On June 3, 2022, Sofia will host the SEE Innovation, Technology and Sourcing Summit – the largest forum for innovation and technology in Southeast Europe. The event is organized by the Association for innovation, business excellence, services and technology (AIBEST) and the Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO). The Sofia Municipality, together with Invest Sofia, are co-organizers and institutional partners of the Summit.
The upcoming event will focus 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 technological brand of the region.
Invest Sofia will join the event as an institutional partner of AIBEST and BESCO to support their goal of strengthening the development of the business ecosystem in Southeast Europe and positioning the region as a top destination for high added-value services. This goal is our mission as well.
We believe that the dialogue between the public sector and the local tech community will strengthen both Sofia’s and Bulgaria’s potential to be the driver of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Southeast Europe. The strong position of the city was recently confirmed by the “Mapping the Sofia Tech Sector” report published by the global entrepreneurship network Endeavor – another initiative in which we were also a partner. According to the study, our country is in a stronger position compared to the neighboring countries and the local ecosystem shows significant advantages.
The annual international Innovation, Technology and Sourcing Awards ceremony will be held during the event. The awards will highlight the best-performing tech and business services companies, startups, and institutions that contribute to the development of the knowledge economy in the SEE region.
Applications for the awards are accepted until May 20th on the ЅEE ITЅ Awards website: https://seeitssummit.com/awards-2022
Early bird registrations for the Summit are also open on https://seeitssummit.com.
Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova presented a Green Card for administrative services to Teva Pharma’s Executive Director Nikolay Hadjidonchev. In Sofia, the pharmaceutical company is currently developing a Global Shared Service Center which delivers support in IT, Supply Management, Transport&Logistics, Design, Regulatory Services, Quality Management, Data Management, and many more. The company’s expert local team, which serves Teva’s markets and production facilities worldwide, intends to reach 400 people.
“For me, the development of Sofia as a green city, using innovative solutions and attracting investors in the IT sector, is crucial. I am glad that Invest Sofia presents the seventh Green Card to a company focused on environmentally friendly production and relying on green technologies. The tech sector is the fastest-growing in the city, and it further boosts the growth of other industries through digitalization. Sectors such as BioTech and MedTech and healthcare also have great potential, Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said.
“We highly appreciate this Certificate and we would like to sincerely congratulate you on this incentivizing initiative. We are proud that Sofia and Bulgaria were chosen over other much larger countries for the location where some of Teva’s global departments to be set up and developed,” said Nikolay Hadjidonchev, CEO at Teva Pharma.
In Bulgaria, Teva Pharma is the largest pharmaceutical company in terms of production capacity, sales in packaging, and the number of employees. The company pays special attention to environmental protection. In the new building of the company in Sofia, a lighting control system is installed. It is automatically controlled by the intensity of sunlight, which ensures healthy and safe working conditions. Since the beginning of the year, the company’s policy has been further aligned and currently, Teva’s fleet consists of electric vehicles.
Sofia has been 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 public voting for the projects is now open. You can support Sofia by May 31 at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/EEAwards2022
The capital is competing for the awards in the following categories: Green Energy – for facilitating increased energy efficiency in public buldings via sustainable green energy production for self-consumption and remote energy monitoring, whilst also ensuring better air quality, and Modern and Future-proof Policymaking Initiative of the Year – for pushing through its initiative Sandbox for Innovative Solutoins for local innovation and smart city solutions that can improve the quality of life and stimulate local businesses.
Almost 50 organisations and individuals from across Central, Eastern, South-Eastern Europe and the Caucasus have been shortlisted for the fifth edition of the Future of Emerging Europe Awards. The winners will be chosen by a mix of jury and public votes. The winners will be announced at an official ceremony in Brussels on June 23rd.
Sofia has a history in previous editions of the awards. In 2018 the city was nominated in the category Strategy for stimulating foreign investment, and in 2020 the capital ranked 1st in the category Smart city development and 7th in the overall ranking for the cities for doing business in Central and Eastern Europe – The Business-Friendly Cities Perception Ranking 2020, prepared especially for the Emerging Europe Awards 2020. Back then, Sofia ranked in the Top 10 cities in the category Quality of Life competing with 75 cities in the region.
The nominated projects
Sofia Municipality launched its project for green energy and smart in the summer of 2021. The initiative is part of the efforts of the city administration and to improve energy efficiency in public buildings by installing solar panels and systems providing “smart” utilities to measure energy consumption from various sources. Real-time access to data allows the building administration to take measures towards electricity costs optimisation. Thus, within a one-year cycle, sufficient data will be generated, facilitating both the development of data-based policies for the installation of renewable energy sources, and for costs-reducing consumer behaviour. Under the project, real-time monitoring of water consumption is also carried out.
