Funding opportunities for Bulgarian companies provided by the Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund (3SIIF) were presented during the virtual conference „Equity for Infrastructure“. The event was organized by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Investment Council at the Chamber and the Bulgarian Development Bank.
The Three Seas Initiative Investment Fund consists of 9 development banks, Bulgarian Development Bank being among them. The Fund has already made its first investments aimed at improving transport, energy and digital connectivity in the Black, Adriatic and Baltic Sea regions.
So far, The Fund has raised almost EUR 1 billion and is actively working to attract private capital with a target of between EUR 3-5 billion. Up to EUR 10 billion is the total investment amount expected to be generated.
The Fund’s main objective is to invest in target sectors such as transport, energy efficiency, and digital and information technologies along the north-south axis and narrow the gap among EU regions.
Teletek Electronis, the Sofia-based company for security systems and fire alarm systems, has started the construction of a new production base in the “Voenna Rampa” industrial zone in Sofia with an investment of BGN 14 million. The building is about to become operational in 2022 and increase the company’s production and R&D capacity. It is expected that new machines and production equipment, modern laboratory equipment and test facilities will be introduced. The company plans a larger product range, entering new markets and expanding its team with specialists in production and development. Teletek Electronics works with traders in signaling and fire alarm products in over 80 countries. Its systems are installed in millions of office, administrative, and public buildings in Bulgaria and worldwide. For its project, the Sofia-based company received a Class A certificate from the Ministry of Economy.
The transport and logistics company TTL EOOD also received a class A investment certificate for constructing a base for locomotives and wagons repair and a warehouse. The company will invest BGN 4.4 million and create new jobs. TTL EOOD offers services in the organization, logistics, and transportation on domestic and international lines, including specialized wagons, trucks, and containers for land and water transport.
Seven startups entered the fourth group of Bulgaria’s accelerator program for international growth Innovation Hub (BIH). Six of them are Sofia-based, and one is based in Plovdiv and has a team in Sofia. Ampeco, Boleron, Escreo, Evrotrust, Primeholding, Shkolo, and SoftUni have been accepted into the 3-week program. The BIH Accelerator Program provides participating teams with nearly 30 online seminars on business planning, team building, marketing, sales, and investor work, and the opportunity to learn from the experience of Silicon Valley mentors and present themselves to US investors. BIH’s next growth program is expected to take place in March 2022. The hub implements activities for cooperation between the entrepreneurial communities in the USA and Bulgaria works for developing innovations, entrepreneurial thinking, and the becoming of Bulgarian technology companies into competitive world leaders.
Brain Foods, the Sofia-based startup for vegan foods and beverages, has also received recognition for its great growth potential. The company is part of Sofia Tech Park’s ecosystem and has been accepted in the world’s leading incubator ProVeg, which develops startups focusing on alternative plant and cultivated foods. Only eight teams from Asia and Europe have gained access to the
Enterprises from all sectors can apply to the second edition of the Export Hub Bulgariaäs training program – EXPO2. The initiative is of the
Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency and aims to support the export potential of Bulgarian companies.
It is a three-month program that will take place in a hybrid format between January and March 2022. Each company will have its mentor, while participation
is free for the participants in a leadership position with decision-making competencies – owners, managers, sales directors. The application deadline is November 2, 2021.
The second edition of the international CASSINI Hackathon space technology competition is dedicated to “Connecting with the Arctic.” Participants will be challenged to generate new ideas and technologies for new travel routes, wildlife protection, assistance to local communities, and conservation of natural habitats in the Arctic. The competition seeks solutions in 3 main directions: Safe passage at sea, Life on Land, and Wildlife care. The organizers are 10 European countries, and all individual participants or teams with a passion for entrepreneurship, EU, and Arctic space technologies are invited to participate. Registration of projects is open by 29 October through the competition website https://hackathons.cassini.eu/, after which participants must make teams. The hackathon will take place on 5-7 November – online and live in several locations across Europe.
The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce’s BIA Open Innovation Platform has published several new opportunities from companies in the Netherlands. The pl
atform is a place of contact between companies and institutions with startups where they can solve a specific problem or develop a new solution in a given area. Solutions are necessary for telemedicine and e-health, environmental packaging, biochemistry, mobile devices, and more. Full descriptions of the challenges are available after free registration on the BIA Open Innovation Platform website.
Slovak Matchmaking Fair 2021, organized by the Slovak Agency for Investment and Trade Development SARIO, will take place online on 21 October. It is under the auspices of the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic. The theme of the 15th edition is Modern Industry and Digital Support for Innovation. Some Bulgarian companies have already registered, as well as companies from more than 30 countries. You will find their profiles and a registration link for participation on the event website here – https://matchmakingfairbratislava2021.sario.sk/.
