Acronis, a global leader in cyber protection and hybrid cloud solutions, has officially launched its new European office and R&D center in Sofia. The grand opening was held on St. Stefano Street in the heart of Sofia, where the company currently occupies two floors of San Stefano Plaza. The Singapore-based company starts operations in Sofia with a team of 30 specialists and is on track to grow to 50 people by the end of the year and to 300 people in the next three years.
We are happy that Sofia Investment Agency has been partnering in the process of establishing the Acronis R&D Center for the past few months after we first met with the Acronis due diligence team in April. We presented the business climate, the working and living conditions in Bulgaria and Sofia in front of 50 Acronis software engineers from Moscow. Furthermore, we provided support in the establishment of key contacts in different fields to ensure the successful start of the expansion of the center in Sofia.
Plamen Toshev, Managing Director, Acronis Bulgaria:
“We highly appreciate all the efforts and support that Sofia Investment Agency provided Acronis with during the time of setting up our business in Sofia. Meeting all our precise needs, the agency helped us for very fast, smooth and efficient entering to the Bulgarian market.”
The office in Bulgaria is a key R&D center for Acronis in Europe, which is focused on cyber protection, data center operations, and the development of Acronis products and services. The new center will be the latest addition to Acronis’ R&D centers currently operating in Asia, Europe and America. The office will be a part of a globally distributed network of engineering facilities that will sustain the development of cyber protection, artificial intelligence, and blockchain-based technologies 24 hours a day.
The company will also engage in active collaboration with local universities and educational institutions to provide training skill improvement in the IT sector.“Congratulations to Acronis for deciding to open a new office in Bulgaria. Every new investor and their trust are very important for our country, and new workplaces are a great stimulus to bring qualified personnel back to the country. Bulgaria has proved its potential in developing the high-tech sector. Our priority is the investment in products and services with high value-add component, which take our economic development
The international forum ‘Cooperation between Moscow and Bulgaria’ took place on October 2 in the National Palace of Culture as part of the official programme of the Cultural Days of Moscow in Bulgaria. The focus of the event was on the economic cooperation and investment potential of Moscow and Bulgaria.
The forum aimed to support the development of bilateral business and cultural ties between Moscow and Sofia, to encourage the exchange of experience in the fields of education, culture, tourism, urbanization, investment and trade, and to create conditions for the development of direct business contacts with potential partners from Bulgaria and Russia.
The event was organised by Sofia Municipality, the Department for External Economic and International Relations of the City of Moscow, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation and the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The forum began with a plenary session dedicated to the development of the trade and economic cooperation between Moscow and Sofia and the investment potential of the two cities. Mr. Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, presented the business climate and the investment opportunities of Sofia during the official opening of the forum to state and municipal representatives from Moscow and Sofia and to a number of Bulgarian and Russian businesses.
The Moscow delegation was headed by Sergey Cheremin, Minister of the Government of Moscow and Head of the Department for External Economic and International Relations. Mr. Cheremin presented the business climate and the recent urban development projects of Moscow. The delegation was also attended by CEO-s and representatives of Moscow enterprises and organizations.
Anatoliy Makarov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Bulgaria, Irena Georgieva, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Tsvetan Simeonov, President of BCCI, and Inna Svyatenko, Chairman of the Moscow City Duma Commission on Security, also participated in the plenary session, moderated by the Vice-president of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry Suren Vardanian.
The forum continued with two roundtables: ‘Preservation of the cultural heritage sites and the tourist attractiveness of Sofia and Moscow’ and ‘Development of the road infrastructure and the metropolitan’.
At the invitation of Emídio Sousa, mayor of Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal, Sofia Investment Agency will present the investment profile of Sofia and the business opportunities in the capital at the international Fórum Bizfeira in Portugal. The invitation followed a meeting held in Sofia in May, when Sofia Investment Agency presented the opportunities for business in the city to a delegation from Portugal.
The forum will take place on October 11 and the business meetings will be attended by chambers of commerce and industry, branch associations and business organizations from Canada, Sweden, France, Japan, Colombia, Senegal, Cuba, etc. In addition to a conference program, the event traditionally includes an exhibition area, pre-arranged business meetings and networking area, as well as informal discussions on topics previously announced in the program.
Our team will take part in the exhibition area and in the informal discussion on Growing the Future of ICT in Cooperation – Bulgaria, Portugal & Sweden. Anna Dimitrova and Nadia Sultanova from the Investment Analysis Department of Sofia Investment Agency will present Sofia as a technological hub in the Balkans. The other participants in the panel are Erik Behm from Business Region Göteborg, an organization active in the development of the second largest city in Sweden and 13 municipalities from the region, as well as Antonio Teixeira from the Portuguese Information and Communication Technology Companies Association. The discussion will focus on IT and creative industries.
