A new mobile app that promotes alternative and green mobility in the cities has been launched in Sofia. The app is called Sofia Coin and was developed under the INNOAIR project in active cooperation with Sofia Municipality and Sofia Development Association. Partners of the initiative are local companies such as Eventim, A1, E-bike rental, Hobo, and Brum. Sofia Coin users who choose to walk, ride a bike, or electric scooter, receive various prizes according to the kilometers traveled, such as gloves, a bicycle helmet, or free concert tickets. The application is available for both Android and iOS devices.
Automatic defibrillators of the latest generation are to be placed in special cabinets in Sofia’s busiest metro stations. They will be put on visible, protected places at the “Sofia University”, “Lyulin”, “Vitosha”, “NDK”, and stations. Some of the metro staff will be trained to operate the equipment. Defibrillators can be used by non-medical professionals. Sofia Municipality’s pilot project for their placement aims to provide an opportunity for a quick reaction in case of sudden cardiac arrest of a passenger. An average of 240,000 people use the metro every day, and ambulance access to metro stations is more difficult. In case of intervention in the first minutes of a heart problem, the probability of saving a person is 70%.
Three metro stations from the new metro line were awarded in the 20th edition of the City of Media Group’s National Building of the Year competition. The Grand prize went to the team that had worked on the design and construction of the Ovcha Kupel metro station, and the two special prizes went to the teams that had worked on the Mizia and Gorna Banya metro stations. According to Sofia Municipality, the three metro lines save 79 thousand tons of harmful emissions per year. The construction of the next section with 3 stops to the Levski G neighborhood is expected to begin in the first months of the year.
Financial and logistical support for the open-air stages, special focus on the youth audience and encouragement of young artists, flexible application procedures, and adaptation of projects in situations complicated by COVID-19 are among the highlights in Sofia Municipality’s Calendar of Cultural Events for 2022. This year, cultural operators and event organizers building an outdoor infrastructure to present cultural events will receive both logistical and financial support. Sofia Municipality will support festivals and
The European Commission has announced the calls for proposals under the Erasmus + program for 2022. Next year’s budget is nearly EUR 3.9 billion. One of the novelties in the published calls is the opportunity to apply for a lump sum for the implementation of a project, which significantly reduces the administrative burden in the application, project management, and reporting documentation.
All public or private bodies with activities in the fields of education, training, youth, and sport can apply for funding with the help of the Erasmus + National Agencies established in all EU Member States, as well as with the assistance of the European Executive Agency for Education and Culture. Prospective projects are in the areas of school, higher and vocational education, youth mobility, and adult education. The nearest submission deadlines are in February 2022, and some procedures are open for submissions until October 2022. The detailed terms of the call for proposals, including its priorities, can be found in the Erasmus + Program Guide for 2022. at the following link http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/resources/programme-guide, and on the its own website here.
The platform of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce for Open Innovation has published 14 new challenges on topics related to innovation, digitalization, biotechnology, carbon emissions, telemedicine, industrial automation, and response to the Covid-19 pandemic. BCC’s Open Innovation Platform connects companies and institutions with start-ups to solve a specific problem or develop a new solution in a certain field. Register on the platform’s website to view the full description of each challenge and apply.
The European Commission will fund at least 120 new projects under the LIFE program, the EU’s funding instrument for environmental and climate action, with a budget of € 280 million. Calls for submissions are open on the topics: Nature and Biodiversity, Circular Economy and Quality of Life, Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change, Transition to Clean Energy, and Operational Subsidies for Non-Profit Organizations. Three more invitations will open in mid-December. Information on each of them can be found on the program website here: https://cinea.ec.europa.eu/life_en
SMEs with a Horizon 2020 grant agreement, as well as those expecting such funding, can benefit from the free Horizon Intellectual Property (IP) Scan service to scan intellectual property. The service is provided by the European Commission and aims to assist companies in the effective management of their intellectual property and in protecting and enhancing its value in
Two years after its official opening in Bulgaria, Bosch Engineering Center Sofia has doubled in size and is about to open a second office in Sofia. It will be located on two floors in the new Synergy Tower business building in Sofia Tech Park.
The center plans to increase its staff to over 450 people by the end of the year. The teams will work on the next innovative projects and technologies for the automotive industry in areas such as driver assistance systems, automated driving, artificial intelligence, and electric mobility. Bosch Engineering Center Sofia aims to become a hub for complete products by creating departments for hardware and mechanical design in addition to well-developed system and software areas, the company announced in an official statement.
