Urban Tech just launched a series of monthly online webinar events dedicated to urban tech solutions that help cities shorten the road to recovery from the COVID19 crisis.
If you focus on Smart Cities and are responsible for city development or Urban Technology business and interested to learn how our cities define their strategy and tactical plan for now and after the crisis subsides, then these free webinars are for you.
Sofia Municipality was invited to take part in the Smart cities – urban tech solutions to shorten the road to recovery webinar to be held on July 9, 15:00 – 15:45 BST / 16:00 – 16:45 CEST.
On July 9, join the event to hear great experts:
> Innovative Sofia, Sofia Municipality
> MIDAS – Manchester’s Inward Investment Agency
> the fastest growing commercial real estate services firm Avison Young, and
> INREGU, the French national institute of research and education in urban management
In the upcoming meeting:
Sofia ranks 1st in the Smart City Development category and 7th in the overall ranking of Emerging Europe for the best cities for doing business in Central and Eastern Europe – Business-Friendly Cities Perception Ranking 2020. Sofia is also in the Top 10 in the Quality of Life category, sharing the 5th place with Gdynia, Poland, Bratislava, and Slovakia. For the ranking, Emerging Europe investigated 75 cities in the region of developing Europe – capitals and cities with over 200,000 inhabitants.
The Business-Friendly Cities Perception Ranking 2020 is part of the Emerging Europe Awards 2020 – the third edition of a program that presents the best of Europe’s developing region and honors the achievements of individuals, public and private organizations, projects, and initiatives.
Budapest has been named the most business-friendly city. The Hungarian capital also tops two of the eight categories taken into account in the ranking – Brand, and Local Authority Support. Sofia, along with Tallinn, is the winner in the category Smart City Development. Tbilisi leads in Economic Potential, Łódź in Business Climate, Bucharest in Pool of Talent, Warsaw in Infrastructure and Connectivity, and Prague in Quality of Life. Budapest, Prague, and Warsaw lead the overall ranks, where Sofia ranks 7th.
Due to the restrictive measures around Covid-19, this year, the ranking was presented online. In its publication, Emerging Europe quoted the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova on the occasion of Sofia’s recognition as one of the two leading cities in the category Smart City Development.
“Our efforts are focused on implementing innovative solutions in city governance and urban development,” she says. “Sofia is changing and the most important thing is that more and more citizens are taking part in this change. Sofia’s most valuable asset is the city’s highly educated workforce that is demanding a constantly improving city environment. We are working with a consistent focus on one strategic priority – the improvement of the quality of life of its citizens.”
TNW’s and fDi Magazine’s international panel of judges have now selected the winners and top-performing cities in the debut research and ranking entitled Tech Cities of the Future 2020/21. Data was collected for 76 locations in Europe, 25 in total were shortlisted, Sofia being among them.
We are delighted to announce that Sofia has received a high score in the following 3 categories:
Technology Cities of the Future 2020/20 is a debut ranking focused on finding those European cities with the most promising prospects for start-ups, tech and innovation investment. London, Paris and Dublin are the top-ranking cities in the overall ranking.
Cities were evaluated under five categories: Economic Potential, Innovation and Attractiveness, FDI Performance, Cost Effectiveness and Start-up Environment. In addition, surveys were collected under a sixth category – FDI Strategy. Locations that ranked in the top 20 in this category were given bonus points, which contributed to their overall score.
We believe that the next inclusion of Sofia in a prestigious international ranking is of great importance for the positive image of the city and its strong position on the global map of innovation, technology and business hubs.
fDi Magazine, in partnership with TNW, has prepared this debut issue of Technology Cities of the Future 2020/21 to highlight the impact of tech hubs on the global economy. Silicon Valley, with its high concentration of hardware and software companies, is by far the most famous representation of a tech city – but the concept has been exported and replicated across the globe. Tech cities are hugely beneficial to local, national, and international economies. They create employment, attract investment, talent, and can help re-energise local pockets in cities and more remote areas. One thing is for sure: tech cities seldom emerge on their own, rather they are often the byproduct of resolute urban planning and government intervention, the report states.