The Bulgarian Development Bank, supported by the Pan-European Guarantee Fund, has launched a
Sofia Investment Agency presented a Class B certificate for an investment project of municipal importance to the Children’s Health Medical Center. The certificate is under the Investment Promotion Act (IPA) and has been issued for the construction of a Children’s Medical Center with a children’s hospital ward and a polyclinic in Ovcha Kupel in Sofia.
With the investment of BGN 1,950,000, the project envisages the construction of an entirely new building for specialized outpatient and inpatient consultative-diagnostic, treatment, prophylactic and health-promotional activities for children from 0 to 18 years of age, as well as integrated social health and psychological care for disadvantaged children, foster parents, children and parents from vulnerable groups. The new medical center is expected to start operating at the end of 2023.
An official press conference in “Sofia Tech Park” marked the launch of the Bulgarian supercomputer “Discoverer” in operation. Scientific teams, and Bulgarian and European organizations, and companies can now submit project proposals for the computational resource of the petascale computer in Sofia. Submissions are open until December 31, 2021, for projects aimed at scientific or applied tasks, and after January 1, 2022 – for projects related to research and technological development.
The proposals will be considered by a specially formed Permanent Expert Council of specialists in high-performance computing, and by the relevant scientific communities. The projects must correspond to the machine’s capabilities and available resources and will be approved and ranked according to the implementation priorities and deadlines.
For the second consecutive year, the Faculty of Economics at Sofia University, the Bulgarian Fintech Association (BFA), and the fintech companies in Sofia and the country have joined teams to deliver a master’s degree in Finance, Investment, and Fintech. Following last year’s success, when the program became the most sought-after full-time master’s program at the Faculty of Economics, this year “Finance, Investment and Fintech” is expanding its scope. It will also involve a course in “Blockchain and cryptocurrencies”. The partnership closes the circle from the student bench to realization in the financial technology sector. Fintech companies in Bulgaria are involved in the training by providing direct opportunities for the professional realization of students in this extremely dynamic area globally.
Another 30 new electric buses will be put in operation in Sofia’s public transport in the coming weeks, replacing old ones. Extra 52 are currently in the delivery procedure. The new
Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia, presented a Class C Certificate for investment initiatives of municipal importance to the Medical Center “Detsko Zdrave”. The certificate is under the Investment Promotion Act (IPA). It is issued for the construction of a Children’s Medical Center with a children’s hospital wards unit and a polyclinic in Ovcha Kupel in Sofia.
The project envisages establishing an entirely new building for specialized outpatient and inpatient consultative-diagnostic, treatment, preventive and health-promotional activities for children from 0 to 18 through the investment of BGN 1,950,000. The children’s medical center will comprise two floors, with a built-up area of 598 sq.m. and a total built-up area of 2,200 square meters. The investor is also committed to constructing the necessary surrounding infrastructure.
The center will offer an integrated social-,health-, and psychological set, designed for children from birth to adulthood, foster families, and families from marginalized groups, vulnerable social groups, and socially isolated communities.
“I am happy to grant a certificate for an investment project of municipal importance in the field of social care and children’s health in Sofia. The investment of “Detsko zdrave” Medical Center is commanded by the need to expand their current building stock given the growing number of patients from Sofia and other cities in the country, referred by GPs to their specialized children’s hospital and their project partner – MHAT “Zdrave”, said the director of Invest Sofia, Dr. Maria Hristova, during the presentation of the investment certificate. She emphasized that the provided land in Ovcha Kupel is in an accessible urban environment, near the central part of the city, with good transport communication, easily accessible to young patients and their parents in need of specialized health services, as well as near another Multiprofile Hospital for Active Treatment with a profile of pediatric care, laboratories, and other specialized consulting units.
The construction of the building is expected to begin this fall, and the Children’s Medical Center to start operating at the end of 2023. The center will employ a pediatric neurologist, orthopedist, pediatric endocrinologist, pediatric cardiologist, psychologist, speech therapist, and other specialists for preventive examinations and individual care as well as for the needs of work in self-help groups. The medical center also plans to include in its services counseling on the topics of “Parenting,” “The Parental role,” “Upcoming birth,” counseling for children and parents following psychological trauma, counseling and diagnosis of children with special
Bulgarian companies will be looking for software process automation and automated collection and processing of production data, according to a study by the Professional Association of Robotics and Automation (PARA) on the level of automation in the industry in Bulgaria and the investment plans of companies in the field next year. The survey results were presented at this year’s edition of Robotics Strategy Forum 2021, organized by the Association in partnership with Sofia Tech Park.
