Employees from companies in Sofia and Bulgaria from all economic sectors are invited to join the anonymous survey “Emotional and mental health at work.”
The purpose of the questionnaire is to examine what factors interfere with the work process, how they affect mental health, wellbeing and efficiency in the workplace and how companies support employees and teams as part of their policies to ensure a productive work process.
Experts from all Bulgarian companies and organizations are invited to share their personal experience and observations in the survey here.
The questionnaire does not require personal data and takes no more than 10 minutes.
The survey was developed with the assistance of HR, communications and market research experts and was initiated by the team of hOUR THERAPY – psychologists and psychotherapists who provide personal consultations as part of the social benefits to employees in companies in tech, manufacturing and other sectors.
A Report with summary and data analysis to be prepared in December. We will share the results, so stay tuned.
Why the topic is important
At the end of 2018 (long before the pandemic became part of our daily lives), the World Health Organization (WHO) established in its 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases ICD-11 a whole subsection on issues related to the workplace and the work environment. This came shortly after the organization released data from a global study showing that nearly 264 million people suffer from depression, many of whom also have symptoms of anxiety, and this costs companies about $ 1 trillion in lost productivity each year. WHO classified workplace burnout as an occupational phenomenon and the phenomenon is expected to be part of the updated WHO ICD-11 classification, that will come into effect on 1 January 2022
The pandemic has increased interest and placed an even greater focus on the topic of workplace wellbeing. With blurring boundaries between personal and working time and space, the constant reorganization of the work process, the need for rapid adaptation to technology, the uncertain future and more, all led to a deterioration in the mental health of employees. And, in fact, there are young people whose first appointment took place in a completely remote mode. These are 24-25-year-olds (upper age of Generation Z), whose onboarding and first steps in a working relationship happened remotely. The European Commission, the American Psychological Association, the international Workplace Mental Health Institute,
22 Bulgarian companies have been included in this year’s edition of CEE Top 500 – the ranking of the largest companies in Central and Eastern Europe by the global credit insurance and risk management agency Coface. This makes four more companies than the ones included in the previous edition, and most of them (16) are Sofia-based.
The total turnover of the largest Bulgarian companies in financial statements for 2020 amounts to over EUR 20.7 billion. Thus, our country ranks 7th among the 12 countries in the region. The sectors in which the companies operate are those of oil, chemical and pharmaceutical industry, metallurgy, financial and IT technologies.
Six Bulgarian companies join the ranking for the first time and five of them are Sofia-based. These are: Sopharma Trading JSC, A1 Bulgaria JSC, Videolux Holding JSC, Orbico Bulgaria LTD and the metallurgical Sofia Med JSC. The sixth debutant is the Pleven-based Oliva JSC. The remaining Sofia-based companies are: Bulgarian Energy Holding JSC, National Electric Company JSC, Advance Properties LTD, BA Glass Bulgaria JSC, Kaufland Bulgaria EOOD & CO, Sopharma JSC, Lidl Bulgaria EOOD & CO, Lukoil-Bulgaria LTD, Huveproject JSC, Express Logistics and Distribution LTD, and Bulgarian Telecommunication Company JSC.
The three largest Bulgarian companies are Bulgarian Energy Holding JSC, which ranks 34th, metallurgical Aurubis Bulgaria JSC (38th) and Lukoil Neftochim (111th).
The leaders in the ranking by country are Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary with 161, 77, and 68 companies in the ranking, respectively.
The 13th Coface CEE Top 500 Ranking makes an overview of the future and summarizes the region’s economic activity in 2020, the first full pandemic year. For the first time, the publication has analyzed how companies have adapted to the new situation. Last year, the turnover of the largest 500 companies in the region fell by 3.3%. The average regional GDP growth decreased by 4%. However, the economies of Central and Eastern Europe are experiencing a rapid recovery process, according to the analysis included in the CEE Top 500. More information about the region and a full list of the region’s 500 largest companies can be found in the full version of the document available for free download after registration here: http://go.coface.com/CEETOP500-2021.