The implementation of this pilot project started with the installation of solar panels and a system providing smart
Sofia IS, a joint initiative between Invest Sofia and Sofia-based companies, that aims at integrated services to potential investors, is expanding its network of partner companies. Since the start of the initiative in December last year, 14 companies have joined the network.
Sofia IS is the first of its kind city programme in Bulgaria for partnership between the local city administration and local companies operating in Sofia to provide a full scope of services to new investor inquiries. The initiative is under the coordination of Invest Sofia and comprises independent international consulting companies whose expertise covers all the necessary initial activities in exploring the business environment and investment opportunities in Sofia.
The initiative brings together international companies with expertise in business analysis; financial and legal consulting; labor market and human capital; office, commercial and industrial real estate; administrative support, coworking spaces and much more. Their experience so far forms a rich total portfolio of over 80 companies – local and international, from all sectors of the economy. Thus, the programme has the potential to offer free support in a wide range of services that cover every stage of setting up a business in Sofia.
The website of Sofia IS contains a detailed list of all services that investors can receive free of charge through the partner network of the initiative, including those delivered by the expert team of Invest Sofia. Short profiles and company presentations of all network partners have also been published, as well as infographics on the mission of the initiative and the services which investors in Sofia can request assistance for.
Invest Sofia would like to thank all the partner companies that are already part of Sofia IS. These are: Adecco Bulgaria, ARS Bulgaria, Avalant Bulgaria, Cushman & Wakefield Forton, Easy Consult, Entract 127, InfoGraffiti, Innovative Consulting Ltd., Matrix Relocations, Networking Premium Coworking, nPloy, PwC Bulgaria, RIR and HRS. The network is open to more Sofia-based companies that want to support investments in the city and are ready to share their expertise in investor inquiries.
Within our initiative to support the refugees in Sofia, Viktor Gusev – Head of the Investment Analysis Department and Olena Filina, Senior Expert at Invest Sofia presented job opportunities, vacancies, and support in dealing with the local administration at meeting with Ukrainians in Sofia. Our partners from Caritas Bulgaria – non-profit organization implementing social work to support vulnerable people in society at the Catholic Church in Bulgaria and the the European project RIDE – an initiative that aims to include migrant and refugee women in the digital labour market also took part in 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. We discussed local labor market aspects and the instruments our organizations can assist with towards re-skilling, upskilling, finding a job, and more.
We remind you that the Jobs in Sofia platform https://jobs.investsofia.com/ 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 team of Invest Sofia partners with other major municipalities in the country to encourage companies from Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas and other Bulgarian cities with local refugee communities to publish their open positions as well.
Rubik Hub, the Romanian startup hub, together with two VC funds ROCA X and SeedBlink from Romania, and accelerator Global Kinetics from Silicon Valley and Startup Wise Guys from Estonia launched a startup accelerator. Rubik Garage is an equity-free acceleration program aiming to support startups from CEE or SEE raise their first investment round. The program is focusing on startups with an innovative product or business model that have a minimum viable product and/or an experienced team.
On behalf of the organising team, we invite startups from Sofia and Bulgaria to apply for participation.
Rubik Garage is free of charge and is organised by Rubik Hub and the North-East Regional Development Agency. Its main focus are startups from the verticals of MedTech, EdTech, Climate, Tourism, Social Impact, Fintech, Smart Cities, Automation, using technologies such as Saas, IoT, AI, VR, AR, XR, Big data, and blockchain. However, if you are focused on other areas and feel your startup can make a dent in the universe, then apply here!
Applications are open until May 1st, 2022.
The selection process:
The selected startups will be announced on the 6th of May. The selection jury is comprised of experts from Rubik Hub and its strategic partners: the Romanian VC funds ROCA X and SeedBlink, and the accelerators Global Kinetics from Silicon Valley, USA, and Startup Wise Guys from Estonia.
Rubik Garage 2022 – the program
Rubik Garage is a hybrid acceleration program, in English. The program will begin on 18th of May and it comprises 3 phases:
The acceleration phase starts with a Founders’ Bootcamp and a launch event, on 18th -20th of May. Here, the founders will meet the mentors, the strategic partners and the wider Rubik Hub community and will attend in-person workshops. This will take place in Rubik Hub, in Piatra Neamt, Romania, in a 1200sq space created exclusively for startup events and co-working, and surrounded by forests and mountains.
At an official meeting on April 27, 2022, Invest Sofia and Diana Sivinova, Managing Representative of Innovative Consulting, signed a Memorandum of Cooperation between the organizations.
Under the agreement, Invest Sofia and Innovative Consulting will cooperate in activities related to supporting new investors in the city through market analyses; strategic planning and consulting that will help them build a unique brand identity, reputation and communication strategy, as well as optimized media mix aimed at strong brand presence. Thus, Innovative Consulting is now part of the partner network of Invest Sofia under the Sofia IS initiative – 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 investor inquiries.
