The virtual event for companies that want to scale up their business.
28 April, 2021
9.15 a.m. – 1.30 p.m. (CET)
The Vienna Business Agency cordially invites established companies, startups and scaleups that would like to expand their business internationally to a virtual tour “Open Vienna – A
Thriving Startup Ecosystem”, as part of ViennaUP’21, to explore the city’s innovative spirit.
By attending this event, the participants will find out how can their business benefit from
the business location Vienna even in these challenging times.
The focus topics of this event will be:
The participants can register now for free at the event’s homepage: here, fill out their matchmaking profile and immediately start networking with other participating companies.
Among others, the participants will be able to network with successful Viennese startups and scaleups such as TourRadar, Kaleido AI or Gurkerl, to connect with the well-acclaimed fintech accelerator Elevator Lab and get a free consultation with experts of the Vienna Business Agency.
In support of the companies in Sofia listed below are several current opportunities for participation in growth and development programmes and B2B events.
The application for the Dare to Scale growth programme by the global entrepreneurial network Endeavor has started. The four-month programme focuses on businesses from all sectors that have passed their early development phase and are now in a growth stage. Partners in the programme are Post Bank, Software Group and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises (EASME). Companies with up to 150 employees and a minimum turnover of BGN 200 000 for the past year can apply. They are expected to work on products or services that are already on the market and have potential for global growth. The interviews with the pre-selected enterprises will be held in May. The programme starts in September and will be held in hybrid format – online sessions and live events in Sofia, aimed at building skills in four main areas: management, marketing, sales, business planning and raising capital. Each company will have its own individual mentor from the Endeavor network. Applicationcan be submitted on the website of the programme here.
By 23 April, companies from the manufacturing and supply chain in the fashion industry, logistics, production, online trade and textile filelds can submit applications for participation in the B2B event Fashion Match Supply 2021. It will take place online between 26-30 April and will include seminars, discussions and free bilateral business meetings on a preliminary statement of interest. Registration can be made at https://fashion-match-supply-2021.b2match.io/. The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry provides assistance to companies that are interested in participating. More information is available here.
By 24 April, the Executive Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises (EASME) will accept applications for participation in ANUGA 2021 – the largest food industry exhibition in the world, held every two years in Cologne, Germany. This year, the forum is scheduled for 9-13.10.2021, but because of the complicated pandemic situation, fewer participants will be allowed. The international participation in the exhibition is over 50 % and for visitors – more than 80 %. The event presents global trends and innovations in the sector and provides opportunities for B2B contacts. EASME shall bear part of the costs for the participation of exhibitors from Bulgaria. For more information and instructions on how to apply please visit EASME’s webpage here.
Solutions Review ranked software co-developed by the Sofia team of the U.S. AtScale among the world’s top 14 data virtualisation tools for 2021. The product is a flexible platform that combines access to data from different locations where they are stored, as well as offers visualization and management of datasets.
Solutions Review is an American online media that brings all of the technology news, opinion, best practices and industry events in the field of Data Integration together in one place. Its list of 14 best tools globally was made based on research and evaluation by the editorial team, as well as the results of analysis of user sentiment through the web’s most trusted business software review sites.
Being present in the selection of the best data virtualisation tools globally AtScale falls among international leaders such as IBM, Oracle and SAP. The full list can be found here.
AtScale formed its team in Sofia at the end of 2018. The office in the Bulgarian capital is the first for the company outside the USA. The IT leader offers big data management solutions that help companies convert big datasets into business intelligence and intelligent analytics tool. The company is based in California and its clients include organizations like JPMorgan Chase, Toyota, Visa, Groupon, GlaxoSmithKline, CNN, Bloomberg.
EU Startup Nations Standard of Excellence will require the Member States to apply practices that encourage entrepreneurship and create a more favorable environment for start-ups. These include the introduction of a startup visa, facilitated company registration procedures and quick access to the local market, fully electronic communication between companies and administration, fast visa procedures for talents and entrepreneurs from outside the EU, incentives for experts to return to Europe, access to venture and equity capital, equal access to entrepreneurship, etc. The single standard also affords national and local institutions to establish regulations that provide an experimental environment for the development of city solutions by the companies, the so-called. “Sandboxes for innovation in a regulated environment”.
