For the first time in 9 years, a team of students won the competition
Winner of the ninth edition of the Innovation Academy 2022 is leARn. The team is from First English Language School and the American College in Sofia. Thus, for the first time, the annual competition of the innovation agency Innovation Starter is won by high-school students, not university undergraduates.
leARn won the competition with their idea for virtual learning content. Viktor Nedelchev, Dimitar Kostadinov, and Ognyan Trayanov impressed the jury with a brilliant demonstration of their project and their enthusiasm, motivation, and ambition to further develop the product. leARn won BGN 10,000, provided by the European Investment Bank for the further development of the project, a visit to the European institutions in Brussels, provided by the European Commission, and prizes from Invest Sofia.
In second place is the team Vodoraslo – Denis Ivanov and Vanessa Stefanova who demonstrated their prototype of a bioreactor with algae, which purifies the air. They are students at the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy (UACEG) in Sofia, which is also a precedent for the competition. The team received BGN 10,000, provided by the Bulgarian Development Bank, a visit to the European institutions in Brussels and awards from Invest Sofia.
There is a third precedent in the competition this year – yet another high-school student team hit the Top3 ideas – Alexander Paliyski, Georgi Kolev and Martin Stilyanov from the High School of Mathematics “Acad. Kiril Popov” in Plovdiv. They presented their idea of a virtual currency for the European Central Bank. The team will visit the European institutions in Brussels and also received awards from Invest Sofia.
The competition started with an official opening event on June 3rd and continued with a 24-hour hackathon for prototyping and validating the ideas. Again, Invest Sofia was an institutional partner of the competition, and at the invitation of the organizers, our CEO Dr. Maria Hristova participated as a mentor in the hackathon and a member of the jury.
“At events such as this, young people’s energy and entrepreneurial spirit meet the experience of the experts from Innovation Starter and the business community in our country. We at Invest Sofia know how important this support is and that is why we position startup companies and large international investors and entrepreneurs side by side, as equally important,” Dr. Maria Hristova said during her welcome
The event brought together business leaders from leading technology companies and startups in Bulgaria and Southeast Europe. During the forum, new trends and forecasts for the development of the business services industry and the technology sector were discussed. The 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.
The business representatives united unanimously that Sofia deserves the 2022 Smart City Award. The Deputy Mayor for Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development Gencho Kerezov accepted the award on behalf of Sofia Municipality. “It is a great honor for Sofia to receive this award, especially when it comes from business. This gives us a clear idea that our daily work with our partners at the international level is fruitful and resultful and it gives businesses even more reasons to continue to choose Sofia as a preferred place for innovations and further development. The hard work continues: now is the time to fully realize the opportunities before us and not to stop creating better conditions together.”
The award for Sofia Municipality comes after a series of international recognitions for the city since the beginning of the year. Sofia was chosen among the four cities together with Brussels, Dublin and Tirana to develop the EU Digital Rights Management Legal Framework. Sofia also ranked as a city leader in the European Mission for 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030. The initiative provides new opportunities for Bulgaria and unlocks additional mechanisms for EU funding. Only a month ago, our capital was selected as a finalist in two categories of the Future of Emerging Europe Awards 2022 – a prestigious international competition for sustainable, social, economic and democratic development in Europe.
The forum became a platform for the exchange of expertise in the field of innovation and technology transfer in the region. It was inaugurated with the special participation of Ms. Roberta Coco, Chief Adviser to the Minister of Innovation and Digital Transition of Italy and former Deputy Mayor for Digitalisation of Milan. The Deputy Mayor for Digitalization of Sofia Gencho Kerezov commented on the important role of municipalities in digitalization and providing opportunities for innovation. “It is good to note that there is a difference between the roles of governments and municipalities in the process of stimulating and integrating
The Swedish MedTech manufacturer SHL Healthcare AB has chosen Sofia as the place to build its first production facility in Europe. The company currently has a manufacturing base in China.
The new base in Sofia will cover an area of 5,000 square meters and aims to provide the company’s customers with further flexibilities for lead times, logistics and production. SHL Healthcare AB’s investment in Sofia is part of the company’s goals to increase its offerings in MedTech manufacturing on a global scale. By investing in expanded operations to tactical regions, we not only increase our manufacturing capacities but also demonstrate to customers our commitment in providing alternative production solutions for premium MedTech products and manufacturing services,” says Erik Bolmgren, CEO of SHL Healthcare AB, in the official announcement of the company. The activities of the Swedish MedTech company in Bulgaria will be managed by its subsidiary SHL Healthcare Bulgaria EAD.
