Despite the crisis in 2020, Sofia’s economy maintains its competitive advantages. The transformation of the city’s economy will continue to be led by the development of digital services, as information and communication technologies have the prospect of becoming Sofia’s largest economic sector. The three leading sectors in terms of output of non-financial corporations in Sofia in 2021 are trade (21%), construction (19%), and information and communication technologies (15%). The data are from the Institute for Market Economics and are part of our annual report “Sofia Municipality: economic and investment profile”, prepared by the IME on behalf of Invest Sofia. The report is available on our website here.
A pilot project of Sofia Municipality’s “Sandbox for Innovation” initiative was allowed implementation beyond its initial scope. The Kanari air quality monitoring system, piloted in the 76th Kindergarten “Sarnichka”, has attracted the attention of Tryavna Municipality and has already been submitted for testing. Discussions are underway for implementing the system in the building fund for public services managed by Tryavna Municipality. In addition, Bulgaria’s largest mobile operator has expressed its interest in including the Kanari system in its ICT / IoT portfolio. Thus the project will be able to join other municipalities in the country. Requests for testing and implementation of the system have also been made from public and private hospitals. Find out more about the project.
Medical University – Sofia ranks first among Bulgarian universities in the 13th edition of the Spanish research organization SCImago’s International Institutions Ranking. The 2021 ranking includes a total of 4126 universities, assessed by indicators such as active research, innovation, impact on society, and others. Medical University-Sofia ranks 513rd in the world in the overall ranking and is the best represented among Bulgarian universities. It is followed by Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, which is in 524th place. The list includes a total of 13 Bulgarian universities, five of which are in Sofia. Higher education institutions from Varna, Veliko Tarnovo, Ruse, Blagoevgrad, and Plovdiv are also included.
Sofia is 6th in the world and second in Europe in the 2021 City Water Optimization Index, Sofiiska Voda AD have announced in an official statement. The Index is developed by Economist Impact, part of The Economist Group, and covers 47 quantitative and qualitative indicators divided into three categories – reliability, accessibility and sustainability. In the overall ranking, Sofia comes 6th out of
With public resource, contributed by the Fund of Funds, and additional private capital, Vitosha Venture Partners Fund to invest in eight new companies. Seven of them are Sofia-based startups. The supported local projects are: Elka.Bg and its software that compares electricity suppliers, Dexicon and the platform for fast and cheap creation of mobile applications with no professional experience needed from the users, Noviotic and its probiotic products, Info Smart and the platform for subscription for content by experts in health, beauty and personal development and self improvment, Opto Smart Solutions – the mobile app for ophthalmologists, Softmedline and the platform connecting healthcare specialists with patients, and Black Sea Film – an innovative media production company for home entertainment and series. The investments range from BGN 176,000 to over BGN 1 million, which the startup companies will use for prototyping, laboratory activities, product development and marketing. The total value of the investments amounts to BGN 3.1 million, of which BGN3 million are public funds from the Fund of Funds under the Operational Program “Innovation and Competitiveness” 2014-2020. find here.
The Bulgaria and U.K. based online casino game developer Silverback Gaming becomes part of the American GAN Limited – a leading provider of SaaS solutions for online gaming and betting. Silverback Gaming develops casino games. It is headquartered in Sofia and has a second office in London. Among the studio’s proven titles are Aztec LuckTM and Mystery StacksTM, currently distributed across European regulated markets to more than 100 B2C operators of iGaming. Silverback is soon to launch four new titles. With the acquisition of the Sofia-based company, GAN aims to increase the number and variety of interactive slot games in its portfolio and reach more customers in the US and Europe.
LatticeFlow announced its plan to open an office in Sofia. The Zurich-based startup plans to hire a team of 50 experts in the next two years. LatticeFlow is a spin-off of ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), founded by two Bulgarian researchers. The company focuses on safe and secure artificial intelligence systems. LatticeFlow was founded in 2020 and has raised $ 2.8 million in fundingin 2021. LatticeFlow recently became one of the Top 3 AI startups in Switzerland. “We are excited to expand our engineering team to Sofia, a home of top tech talent offering an incredible opportunity for faster team growth,” the company said in a
According to data from the National Statistical Institute for the period January – November 2021, Bulgaria’s exports increased by 23.3% compared to the same period in 2020. Exported goods amounted to a total of BGN 61,992.4 million. 26.3% and value of imported goods of BGN 69,356.5 million.