In Bulgaria, some of the practices have already been adopted. Access to capital in our country is supported by 14 venture and equity funds, which invest in companies from different sectors and at different stages of an enterprise. A Startup Visa has been introduced since mid-February, and at the local level, Sofia Municipality was the first to launch its Sandbox for Innovative Solutions programme. It tests pilot projects of the capital’s business for applicability in a real urban environment. However, Bulgaria has not yet signed the Declaration on EU Startup Nations Standard. The document was proposed during “Digital Day 2021” – a virtual event of the European Commission in cooperation with the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU, which took place a few days ago. The declaration was adopted by 25 European countries and so far only Bulgaria, Hungary, and Croatia have not signed it. Member States are not obliged to adopt the Single Standard, but the Commission will expect those that do so to change some of their regulations over time or to introduce new good practices.
With the introduction of the EU Startup Nations Standard of Excellence, the European Commission aims to fulfill Europe’s potential to become the most attractive place for startups compared to global leaders such as the United States. With the establishment of proven practices in all countries of the continent, European startups will get better conditions, stay in the EU instead of moving their business to another continent, stimulate competition, technological exchange, scientific development, and more.
Read the full text of the Declaration on EU Startup Nations Standard here
For the 8th consecutive year, Innovation Starter is organizing the national competition Innovation Academy – Bulgaria Innovation Hackathon. Invest Sofia is an institutional partner of the event, and Senior Executive Officer Dr. Maria Hristova accepted the invitation of the organizers to be a lecturer and a member of the hackathon jury.
Innovation Academy is the largest public-private educational partnership in the country between organizations from the private, academic, public and NGO sectors. The project develops students’ entrepreneurial skills and supports their first business ideas with funding and mentorship. The Academy started in 2014 with two partner universities in Sofia, and to date 14 universities and training centers from all over the country are part of the initiative. Over 4,000 participants and more than 370 teams have been trained in the project so far.
Again, Innovation Academy 2021 will take place as a 24-hour hackathon, on June 4 and 5 in Sofia, at the Peroto Literary Club of the National Palace of Culture. The Finals will be broadcasted online on Facebook and YouTube. The winning team with the most creative idea will receive funding, provided by the European Investment Bank, and a visit to Brussels with the institutional support of the European Commission in Bulgaria.
Together with Invest Sofia, partners of the Innovation Academy 2021 are the European Commission in Bulgaria, the European Investment Bank, the America for Bulgaria Foundation, Sofia Water, part of Veolia, Aurubis Bulgaria, Coca Cola Bulgaria.
Team registrations are open by mid of May. For more information and application link, please visit the initiative’s website here.
The municipal enterprise Sofiaplan has published an analysis of the current situation and tendencies in Sofia’s economics. The analysis is part of an extensive study of the various aspects of the urban development of Sofia that will become the basis of “Plan for Sofia” – a plan for the integrated development of the city with the most high-priority projects in the following years.
The analysis shows that Sofia’s GDP is growing faster than the country’s, and the largest volume of foreign direct investment (28%) is allocated in the IT sector and outsourced services. Attention is also paid to the concentration of economically active population in the different regions of Sofia – the most economically active people live in Mladost (57.7 thousand) and Lyulin (61.8 thousand), and the least in Bankya (6 thousand) and Kremikovtzi (11.2 thousand).
According to the data, the dynamic development of services in recent years, and the emergence of large business and office areas in specific areas of the capital, lead to their outpacing development. For example, in Mladost, where there is a high concentration of class A office space and an inflow of foreign investments, over 13% of the revenues of the companies in the capital are generated. Another rapid development areas are Lozenets, Triaditsa, Vazrazhdane, Sredets and Vitosha. Other parts of the city are have more residential function. Such is, for example, the Lyulin district, which has the largest population and number of economically active people, but concentrates less than 3% of the companies’ revenues in Sofia.
The overview of Sofiaplan also includes an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities that lie ahead the capital. The points where the city can further develop its potential are attracting strategic investors who are a global leader in their market; expansion and delineation of new high class business and office spaces; more serious connection of higher education institutions with the industry and high-tech companies; greater influence of Sofia on the corporate map in the region through finding and communicating competitive advantages over the other capitals; development of the promotion of Sofia as an investment destination, incl. good coordination with neighboring territories, etc.