The Sofia Municipal Council approved the implementation of the second edition of the financial instrument Accelerator Startup Sofia to facilitate access to finance for innovative, start-up and social entrepreneurs operating Sofia Municipality. As in the pilot edition, Invest Sofia is a partner and co-organizer in the Programme. The application criteria is currently under preparation.
The financing for the second edition of “Accelerator Startup Sofia” amounts to BGN 100,000 provided by the Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs (MGFSME). The Programme will provide initial financial resources for starting or developing the activities of innovative start-up and social entrepreneurs. After the accomplishment of the mentoring programme, the companies will be able to benefit from other MGFSME guarantee programmes.
Accelerator Startup Sofia again aims at supporting companies based in Sofia that develop innovative products, services or processes and demonstrate potential for growth, wide application and impact. The companies will be supported to accelerate access to finance through training sessions on how to develop and present well-founded proposals to potential investors. It will also increase their skills to pitch, negotiate and partner with funding organizations.
Within the Programme, the team of Invest Sofia will provide the participating companies mentorship, networking opportunities, shared office space for meetings and training sessions that will be part of Accellerator’s programme, as well as opportunity to present their projects to potential investors. Sofia Municipality’s experience from the “Europe” Programme will be applied during the programme, as well as the expertise of the Sofia Development Association in supporting entrepreneurship, innovation and digital technologies.
About the pilot edition of “Accelerator Startup Sofia”
launched in January 2019. More than 40 innovative startup companies and projects applied and 13 of them received grants of up to BGN 10 000 and access to the mentoring programme in September. The beneficiaries of the programme develop products and services in areas such as 3D printing, consumer experience, marketing and advertising, health care, education and others.
Еxperts from LAUNCHub, BrightCap, EY Bulgaria, Dimitrova, Staykova and Partners, Out2Bound, 356Labs, The DOTS, Vangavis, UNWE and Fund of Funds joined the training sessions. Their participation made it possible to cover topics that the startups themselves identified as areas they needed guidance in: business planning, management styles, sales, design and presentation, digital marketing, fundraising, financing tools, foreign markets entry, working with institutions, contacts with media and partners.
Many of the first edition graduates still implement successful projects, being recognised in international
The Center for Educational Services of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski to launch a Sustainable Investments and Finance Academy. The initiative aims to provide Bulgarian students interested in these areas with a chance for better career development.
The training will take place online from 21 to 24.02.2022. Participants will gain up-to-date knowledge of green standards, relevant financial practices, and models for sustainable and green business. Upon completion of the training, participants will receive a certificate from Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski.
Lecturers at the Academy will be experts in the field of sustainable finance from the Bulgarian Development Bank, a partner in the initiative, lecturers from the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Sofia University St.Kliment Ohridski, experts from the Financial Markets Regulation Directorate at the Ministry of Finance, as well as experts from the Faculty of Philosophy at Sofia University, the Supreme Administrative Court, etc.
The chosen focus of the academy is relevant in the context of the green transition and the need to get acquainted with the new classification system of sustainable activities introduced by the EU. The new regulatory framework will encourage private investment in sustainable projects and support the transition to a climate-neutral economy.
Undergraduates, doctoral students, and assistants in Bulgarian and foreign universities can also participate in the competition “Young Financier” by submitting an essay on “Do we need green finance”. The competition is open to anyone with activities in economics, finance, and other sciences related to the topic and is not a condition for inclusion in the Academy. The competition’s prize fund has been provided by the Bulgarian Development Bank and already is open for submissions of essays of up to 3 pages. They should be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 15, 2021, at the latest.
Read more about the Sustainable Investments and Finance Academy and the Young Financier competition on the website of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration here.
OSM International Group is a global management consulting company offering unique analysis and support tools for human development and human potential. In Sofia, the company presented a comprehensive personality testing tool, the I-Profile Analysis. The test contains 242 questions designed to review the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate’s personality and is like an “X-ray” of a person’s behavior and potential.
The I-Profile Analysis was developed by OSM and certified in the USA with one of the highest reliability coefficients. It can reveal previously unsuspected talents in an employee, whether a person is suitable for his position or predict great potential for another position in the company.