Trade with EU countries and third countries
Exports of goods from Bulgaria to the EU increased by 24.1% and amounted to BGN 37,006.8 million. The country exports mainly to Germany, Romania, Italy, Greece, France and Belgium. These countries account for 68.9% of Bulgaria’s exports to EU markets. The highest growth was noticed in the sectors ‘Animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes’ (117.8%) and ‘Mineral fuel, lubricants and related materials’ (69.8%). A decrease was recorded only in the sector “Soft and alcoholic beverages and tobacco” (17.1%).
Imports of goods to Bulgaria from the EU increased by 25% and amounted to BGN 37,318.2 million. The largest volumes of imports were from Germany, Romania, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands and Hungary. The largest increase was recorded in the sector ‘Animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes’ (134.6%). No decline was observed in any of the sectors.
NSI data on exports and imports to the EU is for the period January – October 2021 and is a comparison with the same period for 2020.
The latest data of the Institute for Import and Export to Third Countries cover the period January-November 2021. Exports of goods from Bulgaria to third countries increased by 20% and amounted to BGN 20,593.9 million. Bulgaria’s main trade partners are Turkey, China , USA, Serbia, United Kingdom, Republic of Northern Macedonia, Russian Federation and Ukraine. Exports to these countries formed 58.9% of the total volume. The largest increase was in the sector ‘Mineral fuel, lubricants and related materials’ (35.9%), and a decrease was observed only in ‘Beverages and tobacco’ (10.9%).
For the same period, January – November 2021, the import of goods in Bulgaria from third countries increased by 27.8% and amounted to BGN 27,522.2 million. The largest are the amounts from Turkey, the Russian Federation, China and Ukraine. The largest increase was reported in the sectors ‘Mineral fuel, lubricants and related materials’ (63.8%) and ‘Manufactured goods classified chiefly by material’ (38.1%), while there was a decrease reported in the sector ‘Animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes’ (9.1%).
“Green Card for Administrative Services” is the new service that Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency (Invest Sofia) will provide to investors in Sofia. The Green Card aims to provide assistance for tailored administrative services on the territory of Sofia Municipality both to noncertified but eligible investors and already certified under the Promotion Investment Act investors. Special emphasis is also placed on innovative startups, for which the legislation does not provide general incentive measures. By issuing a Green Card for startup companies Invest Sofia positions startups next to strategic investors in Sofia.
The first four Green Cards were presented by the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova and Georgi Georgiev, Chairman of the Sofia Municipal Council. The total investment of the companies amounts to BGN 65 million.
“In these challenging years of the pandemic and many crises, Sofia continues to be a competitive investment destination and this is due to the entrepreneurial spirit of both strategic companies and startups. It is the startup innovative companies that create the ecosystems in our city, give young people reason to live and work in our city and it is very important for us to support them,” Ms. Fandakova said while presenting the “Green Card” certificates to Sofia Med AD and the startup Elka.bg.
“We highly appreciate the outstretched hand of the administration, it is important for every business to have predictable environment and support,” Sofia Med CFO Sergey Vlaykov said. The company is a manufacturer of a wide range of rolled and extruded products of copper and copper alloys with great application in a number of industries and in construction. A new investment project for 20 million euros is forthcoming for Sofia Med. Expanding the production in the field of green solutions is part of the planned investment activities.
Elka.bg is a web-based platform that compares electricity prices and allows customers to choose the best supplier and save money. According to one of the founders of the startup Kremena Stoyanova, the support at the early stage of a company’s development is of crucial importance for further growth.
“Legal certainty and predictability is what investors need most. This is what the “Green Card” stands for, Chairman of the Sofia Municipal Council Georgi Georgiev said at the certificate presentation to Key Bio Industry Bulgaria Ltd., which will build the high-tech industrial park “Hemus” in “Kremikovtzi” and to the startup company Dexicon Ltd., which offer a fully
A pilot project of Sofia Municipality has received an opportunity to expand beyond its initial scope. The air quality monitoring system Kanari, which was implemented in the 76th Kindergarten “Sarnichka”, has attracted the attention of Tryavna Municipality and has already been submitted to the local administration for testing.