See the Sofia data infographics here, and the compiled document containing resumes of the analyses on the aspects of urban development, including the data on economics, has been published on the website of Sofiaplan here.
Bulgaria ranks 35th among 178 countries in the Heritage Foundation’s 2021 Index of Economic Freedom. Thus our country maintains its position in the “mostly free” category, where Bulgaria climbed up a year ago.
The index measures countries on 12 indicators in four categories: Rule of law, Government size, Regulatory efficiency, and Open markets. With a maximum score of 100 points, Bulgaria received 70.4, an increase of 0.2 points compared to the previous year, mainly due to an improvement in the assessment of the tax burden. The result is above the average for the region and the world. In Europe, Bulgaria ranks 20th among 45 countries, and 1st in the Balkans.
In the Government size category, Bulgaria put on a good performance in the indicators of tax weight and fiscal health, with the good result mainly due to the flat tax and government gross debt.
The assessments for Open markets and Regulatory efficiency have also risen. For the category of open markets, the study shows that as a member of the European Union, Bulgaria has 45 existing preferential trade agreements. Traditionally, our country lags behind in the Rule of law category.
This is Heritage Foundation’s 27th edition of the “Index of Economic Freedom”. The study defines the term “economic freedom” as the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property.
At the top of the index, this year are Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, and Iceland – each with a score of over 80 points. The survey page offers easy-to-read comparisons between countries, custom graphics, and an interactive map. Bulgaria’s profile and full index can be viewed here
Our Senior Executive Director – Dr. Maria Hristova & Joanna Dragneva – Senior Expert at Invest Sofia will take part to the International conference ‘Innovations in Science and Education’ with the article “Exploring opportunities for the return of Bulgarian migrants in response to the growing need for specialized staff in Sofia”. You can read the abstract below, the full article will be published in April.
This article examines the issues related to Bulgarian migration after the country’s accession to the EU in 2007 and focuses its research on the phenomenon of “brain drain” – the process of mass emigration during which specialists, scientists and skilled workers leave. Today this phenomenon is quite typical for Bulgaria as part of the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe. The problems associated with the “brain drain” are very relevant as the country suffers significant economic and cultural losses, while the host countries acquire large and inexpensive intellectual capital.
During the years of transition, Bulgaria strives to be not only a full member of the EU but also to provide opportunities for development and realization of specialists, scientists and researchers. This requires the adoption of measures and initiatives to establish sustainable development in the capital and in the country, as well as to meet the need for highly skilled labor in the industrial sphere.
The aim of the article is to explore the possibilities for the return of Bulgarian migrants in response to the growing need for specialized staff in Sofia. The quantitative study involved more than 500 Bulgarian migrants residing in different host countries, who were selected randomly and responded voluntarily.
The article defends the thesis that if Bulgaria provides opportunities for the development of specialized staff through the undertaking of specific initiatives, this can be an attraction and a motive for the return of Bulgarian migrants.
The results show that in recent years the need for specialized staff is constantly growing. In response to this need, the initiatives that are undertaken are aimed at innovations in science and education. The study also takes into account the readiness of Bulgarian migrants to return home.
Bulgaria ranks first in the study “The Best European Countries for Women to Work” conducted by the British digital marketing agency Reboot Online. Our country scored 236.6 points out of a possible 300.
The index evaluates the European countries on a variety of factors to determine which countries offer the best prospects for female professionals. Aspects considered in the study are: maternity leave packages, economic opportunity and women in leadership roles.
According to Reboot Online Bulgaria has one of Europe’s best maternity packages. The country allows women to take a minimum of 58.6 weeks off (410 days) – the longest minimum maternity leave in the world. In addition, mothers receive 90% of their full salary during their leave. As a result, Bulgaria scores the highest possible 100 points per category.
Bulgaria comes in third place for women in leadership, awarded 90 points in the index – 10 points less than the leader in this category – Norway, and 6 points behind the second in the ranking – Romania. According to our analysis, 22.1% of Bulgarian women hold leadership roles.
Bulgaria finishes mid-table in terms of economic opportunities (46.6 points), but its overall result ranks it first among all 29 countries in the ranking.
More about the study and the performance by country is available here.
The first edition of the State of IT Sales in Bulgaria report prepared by the sales development agency Out2Bound in partnership with the Bulgarian Association of Information Technologies (BAIT), shows that despite COVID the sector is growing.