In addition, the tool identifies the real reasons for having underperforming employees and whether this is due to mismanagement by the company’s leaders or problematic issues stem from personal reasons. It also shows whether employees have reached their limit and no longer contribute to the development of the company or department.
The participants in the event had the chance to take advantage of OSM’s I-Profile analysis free of charge. “We believe that OSM International Group can be a reliable partner for small and medium entrepreneurs in Bulgaria in helping them further develop their business and optimise the most important resource in the company – the people”, CEO of Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova said.
EU-based startups are invited to apply for the European Startup Mobility Award (EUSP), a public-private initiative between EU institutions, mobility corporations and technology companies. Startups with sustainable mobility solutions can apply for the investment and acceleration programme from the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, EIT InnoEnergy and private investors. The EUSP aims to reveal Europe’s 10 best sustainable mobility startups and praise 10 special awards in each of the categories in the contest. The best projects will also receive mentorship, networking opportunities with EU organizations and promotion. The application deadline is November 30 at this address: https://startupprize.eu/.
The EU Commission launched the second call for large-scale projects under the Innovation Fund, one of the world’s largest programmes for the demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies. With a budget of €1.5 billion it will finance breakthrough technologies for renewable energy, energy-intensive industries, energy storage, and carbon capture, use and storage. Projects will be evaluated according to their potential to avoid greenhouse gas emissions, their innovation potential, their financial and technical maturity, their potential for scaling up and their cost efficiency. Companies can apply via the EU Funding and Tenders portal here – https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_5473
Until November 16, you can apply for SpinLab – HHL Accelerator – a 6-month programme for mentoring and access to finance, that will take place in Leipzig, Germany. Enrolled startups will receive 6,000€ funding to help cover living costs in Leipzig while attending the programme.
SpinLab – HHL Accelerator will also provide special prizes worth up to 15,000 euros for the best presentation and the most sustainable idea presented during The Investors’ Day. The Programme focuses on start-ups that develop concepts in the areas of eHealth, Smart City, and Energy and are somehow technology-based. Without being a mandatory requirement, the accelerator encourages projects that use Hardware, IoT, Apps, and SaaS.
Berlin’s Earlybird Venture Capital has announced the launch of a new fund dedicated to helping deep tech innovations in European universities become commercialised products and services. With €75 million to play with, the UNI-X fund is targeting pre-seed and early seed investments, particularly university spin-offs. For more details, please visit https://earlybird.com/.
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has launched a call for proposals under the Culture and Creativity Programme. Projects can be submitted by consortia of organisations and Cultural and Creative Sectors and Industries (CCSI) and sectoral leaders bringing together
Nestle Bulgaria inaugurated a new production line for the Smarties brand in its Sofia factory, following an investment of BGN 19 million. The investment aims to expand the Swiss company’s production in Bulgaria. The new line includes about 100 fully automated newest-generation machines. The investment will also create 70 new jobs. The new factory spreads over an area of over 4,000 sq.m.. Its production will cover deliveries to the local market and export to ten European countries.
Тhe construction of a new logistics park of the Bulgarian logistics company Zora Logistic MMS for white goods and other household appliances has started in the Sofia-Bozhurishte industrial zone. The facility is expected to be commissioned in the first months of 2023. The new logistics park covers an area of 80,000 sq. m. and will include an administrative building and warehouses for the goods of the retail chain. The construction will follow the latest standards for high-quality materials, energy efficiency, and independence through its voltaic installation. The park will also have an e-car charging station.
Palfinger Productiontechnik Bulgaria EOOD received a Class A investment certificate for the “Establishment of a Palfinger Shared Services Center” investment project in Sofia. The project is worth BGN 4,432,000.
Palfinger Productiontechnik Bulgaria was established 15 years ago and is part of the Austrian Palfinger AG. The company produces lifting and transport systems and solutions and already has 2 factories in Bulgaria – one in Tenevo, which produces hydraulic cylinders, and another in Cherven Bryag, where metal components for cranes are produced to be exported to Slovakia and Austria. The third production unit of the company will be located in Sofia and create 200 new jobs.
