The hybrid event aims to bring together representatives of startup companies and municipal experts. Current funding opportunities and support instruments for startups to be presented. Projects for sustainable solutions to urban challenges developed by local startup companies will also be presented during the meeting. Watch “Investors, Startups, City Administration: Effective Collaboration” live on April 6, 2022, at 15:00 on the Facebook page of Invest Sofia. To join us online, please fill out the registration form here to receive your link for online access via Zoom.
At an official ceremony, the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI France-Bulgarie) announced the Innovation Awards 2022 winners. Award plaques were handed out in four categories: “Investment”, “Businessman”, “Businesswoman” and “Corporate Social Responsibility”. One finalist from each category entered the jury voting for the special award.
Here are the winners awarded for their dynamism, innovative approach, achievements and their corporate social and environmental responsibility:
The Innovation Awards by the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry aim to promote the most innovative projects developed in Bulgaria, and this year, for the first time, the competition was open to external companies, non-members of the Chamber. Companies from all sectors could apply, registered in Bulgaria for at least 18 months, with at least 5 employees.
The event took place on March 29 at the Grand Hotel Millennium Sofia. At the invitation of the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Chief Executive Officer of Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova attended the ceremony. CCI France-Bulgarie members, business representatives, and institutional partners also joined the event.
Among the official guests of the Innovation Awards 2022 were H.E. Mrs. Florence Robin, Ambassador of the Republic of France to Bulgaria, the Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer, the Minister of Education and Science Nikolay Denkov and the Minister of Labor and Social Policy Georgi Gokov.
Etem Gestamp announced an investment of over 60 million euros for the expansion of the production facilities, cutting edge technology and a fully automated internal logistic solution to its production unit in Sofia. The project will create over 130 new jobs for skilled personnel over the next 2 years. The start of series production is scheduled for early 2023. Invest Sofia is to issue a Green Card for administrative services to the company.
In Sofia, Etem Gestamp manufactures aluminum elements and profiles for the automotive industry and supplies products for major brands such as BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Audi, Porsche, VW and Daimler. The production unit of the Greek-Spanish group is situated in Iliyantsi Industrial Zone and started operating in 2019 as an investment of the joint company between Etem Bulgaria, part of the Greek Viohalco, and the Spanish Gestamp. The plant manufactures various profiles and parts for chassis, doors, safety and accident management systems, battery components and fasteners for electric vehicles and exports products to Europe, China and Mexico. Here, Etem Gestamp also has an R&D center that supports the company’s customers during the implementation of various product design projects.
Festo Production, the Bulgarian company of the German leader in the production of magnetic sensors Festo, also announced a new investment at its plant in Sofia. The company will invest BGN 20 million in expanding its base and will increase the number of its employees by 30%. Thus, the unit in our country will become the second largest center after the one in the company’s headquarters in Germany. In Sofia, Festo also has its own R&D center, which works with the German development department on joint production projects. Festo’s plant in Sofia manufactures over 1,300 types of products and is a world leader in the production of various types of sensors and accessories, as well as connector cables.
The London-based technology company Kin + Carta acquires the Bulgarian software developer Melon Group, the two companies announced in an official statement. The price of the deal is worth 17.7 million pounds (21.3 million euros) and may reach 23.5 million pounds (28.2 million euros) in the coming years.
Melon Group is a fast-growing software engineering company based in Sofia and with offices in North Macedonia and Kosovo. Its team consists of 300 web, mobile and data specialists. Melon Group’s portfolio includes medtech, fintech, banking, and human resources tech
At an official ceremony, the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA) presented the Business to the Rules awards for 2021. The annual competition aims to promote the best actions that fight against the informal economy and highlight leading institutions and individuals whose initiatives demonstrate an active position and contribute to reducing the gray practices.
At the invitation of BICA, Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO at Invest Sofia, attended the award ceremony. Representatives of the executive and legislative institutions, businesses-, non-governmental organizations, and social partners of the Association also joined the event.