The program of our team during Fórum Bizfeira also includes a meeting with the deputy mayor on creative industries of Santa Maria da Feira.
Forum Bizfeira is an annual initiative of the mayor and the municipality of the city of Santa Maria da Feira – the administrative center of a highly developed industrial area in Portugal, known mainly for the production of cork and articles for the footwear industry. The forum aims to build and maintain a network of business contacts among small and medium-sized entrepreneurs from around the globe. This one and other initiatives of the municipality helped 1889 enterprises worldwide with businesses in 60 different sectors to join the Bizfeira platform.
If you want to join the business network with your profile and offers and look for suitable partners, visit the website of the platform here.
Sofia Investment Agency joined the international start-up and entrepreneurship platform SCALE. Our team worked on the development of Sofia’s profile at SCALE, which aims to show the city’s potential as an entrepreneurial and start-up destination and the opportunities it could offer to entrepreneurs from Europe and all around the world.
SCALE (The Startup City Alliance Europe) is an online portal/platform, aiming to create a connected and transparent European city-to-city startup ecosystem. SCALE supports European startups wanting to scale not only within Europe but also to foreign markets from all around the world.
SCALE connects and fortifies the supportive structures that are already in place, bringing together European municipal governments, universities, corporates and fast growing startups (scale-ups). Currently SCALE unites 19 European startup organisations from 10 European cities: Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Helsinki, Milan, Munich, Paris, Porto, Rome and Vilnius. Sofia is the 11-th city to join the platform.
Each of the 11 cities has its own profile, providing detailed information on the development of the start-up and entrepreneurial ecosystem in each of the cities, including information about the different stakeholders, events, news, supporting organisations, etc., as well as valuable insights on how to access the market, establish and develop a startup, soft landing packages, etc.
In addition to an overview of the developing start-up ecosystem in the city, Sofia’s profile provides detailed information on the:
You can learn more about the SCALE platform and check Sofia’s profile here.
On September 28-29 Sofia Event Center hosted the first Soft Unit Conference – an initiative of SoftUni, one of the largest and most respected educational institutions in Bulgaria, in partnership with FlyEvents. The event aimed to bring together people looking for personal and professional development in Bulgaria and the business and its needs.
The Conference was officially opened by the Mayor of Sofia Mrs.Yordanka Fandakova. “The investments in infrastructure are the investment for today, while the investments in education and innovations are the investment for the future. I believe that the professionals and the innovative young people are Sofia’s greatest capital” – said Mrs. Fandakova.
At the invitation of the organizers, Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, was moderator of “Destination Bulgaria” – the first panel of the conference program. The discussion was focused on the technological environment in Bulgaria, the future of the sector and why young people have good opportunities here.
The event was part of a campaign under the slogan “Stay Here Where Your Story Matters!”, targeting both young talents and experts looking for professional development in the field of software development, digital marketing, entrepreneurship, blockchain technology.
Participants in the panel discussions included Peter Lozanov from Symbol Media Group,
Viktor Shiller, president of R Cubed Group and entrepreneur in Bulgaria, who has lived in Sofia for the last 2 years, Andrey Arnaudov, chairman of the Movement for National Cause, and Andrey Bachvarov, managing director of BICA Services.
“Our role is to attract quality people and successful business in Sofia together with the business, and to improve the overall business climate in the capital”, Vladimir Danailov said at the opening of the discussion.
During the panel, Viktor Shiller shared that one of the first things he learned from his stay in Bulgaria was that people speak foreign languages and have a high technological culture.
“I am in the Silicon Valley of Europe. You outpace your rivals in an ‘unfair’ manner because you are well-prepared and have great skills, and the price at which you provide your skills is much lower”, said the president of R Cubed Group .
The Soft Unit Conference brought more than 1 400 young talents and professionals. More than 70 Bulgarian and international top speakers, entrepreneurs and experts shared their experience, advice and ideas in three different halls. The conference has the ambition of becoming an annual event
For another year, Sofia Investment Agency (SIA) will take part in the “Manager for a Day” initiative, organized for the 17th consecutive year by Junior Achievement Bulgaria. You may submit applications for the following senior management positions: Head of Investment Analysis Department and Chief Executive Officer. We will be happy to welcome you at our office in the center of Sofia (just a minute away from ‘Ivan Vazov’ National Theater) on October 30 and make you part of our dynamic daily program.
As a manager for a day you may expect:
In order to become a member of our team on October 30, you need to fill out the registration form on the website of the initiative, including information on your education, experience, interests and strengths. After signing up, the platform will send you a password to access your account. Once you sign in, you can choose your preferred position and apply for the Head of Investment Analysis Department or the Chief Executive Officer position.
In 2017, SIA welcomed Peter Hristakiev, a 12th grade student at the Secondary School of Economics and Management “Elias Canetti” – Ruse, and Gergana Daskalova, a fourth-year student at UNWE, to spend a business day with us. Check out the interview of economy.bg, where Peter and Gergana shared their experience and Vladimir Danailov commented on the day they spent with the team of the Agency.