Azerion, the Dutch platform for web-based games and other entertainment content, has announced the acquisition of the Sofia-based digital monetization platform PubGalaxy. PubGalaxy has been rated by Deloitte as one of the fastest-growing technology companies in Central Europe. PubGalaxy is to assist Azerion with its monetization strategies and facilitate partnerships between publishers and advertisers.
Founded in 2001, today PubGalaxy is a 360-degree locally developed platform for optimizing ad revenue that helps publishers optimize their campaigns and increase ad revenue. The company’s expertise will add value to the services that Azerion provides to its network of customers.
On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, Investor.bg organized a special business conference with the participation of experts from all sectors and representatives from the top management companies in Bulgaria. Invest Sofia also joined the discussions on the current challenges in the socio-economic life of the country.
Transformation of business, technology, green economy and the challenges facing business in the context of the global pandemic were some of the main highlights at the conference.
One of the conclusions made during the discussion was that business digitalization was further accelerated by the pandemic. Topics such as changes in consumer behavior, smart technologies, is production coming home and can Bulgaria be perceived as a promising nearshoring destination were also part of the Conference’ agenda.
Funding opportunities for Bulgarian companies provided by the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund (3SIIF) were presented during the virtual conference „Equity for Infrastructure“. The event was organized by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Investment Council at the Chamber and the Bulgarian Development Bank.
The Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund consists of 9 development banks, Bulgarian Development Bank being among them. The Fund has already made its first investments aimed at improving transport, energy and digital connectivity in the Black, Adriatic and Baltic Sea regions.
So far, The Fund has raised almost EUR 1 billion and is actively working to attract private capital with a target of between EUR 3-5 billion. Up to EUR 10 billion is the total investment amount expected to be generated.
The Fund’s main objective is to invest in target sectors such as transport, energy efficiency, and digital and information technologies along the north-south axis and narrow the gap among EU regions.
Teletek Electronis, the Sofia-based company for security systems and fire alarm systems, has started the construction of a new production base in the “Voenna Rampa” industrial zone in Sofia with an investment of BGN 14 million. The building is about to become operational in 2022 and increase the company’s production and R&D capacity. It is expected that new machines and production equipment, modern laboratory equipment and test facilities will be introduced. The company plans a larger product range, entering new markets and expanding its team with specialists in production and development. Teletek Electronics works with traders in signaling and fire alarm products in over 80 countries. Its systems are installed in millions of office, administrative, and public buildings in Bulgaria and worldwide. For its project, the Sofia-based company received a Class A certificate from the Ministry of Economy.
The transport and logistics company TTL EOOD also received a class A investment certificate for constructing a base for locomotives and wagons repair and a warehouse. The company will invest BGN 4.4 million and create new jobs. TTL EOOD offers services in the organization, logistics, and transportation on domestic and international lines, including specialized wagons, trucks, and containers for land and water transport.
Seven startups entered the fourth group of Bulgaria’s accelerator program for international growth Innovation Hub (BIH). Six of them are Sofia-based, and one is based in Plovdiv and has a team in Sofia. Ampeco, Boleron, Escreo, Evrotrust, Primeholding, Shkolo, and SoftUni have been accepted into the 3-week program. The BIH Accelerator Program provides participating teams with nearly 30 online seminars on business planning, team building, marketing, sales, and investor work, and the opportunity to learn from the experience of Silicon Valley mentors and present themselves to US investors. BIH’s next growth program is expected to take place in March 2022. The hub implements activities for cooperation between the entrepreneurial communities in the USA and Bulgaria works for developing innovations, entrepreneurial thinking, and the becoming of Bulgarian technology companies into competitive world leaders.
Brain Foods, the Sofia-based startup for vegan foods and beverages, has also received recognition for its great growth potential. The company is part of Sofia Tech Park’s ecosystem and has been accepted in the world’s leading incubator ProVeg, which develops startups focusing on alternative plant and cultivated foods. Only eight teams from Asia and Europe have gained access to the
Enterprises from all sectors can apply to the second edition of the Export Hub Bulgariaäs training program – EXPO2. The initiative is of the
Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency and aims to support the export potential of Bulgarian companies.