Just seven months after the close of a $ 20 million round of Series A funding, Sofia’s Payhawk announced another Series B investment of USD 112 million. The raised capital came from the San Francisco-based Greenoaks Fund. It is the second-largest Series B investment for B2B companies in the region of Central and Eastern Europe after the Romanian UiPath. So far, the Bulgarian company has attracted a total of 136 million dollars.
The Bulgarian fintech, which was launched three years ago, is currently estimated at USD 570 million. Payhawk serves companies in 27 countries in Europe through payment cards and a cost management platform. The team currently has offices in London, Berlin, and Barcelona and wants to open new offices in the United States, the Netherlands, France, Australia, and Singapore. The fintech will use the new investment to accelerate its development by launching a credit card and cheap cross-border transfer service in the first quarter of 2022 as an alternative to SWIFT payments.
Silver Star, the general distributor of Mercedes-Benz for Bulgaria has started the construction of its own multifunctional complex in the industrial zone of Kremikovtzi district in Sofia with an investment of EUR 18 million. The new home of Silver Star and Mercedes-Benz in Sofia will be located on an area of over 65,000 sq. m. After its construction, the building will welcome its customers in a two-storey modernist showroom of 1,700 sq. m. cars and newly equipped services for cars and trucks on an area of 8700 sq. m.
The leading Sofia-based producer and distributor of organic food “Smart Organic” AD received approval from the Bulgarian
The second edition of the “Sofia chooses” initiative is underway. Sofia Municipality’s program is directed toward projects proposed by citizens and selected by them by voting which aim to improve the urban environment. This year’s topic is “Sofia chooses green” and submission is open for proposals of citizens and organizations for ideas focused on tackling climate change, biodiversity conservation, growing trees in the urban environment, green roofs, urban agriculture, reducing air pollution, alternative energy sources, etc. Sofia Chooses aims to encourage the direct participation of citizens, non-governmental and professional organizations in proposing projects for the city. The budget for 2022 is BGN 1,000,000, and proposal submission is open until 31 December. Read everything about the Program and how to submit here: https://www.sofia.bg/en/sofia-izbira-zelenoto
The marking of 100 km of tourist routes and 72 km of mountain biking trails on Vitosha mountain has been renewed. This is the first part of the planned gradual renovation and addition of the marking for hiking and biking tours on the low mountain road path horizontally of the nature park. It’s an initiative of the “Sofia – European Capital of Sport” Foundation, Vitosha Nature Park, and the “Vertical World” Sports Club and its implementation will continue next year.
Six locations in Sofia are in preparation for vertical urban agriculture under the CityZen project, funded by the INTERREG Europe Program and co-financed by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The vertical gardens were made within 2 design seminars and installed in different locations, including a residential building in Iztok district, in Sofia Municipality, Sofia Tech Park, the supermarket of the Central Cooperative Union, a branch of the Sofia Library, and SofiaLab. Along with the specially designed vertical gardens, the teams of volunteers have everything they need – pots and boxes, soil, drainage, seedlings, and compost, provided by the Khan Bogrov Biological Treatment Plant of Sofia Municipality. The implementation of the project is coordinated by the Sofia Development Association, which will monitor the first harvest of vertical gardens in the months to come, and the effect of urban agriculture on people and places in urban environments.
The gradual planting of 200 linden trees in the new linear park in the center of Sofia between the roads on Macedonia Blvd. has started. 13,000 shrubs and more than 5,000 flowers will also be planted throughout the area. The landscaping is part of the implementation of the
Sofia is the location of the headquarters of 93 of the 100 companies in the “The 100 largest employers in the software business in Bulgaria” (CBNTOP100) ranking of CBN – Pannoff, Stoytcheff & Co.
The ranking includes over 15,000 operating ICT companies in Bulgaria based on financial results and KPIs for the period from 2015 to 2020, including income and profit, number of employees, staff costs, productivity, employee benefits, payables, etc.
The main conclusions of the study of CBN – Pannoff, Stoytcheff & Co are:
– The top hundred largest employers in the software sector in Bulgaria have provided 26,625 tech jobs.
– 24 companies from CBNTOP100 have Bulgarian ownership, and the remaining 76 are owned by investors from a total of 20 countries, including the strongest economies in the world – the USA, China, Germany, the UK, France, Russia, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, Israel, and others.
– The 24 companies with Bulgarian ownership have an 18% share of the number of employees, and the growth in the number of employees in these companies compared to 2015 is 67%.
– 11 companies with 2,546 employees or about 10% of the workforce work for the domestic market.
– 89 companies in TOP100 with 24 079 employees or over 90% of the employees work mainly for foreign markets.
