The 2022 YTILI Fellowship Application, the U.S. Department of State’s flagship programme for emerging entrepreneurs from Europeq is now open. You can apply for the Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative Fellowship Program – YTILI until March 15 if you are a business or social entrepreneur under teh age of 35. The YTILI Fellowship Programme will empower a new cohort of young Europeans to grow their ventures, foster global partnerships, and positively impact the economic development of their communities.
YTILI is a two-way exchange program designed to strengthen the transatlantic relationship, develop sustainable partnerships between U.S. and European entrepreneurs and innovators, promote regional integration and cooperation in Europe, and encourage European businesses, governments and civil society to develop their innovation ecosystems. The program includes a customized virtual YTILI entrepreneurial curriculum; a fellowship with a business or organization in one of nine U.S. cities; opening and closing conferences; and alumni engagement opportunities. Apply here: https://ytili.org/.
Six new challenges have benn published on the BIA platform for open innovations, that connects companies and institutions with startups for solving specific challenges or developing new solutions in a certain field. The current challenges concern topics related to packaging safety and quality, bioplastics, packaging innovations, recycling and more. To access the full description of the topics and apply, you must first register in the BIA’s platform here – https://scalingup.wixsite.com/website.
SMEs interested in testing and validating AI resources can now apply in StairwAI first open call. The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and is looking for low-tech SMEs from any industry ready to test and validate AI resources to improve their products, services, or value chains focusing on one of the call-specific challenges: Rethinking and visibility of supply chains, Human resources , Management of data generated by the internet of things, Predictive maintenance, Zero defect manufacturing, Environmental issues, Logistics, Chatbots. StairwAI considers low-tech SMEs as any company that is unaware of AI applications or is a savvy consumer of AI solutions and is capable of identifying use cases for AI applications. Apply before 15th March 2022 here.
If you are looking for new customers, suppliers or research and development partners in green energy and decarbonization technologies, you can register for participation in the virtual B2B meetings within the EU-Japan Green Transition 2022. Participation is free and the registration deadline is March 17.
The Expert Commission for the evaluation of the projects submitted under the Programme will review the received project proposals based on the publicly announced Accelerator Startup Sofia Methodology. Some 24 projects from individuals and legal entities have been submitted within the application period.
After the evaluation phase of the project proposals by the Expert Commission, all eligible projects should be approved by the Sofia Municipal Council. After the approval of the list of projects proposed for funding, contracts with the approved beneficiaries will be signed and the implementation of the projects will be kicked off.
This is expected to happen in early April 2022. The implementation of projects will begin according to the deadlines specified in the Guidelines for Applicants.
The list of submitted project proposals is available HERE.
Invest Sofia concluded a Memorandum of Cooperation with the premium flexible office & networking space Entract 127. The Document was signed by Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia, and by Monica Grigorova, General Мanager at Entract 127 during a meeting on March 8, 2022.
Under the agreed partnership, the two parties will cooperate in holding initiatives related to the development of the entrepreneurial community in the city, and attracting investments in Sofia. As part of the agreement, Entract 127 will provide Invest Sofia with an equipped office space for meetings and events, aimed at supporting the business in the city.
Entract 127 is one of Sofia’s newest premium flexible office & networking spaces, providing opportunities for valuable professional networking. The organisation is a partner of the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and BBBA and is a frequent event host of the Bulgarian Association of Software Companies – BASSCOM, the Bulgarian Fintech Association, and others. Entract 127 is situated on six floors, right in the heart of Sofia, on 127 Rakovski St. The investors have completely renovated the administrative center of Slavianska Beseda and regained the importance of the iconic place, turning it into a flexible and elegant office space for work, creativity, and networking.
‘I am very pleased with our partnership with Entract 127. The business space is a project of successful foreign entrepreneurs in Sofia – Olga Marsenak and Xavier Marsenak, who stand behind the Sofia-based biotech “Nasekomo”, and Christophe Coutat, founder and owner at Advent Group, a leading company in marketing and holding events for higher education institutions. This confirms the long-term intentions of foreign investors in the city and shows that they see favorable conditions for the development of their future investment projects. It’s great that Sofia’s landmark building from 1935, designed in the typical modernist style of its time, has been preserved and since last year has been the meeting place for Sofia’s vibrant business ecosystem’, Dr. Maria Hristova said on the occasion of signing the Memorandum with Entract 127.