The Kanari system is a pilot project of the Sandbox for Innovations initiative of Sofia Municipality and its unit for digitalization, innovation, and economic development Innovative Sofia. In August 2021, it was implemented in Sofia’s largest kindergarten. In each of its 20 groups devices were installed that measure and display air quality. The devices have indicators of relative humidity, carbon dioxide, and fine dust particles in the air. Children learn about the state of the environment from the reaction of an electronic canary, which changes its mood on the device’s display. The real-time information helps both teachers and children by providing them with data on the state of the air in the bedrooms and study rooms, and it also helps kids to develop habits and attitudes towards the environment.
So far, Tryavna Municipality has given positive feedback on the system’s application. Talks are underway to implement “Kanari” in the public service building fund managed by the city administration.
Apart from testing in another Bulgarian municipality, the project has the potential for further application in the private sector. Innovative Sofia reports that the largest mobile operator in the country has shown interest in including the Kanari system in the operator’s ICT / IoT portfolio. Public and private hospitals have also requested to test and implement the system.
“We expect even greater proactivity this year from start-ups that can solve urban challenges. We are ready to offer them administrative support and help them prototype and test their technology. The Digital Transformation Strategy for Sofia requires the Municipality to be the first client and validator of digital services and smart solutions developed by local companies, thus supporting the ICT business ecosystem of Sofia and creating opportunities for further applications outside the city,” Deputy Mayor for Digitalization and Innovation Gencho Kerezov commented.
The French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has launched the third edition of its Innovation Awards. The competition aims to promote the most innovative projects developed in Bulgaria, and for the first time, the competition is open to external companies, non-members of the Chamber. All companies registered in Bulgaria for at least 18 months, with at least 5 employees, regardless of their sector of activity, who have implemented an innovative local project in Bulgaria, can apply for the Innovation awards of the CCIFB.
Applications are accepted in four categories: “Investment”, “Businessman”, “Businesswoman” and “Corporate Social Responsibility”. The applications for each category will be reviewed by an independent jury. Apart from the winners in each category, one project from all four will be nominated to compete for the Special Jury Award. Applications are accepted until February 28.
SMEs can now apply for the exclusive eBay Growth Program, in which the e-commerce giant will provide a package of exclusive services to the companies:
Personalized growth program
Customized training program for setting up online activities on the eBay platform
High sales limits for rapid growth
3 months free eBay subscription
Retailers must have more than 100 items for sale. The inclusion of Bulgarian companies in the eBay Growth Program is locally supported by the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA). Applications are accepted at: https://export.ebay.com/en/new/?utm_source=BSMEPA
Companies with urban mobility solutions have have now the chance to test their ideas in real urban conditions through an EIT Urban Mobility project – an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The project partner the cities of Toulouse and Milan, which have already presented specific mobility challenges that need to be addressed. During the implementation of the project, the pilot initiatives will be tested in parallel and entirely in a real urban environment. EIT funding and administrative support from the cities’ administrations for the implementation of the pilots will be provided. Find out more about the specific challenges posed by Italian cities and how to apply for pilot testing here. The deadline is February 8, 2022.
Through the network of the International Economic Relations Center to BIA, a Germany-based research institute is looking for a partner from Eastern Europe and the Balkans for their Horizon Europe project proposal “Digital tools to support the design of a circular economy”. The Institute is looking for partners with semi-automated production, interested
The 9th edition of Innovation Explorer will take place on February 24 at Sofia Event Center, hosted by Innovation Starter Agency in partnership with Capital.bg. At the invitation of the organisers, Invest Sofia will be part of the event with a welcome speech by CEO Dr. Maria Hristova during the opening session.
Innovation Explorer 2022 will be held under the “Think Further!” motto that refers to John M. Keynes’s essay titled “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren”. Keynotes and discussions this year will focus on the different perspectives on the consequences and results that today’s societies bequeath to future generations.
The event will feature more than 20 international speakers – university professors, visionaries, futurists and business experts, and unfold under three panels: Mathematical angle of almost anything, Think Further, Strong Civil Society, Economic Possibilities, and Climate Actions.
For the first time, the “Innovator in Bulgarian Society” award ceremony will be part of the agenda. It will reward mayors of small municipalities in Bulgaria for projects, aimed at sustainable development and investment in support of society.
Full agenda and speakers are already announced on the website of the event. The early registrations for Innovation Explorer 2022: Think Further! are open by the end of January.
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.