The Collision Conference, Toronto’s largest international technology event and the fastest-growing technology forum in North America, was held from June 20 to June 23. Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia, and Viktor Gоussev, Head of the Investment Analysis Department took part in the event.
Collision is part of a series of technology conferences that include the Web Summit in Europe and RISE in Hong Kong. After being hosted online twice during the pandemic, Collision’22 now gathered more than 35,000 visitors, more than 900 speakers, 1,500 start-ups, 1,200 journalists and 850 investors from 140 countries. Further, more than 120 trade delegations participated to explore business opportunities with international partners.
For the Canadian city, the event was an opportunity to engage the local business community with potential foreign partners and investors, as well as a stage for promoting international trade. Toronto is the city with the fastest-growing technology ecosystem in North America. Before the pandemic, as the third-largest tech center in North America, the Toronto region concentrated the highest number of technology companies in Canada. The sector employs over 400,000 people in 18,000 technology companies, representing 15% of all jobs. Based on its rapid growth, the city expects more technology jobs than Silicon Valley within two years.
During the networking sessions, Dr. Maria Hristova and Viktor Gusev talked to a number of entrepreneurs, investors, academia representatives, start-ups, and business leaders. They had the opportunity to present the activities of Invest Sofia and the business environment in Sofia, thus setting the stage for new potential contacts for investment in the city and for business partnerships between the local ecosystem and companies and organizations from around the world.
Sofia became Southeast Europe’s Smart City of the year at the ceremony of SEE INNOVATION, TECHNOLOGY AND SOURCING SUMMIT – the biggest tech event in the region. Sofia Deputy Mayor for Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development Gencho Kerezov accepted the award on behalf of Sofia Municipality. The forum, organized by the Association for Innovation, Business Excellence, Services and Technology (AIBEST), the Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO), the Ministry of E-Government and Sofia Municipality in partnership with Invest Sofia, was held in early June and aimed to support the development of the business ecosystem in Southeast Europe and to position the region as a leading destination for high value-added services in the world. Business leaders of leading technology companies and startups in Bulgaria and Southeast Europe attended the event, and discussed trends and forecasts for the development of the business services industry and the technology sector. The necessary transformations that need to take place in the region for the knowledge economy in Southeast Europe to grow at an even faster pace and to be a competitive player on the world map were also set.
Sofia University climbed 30 places and ranked among 40% of the best universities in the world ranking of universities QS World University Rankings for 2023, the academic institution stated. The university ranks 561-570 among 1 422 admitted institutions out of 2 462 applications. The evaluation is based on eight criteria: academic reputation, reputation among employers, students and faculty ratio, number of citations per faculty, number of foreign students, number of foreign lecturers, professional fulfillment of graduates, and participation of the institution in international research networks. According to the ranking, the highest success of Sofia University is the professional fulfillment of graduates indicator. Alma Mater is the only Bulgarian university that finds a place in the rankings.
Sofia residents will be able to watch Bulgarian and international short films for free in several places in Sofia during the summer season. The screenings are provided by the team of Kinematograf.bg, and the programme includes both classic and unscreened titles. The screenings are free and will be broadcast at the following locations: Studentski Park, the parks in Mladost 2, 3 and 4, North Park, Goethe Institute, and the yard of 127 SU. The programme is published on the website kinematograf.bg/programa, where you can also register for notifications of changed dates in case of inappropriate weather conditions.
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The Silicon Valley-based company with Bulgarian roots Leanplum is now part of the global leader in cloud marketing solutions for customer engagement CleverTap. Lеnрlum is a fast-growing technology company and a leader in mobile marketing, co-founded in 2012 in San Francisco by Momchil Kupkachiev. The company has offices in Sofia, San Francisco, Amsterdam and Singapore. In Sofia, one of the main R&D centers of the company is situated, with an expert team of local engineers and product specialists. The team in Sofia resolves product-related issues to help hundreds of millions of users who generate petabytes of data.
The value of the acquisition remains undisclosed. The deal is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of 2022. The new partnership plays a key role in the technology ecosystem in Bulgaria as CleverTap plans to make the Sofia office one of the company’s main international hubs together with the office in Mumbai. The number of employees in Bulgaria is expected to increase 20% by the end of the year. An interesting fact for Leanplum is that every fifth team member has returned to Bulgaria from abroad to become part of the company. CleverTap will continue its mission to create world-class jobs for engineers in Sofia and attract talent from across the region.
The merger will create a global company with more than 600 employees and customer-oriented technology teams in North America, Europe, Latin America, India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. The two organizations will combine their product portfolios and their customers will exceed 1,200 in over 100 countries across the world.