👉 Women entrepreneurs constitute 30% of entrepreneurs in Bulgaria.
👉Bulgaria is among the EU leaders in proportion of women scientists and engineers, ranking fourth with 49.6%, just behind Lithuania, Portugal and Denmark.
We want more women entrepreneurs in our economy and we strive to motivate their endeavors in every economic field.
Happy Women’s Day, dear ladies! Be satisfied, inspired and successful!
The Sofia-based startup companies need as much help as strategic investors in the city. At Invest Sofia, we strongly believe in this. We pay special attention to our startups and focus our best efforts to help them scale. This couldn’t be possible without the partnership of the Bulgarian Startup Association – BESCO. We are truly grateful for their support in all our initiatives.
Skilled staff, green and friendly city: these are among the main advantages which attract new investors to Sofia.
Despite the decrease in investments in the domestic industry that we saw in 2021, we managed to attract the second largest Indian company. It has already set the start of its activities in Sofia and plans to create 300 new jobs in the automotive sector industry in the next twelve months, Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO at Invest Sofia, said in an interview for BTA. The city attracts investors mostly with its talent pool. For the successful implementation of its activities, the company was looking for experts in engineering, fluent in foreign languages but also liked the good connectivity of Sofia, the green urban areas, the lively cultural life in the city, and decided to set up here, in Sofia, Hristova added.
Find out more in the interview for BTA here:
Until March 22 public and private organizations can apply in the first set of calls for proposals under the Connecting Europe Facility Digital program. The planned budget is € 258 million in grants that aim to improve Europe’s digital connectivity infrastructures, in particular, Gigabit and 5G networks that contribute to Europe’s digital transformation.
There are 11 thematic axes open for legal entities, public or private organizations, including joint ventures established in EU countries. Participation is subject to certain security restrictions, as defined in each call text. More information can be found on the special pages here and here.
Startups and SMEs can submit applications for the European Commission’s EIC Accelerator. The accelerator will provide more than € 1 billion and will aim to help scale up European companies with the potential to make a big impact. More than half of the funding goes to innovation in every area leading to a breakthrough, and € 495 million are dedicated to supporting innovations related to the European Green Deal, as well as digital and health technologies.
Companies are required to provide a video presentation, pitch deck and complete a short questionnaire on their project and the team. Feedback on applications is received within four weeks after the submission, and companies that meet the basic criteria will receive an invitation and assistance in preparing the full set of documents for inclusion in the periodic admissions to the Accelerator Open and Accelerator Challenge programs. More information can be found here.
The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) is ready to support Bulgarian companies interested in participating in the fifth edition of the China International Import Expo / CIIE /, which will be held from 5 to 10 November 2022 in Shanghai. CIIE is among China’s main initiatives to expand market opportunities and promote global economic recovery. The advantages of participation are B2B meetings, the opportunity to present new products and services, access to various additional events throughout the year and more. Exhibitors from the following sectors are invited to participate: food and agriculture; automotive industry, information technology, consumer goods, medical equipment and health products, services. For more information and participation you can contact the BCCI at the contacts listed here.
Lifescience and health companies now have the opportunity to participate in bilateral business meetings during the BIONNALE 2022 hybrid event, which will be held on May
At Sofia Tech Park, the University of National and World Economy (UNWE), Bulgaria’s largest economics university, and the Petascale Supercomputer Bulgaria Consortium have signed an Agreement on Fundamental Research. The joint research aims to integrate the “Big Data System with Business Analysis and Artificial Intelligence – Hadoop” (HPDA), developed at UNWE, with the petascale computer in the technology park. Under the signed agreement of cooperation, the Consortium and UNWE plan to collaborate in projects related to smart agriculture and smart cities and buildings. Learn more at the university website here.