The full document is available for free download: https://www.fdiintelligence.com/article/77846
fDi Intelligence is a department of Financial Times, specializing in areas relating to investment and promotion of the investment climate globally. The professional magazine targets
We are glad to announce that Sofia City Council unanimously approved the Strategy for Digital Transformation of Sofia!
The document focuses on four focus areas: e-government, utilities, transport, and ICT startup ecosystem. The Strategy was developed under the DigitalCitiesChallenge project of the European Commission with EU experts, our team, the team of Invest Sofia and over 100 local stakeholders, including Sofia-based companies with a total turnover of over BGN 3.23 billion and over 17,000 employees.
The Strategy for Digital Transformation of Sofia is important for the city because its implementation aims to:
The full document is available here 👉 https://innovativesofia.bg/strategicheski-dokumenti/
A list of everything you might want to know about the Strategy is available on our webpage Digital Sofia here 👉https://investsofia.com/digitalna-sofia/
Once again, we thank the experts who participated in the creation of the Strategy. At the publication of the Strategy in June 2019, the experts, organizations and companies involved were just over 100. To date, our network of local stakeholders for the implementation of the Strategy includes nearly 200 people and/or entities.
The Sofia Municipality’s Digitalization, Innovation, and Economic Development department now operates under the name of Innovative Sofia. Founded on the initiative of Mayor Yordanka Fandakova at the beginning of this year, the team is led by Deputy Mayor Vladimir Danailov, the first in charge of a digitalization and innovation department in a Bulgarian municipality.
Innovative Sofia already has its own new website – www.innovativesofia.bg, with news, upcoming events, and information about the digitalization activities in the city, the expansion of the number of e-services for the citizens and businesses, the development of the tech and innovative environment in the city, and the projects in which Sofia participates – including those implemented in collaboration with Sofia’s ecosystem.
The ambition of the new Digitalization, Innovation, and Economic Development department is to be the driving force behind Sofia’s digital transformation; to initiate and coordinate digital transformation policies in urban governance and to reduce administrative burdens; to develop more and better e-services for the citizens and businesses in Sofia, to create open data platforms and to implement various smart city solutions.
The Innovative Sofia’s website is available in both Bulgarian and English. In June, the department will start publishing its monthly newsletter. Subscribe to receive latest news about upcoming events and success stories from the digital, smart, and dynamic Sofia. The bulletin will also include information about rankings and indices that Sofia falls into, funding opportunities, and much more for the benefit of the businesses, citizens, and Sofia’s digital transformation. .
Innovative Sofia will be supporting the opening of the local administration to the citizens and the businesses, the development of the innovation potential of the city and the technology companies in Sofia, the creation of a recognizable brand of Sofia and the business ecosystem in the city.
‘On my behalf and on behalf of the team of Innovative Sofia, I would like to thank all the partners, from both the business and the public sector, who have supported us over the past months as we were paving the way for the launch of the new department. We believe that Innovative Sofia is a necessary generator of Sofia’s digital transformation. We are ready for dynamic work in the coming months, and we will be happy to implement the projects together with the businesses and the citizens of Sofia, in a strong community’, Deputy Mayor Vladimir Danailov said.
Sofia climbed two positions – tо 86th place among 1 000 cities in this year’s Global Ecosystem Rankings 2020 by StartupBlink – a leading international startups and research centers platform. A case study presents Sofia and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the city in the deep dive section of the report.
For its annual review, StartupBlink has reviewed the global startup ecosystem by analyzing data from more than 1 000 cities in 100 countries. In the country rankings Bulgaria is ranked 32nd, or three positions higher than in 2019.
Sofia in “Global Ecosystems 2020”
Sofia is a technology center with innovative startups in various industries, according to the report.
Around 15% of the startups are in deeptech – AI, IoT, aerospace, and others, and over 30 startups are in the gaming industry. About one-third of the startup founders are foreigners. Sofia has a well-developed ecosystem with a network of angel investors, over 15 VC funds, and 30 coworking spaces. With the notable 246 funding rounds in the last six years, Sofia comes up third among Central and Eastern Europe cities by the number of VC rounds. 30.2% of those employed in the ICT sector are women (vs.16.7% in the EU). 42% of current university students are in STEM-related fields.
