) to set up and develop their startup company in Bulgaria. The visa application is submitted electronically to the Ministry of Innovation and Growth. Among the required documents are a business plan, a document for a valid patent (if applicable), an investment contract for a minimum of BGN 100,000, etc. The projects are reviewed within 30 days, evaluated according to six criteria and, upon approval, a Startup Via is issued with a validity period of 1 year.
A detailed explanation of what the Startup visa is and what it is for can also be found on the BESCO website here.
The Bulgarian VC fund Eleven Ventures launched Eleven Alpha – a three-month program for startup companies from South-Eastern Europe. Applications are open until November 19 for young organisations with daring ideas, a prototype or an active on the market product or service. Approved ideas will receive a €300,000 investment for growth against a 10% equity stake, as well as a mentoring programme between January and April 2023. Eleven Ventures guarantees an easy and fast application process and has made the application procedure as clear as possible, including by publishing the preliminary term sheet directly on the programme website at: https://www.11.vc/alpha/
SMEs in the manufacturing industry can apply for the accelerator program by the ADMA TranS4MErs consortium – a €5.6 million project funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program involving 38 partners from the 27 Member States. The programme will provide services, tools and funding to approved entreprises for their digital transformation. SMEs with manufacturing activities are invited to apply for Innovation Vouchers, which will provide them with one-on-one support from a certified Trans4MEr expert who will help them develop a personalized plan for transformation. The call for applications is open until 14 December 2022. See details here.
On November 29 and 30, 2022, the Kocaeli Convention Center in Izmit, Turkey will host the Match4Industry event, which provides an opportunity for bilateral business meetings for companies in the sectors: automotive industry (suppliers), metals and machinery, plastics and rubber, tires, chemicals (automotive paints and coatings, automotive care products), building materials, energy, environment, electrical equipment and electronics, and IT technology. The deadline for registration is November 22. Details, expense coverage, and all other necessary instructions can be found here.
An event with B2B meetings is also coming up on November 17 and 18, 2022, when the Smart Manufacturing Matchmaking 2022 forum will be held virtually. The event is suitable for companies and research centers with projects in Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing Solutions. Participation is free. Click here for more information and registration link.
The Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA) organizes the participation of Bulgarian companies in a trade mission with a visit to the international exhibition Cosme Tokyo 2023. The event is suitable for companies from the cosmetics and perfumery sector, manufacturers of essential oils, cosmetic products producers, etc. and includes B2B meetings with distributors, a rich program of symposia
The ninth international innovation forum Innovation Explorer will be held on February 23, 2023, in the John Atanasoff Forum in Sofia Tech Park.
The ‘23 edition will be dedicated to innovation for social growth. Invest Sofia is an institutional partner of the forum. We will also take part in the conference program with the participation of our Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Maria Hristova.
The topic “Innovations for social growth” was chosen in the context of everyday life in Bulgaria, which distracts us from world achievements in science and deep technologies. Key topics will also be social inequality and division. The forum aims to provoke businesses, the public sector, and start-up companies to reflect on how easily we forget that Bulgaria and the rest of the world only need better education, science, and imagination, to overcome today’s crises.
Dr. James Beacham, particle physicist at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, to open Innovation Explorer 2023. Entrepreneurs, innovation consultants, discoverers, and social movement founders from around the world are part of the speakers’ list. Well-known Bulgarian journalists to moderate the panel discussion – Lyuba Kulesich, Mirolyuba Benatova, Mario Gavrilov, Flora Stratieva, Venelin Petkov, and others.
Find out more about Innovation Explorer 2023 from the official website of the event: innovationexplorer.bg
At an official meeting at Invest Sofia, the management team of Visteon Electronics Bulgaria presented to the Mayor of Sofia its plans for the development of a new innovative products lab for car electrification and driving safety solutions. A dedicated Sofia-based team will work in the lab.
“We created the Green Card initiative to encourage investors in Sofia. Since the beginning of the year, the Agency has handed a total of 10 “Green Cards” to investors with investment projects on the territory of Sofia Municipality, the total amount of the planned investments being over 125 million euros, and the new jobs – over 500,” Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova said during the event.
Thanks to businesses, startups, and established companies operating in the city, the standard of living in the capital is rising. The conditions that these companies provide as jobs with opportunities for training and development attract and keep young people here, in Sofia,” said Mayor Fandakova. She shared her belief that local companies should work closely with universities and vocational high schools and be directly involved in staff training.
According to Visteon, the engineering center in Bulgaria is the leading and largest for the company in Europe, and the expertise of the local team ranks it not only among the most trusted tech hubs of Visteon but also globally. With a team of over 700 engineers, Visteon in Bulgaria manages the entire product cycle. Currently, over 250 global and regional high-tech projects are locally designed, developed and tested for world leaders in the automotive industry.