Sofia has marked a 44% increase in the number of tourists in 2021. According to the Unified Tourist Information System (UTIS) of the Ministry of Tourism, tourists spend an average of 2 days in the city, and there is a 50% increase in overnight stays. Travel has not recovered to its pre-crisis levels, but the ongoing trend is positive. Tourists in Sofia are mostly in the 30-44 age group. For a second consecutive year, Bulgarian visitors have a larger share than foreign ones – 52% and 48%, respectively, while the trend in overnight stays is the opposite – 45% vs. 55%. In 2021, Sofia was the preferred destination for tourists from Romania (90% more than in 2020). The number of tourists from Germany, Italy, France, Turkey, Israel, and the United States has also increased. According to a study by Sofia Municipality, over 70% of foreigners have visited Sofia for the first time, the rest did so more than twice and 74% of all respondents would return to Sofia, which indicates the tourists’ overall satisfaction after their stay in the city.
The Department of Architecture and Urban Planning (NAG) of Sofia Municipality has been awarded by the Institute of Public Administration for good practices and innovations in public services. NAG won the category “Technological solutions for open management and administrative services”. It was awarded for the mobile application NAG.Mobile, which provides tools for visualization of data from regulatory plans, cadastral maps, areas of construction boundaries, aerial photography, administrative maps, enacted administrative acts, and GPS location tools.
The first Bureau for Information and Services for Third Country Nationals has been operating in Sofia for a third consecutive month. The project is being run by experts from the Sofia Municipality, the Sofia Development Association, the Bulgarian Red Cross, and others. The bureau offers services in at least
On February 24, Innovation Explorer 2022 gathered over 600 guests from 12 countries. The annual innovation forum took place at Sofia Event Center. The event was hosted by Innovation Starter Agency in partnership with Capital.bg. At the invitation of the organizers, Invest Sofia was part of the event with the participation of the Chief Executive Officer Dr. Maria Hristova during the opening session. “The team of Invest Sofia aims to support local and foreign companies and help them set up and grow, here in Sofia. One of our missions is to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the city. We know that every startup team needs not only funding, although it is very important, but also expert assistance, project management support, and perhaps most of all it needs personal attitude”, Dr. Hristova said.
Innovation Explorer 2022 was held under the “Think Further!” motto that refers to John M. Keynes’s essay titled “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren”. Keynotes and discussions this year focused on the different perspectives on the consequences and results that today’s societies bequeath to future generations. The forum addressed the advanced knowledge on innovation and the latest breakthroughs in technology. As part of the agenda of the event, early-stage companies in the field of climate action presented their innovative developments.
The technology sector has tripled growth in recent years and currently is the most rapidly developing sector in Sofia. The country shows promising signs to become leader in SEE due to several local strengths, including strong institutional support toward access to funding mechanisms and know-how. For example, in Bulgaria there are 17 private equity and venture capital funds, as well as incubator / accelerator programmes, covering all stages of the business life-cycle.
These are some of the key findings of a study by the global entrepreneurial network Endeavor, which examines the Sofia’s tech sector and snapshots the main challenges and opportunities for its development.
The study was funded by Invest Sofia, the Fund of Funds, the Bulgarian Development Bank and was supported by BESCO.
Tech entrepreneurs give an extremely positive assessment of the development of the sector in Sofia. Nearly 96% of them state that they have positive expectations for the future of the sector in the capital. Along with established fintech and outsourcing companies, Sofia has been chosen by companies that develop cloud and blockchain technologies. At the presentation of the study, Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer said that there is no doubt that innovation is the most powerful engine for growth in the country. He stressed the importance of active and useful dialogue between institutions and business representatives.
“As a city with a strong focus in the tech industry, we are working to further help, support and maintain a friendly business environment. That is why we established the municipal investment agency Invest Sofia. Together with the team of the Agency, we have developed several instruments aimed to support both large companies and smaller start-up companies”, Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said.
“Recently, the Invest Sofia Agency presented its new service called “Green Card for administrative services”. Soon, we plan to launch yet another initiative for start-up companies, that aims to challenge them to find smart solutions related to urban issues. The results from such direct assignments will be useful not only for Sofia Municipality and the municipal companies but also for the young companies”, Invest Sofia CEO Dr. Maria Christova said.