According to CBN – Pannoff, Stoytcheff & Co, companies operating in foreign markets have exported an intellectual product worth 2.1% of GDP and each job in these companies has generated an average income that was 6.3 times higher than the GDP per capita.
CBN Pannoff, Stoytcheff & Co agency commented in a publication for CBNTOP100:
“CBN recognizes an exceptional benefit for our society from including the expertise of more Bulgarian companies in the digital transition process because they have long proven themselves on the world technology scene in competition with international business corporations and can contribute in solving difficult problems for the country in the process of digitalisation and e-government. “
Follow the link for more from CBNTOP100.
CBN – Pannoff, Stoytcheff & Co. is an independent agency specializing in business research, market analysis, and consulting, mainly in the field of ICT. Since 1992, CBN has been conducting its research on the volumes and market leaders in Bulgaria for computer systems, peripherals, mobile devices and communication equipment, the Internet, and software.
Employees from companies in Sofia and Bulgaria from all economic sectors are invited to join the anonymous survey “Emotional and mental health at work.”
The purpose of the questionnaire is to examine what factors interfere with the work process, how they affect mental health, wellbeing and efficiency in the workplace and how companies support employees and teams as part of their policies to ensure a productive work process.
Experts from all Bulgarian companies and organizations are invited to share their personal experience and observations in the survey here.
The questionnaire does not require personal data and takes no more than 10 minutes.
The survey was developed with the assistance of HR, communications and market research experts and was initiated by the team of hOUR THERAPY – psychologists and psychotherapists who provide personal consultations as part of the social benefits to employees in companies in tech, manufacturing and other sectors.
A Report with summary and data analysis to be prepared in December. We will share the results, so stay tuned.
Why the topic is important
At the end of 2018 (long before the pandemic became part of our daily lives), the World Health Organization (WHO) established in its 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases ICD-11 a whole subsection on issues related to the workplace and the work environment. This came shortly after the organization released data from a global study showing that nearly 264 million people suffer from depression, many of whom also have symptoms of anxiety, and this costs companies about $ 1 trillion in lost productivity each year. WHO classified workplace burnout as an occupational phenomenon and the phenomenon is expected to be part of the updated WHO ICD-11 classification, that will come into effect on 1 January 2022
The pandemic has increased interest and placed an even greater focus on the topic of workplace wellbeing. With blurring boundaries between personal and working time and space, the constant reorganization of the work process, the need for rapid adaptation to technology, the uncertain future and more, all led to a deterioration in the mental health of employees. And, in fact, there are young people whose first appointment took place in a completely remote mode. These are 24-25-year-olds (upper age of Generation Z), whose onboarding and first steps in a working relationship happened remotely. The European Commission, the American Psychological Association, the international Workplace Mental Health Institute,
22 Bulgarian companies have been included in this year’s edition of CEE Top 500 – the ranking of the largest companies in Central and Eastern Europe by the global credit insurance and risk management agency Coface. This makes four more companies than the ones included in the previous edition, and most of them (16) are Sofia-based.
The total turnover of the largest Bulgarian companies in financial statements for 2020 amounts to over EUR 20.7 billion. Thus, our country ranks 7th among the 12 countries in the region. The sectors in which the companies operate are those of oil, chemical and pharmaceutical industry, metallurgy, financial and IT technologies.
Six Bulgarian companies join the ranking for the first time and five of them are Sofia-based. These are: Sopharma Trading JSC, A1 Bulgaria JSC, Videolux Holding JSC, Orbico Bulgaria LTD and the metallurgical Sofia Med JSC. The sixth debutant is the Pleven-based Oliva JSC. The remaining Sofia-based companies are: Bulgarian Energy Holding JSC, National Electric Company JSC, Advance Properties LTD, BA Glass Bulgaria JSC, Kaufland Bulgaria EOOD & CO, Sopharma JSC, Lidl Bulgaria EOOD & CO, Lukoil-Bulgaria LTD, Huveproject JSC, Express Logistics and Distribution LTD, and Bulgarian Telecommunication Company JSC.
The three largest Bulgarian companies are Bulgarian Energy Holding JSC, which ranks 34th, metallurgical Aurubis Bulgaria JSC (38th) and Lukoil Neftochim (111th).
The leaders in the ranking by country are Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary with 161, 77, and 68 companies in the ranking, respectively.