Innovative Consulting is a communications and strategic marketing agency with long experience in the field of brand management and image-making. The company has implemented a number of successful communication campaigns for local and international brands, public figures and celebrities.
The agreement between the two parties aims to encourage the exchange of expertise and business contacts and initiate joint activities of mutual interest.
The Sofia-based startup Releva, which helps online stores grow, raised 870,000 euros to accelerate operations and support the global strategy of the company. The financial round was led by the Fund of Funds’ fund manager New Vision 3 Fund with participation by HR Capital AD, Verto Invest and private investors. Releva started in 2019 with a marketing automation SaaS solution designed to meet the goals of two local online stores. The analytics growth platform Releva analyzes consumer behavior through artificial intelligence and predicts the next purchase, then allows automatic sending of personalized multi-channel messages and ads via email, SMS, messengers, Facebook, Google and more. Releva is in the process of implementing various technologies that combine real-time big data analysis related to sales and marketing operations, payments, analysis and forecasting, etc., so as to provide retailers with access to customized tools to plan and execute their supply chains. By 2025 retail e-commerce sales worldwide is expected to reach 7.4 trillion dollars. Therefore, the company plans to invest the raised capital to expand to foreign markets.
Chaos Group, a world leader in photorealistic 3D visualization, has announced the acquisition of the Danish company Cylindo – a platform for 3D computer visualization of commerce. The acquisition will enable the companies to further build on their vision of creating a leading end-to-end 3D visualization ecosystem with 3D, AR and VR content widely available to different sectors. Cylindo has over 160 employees in its offices in Boston (USA), Copenhagen (Denmark), Bitola and Skopje (Northern Macedonia). With the acquisition of Cylindo, the Chaos Group team in Sofia will manage nearlt 700 employees worldwide.
The French company Athos IT Solutions and Services Ltd has opened a new global Security Operations Center in Sofia. The new center is designed to rapidly identify and limit the impact of security incidents for large organizations globally. Athos is a French multinational company and the European number one in cybersecurity, cloud, and high-performance computing. More than 300 new jobs will be created in the new Security Operations Center in Sofia.
For the investment, Invest Sofia presented Athos with a Green card for individual administrative services. Find out more details here.
The European investment platform SeedBlink opened in Sofia its first office outside Romania. With this, the company complements its plans for expansion and accelerated growth. SeedBlink already has active partnerships within the Bulgarian ecosystem and the community of
The mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova presented a Green card for administrative services to the Greek-Spanish Etem Gestamp Aluminium Extrusions.
This is the sixth Sofia-based company to receive a Green card by Invest Sofia that serves as a “fast track” to tailored administrative services to investors in Sofia Municipality. ‘For us, innovation and green transformation are a key milestone to the development of the city,’ Mayor Fandakova said. She expressed her gratitude to the company for choosing Sofia for its new investment that will create 130 new jobs in the city.
Etem Gestamp Aluminium Extrusions is a leading manufacturer in the field of aluminum extrusion. The company has recently announced a new investment of 60 million euros in cutting edge technology and a fully automated internal logistic solution.
Etem’s strategy is focused on e-mobility, lighter vehicles and zero emissions in support of the global transition towards sustainability and carbon neutrality. The Greek-Spanish Group has a production plant in the Iliyantsi industrial zone. Etem started operating in 2019 as a project of the joint ventures Etem Bulgaria, part of the Greek Viohalco, and the Spanish Gestamp. In Sofia, Etem Gestamp also has an R&D center that works on product design together with the company’s customers.
The new investment in Sofia comes after Etem Gestamp signed two of the biggest projects in its history. At the end of 2022, the company plans to start mass production of battery boxes for Porsche and the Jaguar Land Rover Group. To meet the increasing demand, Etem Gestamp has an investment plan of over 60 million euros.
We are here to join efforts with the business in the city and help solve the challenges’, CEO at Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova said. She outlined future partnership opportunities and committed to assisting the company in finding new staff.
Since the beginning of the year, Invest Sofia has presented six Green cards to investors currently implementing new projects on the territory of Sofia Municipality. The total amount of planned investments is 125 million euros, which will bring the city about 500 new jobs.
The team of Invest Sofia just published the fourth edition of Sofia Business Guide, a guide about Sofia as an investment destination. You can download the document from our website here.
Sofia Business Guide 2021 covers a wide range of topics and includes data on the city’s economy, workforce, education, transport and connectivity, industrial zones and areas with a concentration of business buildings in the city, priority industries, investment and entrepreneurial environment, quality of life and many more.
In the new edition, special attention is paid to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the labor market in Sofia, the construction sector, tourism and other spheres of urban life. The data show that the city’s economy continues to grow quite dynamically compared to other cities in the country and Sofia preserves its competitiveness during the pandemic.