It is a three-month program that will take place in a hybrid format between January and March 2022. Each company will have its mentor, while participation
is free for the participants in a leadership position with decision-making competencies – owners, managers, sales directors. The application deadline is November 2, 2021.
The second edition of the international CASSINI Hackathon space technology competition is dedicated to “Connecting with the Arctic.” Participants will be challenged to generate new ideas and technologies for new travel routes, wildlife protection, assistance to local communities, and conservation of natural habitats in the Arctic. The competition seeks solutions in 3 main directions: Safe passage at sea, Life on Land, and Wildlife care. The organizers are 10 European countries, and all individual participants or teams with a passion for entrepreneurship, EU, and Arctic space technologies are invited to participate. Registration of projects is open by 29 October through the competition website https://hackathons.cassini.eu/, after which participants must make teams. The hackathon will take place on 5-7 November – online and live in several locations across Europe.
The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce’s BIA Open Innovation Platform has published several new opportunities from companies in the Netherlands. The pl
atform is a place of contact between companies and institutions with startups where they can solve a specific problem or develop a new solution in a given area. Solutions are necessary for telemedicine and e-health, environmental packaging, biochemistry, mobile devices, and more. Full descriptions of the challenges are available after free registration on the BIA Open Innovation Platform website.
Slovak Matchmaking Fair 2021, organized by the Slovak Agency for Investment and Trade Development SARIO, will take place online on 21 October. It is under the auspices of the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic. The theme of the 15th edition is Modern Industry and Digital Support for Innovation. Some Bulgarian companies have already registered, as well as companies from more than 30 countries. You will find their profiles and a registration link for participation on the event website here – https://matchmakingfairbratislava2021.sario.sk/.
The Bulgarian Development Bank, supported by the Pan-European Guarantee Fund, has launched a
Sofia Investment Agency presented a Class B certificate for an investment project of municipal importance to the Children’s Health Medical Center. The certificate is under the Investment Promotion Act (IPA) and has been issued for the construction of a Children’s Medical Center with a children’s hospital ward and a polyclinic in Ovcha Kupel in Sofia.
With the investment of BGN 1,950,000, the project envisages the construction of an entirely new building for specialized outpatient and inpatient consultative-diagnostic, treatment, prophylactic and health-promotional activities for children from 0 to 18 years of age, as well as integrated social health and psychological care for disadvantaged children, foster parents, children and parents from vulnerable groups. The new medical center is expected to start operating at the end of 2023.
An official press conference in “Sofia Tech Park” marked the launch of the Bulgarian supercomputer “Discoverer” in operation. Scientific teams, and Bulgarian and European organizations, and companies can now submit project proposals for the computational resource of the petascale computer in Sofia. Submissions are open until December 31, 2021, for projects aimed at scientific or applied tasks, and after January 1, 2022 – for projects related to research and technological development.
The proposals will be considered by a specially formed Permanent Expert Council of specialists in high-performance computing, and by the relevant scientific communities. The projects must correspond to the machine’s capabilities and available resources and will be approved and ranked according to the implementation priorities and deadlines.
For the second consecutive year, the Faculty of Economics at Sofia University, the Bulgarian Fintech Association (BFA), and the fintech companies in Sofia and the country have joined teams to deliver a master’s degree in Finance, Investment, and Fintech. Following last year’s success, when the program became the most sought-after full-time master’s program at the Faculty of Economics, this year “Finance, Investment and Fintech” is expanding its scope. It will also involve a course in “Blockchain and cryptocurrencies”. The partnership closes the circle from the student bench to realization in the financial technology sector. Fintech companies in Bulgaria are involved in the training by providing direct opportunities for the professional realization of students in this extremely dynamic area globally.
Another 30 new electric buses will be put in operation in Sofia’s public transport in the coming weeks, replacing old ones. Extra 52 are currently in the delivery procedure. The new