At a meeting initiated by the Sofia Development Association, the team of Invest Sofia presented the policies for the integration of citizens with temporary protection and funding opportunities for entrepreneur projects at the national and municipal levels. The meeting eas held during a visit by representatives of the network of major European cities EUROCITIES. The main topic was the integration of Ukrainians who fled their homes and live in Bulgaria, as well as the support that Invest Sofia and the Sofia Municipality provide to those who are looking for a job.
During the meeting, we presented our platform Jobs in Sofia, created to help Ukrainian refugees who are already establishing their daily lives in our country and need employment support. is available in Ukrainian, Russian, English, and Bulgarian, and vacancy announcements have already been listed by Sofia-based companies. The platform is open to companies that want to list their open positions, as well as to job seekers. Users can easily create a personal profile and professional resume by listing their education level, skills, previous professional experience, and language skills. Users are allowed to attach a CV, certificates and diplomas, video presentations, etc.
The office market in Sofia has grown significantly in the first quarter of 2022, according to data from Cushman & Wakefield Forton. The signed contracts are for 44,032 square meters, and the market activity is significantly above the average for the last five years, the company reports. Most deals are for higher-end office buildings and new projects, mainly due to relocations and renewals, rather than expansions. This is why, despite the large volume of leasing transactions, net office absorption is generally low – 8,600 sq.m.
The properties on the main arteries of the city continue to attract most of the deals. Unoccupied areas are 16.4%, mainly due to the lack of completed new buildings. The areas under construction amount to 199,355 sq.m.
Most tenant companies are looking for flexible solutions and shared offices continue to gain popularity. As of Q1 2022, the supply in this segment exceeds 45,000 square meters and is expected to overpass 50,000 square meters by mid-year.
Rental prices remain stable – 15 euros / sq.m in the central areas and 12-14 euros / sq.m alongside main roads. Service charges are under pressure due to the growing operating costs and currently, they are in the range of 2.75 – 4 euros / sq.m.
High activity is also registered in industrial and logistics properties with 34,204 sq.m. leased areas in the first quarter. Expansion deals with retailers, logistics and distribution companies are the main drivers of the market. Most requests are for medium-sized logistics areas in the ring road area and the emerging industrial zones on the outskirts of Sofia. For the last quarter only one site was completed – DHL logistics center near Sofia Airport with an area of 5000 sq.m.
There is a decline in vacant space due to the moderate volume of new completions, together with stable demand from tenants. Currently, the unoccupied space rate in the segment is 2% compared to 4.1% at the end of last year. More than 420,000 square meters are under construction, mainly due to owner-occupied production and storage space expansions. In the short term, the market is expected to be complemented by new supply in the areas of the Ring Road and in the industrial zones in Elin Pelin and Bozhurishte.
There is a slight increase in prices, again due to rising operating costs together with the active demand. Rental levels in Sofia reach 4.4 euros / sq.m
The Chief Executive Officer of Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova is on a visit to Doha, Qatar, as part of the Bulgarian delegation at the ‘Bilateral Trade and Potential Investment Projects’ event. The participation is at the invitation of our partners from the Lebanese-Bulgarian Business Council and the newly established Association of Bulgarian-Arab Chambers of Commerce in Sofia, which organises the forum in cooperation with the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).
The meetings are held at the Doha Chamber of Commerce and Industry and provide a platform for establishing business contacts, productive exchange of best practices, and negotiations for potential agreements. Together with Invest Sofia, part of the delegation are representatives of over 20 Bulgarian companies from the following sectors: food manufacturing and distribution, petroleum and chemicals, real estate investments, ICT, construction, and others. The meetings are also attended by academic representatives from the Faculty of Economics at Sofia University, the Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria to Qatar Plamen Delev, the Attaché of Bulgaria at the Commercial and Economic Section of the Bulgarian Embassy in Qatar Konstantin Nenkov, and others.
The Mission is to continue until June 17. It aims to upgrade the expertise and the network of Bulgarian and Arab entrepreneurs in the promotion of trade, economic relations, and investments.
Highlights from meetings so far
A local event partner hosted the business forum on the first day of the visit to Doha. H. E Mr. Mohamed Bin Ahmed Twar Al Kuwari, First Vice Chairman of Qatar’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry opened the meeting. He presented the state programme for the development of Qatar’s economy The programme envisages diversification of economic sectors and partners. The Qatari Chamber encourages the establishment of joint ventures and welcomes all foreign entrepreneurs wishing to invest and set up a business in Qatar. Kuvari presented benefits and incentives for foreign companies entering the country and outlined that he expects more dynamic bilateral economic relations in the coming years.