“As a world leader in the design and development of high-tech passenger compartment products and systems, today Visteon is also a driver of new technologies for the electric future of the automotive industry,” the Executive Director of the company in Bulgaria, Velizar Dimov said. The company constantly invests in the training of new specialists. It has its own academy and works in close cooperation with the Technical University in Sofia. Visteon reports that the company is currently the only one in Bulgaria where young people can work directly on the development of future technologies in the field of car electrification.
The Green Card received by Visteon Electronics Bulgaria is the 11th one since the beginning of the year, when Invest Sofia launched the new initiative to support investors and startup companies in Sofia. The Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Invest Sofia –
“Sofia has achieved a high level of digitalization of the public administrative services. From January 1, the application for e-administrative services to Sofia Municipality is carried out only through the Unified model of application, payment, and provision of electronic services developed by the State e-Government Agency. Sofia gradually accessed the Unified portal for electronic services for citizens and businesses of the Ministry of eGovernment. Currently, there are over 170 municipal electronic services for citizens and businesses,” Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said while presenting new opportunities and upcoming projects in the Municipality to members of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry /BCCI/ during a work meeting with the Chamber.
She reminded me that the remote e-payment of local taxes, the electronic admission in kindergartens and schools, and the Architecture and Urban Spatial Development Department e-services, have been in operation for years. The mobile app NAG.Mobile features tools for data visualization, cadastral maps, building permit areas, and many other services.
The stable economy of the city is a result of the Municipality’s efforts to further develop Sofia as a nice place to live and work, Tsvetan Simeonov, Chairman of the BCCC said during the meeting.
On behalf of his colleagues, he praised the Municipal effort to turn Sofia into a smart and digital city. The Chairman of the Sofia Municipal Council – Georgi Georgiev, the Chief Architect – Zdravko Zdravkov, the Executive Director of “Toplofikatsia” Alexander Alexandrov, the Chairman of the Commission for Engineering Infrastructure at Sofia Municipal Council – Nikolay Stoynev, and the Executive Director of Invest Sofia – Maria Hristova also attended the meeting.
“Sofia is rapidly developing, thanks to the companies operating in the city. The data from the last census show that the Bulgarian capital continues to attract young people,” Mayor Fandakova said. “During Covid-19, we made a digital revolution in public transport. More than 5 million trips were paid directly with bank cards”, Georgi Georgiev said. He presented the project for the large-scale renovation of sidewalks across the city, for which more than 120 million BGN are planned. He also announced more details about the public-private partnership program for the construction of new parking lots and sports facilities.
BCCI representatives asked specific questions and gave proposals regarding the work of “Sofiiska Voda”, “Toplofikatsia”, the development of the bicycle lanes network in Sofia, waste recycling, and many more. “The truth is that we are highly dependent on policies
We invite organizations, companies, and citizens of Sofia to apply for participation in the hackathon “InnoAirChallenge: Green Transition and Urban Mobility”, organized by Sofia Development Association, the Sofia Municipality, and DXC Technology. Teams of 2 to 5 people with ideas for innovations in urban mobility that improve the urban environment can apply for the competition and work on tech solutions for next-generation transport services and connectivity in Sofia.
Projects can be submitted in four thematic areas:
The registration deadline is November 4. Between November 7-8 to be held individual mentoring sessions with the teams. Experts from the Sofia Municipality, the Sofia Urban Mobility Center, DXC Technology, and VC funds will support the development of the ideas. Projects must be finalized and submitted online by November 9th. The winners will be announced on November 11th. The total prize fund for the three best ideas is BGN 15,000, provided by DXC Technology. The projects with the greatest potential for a positive effect on the urban environment will receive support for testing and a chance for implementation in a real urban environment from the Regional Hub of the European Institute for Innovation and Technology Climate-KIC, the Sofia Municipality, and the Sofia Urban Mobility Center.
The hackathon is part of a series of events within the INNOAIR project, funded by the European initiative Urban Innovative Actions. Sofia is the first Bulgarian city to become part of the community of innovative European cities.
You will find the project’s technical requirements, the evaluation criteria, the members of the jury, and a link to apply on the initiative’s website here.
To increase the opportunities for the development of the economic environment in Sofia and support the further development of the city as an attractive destination, the Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency (Invest Sofia) is taking further steps toward attracting partners who support this mission. The Agency signed a Cooperation Agreement with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria in the presence of Jolanda Van Den Broek, Chairman of the Dutch Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, and Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia.
The purpose of the Agreement is to set a framework for closer interaction between our organisations. We will cooperate by sending invitations for B2B meetings, conferences and events, expertise and business contacts exchange, development of joint activities, and exchange of information and data concerning the common topics of cooperation. Using the contacts established in their activities so far, the two parties will be able to prepare and promote economic data, statistics, and investment policies.
The Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria is an independent, non-governmental organisation that establishes business relations between the Netherlands and Bulgaria. Its main goal is to support Dutch companies setting up, exporting, or partnering with companies in Bulgaria, and Bulgarian companies to expand and grow in the Netherlands. It offers its members access to its business community, professional development opportunities, and advocacy.