The answers this year showed that the companies in our country are changing their priorities. Over the past year, their attitudes have been dictated by the state of closed sectors, reduced consumption, and shrinking production. This year the focus is shifting to accelerated implementation of robots, advances in industrial automation, chip shortages, battery production. The motives for investments in automation are also changing. So far, the chief reason has been the increase in production, and this year 58% of companies are looking for cost optimization through automation, 54% – process integration, 50% – improving quality, 42% – increasing production, and 38% – solving the shortage of labor-related problems. Respondents had the opportunity to indicate more than one leading reason for expected investments in automation.
Once again, with the option for more than one answer, the results show that among the most desirable activities in which companies plan to invest are data collection and processing – 58%, administration – 50%, production – 46%, quality control – 29%, logistics – 25%, product development, and research and development – 25%, packaging – 25%, marketing, and sales – 21%. The need for software automation has been pointed as most important by 50% of respondents. Most companies (46%) plan to invest up to BGN 100 thousand, and 21% – between BGN 100 and 300 thousand. Between BGN 300 and 500 thousand are planned by 8% of the companies, 13% – over BGN 1 million, and only 13% say they do not have a set-aside budget for automation.
When asked, “What type of robots would help your production process?” the leading answer is component assembly robots, with 33% of respondents. The other answers are similar, as most companies want to invest in several types of robots simultaneously: inspection robots – 25%, collaboration robots – 21%, welding – 21%, loading/filling – 21%, application coatings – 17%.
The panel discussions within Robotics Strategy Forum 2021 covered topics such as Bulgaria’s presence
Acronis Bulgaria has opened its new office in NV Tower – one of Sofia’s latest and most beautiful office buildings. The global cyber defense leader made a move because of the ever-growing team in our country and because of plans to double the number of employees to 1,000 within two years. The company says that Sofia has its largest development center – with specialists in R&D, sales, marketing, maintenance, and design. The Deputy Mayor of Sofia Municipality, Mr. Gencho Kerezov, also participated in the official opening ceremony of the new office.
NV Tower is located in the southeastern part of Sofia, an area that has developed a dynamic investment activity in recent years and is becoming one of the main areas for business and new construction in the city. The project follows the latest urban and architectural trends. The building has 21 floors and combines class A office space, residential floors, and floors for events, trade, sports, spa, and entertainment.
The Sofia-based startup Rush has attracted a USD 300,000 investment from the LAUNCHub Ventures fund. The company develops a fully automated solution for tracking shipments and submitting status updates to customers for the movement of products after online purchases. Rush was launched in 2019, and the e-purchases boom due to the pandemic led to their product’s rapid development. The company will increase its team and grow its portfolio of e-shops using its supply tracking module.
Another Sofia startup in e-commerce has made a successful step in its development. It is Metrilo – the platform for analyzing sales and consumer behavior of online stores. The company became part of the French Sendinblue. In its official announcement, the buyer states that in addition to the Bulgarian Metrilo, it invests in two other companies with capital for transactions totaling USD 47 million.
Sendinblue is a leading platform for full digital service by automating processes and digital marketing campaigns such as email and SMS marketing, CRM, registration forms, and more for corporations, online merchants, agencies, and individual clients. Among the brands in her portfolio are Carrefour, Michelin, Tissot, and Louis Vuitton. The company has offices in Paris, Toronto, Seattle, Berlin, Noida and has just launched in Sofia. Metrilo in Sofia will continue its activities as before but as part of the global business of the French company, which serves over 300,000 active users in 160 countries around the world.
Upcoming on February 27 and 28, 2022, are virtual bilateral meetings that will take place during the Health Tech Hub Styria Pitch & Partner 2022 (HTH Styria). The event is an opportunity for start-ups, small and medium enterprises with partially or fully developed solutions in healthcare, digihealth technologies, clinical activities, and more. Companies will present their developments to corporate participants in the event, who have already posed the specific challenges they are looking for solutions to. The project submission deadline is 21 November, and the cases companies’ cases are available on the competition website here.
Companies from Central and Southeast Europe can compete for funding for ideas or ready-made developments in clean technologies within the Innovation Hub 2021 of the German leader in the chemical industry BASF. It seeks developments in three areas – clean energy, farm products, and the circular economy. There is no limit to the development stage – it can be from concept to scaleup. The application process description is available here.
Horizon Europe has announced five new calls for project proposals from small and medium-sized enterprises. Projects must focus on innovation and research, have a vast discernment potential, and align with EU priorities for the next programming period. Eligible to apply, in addition to enterprises in the areas, are clusters, organizations, and institutions.
Under Horizon Europe, seven programs specifically in the field of healthcare and health-related technologies have also been announced. Applicants can submit project proposals in focus areas such as transformation in healthcare systems in Europe, new effective therapies for rare diseases, development of new generation vaccines, new methods of effective use of real-time data, plans for more efficient financing in healthcare, and others. You can find funding budgets and a description of the seven open calls here.