The team of Sofia Investment Agency will present the investment profile and investment opportunities in Sofia in the construction sector at the biggest real estate and investment forum in Europe – EXPO REAL 2018, to be held on October 8-10 in Munich. Sofia will have its own stand for the first time in the history of the exhibition. With this, the capital becomes the first city to present Bulgaria at an event at the Messe München and its adjacent International Congress Center, where dozens of international forums, among which EXPO REAL, are held all year round. Our country will take part in the exhibition and will be presented as a real estate investment destination at the initiative of the Association of Commercial Building Owners in Bulgaria (ACBO).
Our team will be involved as an institutional partner in the presentation of Bulgaria at EXPO REAL at the invitation of the ACBO. Thus, the Association aims to lay the foundations of a sustainable model of cooperation between institutions and businesses in the real estate sector. The Bulgarian delegation at the exhibition also includes the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, as well as six leading companies in the construction sector in Bulgaria, which will present their projects: Expo 2000 Real Estate, Galaxy Investment Group, Real Estates BG, Business Park Sofia, East Ring Logistic Park and Harmony Group.
Sofia Investment Agency will present up-to-date information on the offices, commercial areas, logistics and industrial areas segments to potential investors, as well as the overall economic and investment environment in the city.
Especially for the presentation of Sofia, we have prepared a promotional video, showing the overall look of the city and its potential in the construction sector. We would like to express our gratitude to Forton / Cushman & Wakefield, the Association of Commercial Building Owners in Bulgaria and the Institute for Market Economics, as well as the Bulgarian companies at the exhibition for their participation and their help for the video.
We would also like to thank MaxMedia studio for the beautiful drone views of Sofia and the entire montage and production of the video. The video has panoramic views over the city and some of the key locations in the capital, including business areas and new office centers, industrial zones, shopping centers, lively public places, parks, main thoroughfares and Sofia metro.
EXPO REAL is Europe’s
The third workshop for the Digital Cities Challenge project was held on September 10th at the Microsoft Innovation Center at Sofia Tech Park.
The previous two workshops were focused on creating a community of stakeholders, implementing an “as is” analysis and defining the Vision and Ambition for digitalization of Sofia.
This one was the first workshop dedicated to strategy formulation.
The workshop gathered local stakeholders from the ICT sector, the start-up community, utility companies and the local government with the goal to review and validate the marked Operational Objectives and to identify potential actions and KPIs for the digitalization of the city in the areas of Government, Utilities, Transport and Start-up Ecosystem into a single strategy document.
The Digital Cities Challenge is an initiative of coaching and facilitation by the European Commission to help European cities develop and implement policies that focus on smart, sustainable growth through the uptake of advanced technologies by local businesses.
The aim of the Challenge is to offer high-level advisory services to 15 European cities and help them build up innovation ecosystems through the deployment of advanced tech. Due to the high interest showcased by the 92 applications from cities all over Europe, the initiative has increased its outreach to include 21 Fellow cities that have joined on their own resources and 6 Mentor cities that inspire and share best practices with the group. Together they create a network of over 40 cities that participate in the initiative.
Sofia was among the first 7 cities approved to take part in the implementation of the project and to develop its own strategy for digitization. Sofia’s participation is managed by the Sofia Investment Agency.
The mission of the digital transformation strategy of Sofia is to define a series of actions strengthening the business ecosystem of the ICT in Sofia in order:
(a) to develop and offer ICT solutions for the digital transformation of the city;
(b) to identify and open markets for digital products and services, local, national or global, and facilitate the access to these markets; and
(c) to support the local system of innovation for enabling the Digital Transformation.
Sofia Investment Agency will present the current project results on the next Academy Seminar that will gather representatives of all the 43 participating cities in Thessaloniki on October 17th and 18th.
The Academy Seminar in October will kick-start the next steps
Two years ago, when Sofia Investment Agency started work, we identified 9 priority sectors for the city. Tourism was naturally one of them.
Our team is glad to present the new Sofia Tourism and Air Transport Report 2018 we’ve been working on for the past two months. In short, for another year in a row, we are in the midst of an unprecedented tourism boom that shows no signs of slowing down. It is visible on the streets and in coffee shops and it did not finish with summer’s end.
The new report has 50 pages and covers a wide range of topics such as the number of tourists by country of origin and reason for visit, the accommodation capacity, traffic at Sofia Airport, opportunities for development of Congress and MICE tourism in the city and trends in the industry.
Here are some of the key points from the report:
The number of training centers in Sofia that develop new technology skills programs for children at primary school age are increasing. Sofia offers a variety of courses and activities for preschoolers, not only for programming but also in a variety of fields such as 3D modeling, robotics, design, gaming, introduction to engineering.