75% of IT companies focused on selling their own products reported growth in revenue in 2020. Just as the world was entering its first lockdown, demand was keeping steady or rising.
There has been some loss of clients but it has been limited. Around 32% of respondents reported losing less than 1/4 of existing clients, mainly citing economic uncertainty as a reason. Only 4% lost more than 1/4 of existing clients. The rest had no loss.
Even with these good results, the Bulgarian IT industry clearly wanted to achieve more as only 29% reported achieving the goals they set.
Europe & North America account for the majority of the external markets that respondents listed. From talking to founders in the past 5 years we know that Western Europe is a key regionfor new business development. Looking at the results, we see that Germany and Nordics (besides UK) are the go-to territories for Bulgarian tech companies.” shared Teofil Shikov,
Surveyed companies that could be affected by Brexit share they are not exclusively reliant on the UK, as a majority also work with EU and North American clients.
The known high personnel turnover is still present in the IT sector. 83% of companies that added employees plan to hire even more in the near future.
In terms of sales tools only 11% of respondents rely on one exclusive channel to sell. 31% of respondents used expos and those were mainly the bigger companies.
And when it comes to sales personnel – 63% of surveyed companies shared these roles earn an annual income below € 30 000. In terms of the structure of their remuneration – most often
sales people cite earning between 11 and 49% of it as a bonus.
“Looking forward, most companies seem positive. 80% of our respondents expect their company revenue from NEW clients to increase. They plan to put in more work and adjust their approach to foreign markets. We’re noticing newfound optimism from the introduction of the COVID vaccine. Executives are even expecting the return of trade shows and conferences in
the third quarter of 2021.” added Shikov.
The State of IT Sales in Bulgaria 2020 report
Sofia has a specially developed Methodology for Assessment of Projects in the field of digitalization and innovative urban Solutions. This is a result of the agreement for a grant of consultancy support signed a year ago between the Sofia Investment Agency and the European Investment Bank.
The methodology is a tool through which Sofia Municipality will assess the potential of project proposals for digitalization and smart city initiatives. It will allow identifying gaps in the relevance of project proposals, their feasibility, and funding prospects. The methodology was developed by an international team of experts from the Deloitte consulting company.
The methodology will be implemented by the Digitalization, Innovations, and Economic Development Department of Sofia Municipality (Innovative Sofia) to the projects set in the Action Plan for Implementation of the Digital Transformation Strategy of Sofia. It will also be used in the”Sandbox for innovative solutions” project – the programme for pilot projects for testing innovative tech solutions on urban challenges defined by the city administration (environment, utilities, education, transport, e-government, entrepreneurship, innovation, etc.). An assessment of the admissibility of the proposals and their readiness for testing and implementation will also be made under the methodology.
Our team would like to express our gratitude to the European Investment Bank and Deloitte experts for supporting Sofia on its path to becoming a digital and smart city. Digitalization will give the city more order, more publicity, better control, better speed and will favor local IT solutions, attract foreign investment, enhance the quality of life and it is a vehicle for economic growth.
Sofia Investment Agency invites entrepreneurs and SMEs to apply for participation in the free programme “Successful together. Develop your business online.” The initiative aims to provide entreprises with the necessary assistance in the current situation of limited opportunities and resources to make the decisive step for preserving and developing their activity through online positioning. In the current economic crisis, the digitalization of the business is a crucial step for survival.
The programme “Successful together. Develop Your Business Online” is free and open to submissions from candidates from a wide range of sectors – from production in pharmacy, technology and food, to services and products in creative industries, IT, research and development activities and others.
The included companies will be able to start their online business with services and expert consultations provided free of charge by the initiative’s partners – The Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA), CloudCart, DSK Bank, and Mastercard.
130 companies will be chosen and will receive one-year of free access to the e-commerce platform CloudCart, preferential installation on virtual POS-terminal for online payments, among others.
We are announcing the invitation on behalf of the team of CloudCart – a Sofia-based company ranked in Top3 in the world e-commerce industry according to Newsweek. CloudCart software allows you to quickly and easily build an online store with a wide range of pre-integrated features and marketing tools that lead to quick sales without the need for programming skills. Together with CloudCart, we share a common goal – to help entrepreneurs start and grow their business.
Apply for participation in “Successful together. Grow your business online.” by April, 2020.
Find out more about the initiative and an application link here