Tsvetan Simeonov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, expressed his gratitude for the long-term successful cooperation with Qatar’s Chamber. The two organizations have had a cooperation agreement since 2008. The bilateral economic relations had slowed down due to the pandemic, but they are now resuming, Tsvetan Simeonov said.
The President of the Association of Bulgarian-Arab Chambers of Commerce Ahmad Alaeddine presented the activities of the Association, established
The event will end up with the StartUp World Cup Bulgaria 2022 finals and the winner announcement
The Digital4Sofia 2022 – Innovations in Online Commerce and Payments Conference has started today at Inter Expo Center, Sofia. The Digital4Foundation organizes the forum in partnership with Sofia Municipality.
Invest Sofia is part of the programme of this event dedicated to the latest trends in the digital industry. At the invitation of the organisers, our CEO Dr. Maria Hristova joined the conference as a keynote speaker. On behalf of Mayor Yordanka Fandakova and Deputy Mayor for Digitalization Gencho Kerezov, she welcomed the attendees and participants in Digital4Sofia 2022. ‘E-commerce businesses need integrated solutions – from product presentation, through building an online presence, to overall marketing funnel, customer traffic, and positioning on the market. I am glad to see among the participants in today’s conference experts from all these fields “, Maria Hristova said at the opening of the event.
This year, Digital4Sofia 2022 will present current trends in Bulgaria’s e-commerce and fintech industry. All attendees will have the chance to meet with some of the fastest-growing companies in these sectors and learn successful strategies for digital positioning.
Co-organizers of the event are also Innovative Sofia – the digitalization, innovation and economic development department of Sofia Municipality, and Inter Expo Center. Partners of the conference are the Bulgarian E-Commerce Association, Bulgarian Fintech Association, European Digital Experts Association – Eurodea, Enterprise Europe Network, the Bulgarian Startup Association BESCO, Fund of Funds, Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion Agency (BSMEPA), Bulgarian Investment Agency, Bulgarian Development Bank and many more organisations, private companies and media.
Part of Digital4Sofia 2022 is are regional finals of the Startup World Cup Bulgaria – part of the global Startup World Cup series with a prize of USD 1 million. Ten Bulgarian startups will pitch today. The winner of the StartUp World Cup Bulgaria 2022 will hit the stage of the Grand Finale in San Francisco. Stay tuned for flash news from today’s conference and highlights from the startup competition on the organisers’ page here.
The Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency (Invest Sofia) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with HumanConsulting – a consulting company for developing and managing programmes and projects funded by the EU and other donor programmes. Under the Agreement, Invest Sofia and HumanConsulting will join their efforts in providing support to individuals and legal entities and municipal administrations looking for funding solutions to develop projects or businesses.
The Memorandum was signed at an official meeting between Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia and Galia Menova, CEO of Human Consulting. Using the professional networks established in their previous activities, the two parties will be able to exchange economic information, statistics, data, and expertise in investment policies. With the agreed partnership, the consulting company is now part of the partner network of the Sofia IS initiative launched by Invest Sofia for partnership between the city administration and local companies operating in Sofia to provide full-scope services to new investors in the city. HumanConsulting’s extensive expertise in the implementation of various financing instruments will contribute to the provision of expert consultations to companies, organizations, and municipal units that turn to Invest Sofia for guidance on appropriate funding instruments and resources for business growth and new projects development.
HumanConsulting is mainly engaged in the preparation and management of projects under various funding programs. The company provides marketing services and consultations for corporate strategies for business development. Its team demonstrates expertise in many fields and has an extensive portfolio of successfully implemented cases in the development, implementation, and reporting of projects under European and other donor programs and funds. The company supports individuals, legal entities, and city administrations, and has successfully implemented projects for leading Bulgarian companies and municipalities.
The conference Digital4Sofia 2022 is to be held on June 13 in Sofia. Invest Sofia is part of the program of this event dedicated to the latest trends in the digital industry. At the invitation of the organizers, our CEO Dr. Maria Hristova will join the conference as a keynote speaker.
This year, Digital4Sofia 2022 will present current trends in the e-commerce and fintech industry in Bulgaria. All attendees will have the chance to meet with some of the fastest-growing companies in these sectors and learn successful strategies for digital positioning.
The conference is organized by Digital4Foundation in partnership with the Sofia Municipality, Innovative Sofia, and Inter Expo Center.
Digital4Sofia 2022 aims to bring together professionals with proven expertise in the digital world, marketers, advertisers, sales managers, business consultants, regulatory specialists, logistics companies, business managers, and entrepreneurs. The conference program will also offer opportunities for business networking and new partnerships. The full Agenda and registration link for the event are available on the event website: https://digital4sofia.com/.
The Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency (Invest Sofia) and the Association of Bulgarian-Arab Chambers of Commerce just signed a Memorandum of Cooperation. As a next step our organizations will elaborate a framework for closer cooperation that will aim to attract and consult potential investors among the Association member companies.
The document was signed during an official meeting between Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia, and Ahmad Alaeddine, President of the Association of Bulgarian-Arab Chambers of Commerce.
The Association will assist Invest Sofia in investment inquiries and initial consultations with entrepreneurs and will be our partner in business initiatives, conferences, and events in Sofia and Bulgaria on investment-related topics. The partnership will contribute to the exchange of expertise and business contacts, and the promotion of Sofia as an attractive business destination.
Under the Agreement, the Association becomes part of the network of Sofia-based independent companies and organizations, which are part of the Sofia IS initiative launched by Invest Sofia to provide integrated free of charge services to investors in the city. In the coming months, our organizations will join their efforts to encourage, support, and facilitate the attraction of investors among the members of the Association of Bulgarian-Arab Chambers of Commerce.
The week started with the event SEW22 Sofia – a key forum for entrepreneurial culture in Europe and Bulgaria, part of the global initiative Startup Europe Week – a family of 300+ cities across 50 countries. Invest Sofia became part of the SEW initiative with the participation of Victor Gussev, Head of Investment Analysis Department at the Agency, in the first panel of the event in Sofia – Government support programmes for startups. Experts from the Fund of Funds, the Bulgarian Investment Agency and the Digitalization and Innovation Unit of the Sofia Municipality “Innovative Sofia” also joined the conversation, moderated by Mariyana Hamanova, Executive director of Cleantech Bulgaria.
The discussion focused on good practices and opportunities to enhance entrepreneurship through various state instruments – local and national. Victor Gussev stressed the need for an individual approach to startups and the difference between larger companies, which have the opportunity for larger investments, and newly formed teams, that are still missing enough resources. He presented the Invest Sofia’s instrument in support of Sofia-based companies, among which are the Accelerator Startup Sofia and the Green Card for Administrative Services, which aims to make a bridge between legal and administrative procedures and business and thus facilitate companies’ operations. Gussev also presented the free services on expertise, data and mentoring to the teams that are taking their first steps in the development of new products and services in the city, and the efforts of the municipal administration to be a testbed for innovative solutions of the local companies.
This year, co-organizers of the local event are Health & Life Sciences Cluster Bulgaria and AI Cluster Bulgaria. SEW22 Sofia is supported by EU Commissioner Maria Gabriel, who officially opened the forum.
If you missed the live broadcast, you could still watch the event opening and the conversation from the Government Support Programmes for Startups panel (in English) in the video recording here. TThe SEW22 Sofia website also contains links to all other event sessions, dedicated to women entrepreneurship, universities and institutions that create startups, private fund programmes, and more.
A meeting on the integration of refugees from Ukraine was held today in the National Palace of Culture, initiated by the UN Refugee Agency in Bulgaria, The Bulgarian Council on Refugees and Migrants, and the Sofia Development Association. At the invitation of the organisers, our Senior Expert Olena Filina, who is the project manager of the www.jobs.investsofia.com platform, joined the event. She took part in the discussion on the opportunities for supporting refugees in Sofia Municipality in accommodation, education, employment and access to the labor market, health care, social assistance and others.
The meeting brought together representatives of the city government, regional administrations in Sofia, state institutions and NGOs involved in Ukrainian refugee integration. Integration-related policies for persons granted temporary protection, national and local funding opportunities, as well as best practices from other countries, were presented. The participants also discussed the challenges at the municipal level and potential solutions, and the role of the non-governmental sector in the institutional efforts to integrate Ukrainian refugees residing in our country.
We remind you that within Invest Sofia initiative to support Ukrainian citizens in our country, our team has already held several working meetings with the community in Sofia and supporting organizations. Among our partners during these meetings were Caritas Bulgaria, the European project RIDE – an initiative that aims to include migrant and refugee women in the digital labor market, the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Open Sofia Foundation, Networking Premium Coworking. With these meetings, we aimed at being a practical supporter to Ukrainians living in the city and providing guidance on the labor market, legislation, improving skills, finding a job, and more.
The platform https://jobs.investsofia.com/, which we created days after the invasion of Ukraine, is also available. The website is accessible in Ukrainian, Russian, English, and Bulgarian. The platform is open both to companies that want to list their open positions and job seekers. Users can easily create a personal profile and professional resume and contact potential employers. Currently, the website contains nearly 50 vacancies announced by companies in various fields of the economy.