Invest Sofia and the Dutch Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce can join their efforts to promote, support and facilitate investment activities, and other initiatives of mutual interest.
The Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency, in partnership with the US Embassy in Sofia and the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, organized the EXPLORE USA conference, dedicated to the opportunities for Bulgarian companies to start and expand their business in the USA. The event took place on October 13 at the Sofia Hotel Balkan.
Our team took part in the forum and got acquainted with the latest specifics of the US market, recommendations for setting up business there, and new programs supporting the entry of Bulgarian companies into the US market. We found out more about the sectors in which foreign companies have the greatest chance for successful expansion. This will allow us to consult Sofia-based companies looking for expansion opportunities, with guidance according to the latest data. At the invitation of the organizers, our CEO Dr. Maria Hristova attended the event.
The EXPLORE USA gathered representatives of the US Trade Department, the Embassy of Bulgaria in the US and the US Embassy in Bulgaria, the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, as well as Bulgarian companies already having operations on the US market, that shared their experience.
If you are a company looking for new opportunities in foreign markets, do not hesitate to contact our team for a free consultation according to the specific needs of your business.
The Amadeus Leisure platform, a leader in the distribution and sale of travel and leisure products, announced its plans to open an IT center in Sofia. Thus, Amadeus expands its presence in the capital, where it has been operating since 2014. More than 100 employees will join the “Amadeus Sofia Labs” EOOD office. The total amount of the investment is nearly 500 000 BGN. The center will provide services in three verticals – distribution of air, rail and hotel mobility, as well as related tourist and travel products. For the investment, the company received a class “A” certificate under the Investment Promotion Act.
Amadeus Leisure is headquartered in Madrid, Spain. The technology behind the platform distributes offers from 250 travel and accommodation service providers – travel agencies, airlines and railways, accommodation facilities and more, thus making leisure and travel planning easier and more accessible. The site contains nearly 800 billion offers and serves over 100 million requests per day. The company’s global workforce is over 16,000 employees, and the platform has a presence in 190 countries around the world.
The Swiss cabling and connectivity solutions manufacturer Reichle & De-Massari AG opened its first laboratory in Sofia. The company is making the investment through its subsidiary “R&M Bulgaria Production”, which has been operating in the capital since 2011. The company will invest BGN 1 million in the new optical fibre test lab, which will test and control the mechanical and optical parameters of the manufactured fibre-optic cables.
The lab will be located in the company’s production base in the Poduyane industrial zone. The investment decision came as a result of the development of a large number of new products by the development department in Bulgaria and is a step towards optimizing the time from a new product idea to production and delivery. The team in Sofia will also take over part of the output at the company’s headquarters in Switzerland.
Hypoport Sofia to expand its operations in Bulgaria. The company will appoint local teams for two more companies in the Group. Hypoport Group is a network of 30 lending, real estate and insurance technology companies with headquarters in Berlin Germany and over 2,500 employees in different countries. The Group is a leader in the FinTech industry in Germany and Europe. In Bulgaria, Hypoport Group has had a team since 2002.
The two new companies that will have teams in
Invest Sofia signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the construction project management company MG Consult Ltd. The Document was signed by Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia, and Mladen Hristov, Managing Director at MG Consult Ltd.
Under the agreed partnership, the two parties will cooperate in providing and exchanging data, consultations, and networking for investment projects in the construction industry. This is yet another agreement between Invest Sofia and leading consulting companies, employer organizations, or other business representatives, that aims at promoting investments in the territory of Sofia Municipality. Invest Sofia is also working on establishing cooperation with an international employer organization, which will contribute to increasing investments from European countries in our city.
MG Consult Ltd. has been in the Bulgarian market since 2006. It has in its portfolio shopping centers, malls, showrooms, restaurant chains, and office and residential buildings for local and foreign investors.
The company’s services add value to its partners’ construction projects and cover a wide range of segments in the industry: Logistics, Transportation & Distribution facilities, Industrial (Manufacturing facilities, Warehouse store facilities, etc.), Office business centers (buildings), Residential complexes, Trade and Retail centers (Malls), Mixed-use buildings, Health-care facilities, Hospitality (hotels and SPA resorts), Power and Energy, PV Plants and Solar Energy.
MG Consult Ltd. provides a comprehensive consultancy service to partners from both the private and public sectors. Its project management planning services include Project management plan, Defining the scope of work (SOW), Review of the technical design documentation, Budgeting, Suppliers and subcontractors, Communication management, Risk management,хQuality management, and Procurement management.
In accordance with the Memorandum, MG Consult Ltd. is now part of the Sofia IS initiative – the first city programme in the country for partnership between the city administration and established companies. The initiative aims to provide integrated pro bono services to entrepreneurs in the city. In case of investor inquiries, our organizations will cooperate in providing tailored and case-specific construction project management services to local and international companies.