The 13th Coface CEE Top 500 Ranking makes an overview of the future and summarizes the region’s economic activity in 2020, the first full pandemic year. For the first time, the publication has analyzed how companies have adapted to the new situation. Last year, the turnover of the largest 500 companies in the region fell by 3.3%. The average regional GDP growth decreased by 4%. However, the economies of Central and Eastern Europe are experiencing a rapid recovery process, according to the analysis included in the CEE Top 500. More information about the region and a full list of the region’s 500 largest companies can be found in the full version of the document available for free download after registration here: http://go.coface.com/CEETOP500-2021.
The Sofia Municipal Council approved the implementation of the second edition of the financial instrument Accelerator Startup Sofia to facilitate access to finance for innovative, start-up and social entrepreneurs operating Sofia Municipality. As in the pilot edition, Invest Sofia is a partner and co-organizer in the Programme. The application criteria is currently under preparation.
The financing for the second edition of “Accelerator Startup Sofia” amounts to BGN 100,000 provided by the Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs (MGFSME). The Programme will provide initial financial resources for starting or developing the activities of innovative start-up and social entrepreneurs. After the accomplishment of the mentoring programme, the companies will be able to benefit from other MGFSME guarantee programmes.
Accelerator Startup Sofia again aims at supporting companies based in Sofia that develop innovative products, services or processes and demonstrate potential for growth, wide application and impact. The companies will be supported to accelerate access to finance through training sessions on how to develop and present well-founded proposals to potential investors. It will also increase their skills to pitch, negotiate and partner with funding organizations.
Within the Programme, the team of Invest Sofia will provide the participating companies mentorship, networking opportunities, shared office space for meetings and training sessions that will be part of Accellerator’s programme, as well as opportunity to present their projects to potential investors. Sofia Municipality’s experience from the “Europe” Programme will be applied during the programme, as well as the expertise of the Sofia Development Association in supporting entrepreneurship, innovation and digital technologies.
About the pilot edition of “Accelerator Startup Sofia”
launched in January 2019. More than 40 innovative startup companies and projects applied and 13 of them received grants of up to BGN 10 000 and access to the mentoring programme in September. The beneficiaries of the programme develop products and services in areas such as 3D printing, consumer experience, marketing and advertising, health care, education and others.
Еxperts from LAUNCHub, BrightCap, EY Bulgaria, Dimitrova, Staykova and Partners, Out2Bound, 356Labs, The DOTS, Vangavis, UNWE and Fund of Funds joined the training sessions. Their participation made it possible to cover topics that the startups themselves identified as areas they needed guidance in: business planning, management styles, sales, design and presentation, digital marketing, fundraising, financing tools, foreign markets entry, working with institutions, contacts with media and partners.
Many of the first edition graduates still implement successful projects, being recognised in international
The Center for Educational Services of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski to launch a Sustainable Investments and Finance Academy. The initiative aims to provide Bulgarian students interested in these areas with a chance for better career development.
The training will take place online from 21 to 24.02.2022. Participants will gain up-to-date knowledge of green standards, relevant financial practices, and models for sustainable and green business. Upon completion of the training, participants will receive a certificate from Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski.
Lecturers at the Academy will be experts in the field of sustainable finance from the Bulgarian Development Bank, a partner in the initiative, lecturers from the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Sofia University St.Kliment Ohridski, experts from the Financial Markets Regulation Directorate at the Ministry of Finance, as well as experts from the Faculty of Philosophy at Sofia University, the Supreme Administrative Court, etc.
The chosen focus of the academy is relevant in the context of the green transition and the need to get acquainted with the new classification system of sustainable activities introduced by the EU. The new regulatory framework will encourage private investment in sustainable projects and support the transition to a climate-neutral economy.
Undergraduates, doctoral students, and assistants in Bulgarian and foreign universities can also participate in the competition “Young Financier” by submitting an essay on “Do we need green finance”. The competition is open to anyone with activities in economics, finance, and other sciences related to the topic and is not a condition for inclusion in the Academy. The competition’s prize fund has been provided by the Bulgarian Development Bank and already is open for submissions of essays of up to 3 pages. They should be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 15, 2021, at the latest.
Read more about the Sustainable Investments and Finance Academy and the Young Financier competition on the website of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration here.
OSM International Group is a global management consulting company offering unique analysis and support tools for human development and human potential. In Sofia, the company presented a comprehensive personality testing tool, the I-Profile Analysis. The test contains 242 questions designed to review the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate’s personality and is like an “X-ray” of a person’s behavior and potential.
The I-Profile Analysis was developed by OSM and certified in the USA with one of the highest reliability coefficients. It can reveal previously unsuspected talents in an employee, whether a person is suitable for his position or predict great potential for another position in the company.