The article reminds that Sofia will host one of the EU’s еight next-generation supercomputers, expected to be operational by the end of 2020 and cites Mr. Vladimir Danailov, Deputy Mayor for Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development of Sofia: Sofia has come a long way from an outsourcing center into a developed ecosystem that invents world-class products and services. Sofia has a great story to tell!
Sofia’s start-up ecosystem was featured during the live launch of the report on 26 May, via Zoom.
Nadia Sultanova presented on behalf of Innovative Sofia: ‘Sofia has one of the most-rapidly developing startup and entrepreneurial ecosystems in the region and is a tech, innovation and creative hub with a mature IT, innovation and tech ecosystem. Today Sofia-based companies are developing global solutions locally. Sofia hasn’t had its first unicorn yet, but there are several companies that are close to achieving that goal.’
Bulgaria in the ranking by country
The report states that Bulgaria has a remarkably high number of participants in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. If it continues on this trajectory, Bulgaria might be in the top 30 by 2021, according to the report.
Sofia Investment Agency will join the Special Edition of ВаlRЕасt #Асtіоn іn сrіѕіѕ as an institutional and communication partner.
The Deputy Mayor of Sofia for Digital Transformation, Innovation and Economic Development Vladimir Danailov will participate in the Pre-opening session: Macro Trend – Bulgaria and the Economic Challenges (9:00 – 09:45 a.m.). Watch the live stream of the event on 16 June.
BalREAct – #Action in crisis will provide market players with an opportunity to analyze and share their views on key environmental drivers, models of response to the humanitarian, social, economic, financial and market challenges posed by the situation, as well as the important processes for optimizing the systemic risk, which already creates difficulties and uncertainty for the real estate industry.
The conference programme will include discussion sessions focused on the residential market, office space market and the future of workspaces, and more.
Macro environment: Scenarios, fiscal policies, interest rates, crisis response tools and liquidity provision. Governments, central banks and policies to restart economic life as a key factor for recovery.
Capital markets: How risky are the assets in real estate in time of global uncertainty and are trends expected to change in key markets? What are the prospects for the different market segments?
The epidemic affects the office space market in Bulgaria and in particular – Sofia. Models of reaction and adaptation.
Financing: Banks’ and investors’ point of view – expectations, financial instruments and credit restructuring models. What will happen to interest rates and funding requirements for real estate projects?
What will be the impact of the extraordinary market situation on the different segments of the real estate sector – residential, office space, shopping malls, hotels, logistics and industrial real estate?
How will the co-working sector respond to the risks imposed?
What are the features that provide stability and flexibility to the residential projects?
What are the main pillars of the residential market to deal with the emergency situation?
Force majeure, emergency situation and termination or renegotiation of contracts – expert view and models for dealing with specific legal cases in the industry.
Find out more about BalREаct – #Action in crisis 2020 here: en.balrec.bg
Registration is free of charge with a work email address here: balreact.gradat.events/en/register
Simultaneous translation will be provided by the organizers The City Media Group.
Contact The City Media Group to discuss all partnership possibilities for your company in
The new 2020 edition of Startup Blink’s Global Ecosystem Ranking will include an updated profile of Sofia’s startup ecosystem and a case study about Sofia in the deep dive section of the report.
One of the world’s most comprehensive report ranking over 100 countries and 1,000 cities will be officially presented during two launch online seminars on Tuesday, 26 May – at 11.00 a.m. London time (13.00 a.m. Sofia time) and at 18:00 London time (20:00 Sofia time).
Vladimir Danailov, Deputy Mayor of Sofia for Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development was invited to present Sofia during the first online seminar (at 13:00 Sofia time).
You can sign up for the event here!
At the invitation of StartupBlink, Innovative Sofia (the Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development department of Sofia Municipality) supported the process of compiling and updating the information and data about Sofia for the 2020 edition of the Global Ecosystem Ranking Report, read by tens of thousands of decision-makers and featured in over 1,000 articles to date.
The document will include a case study on our ecosystem in the deep dive section and a short overview of some of its main stakeholders – successful startups, coworking spaces, accelerators, etc.
Based on a preliminary algorithm, StartupBlink identified a few ecosystems where the lack of data is hurting their rankings, including Sofia. We believe that sharing information and spreading the word about Sofia’s ecosystem achievements is important for attracting partners and talents and for preventing brain drain.