The New York-based blockchain and fintech company R3 opens an office in Sofia – the first for the company in a country in Continental Europe. The company’s establishment in Bulgaria follows a long-term partnership and work on joint projects with the Sofia-based software company INDUSTRIA. R3 will start with a team of 50 people by the end of this year and with a plan to expand to 100 people by the end of 2023. For now, the management of the office in Sofia will be carried out by the management of the Bulgarian INDUSTRIA, reports a publication by Capital. Sofia-based INDUSTRIA is a global technology consulting, development, and ventures company with expertise in the field of enterprise blockchain, confidential computing, process automation, and digital experience. As one of R3’s official partners, the company is developing cutting-edge blockchain and fintech technologies. You can read more about the partnership between the American and the Sofia-based company from the INDUSTRIA blog post here.
Backed up by local angel investors, the Sofia-based startup Circle Mobility Ltd. has launched a new bicycle sharing service in Sofia. A total of 50 vehicles can be rented through the Cyrcl app from zones in the city center and southern neighborhoods. The company’s ambition is to increase the number of bicycles and launch the service in other Bulgarian cities.
Five startups entered the fifth Bulgarian Innovation Hub’s (BIH) accelerator programme for international growth. Four of them are Sofia-based. These are the AI and machine
Only a few days left until the ninth edition of the Innovation Academy – the biggest competition for student entrepreneurs in Bulgaria, which this year will be held on June 3 and 4 in Sofia Tech Park. The competition is organized by our partner Innovation Starter, and Invest Sofia is an institutional partner together with the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria, the European Investment Bank, and the Bulgarian Development Bank.
We support the initiative for another year. At the invitation of the organisers, again we’ll be part of the Academy programme and the jury of the hackathon with the participation of our CEO Dr. Maria Hristova as a lecturer and a member of the jury.
Lecturers and members of the jury this year are experts from many Bulgarian universities, the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria, the European Investment Fund (EIF) in Bulgaria, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works (MRRB), managers of large private companies, entrepreneurs and investors, media representatives, experts from non-governmental and branch organizations such as the Bulgarian Association for People Management, the Bulgarian Association of Information Technologies (BAIT) and others.
The academy will be held in 3 main modules: mentoring, training sessions and prototyping. The first and the second winning teams will receive financial funding for their business idea, provided by the European Investment Bank and the Bulgarian Development Bank, and a visit to the European institutions in Brussels provided by the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria for the teams on first, second and third place. Students who do not rank in the top positions can also count on incentives and prizes.
The Innovation Academy is the largest public-private partnership in the country between organizations from the private, academic, public, and NGO sectors. The project aims to develop students’ entrepreneurial skills and support their early business ideas. The event is held nationwide and in partnership with 14 Bulgarian universities and training centers. So far, more than 4,300 participants and more than 720 teams have been trained.
We are looking forward to very interesting hackathon days full of innovative, sustainable and impactful ideas created by talented Bulgarian students. Follow our website and social media profiles for flashnews from the Academy.
Tomorrow, June 3, 2022, the biggest forum for innovation and technology in Southeast Europe will take place in Sofia. The SEE Innovation, Technology and Sourcing Summit is organised by the Association for innovation, business excellence, services and technology (AIBEST) and the Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO). Invest Sofia is co-organiser and institutional partner together with Sofia Municipality.
Our team will join the discussions on the virtual workforce and digital workers, the future of technology and services, the correlations in the ecosystem Talent + Education + Technology shift, and how to build the tech brand of the region. Deputy Mayor for Digitalization Gencho Kerezov will take part in the event to present the city’s ecosystems and how the city administration helps the testing process and the implementation of innovative urban solutions. During the event, the annual international Innovation, Technology and Sourcing Awards ceremony will be held. The awards will highlight the best-performing tech and business service companies, startups, and institutions that contribute to the development of the knowledge economy in the SEE region.
We believe that the initiators of the event AIBEST and BESCO, as well as Invest Sofia as co-organizer of the summit, will take another step forward toward our common goal to strengthen the development of the business ecosystem in Southeast Europe and position our country and the region as a top destination for high added-value services. Check out the Agenda and follow our website and social media profiles for highlights and minutes from the event.
The Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency (Invest Sofia) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the HR management company Indavor Ltd. The Agreement was signed by Viktor Gousev – Head of the Investment Analysis Department at Invest Sofia and Georgi Kolev, Manager at Indavor.
Under the agreed partnership, the company is now part of the partner network of the Sofia IS initiative launched by Invest Sofia – the first of its kind city programme in Bulgaria for partnership between the city administration and local companies operating in Sofia to provide full-scope services to new investors in the city.