The ceremony took place on March 21 at an official event at Sofia Hotel Balkan. Statuettes were awarded in three categories: Normative act or administrative practice that leads to a curtailment of the gray economy and improvement of the business environment, Person or organization that contributed to limit and prevent the informal economy through an active position, and Journalist or media, who have contributed to change public attitudes towards intolerance to the informal economy. The 2021 winners in the respective categories are:
The awards were presented by Vasil Velev, Chairman of the Board of Directors of BICA, the Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer, and Georgi Gokov – Minister of Labor and Social Policy.
The nominations for the awards were made through a broad public consultation among the members of the Association of Industrial Capital in Bulgaria, all social partners, members of the Public Council for Restriction and Prevention of the Informal Economy, which includes representatives of many state institutions and the media. The winners were announced by secret ballot by an expert jury composed of over 100 prominent personalities: prominent economists, public figures, media representatives, members of the National and Control Council of BICA, the Public Council for Restriction and Prevention of the Informal Economy, and the undeclared employment, and others.
The nominations for the awards were made through a broad public consultation among the members of the Association of Industrial Capital in Bulgaria, all social partners, members of the Public Council for Restriction and Prevention of the Informal Economy, which includes representatives
The German programme Entrepreneurship Explorer Ruhr 2022 is now open for applications until April 11. The programme is free of charge, with a duration of one week in May and is aimed at international students, early career researchers (PhD students, postdocs), solo founders or teams, early-stage start-ups working in different high tech areas (esp. cyber security, material, robotics, AI, chemistry). Entrepreneurship Explorer Ruhr 2022 will enable participants to test and implement innovative business ideas in the Ruhr area, Germany, explore the local ecosystem – one of the most vibrant startup communities in high-tech industries in Europe, and receive mentoring support for successful development of team, product and business model, as well as look for clients and investors from the region. Details about the programme can be found here.
PULSATE, the new PAN-European Network under the Horizon 2020 designed to boost the adoption of Laser-based Advanced and Additive Manufacturing, is looking for small and medium-sized enterprises that are interested in introducing laser-based advanced technologies and additive manufacturing technologies. Businesses have the opportunity to receive funding of up to 25,000 euros and 3 months of mentoring for performance evaluation. The application deadline is March 31. The call is aimed at companies that are looking for radical changes towards flexible production and highly digitalized production environments from areas such as aerospace, automotive, medical devices, industrial machinery, customised electronics, textiles & clothing. More information can be found here.
The second call of the SHOP4CF consortium is now open and looking for use cases that solve real challenges in the production environment and improve the safety and well-being of people at work. SHOP4CF (Smart Human Oriented Platform for Connected Factories) is funded by the EU under the Horizon 2020 Programme and aims to create an infrastructure for the deployment of human-centric industrial applications. Under the project, 20 partner organizations are developing a comprehensive software platform containing a wide range of components that cover a wide range of industry requirements in the context of modern, flexible and data-rich manufacturing. With its second open call, the project is looking for new contributors (integrators, manufacturing companies, developers) who solve problems related to the automation of monotonous, labor-intensive work and / or increase human productivity and safety with a focus on workplace well-being. The proposed use-cases should have a clear positive impact on several components listed here.
The call also aims to expand the
ZAYA.app developed by the Sofia-based GR Consulting Ltd was recognized as a Microsoft #BuildFor2030 Hackathon Hero. ZAYA was included in a list of 15 projects from around the world, for their excellent entries and solution potential and impact. With its #BuildFor2030 initiative, Microsoft aims to promote environmentally and life-changing solutions and services that meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a set of 17 areas focused on creating a more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient world by 2030. ZAYA is a virtual library of instructions for using household appliances and applies artificial intelligence, voice assistant, and other technologies to facilitate the maintenance of household appliances throughout their life cycle. Among the 15 “heroes” in Microsoft #BuildFor2030 Hackathon are companies from the United States, India, Australia and Canada, and from Europe – Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Bulgaria’s largest producer and distributor of organic food Smart Organic has increased its sales by 30% over the past year. The company is building a new warehouse and production site in Knyazhevo and plans to build yet another plant. Thus, the company will increase its production capacity and introduce new products in order to meet the growing demand for its products in key markets. The company’s team currently consists of 280 people and continues to grow. At the end of 2021, Smart Organic attracted nearly BGN 6 million from the SME beam growth programme on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange and acquired a distributor in the Netherlands. This year the company plans acquisition in Germany. For its success on the German market, Smart Organic received the “German Economy Award” in the SME category by the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Details can be found in the interview here.