Here are some of the training programs available in the capital which can help children get acquainted with technology from an early age and find the areas of knowledge they are interested in.
International computer academy IT STEP
IT STEP organizes IT classes for children aged 8-15 in the fields of robotics, game development, web design, photo lab and computer games design. Children are given a real opportunity to turn their hobby or passion into a future profession. The Academy has 20 years of experience and is currently the fastest growing private educational institution with 58 branches in 18 countries across 5 continents. IT STEP is one of Cisco’s best authorized learning centers, and one of the most prestigious in CIS for Autodesk Maya. You can learn more about the Small Computer Academy herе.
TechnoMagicLand in Sofia Tech Park
The Science and Technology Center TechnoMagicLand launched its intensive courses for children only a few weeks after its opening in Sofia Tech Park. Young students can develop in fields such as engineering, informatics, science and technology. The courses include Introduction to Techniques for Children, Introduction to Engineering for Children, etc. The programs are suitable for kids aged 8 – 11 and include work with specialized software, which allows the children to operate robots, which they assemble and program by themselves. Kids can also graphic models and objects with the specialized software for computer 3D modeling for children SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids, get an introduction to Android, etc. More information about the courses is available in the Courses section at the TechnoMagicLand website and on the Facebook page of the center.
Space Academy organizes innovative space programs for kids aged 8-12. The courses help children develop skills and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM disciplines) and prepare them to be leaders of the future by thoroughly studying space sciences. Programs include subjects as Astronomy and Astrophysics, Astronautics and Space Engineering, Rocket modeling. Kids work with attractive scale models and assemble their own models by themselves. Detailed information is available
In July, Sofia Investment Agency organized the Paths of Digital Transformation Workshop as part of the European Commission’s Digital Cities Challenge project. The workshop is part of Sofia’s participation in the Digital Cities Challenge project /Phase 2: Formulation of a Strategy for the Digital Transformation and Industrial Modernization of Sofia.
The workshop gathered local government and business representatives, as well as representatives from utility companies, ICT companies, and the academia. We discussed the transformation paths and actions for digital transformation in government (local authorities and public administration), utilities (energy, water, waste), transportation and the start-up ecosystem.
The next workshop under the DCC project/Phase 2 will be held in September and will be devoted to the roadmap development and the identification of preliminary investment priorities for Sofia’s digital transformation. Again, the workshop will bring together ICT companies and providers of digital services, stakeholders from non-digital sectors using digital services, and stakeholders from the innovation ecosystem (funding organisations, tech parks, incubators and accelerators, technology consultants) who will discuss the ways of facilitating the adoption of new services by digital and non-digital sectors.
The workshop is open for new participants as well. If you want to learn more about the project, please contact Nadia Soultanova, Head of ‘Investment and Business Development’ at Sofia Investment Agency by email: email@example.com.
To learn more about the work done so far, please review the results from Phase 1 of the project, as well as the Assessment report for the city of Sofia prepared during this first stage of the project.
For the second year in a row Sofia Investment Agency hosted SOFIA’s PLACE in the exhibition area of Webit.Festival Europe 2018. SOFIA’s PLACE welcomed hundreds of guests with a prepared program, presentations and opportunities for business meetings with foreign and Bulgarian partners.
SOFIA’s PLACE agenda has been jointly implemented by Sofia Tourism Administration, Sofia Development Association, the Green Sofia project and the Municipal Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. We are extremely grateful to all participants in the presentations – to our colleagues from Vienna and Gothenburg, who shared their valuable business experience and ideas for management of urban environment, business and investments; to the organizations that presented ideas for working communication between institutions and citizens and practices that turn Sofia and its citizens into a smart city and society; and to all Sofia entrepreneurs who presented the vitality and ambition for growth of the business eco-system in Sofia, by introducing the products and services they develop with their teams in the capital.
You can learn more about the participants in the program of SOFIA’s PLACE, download some of their presentations from the links below and benefit from the ideas and contacts that the participants shared at Webit.Festival Europe 2018.
Vienna Business Agency, Austria
Vienna business agency is part of the general administration of the Austrian capital.
The agency offers a business program to attract investors and supports companies that want to open offices in Vienna. The presentation Vienna: A great place to live and do business is available for download here.
Business Region Göteborg is an organization engaged in the development of the second largest city in Sweden as well as 13 municipalities in the region. The presentation Innovative Growth – Meeting the sustainability challenges with a diversified approach is available here. It also includes a presentation of Connect Sverige, a non-profit organization, funded by local government and industry, which connects growing companies with capital and key skills and contacts. The Connect Sverige network of more than 30 000 highly qualified specialists and over 500 angel investors covers all of Sweden. Connect works hard to develop its investment network at regional, national and international level.
The Municipal Guarantee Fund for Small