Upon investor inquiries, our organizations will cooperate with initial consultations in areas such as organisational development of health and life sciences entities in Bulgaria, human capital management within the local biotech ecosystem, the state of the available pool of talents and strategies for attracting experts within the healthcare industry, growth opportunities in the Bulgarian life sciences sector, etc.
In this regard, and with a view to expanding the opportunities for more extensive and in-depth information, analysis, and reports in response to investment requests addressed to Invest Sofia, the cooperation between the two Parties will contribute to promoting the exchange of expertise and business contacts in support of our daily activities and helping our organisations to achieve our common goals. Invest Sofia and Indavor Ltd. will be able to regularly exchange information, publications, and materials on common topics of cooperation, as well as to prepare and promote economic data, statistics, and best practices using their established network contacts with investors, entrepreneurs, and various stakeholder supporting the ecosystem.
The Mayor of Sofia Fandakova, Viktor Gоusev, and Lachezar Borisov from Invest Sofia visited the production base of Etem Gestamp Aluminum Extrusions AD in the Iliyantsi Industrial Area. The visit was held at the invitation of the management of the Greek-Spanish company, which was among the first to receive a Green Card from Invest Sofia. The new initiative of Sofia Municipality in support of investors in the city provides a “fast track” to tailored administrative services and consultations to investors during the implementation of their projects.
Etem Gestamp provides parts for leading car manufacturers and automotive equipment suppliers, including BMW, Audi, Daimler, Porsche, and VW. In Sofia, the company also has an R&D center that works on product design together with the company’s customers. The CEO of the company Emmanouil Fountoukis and his team presented the production operations and the planned expansion of the company in Sofia. Etem Gestamp plans to introduce new green technologies and fully automated logistics solutions to its manufacturing unit. The new investment of 60 M euros in Sofia comes after Etem Gestamp signed two of the biggest projects in its history. At the end of 2022, the company plans to launch the mass production of battery boxes for Porsche and the Jaguar Land Rover Group.
First working meeting between representatives of the municipal and state administrations, financial institutions, and businesses was held today to mark the beginning of the creation of a step-by-step guide for entrepreneurs in Sofia.
Deputy Mayor for Digitalization, Innovation, and Economic Development Gencho Kerezov and the Head of the Investment Analysis Department at Invest Sofia Viktor Gоusev hosted the event. Representatives of the Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB), the Fund of Funds, the Bulgarian Venture Capital Association (BVCA), the BESCO – The Bulgarian Startup Association, and the Capital Investment Fund at BDB, attended the meeting.
The project aims to the development of a comprehensive and accessible tool for all entrepreneurs who start a new business in Sofia or Bulgaria. The Compass will feature all the opportunities for support that municipal, state, financial, and business organizations currently offer to entrepreneurs in Bulgaria, including open projects under national or European programs.
During the meeting, future partners of the initiative have been identified. They will be invited to join our upcoming working meetings – institutions, business associations, chambers, commercial banks, media. The kick-off of the Compass for Entrepreneurship project today is in response to commitments made during the “DIGITAL SOFIA – SMART CITY” Conference, organized by Sofia Municipality, Invest Sofia, and the Communications Regulation Commission.
Invest Sofia joined the event ‘Business Leaders Talks’ – part of the first of its kind in the country initiative ‘Professions Week’, organised by the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Sofia University. The event aims to present the specifics of different professions through the eyes of long-term experts in their respective fields. Our Head of the Investment Analysis Department Viktor Gоusev presented the activities of Invest Sofia. He also presented his career development and answered questions related to the mission of the Agency and our initiatives in support of local and foreign investors and startups in the city.
With Decision № 289 /21.04.2022 (announced on April 28,.2022) the Sofia Municipal Council approved the project proposals eligible to participate and receive funding under the second edition of the Accelerator Startup Sofia Programme. The Decision follows the rules for evaluating and ranking the project proposals adopted by the Managing Authority of the Programme and the Expert Commission of the Programme.
A total of 11 projects have been approved for funding under Decision № 748 of 28.10.2021 of the Sofia Municipal Council with a total budget of BGN 100,000. The list of approved projects is available HERE.
The budget of the Programme is provided through the Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs at the Sofia Municipality (MGFSME). According to the Decision of the Sofia Municipal Council, the MGFSME is assigned to conclude financing agreements with the approved candidates, control the implementation of the activities under the contracts, accept the final reports on the implementation of the projects and make payments under the concluded financing agreements.