With a new 12 million euro investment, the Danish furniture and home goods chain JYSK will expand its base in the Bozhurishte Industrial Zone. The company’s logistics center near Sofia started operations in 2019 and currently supplies not only in Bulgaria but also in Greece, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Serbia, as well as in franchise stores in Azerbaijan, Albania, Kosovo, Moldova and Northern Macedonia. The facility impresses with its two towers, in which operations are fully automated. The newly built facility will be located on a new 14,170 square meters and will add 33 new ramps for loading and unloading. With the investment, JYSK is expanding its capacity to serve
The team of Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency (Invest Sofia) and the Chairman of Sofia Municipal Council Georgi Georgiev granted a Green Card for individual administrative services to the French company Atos IT Solutions and Services Ltd, which just opened its 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
Despite the global and national challenges, with the new expansion of Athos, Sofia continues to establish itself as a leader in attracting investment in IT – a dominant sector in the city’s economy that creates more than 15 % of the value added. The development of local high-tech services and innovations in the city strengthens the positive economic development of Sofia and improves the quality of life in the city. The Atos’ Green Card for Administrative Services is the fifth to be issued since the beginning of the year, Invest Sofia being supporting this way investments of over BGN 65 million and over 400 jobs.
The team of Invest Sofia presented the Jobs in Sofia platform to Ukrainian refugees at a meeting organised by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and hosted by the Open Sofia Foundation. During the meeting, our experts assisted the Ukrainians who are currently establishing their daily routine here and looking for temporary or permanent employment to create their professional resumes on the platform. The meeting took place on March 22, at Networking Premium Coworking.
The Jobs in Sofia was created by the Sofia Municipality and Invest Sofia. The platform’s functionalities were presented by the Chief Executive Officer Dr. Maria Hristova. She also participated in a Q&A session on women’s rights in Bulgaria in the context of labor legislation.
The website jobs.investsofia.com is available in Ukrainian, Russian, English, and Bulgarian and vacancies 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, language skills. Users are allowed to attach a CV, certificates and diplomas, video presentation, etc.
The team of Invest Sofia has created the Jobs in Sofia platform to help Ukrainian refugees who are already establishing their daily routine in Bulgaria and want to start a job search. The Agency partners not only with companies in Sofia but also with other major municipalities in the country. We have spread the information about the platform to a wide partner network to encourage companies from Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas and other Bulgarian cities with local refugee communities to publish their open positions.
Sofia already has its first Wine Map – a guide to places in the city where you can taste quality Bulgarian wine. The map was created at the initiative of Sofia Municipality in partnership with the Bulgarian Association of Wine Professionals (BAWP) and includes information about 40 wine shops, bars, and restaurants, their location, as well as brief descriptions of local varieties, vineyards, regions, cellars, opportunities for wine tours in the city and a calendar of events in Sofia related to Bulgarian wine. The map is now available on the sofia.bg website and can be viewed and downloaded from the following page.
Sofia Municipality is designing two more tourist products. The map “Discover the Birds of Sofia” and the map “Street Arts in Sofia” are to be presented.
The online voting under Sofia Municipality’s “Sofia Votes for GREEN” is underway. A total of 37 projects proposed by citizens in areas such as designing new parks, tree planting, sustainable waste management, recycling, landscaping of bus stops, recreation areas, and more are participating in the competition. Citizens can support only one project and vote only once. The most voted project/ projects will be included in the Investment Programme of Sofia Municipality for 2022 and receive implementation support.
The initiative takes place for a second consecutive year. It aims to encourage direct citizen participation and the participation of non-governmental and professional organizations in proposing projects for the city. The budget for 2022 is BGN 1 million for the implementation of one or more projects that have received the most votes. If an idea with a budget of BGN 1 million wins the first place, it will be the only one that will receive implementation, whereas if the sum of the budgets of the first 3 most voted projects is up to the total amount for financing, all three will be implemented. Learn more about the projects and the voting in the following video. Have your day for the proposed projects on the website of “Sofia chooses GREEN” by March 14.