In addition, the tool identifies the real reasons for having underperforming employees and whether this is due to mismanagement by the company’s leaders or problematic issues stem from personal reasons. It also shows whether employees have reached their limit and no longer contribute to the development of the company or department.
The participants in the event had the chance to take advantage of OSM’s I-Profile analysis free of charge. “We believe that OSM International Group can be a reliable partner for small and medium entrepreneurs in Bulgaria in helping them further develop their business and optimise the most important resource in the company – the people”, CEO of Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova said.
EU-based startups are invited to apply for the European Startup Mobility Award (EUSP), a public-private initiative between EU institutions, mobility corporations and technology companies. Startups with sustainable mobility solutions can apply for the investment and acceleration programme from the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, EIT InnoEnergy and private investors. The EUSP aims to reveal Europe’s 10 best sustainable mobility startups and praise 10 special awards in each of the categories in the contest. The best projects will also receive mentorship, networking opportunities with EU organizations and promotion. The application deadline is November 30 at this address: https://startupprize.eu/.
The EU Commission launched the second call for large-scale projects under the Innovation Fund, one of the world’s largest programmes for the demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies. With a budget of €1.5 billion it will finance breakthrough technologies for renewable energy, energy-intensive industries, energy storage, and carbon capture, use and storage. Projects will be evaluated according to their potential to avoid greenhouse gas emissions, their innovation potential, their financial and technical maturity, their potential for scaling up and their cost efficiency. Companies can apply via the EU Funding and Tenders portal here – https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_5473
Until November 16, you can apply for SpinLab – HHL Accelerator – a 6-month programme for mentoring and access to finance, that will take place in Leipzig, Germany. Enrolled startups will receive 6,000€ funding to help cover living costs in Leipzig while attending the programme.
SpinLab – HHL Accelerator will also provide special prizes worth up to 15,000 euros for the best presentation and the most sustainable idea presented during The Investors’ Day. The Programme focuses on start-ups that develop concepts in the areas of eHealth, Smart City, and Energy and are somehow technology-based. Without being a mandatory requirement, the accelerator encourages projects that use Hardware, IoT, Apps, and SaaS.
Berlin’s Earlybird Venture Capital has announced the launch of a new fund dedicated to helping deep tech innovations in European universities become commercialised products and services. With €75 million to play with, the UNI-X fund is targeting pre-seed and early seed investments, particularly university spin-offs. For more details, please visit https://earlybird.com/.
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has launched a call for proposals under the Culture and Creativity Programme. Projects can be submitted by consortia of organisations and Cultural and Creative Sectors and Industries (CCSI) and sectoral leaders bringing together
Nestle Bulgaria inaugurated a new production line for the Smarties brand in its Sofia factory, following an investment of BGN 19 million. The investment aims to expand the Swiss company’s production in Bulgaria. The new line includes about 100 fully automated newest-generation machines. The investment will also create 70 new jobs. The new factory spreads over an area of over 4,000 sq.m.. Its production will cover deliveries to the local market and export to ten European countries.
Тhe construction of a new logistics park of the Bulgarian logistics company Zora Logistic MMS for white goods and other household appliances has started in the Sofia-Bozhurishte industrial zone. The facility is expected to be commissioned in the first months of 2023. The new logistics park covers an area of 80,000 sq. m. and will include an administrative building and warehouses for the goods of the retail chain. The construction will follow the latest standards for high-quality materials, energy efficiency, and independence through its voltaic installation. The park will also have an e-car charging station.
Palfinger Productiontechnik Bulgaria EOOD received a Class A investment certificate for the “Establishment of a Palfinger Shared Services Center” investment project in Sofia. The project is worth BGN 4,432,000.
Palfinger Productiontechnik Bulgaria was established 15 years ago and is part of the Austrian Palfinger AG. The company produces lifting and transport systems and solutions and already has 2 factories in Bulgaria – one in Tenevo, which produces hydraulic cylinders, and another in Cherven Bryag, where metal components for cranes are produced to be exported to Slovakia and Austria. The third production unit of the company will be located in Sofia and create 200 new jobs.
Azerion, the Dutch platform for web-based games and other entertainment content, has announced the acquisition of the Sofia-based digital monetization platform PubGalaxy. PubGalaxy has been rated by Deloitte as one of the fastest-growing technology companies in Central Europe. PubGalaxy is to assist Azerion with its monetization strategies and facilitate partnerships between publishers and advertisers.
Founded in 2001, today PubGalaxy is a 360-degree locally developed platform for optimizing ad revenue that helps publishers optimize their campaigns and increase ad revenue. The company’s expertise will add value to the services that Azerion provides to its network of customers.