The second edition of the Accelerator Startup Sofia Programme of Sofia Municipality aims to promote accelerated access to finance for innovative, start-up and social entrepreneurs in Sofia. The Accelerator will support all participants in developing and presenting well-founded proposals to potential investors and financing organizations by increasing their negotiation skills and encouraging them to develop and promote innovative products and services with high added value.
Accelerator Startup Sofia is a collaborative project by Invest Sofia, Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs, and the “Europe” Programme by Sofia Municipality. The application procedure was held from December 15, 2021, until January 31, 2022, on the website of the “Europe” Programme. A total of 24 projects were submitted, which showed the continuing interest of the entrepreneurial community in Sofia in the Accelerator Startup Sofia Programme of Sofia Municipality.
The International Economic Relations Centre at the Bulgarian Industrial Association provides support to enterprises towards restructuring or reshoring supply chains by including the companies in a dedicated platform by the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). The Center publishes offers for raw materials, parts, components and / or semi-finished products or services; encourages incoming requests from European companies to maintain their supply chains and connects international suppliers with buyers of goods and services. The initiative aims to support European companies in providing raw materials, parts, components and / or final goods or services they need to continue their operations. For more information and inclusion in the platform, follow the instructions here.
By May 3, start-ups and scale-ups can apply for the second edition of Discover Vienna: Manufacturing 2022, organized by Vienna Business Agency and EIT Manufacturing CLC East. The programme covers a 5-day all-expenses-paid stay in Vienna, intensive access-to-market workshops to get acquainted with the dynamics in Austria and the Viennese markets, free office space in Vienna, introduction to leading Austrian industrial corporates and investors and access to ViennaUP’22 – the largest startup festival in Central Europe. Submissions need to fit one of the EIT Manufacturing flagship areas: Simulation and Advanced Engineering Tools, Industrial VR/AR, Industrial Robotics, Logistics Tech, Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing), Predictive Maintenance, Advanced Sensors, Advanced Detection (IR/Noise/etc.), Industrial Cybersecurity, Connectivity and IoT Infrastructure, Data analytics/AI, Digital Twins and Green Manufacturing Tech. More about the programme is available here.
The European DIGITAL SME Alliance has launched a new platform for small and medium-sized enterprises, which aims to improve access to information on current funding opportunities, open calls for project proposals and participation in consortia. The platform is aimed at SMEs with products and services in the following areas: AI, Blockchain, Cloud/Edge Computing, Cybersecurity and Data Protection, FinTech, Innovation, Digital Skills, Digitalization, Energy renewables, Entrepreneurship, Health, Intellectual Property Rights, IoT, Manufacturing, Smart cities. The platforml allows filtering the calls by sector, and the proposals are listed by deadline for application submissions.
Companies with innovative and scalable solutions that use rubber, textile, steel, designed to give these components a new life, can now apply for the NextLab accelerator of the Portuguese innovation hub Beta-i. The 4 month programme will provide access to industrial and commercial partners for mentoring and market validation, expert assistance and training, opportunity for a 5.000 Euro prize, introduction to potential industrial partners, as
The “European Forum for Women Founders”, which aims to grow into a network to support women’s entrepreneurship, was launched in Sofia at the initiative of the Bulgarian EU Commissioner Maria Gabriel and the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova. Invest Sofia co-organized the event, bringing together women entrepreneurs and innovators from across Europe, and mayors of cities from Italy, Germany, Finland, Greece, and Romania, who joined the meeting online.
“I truly hope that we would create a common network of women entrepreneurs; a network of companies to make women the leading force in the fight against climate change, everyday solutions, and many more solutions created by women-led companies overall.” Bulgarian EU Commissioner Maria Gabriel said at the opening. She emphasized the important role of local government in institutional change.
“Confidence in women’s governance has grown. It is critical to develop and increase our capacity to make things better. To me, education has always been essential for equality and social justice. It is the basis of everything and, of course, the basis of women’s career development, “stated Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova.
The Chief Executive Officer of Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova presented to the participants the initiatives of Sofia Municipality and the Agency, aimed at supporting women’s entrepreneurship. “According to last year’s European Commission REPORT on achieving women’s economic independence through entrepreneurship and self-employment, the European economy has the potential to benefit from € 16 billion in GDP growth by encouraging more women to enter the job market in digital technologies, including by improving gender equality and empowering women’s entrepreneurship as key approaches to accelerating and strengthening European recovery,” said Dr. Hristova.
The first meeting of the European Forum for Women Founders was attended by representatives of 19 countries. The goal is for the event in Sofia to be the beginning of an initiative at the pan-European level.