The Faculty Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation at the University of Twente, the Netherlands and the GATE Institute at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski ”, the only institute of its kind in the field of big data for the Balkans and Eastern Europe, have signed a memorandum of cooperation. The organizations will collaborate in the field of research and
Jobs in Sofia is the platform by Invest Sofia and the Sofia Municipality in support of people fleeing the war in Ukraine and want to find safety and work in Sofia and Bulgaria.
“Anyone looking for a job can create a professional profile with information about their work experience and apply for vacancies that our partners announce and will publish on the platform,” the Municipal Councilor and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency, Mr. Nikolay Stoynev said at a meeting with the Ukrainian community in Sofia.
He presented the opportunities for support that the Sofia Municipality has already provided. Open positions not only in Sofia but for the whole country will be listed as the Agency works with municipalities and employers in Plovdiv, Burgas, Varna, Ruse, Veliko Tarnovo and other major cities in the country.
The Jobs in Sofia Platform allows candidates to create a profile available to employers at any time. “The first job announcements have already been uploaded. Invest Sofia also has announced a vacancy – for an expert who left Ukraine because of the war and who speaks Ukrainian / Russian, English, and Bulgarian so that he or she can directly help in the process. The Agency is ready to deliver direct personal support to anyone looking for a job,” CEO Dr. Maria. Hristova said during the meeting.
The German company MULTIVAC, a leading supplier of integrated packaging solutions, is expanding its production base in the Bozhurishte Economic Zone near Sofia. A factory building with pre-assembly areas and a Shared Services facility, will be built on an area of about 5000 sq.m. The investment amounts to around 5 million euros and completion is planned for autumn 2022.
MULTIVAC’s production site near Sofia started operations in 2018 and its capacity is now fully utilised. The new investment aims to increase the company’s production capacity in Bulgaria. In addition to the site in Bulgaria, MULTIVAC has twelve additional production sites in Germany, Austria, Spain, Brazil, China, Japan and the United States, as well as over 80 subsidiaries worldwide.
The Sofia-based startup Boleron has been accepted for participation in the NEXT FinTech program of the Romanian accelerator for tech startups Techcelerator. The two-month programme provides the companies with sales, marketing and investment opportunities. Boleron is a digital insurance software platform specifically designed for purchasing and managing insurance products via mobile phone. The Sofia-based company is among the ten startups admitted to the accelerator, along with companies from Romania, Greece, the United Kingdom and Armenia.
Another Sofia-based company, the e-commerce platform CloudCart, raised 750 thousand euros investment from Elevator Ventures and New Vision 3 (NV3). The resource will help the company expand its business in CEE markets. The investment round was led by Elevator Ventures, the venture capital division of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI), with the participation of the existing investor in the company – NV3. Last year, the company reported significant growth – over 9,000 registered online stores and over 3.5 million orders placed through the platform.
The CloudCart platform does not require technical or design expertise from the e-shop owners and offers a free plan for startup retailers until a certain minimum revenue from their sales is reached. At the end of last year, the Sofia startup was once again listed in the Deloitte CEE Technology Fast 50 ranking and awarded in the Impact Stars category for successful products and services with positive impact on society, business, and environment.
Next cohort of 17 companies receives investment for growth from the Vitosha Venture Partners fund. A total of 15 out of them are Sofia-based startups with products and services in areas such as B2B trade, education, food, sportswear, entertainment, pet care, proptech, solar energy, e-bikes components, etc. The
The ninth edition of the Innovation Academy, the biggest competition for student startup ideas, will take place soon. The competition is organised by the innovation agency Innovation Starter.
Again, Invest Sofia will join the hackathon as an institutional partner of the event together with the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria and the European Investment Bank. At the invitation of the organisers, our CEO Dr. Maria Hristova will be a speaker and a member of the jury.
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 at developing students’ entrepreneurial skills and at funding their early business ideas. The initiative started in 2014 in partnership with 1 university from Sofia. Today, the event is held nationwide, in partnership with 14 Bulgarian universities and training centers. So far, more than 4,300 participants and more than 720 teams have been trained in the project.
Innovation Academy 2022 will be held in 3 main modules:
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.
We invite all students from Sofia and the country to join the hackathon. Innovation Academy 2022 will be held on June 3-4th at Sofia Tech Park. You can apply online via the website here.