Again, the Guide includes up-to-date statistics and information on the priority sectors in the economy of Sofia – artificial intelligence (AI), entertainment, movie industry and gaming, robotics, fintech, manufacturing, automotive sector, tourism and space industry.
The document contains also data on taxes, fees, investment incentives, the procedures for registering a company, funding opportunities and much more practical information for entrepreneurs who consider setting up a business in Sofia. Thus, the Sofia Business Guide 2021 serves as a step-by-step guide for starting a business in Sofia. Data are presented mainly in easily digested tables and infographics. Our team is available to provide additional data, guidance and tailored assistance to investors and entrepreneurs in the capital.
“In 2022, we’ll stay focused on attracting new investors, providing a stable environment for the local companies, strengthening key sectors, and supporting an inclusive city-to-business attitude. We believe business and city leaders can work together in a number of key areas – long-term economic growth, sustainability, and good quality of life in the city. In addition to what we’ve already started, we will strive to initiate new productive partnerships between the city administration and the entrepreneurial ecosystem through direct cooperation, openness, long-term planning, incentives, and assistance for the continued stable growth of our vibrant and beautiful city – Sofia,” CEO Maria Hristova said on the occasion of the new Sofia Business Guide release.
Within days, the document will be available for download in English.
We would like to thank all supporting organizations for the information and guidance they provided for the new edition of the Sofia Business Guide
New technology-based innovative solutions for efficient use of energy resources, lower dependence on fossil fuels and reduction of carbon emissions in Sofia are among the priorities of Sofia Municipality, Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova said at the opening of the “Digital Sofia – Smart City” Conference.
The event, organized by Sofia Municipality and the Communications Regulation Commission, brought together representatives of Ministries, Municipal Administration, and business representatives. Yordanka Fandakova announced that almost 70% of the single-trip travel tickets sold by the Urban Mobility Center in Sofia are electronic tickets, which makes urban transport in the city more convenient for travelers. The Sofia Municipality is also the first in the country to introduce an online application for building permits and other urban planning-related services. Sofia is soon to launch a project for energy-independent kindergartens and schools. Some 400 buildings will produce green energy for their consumption needs through hydrogen cells and sensors that will monitor electricity, water, and gas costs, Yordanka Fandakova said.
Starting from May 91 Sofia citizens will be able to change their address registration entirely online in all city districts, Deputy Mayor for Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development Gencho Kerezov said. The service was launched as a pilot project in the Studentski district and for the first 3 months since its start, it was used 10 times more than all electronic services in the district for the last 6 years.
“Sofia Municipality offers more than 100 online services. Priority was given to those that citizens use the most “, the Chairman of the Sofia Municipal Council Georgi Georgiev said. He participated in the panel discussion “Speaks: The Municipality” together with Dr. Maria Hristova, Chief Executive Officer of Invest Sofia. Hristova said that the global smart cities market is expected to reach $2.5 trillion by 2026. “The latest data show that becoming a smarter city has the potential to increase GDP per capita by as much as 21% and population growth by 13% over the next five years for cities beginning their smart city journeys,” she said and presented the Invest Sofia’s support for start-ups, including the newly created Green Card for Administrative Services.
Sofia’s chief architect Zdravko Zdravkov, Municipal Councilor Hristian Petrov, executive director of the Center for Urban Mobility Dimitar Dilchev, and the Project Coordinator of “Green Sofia” Elitsa Panayotova also took part in the panel discussion.
At a special event in Hall 3 of the National Palace of Culture, the first in Eastern Europe Institute for Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology – INSAIT has been officially launched in Sofia. The institute is structured as a special unit at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski ”and is created in partnership with two of the world’s leading technology universities in Switzerland – ETH Zurich and EPFL.
The mission of the institute is to establish Sofia and Bulgaria as a global destination for research and innovation, an attractive hub for scientists and talents, as well as to create favorable conditions for the development of an economy based on products with high added value and intellectual property.
World-renowned scientists from the United States, Israel and Switzerland will provide expert supervision and assistance to the new institute. Members of the Institute’s Supervisory and Advisory Board include world-renowned scientists from ETH Zurich, EPFL, IST Austria, MIT, UC Berkeley, Yale, Princeton and Technion.
At the invitation of the organisers, the Chief Executive Officer of Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova attended the opening of the INSAIT Institute. The project for the Institute of Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology in Sofia is backed by the Bulgarian government, global tech giants such as Google, DeepMind and Amazon Web Services, local technology companies, entrepreneurs and investors. The INSAIT Institute has all the prerequisites to become a world-class research center that attracts the best researchers and talents from the region and the world.
The official launch was attended by President Rumen Radev, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer, President of the European Research Council (ERC) Prof. Maria Leptin, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Maria Gabriel, the Rector of Sofia University Prof. Anastas Gerdjikov, representatives of academia and business from Bulgaria and abroad.