According to Endeavor’s study, Bulgaria has a chance to position itself as a pillar of innovation in Southeast Europe. Its good positioning is due to several local strengths, including a strong ecosystem, well-functioning structures, and strong founder-to-founder connectivity. “A very important factor is the consistent policy of
The Bulgarian IoT company for remote consumption monitoring of water, gas, and electricity ThingsLog raised close to €1M in a seed round led by our fund manager Morningside Hill. The round was joined by the US-based ReconArt. The investment will be used for further product & technology development and marketing activities. ThingsLog service now has a mobile application in several languages - Bulgarian, English, Russian, Greek, German and Spanish. The company works with major local partners, including Sofiyska Voda AD and Telenor Telecom.
The financial instruments unit fi-compass at the European Investment Bank featured the story behind the Sofia-based company Nasekomo as a good example for the successful deployment of innovation and circular economy. The Bulgarian agrotech utilizes the incredible biological abilities of the larvae of black flies (the so-called Black Soldier fly) to turn organic waste into protein animal food. Two venture capital fund managers of the Fund of Funds – Morningside Hill and New Vision 3 have supported Nasekomo with resources under Operational Programme “Innovation and Competitiveness” 2014-2020. The investment supported Nasekomo to deploy its proprietary robotized insect rearing technology and move from a pilot- to a semi-industrial production line. Don’t miss out on the video!
The outsourcing sector in Sofia is expecting yet another global player – the Indian Tata Consultancy Service, which will open a shared services center in the city through its subsidiary Tata Consulting Company Bulgaria EOOD. The investor is part of the multinational conglomerate Tata Group, owner of Jaguar and Land Rover. The company plans to open 300 new IT jobs in the next three years, commented Invest Sofia’s CEO Dr. Maria Hristova for Economic.bg. The shared services unit in Sofia will cover a wide range of activities in the field of IT, including services and software development.
Evelix Bulgaria, the local subsidiary of the Swedish Ewellix, will continue to increase its production in Bulgaria. After production lines from Sweden, Switzerland and Germany were relocated to its plant in Sofia, Ewellix now plans to transfer products from its production unit in France, Capital newspaper reports. The company started operations in 2019 and already has a team of 160 people. Evelix Bulgaria manufactures electromechanical drives, lifting columns and linear drive systems for components in various industries. See more about the expanding production capacity of the plant near “Iliensko Shosse” in the publication here.
The Sofia-based company
The largest IT community in Bulgaria DEV.BG has launched a new project – a survey called “The Voice of IT”, that aims to hear the insights and ideas of at least 5,000 IT professionals and to outline the latest local trends that are shaping the industry. We invite all Sofia-based companies, IT professionals and active participants in the technology community to get involved and share their vision.
The initiative aims to bring out latest data and key trends for the benefit of all professionals, companies and organizations that are part of this industry of key importance for Sofia and the country. In order to gain as much insight from the active ecosystem players, DEV.BG has chosen to conduct the survey not by filling out a questionnaire, but by conducting short live online face-to-face meetings with anyone who is actively involved in the development of the IT sector in our country. Thus, the organizers want to map out the best route for the industry by hearing the voice of the people who participate on a daily basis in its life and development and to get vision and useful ideas that will support its future directly from the ecosystem representatives.
Participants can have their say on where is the Bulgarian IT sector going, is there a vision for the industry and what is it, what is needed to continue and strengthen the growth from outsourcing to high added-value products and services and Rn’D activities.
If you have at least one year of experience in the sector as a developer, QA, DevOps, SysAdmin, Architect, Team Lead, Project manager, Data Scientist or another role closely related to technology, spare some time and have your say in the study. The DEV.BG team has opened a calendar to allow anyone to schedule an online meeting at a convenient day and time. The meetings take place in Google Meet.
The DEV.BG platform is the largest IT community in Bulgaria. During the six years since its launch, more than 800 events have been held, completely free, from specialists to specialists in the sector, with nearly 55,000 attendees so far. DEV.BG has established itself as a major data source with information for the companies in the sector by maintaining detailed profiles for over 900 IT enterprises in Bulgaria. Part of the platform is also a job board section for open positions with over 5,500 job offers from companies, as