The metro expansion from “Hadji Dimitar” to “Levski G” will start this fall. The design will be carried out by the end of 2021, while the start of construction is planned for early 2022. The route will be 3 km long, having three metro stations, with three and a half years of implementation. The section through the Geo Milev and Slatina neighborhoods near Tsarigradsko Shosse Blvd. is also in the process of selecting contractors. Together, the two sections will serve 90 thousand citizens daily. The traffic in the direction of the two extensions is expected to be reduced by about 25%, and the number of cars in motion – by about 17 thousand.
Sofia became the first city in Bulgaria where address registration change can be done electronically via mobile phone. Students, property owners, and people living on rent or in a relative’s property in Sofia can now register both their current and permanent addresses most easily.
The identification is made by scanning the ID card from the mobile device’s camera and verification through the Evrotrust application. In case of registration in a rented property – the owner also makes the confirmation quickly and only electronically. More applications have been submitted to the system for the first 20 days from the service launch than for the last six years in the whole municipality.
The system is available at https://address.sofia.bg/bg and currently works in test mode for the area of ”Studentski grad.” It’s about to be gradually introduced in all regional administrations of
the Sofia Municipality.
With funds from the municipality and European co-financing, reconstruction, renovation, and energy efficiency measures will be introduced in Sofia Theater. The iconic building will retain its stone facade, while a new floor plan will improve the functionality of the interiors. An accessible environment for people with disabilities will also be provided.
Every weekend until 14 November, Jenski Pazar/Women’s Market will be a center of street culinary culture in Sofia with a series of WEEKEND MARKET events dedicated to small producers. Visitors will find farm products, freshly prepared restaurant food, drinks, a book and flower market, paintings, antiques, and art products. You can find information about each of the upcoming Saturday-Sunday bazaars here.
Career Show is a career advancement community that makes experts reaching their maximum professional potential. This year its leading career event brought together live and online some of the largest employers in Bulgaria and Europe with top talents.
The event once again stood out as the leading forum for qualified personnel in Bulgaria. Over 90% of the employers state that they are extremely satisfied and have managed to meet candidates with whom they will continue interviews after the event.
This year Invest Sofia is among the partners of the event as the two organizations share a common goal – connecting employers with qualified staff.
Head of the “Investment Analysis” department at Invest Sofia Victor Gusev presented the Agency’s one-stop-shop administrative services, free market analysis, and expert consultations for investors that our team provides to entrepreneurs who consider Sofia as an investment destination, as well as funding opportunities for startups during the international conference “Financial support for SMEs – SIMExpo 2021”.
The event was organized by the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA). The aim of the forum was to increase the financial and investment culture of small and medium enterprises. The main goal of the forum was to increase the financial and investment culture among SMEs representatives by providing them with useful information about growth opportunities through various financial and investment instruments. During the event, financing institutions, investment and guarantee funds, and investors presented their products aimed at business expansion and growth.
Bulgaria ranks second in innovation after China among the countries in the upper middle-income group according to the Global Innovation Index 2021 of the World Intellectual Property Organization. In the overall ranking, our country climbs two positions up to 35th place and is among the 10 countries in Europe that are improving their performance this year.
According to the Index, Europe is still the second most innovative region in the world. It hosts 16 European economies that are innovation leaders and part of the Top 25. A total of 10 economies move up the ranks this year, Bulgaria being among them. The other countries are France, Iceland, Austria, Estonia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Lithuania, the Russian Federation, and Belarus.
In the grouping by income, Bulgaria ranks second after China among 34 countries in the group “upper middle-income”, followed by Malaysia. In the same group, our country is among the economies that perform above expectations for level of development.
The Global Innovation Index measures 132 economies in the world and ranks them after an assessment of 81 indicators, divided into 7 categories. Data on ICT access and use, business environment, regulatory environment, market sophistication, education, high-tech manufacturing, software spendings, intellectual property payments, ISO 9001 quality certificates, expenditure on R&D, labor productivity, graduates in science and engineering are taken into account. The index model also tracks indicators identified in the three stages of the innovation journey: Science and innovations investments, Technological progress and Socioeconomic impact.
Tracking Innovation through the COVID-19 Crisis
In spite of the human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments and enterprises in many parts of the world have increased their investments in innovation. Scientific output, expenditures in research and development (R&D), intellectual property filings and venture capital (VC) deals continued to grow in 2021, building on strong pre-crisis peak performance.
The Global Innovation Tracker is a new feature of the Global Innovation Index 2021 that captures key innovation trends. It uses a set of indicators identified in the three stages of the innovation journey: Science and innovations investments, Technological progress and Socioeconomic impact.
The 2021 report estimates that despite the pandemic, governments and companies have increased their investment in innovation. Expenditures on research and development, filing of intellectual property documents, risky investments and scientific production have increased.
The world’s most innovative economy in 2021 is Switzerland followed by Sweden, the United States of America (U.S.), the United Kingdom