StartupBlink is among the world’s largest platforms for startups and research centres. It manages dozens of communities around the world, including developers, public sector organisations, co-working spaces, accelerators and tens of thousands of entrepreneurs. The platform features modules for mapping and analysis as well as promotion. Once a year, it publishes a comprehensive global startup ecosystem analysis report, comparing information from more than 1,000 cities in 100 countries.
StartupBlink is working with dozens of stakeholders from the public sector on various modules including ecosystem promotion, mapping, and consulting. More information about StartupBlink and its reports is available on the press page with articles, including references from Prime Ministers, Ministers and Mayors around the world.
The Municipal Guarantee Fund for Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (MGFSME) is launching a new guarantee instrument in support of the small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in Sofia to limit the negative economic impact caused by the state of emergency because of COVID-19.
The Fund will issue guarantees on the loans of unaffiliated (self-employed) persons, micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), whose activity was affected by the epidemic situation, and who are experiencing a shortage of working funds.
The Fund’s guarantees will serve as collateral for the SMEs’ loans. The Fund will pay the bank the amount on the guarantee which the bank hasn’t been able to collect from the debtor.
The maximum amount within which the Fund will issue guarantees under this new financial instrument is 1 000 000 leva. It will cover up to 50% of the amount of the principle of each approved loan on this guarantee scheme, but not over 15 000 leva.
Requirements for Applicants:
– The enterprise should meet the criteria for “a small- or middle-sized enterprise” /SME/ under Article 3 of the SME Act
– The activity of the enterprise should be carried out on the territory of Sofia Municipality
– The activity of the enterprise should fall into the economic sectors that have been affected by the introduced emergency measures on a national and/or regional level
Guarantees are issued on bank loans, aimed at funding the payments for:
– employee remuneration
– social security contributions
– public liabilities
– running costs related to the enterprise’s activity (service provider payments, rents, etc)
The guarantees will be valid for up to 24 months from their date of issue. SMEs will not owe fees and commissions.
Sofia Municipality is about to select a Financial Intermediary on a competitive basis (a BNB-licensed commercial bank) who will manage an additional guarantee portfolio of 300 000 leva. The loan of one SME can be guaranteed by both the Sofia Municipal Guarantee Fund and the Financial Intermediary in the amount of up to 80% of the principal.
You can find more information (in Bulgarian) here.
In case you have questions or need a consultation, please contact the Municipal Guarantee Fund’s team: 02/980 9938, firstname.lastname@example.org
Together with the team of Innovative Sofia, we continue to work with six of the teams who participated in the #LetsHackTheCrisis hackathon. #LetsHackTheCrisis brought together business professionals, IT and Humanities experts with innovative ideas so that they could jointly build projects to help combat the spread and the effects of COVID-19 in Bulgaria.
Vladimir Danailov, Sofia’s Deputy Mayor for Digitalisation, Innovation and Economic Development, participated in the jury and looked for solutions that could benefit the city and whose further development we could support.
If you or your company would like to help these projects – either with expertise or with already developed solutions, please contact us, so that we could discuss the opportunities to support them together. All six projects are among the 15 finalists of the hackathon.
Description of the projects
We’ll make it together is a mobile application and a site for quick training and coaching of people who would like to participate in volunteer initiatives. The team sought assistance in validating different scenarios of action in particular situations through organisations and individuals that coordinate volunteers – municipalities, NGOs, and companies that promote volunteering in their corporate policies and regularly participate in campaigns as part of their corporate social responsibility activities.
Buy.Eat.Save. is a mobile app allowing restaurants or shops to offer food or products left at the end of the day (which they would otherwise have to throw away) at a lower price. Through the app, the users can find the restaurants and shops that are closest to their location.
HospitalGen is a monitoring platform for hospitals which collects and updates data on the available medical supplies, vacant and occupied beds, and the needs of each hospital. The platform aims to unite and bring the data on the various needs of the hospitals at a centralized platform and to allow the different stakeholders (nurses, doctors, warehouse staff, crisis staff, volunteers) to have individual roles in the platform according to their activities.
Book4Later is a portal, developed for the tourism and entertainment sectors. It uses a financial instrument whereby the user is given a buy/sell option which they claim now but use in the future. The full value of the requested option is paid only upon application.
Arya Delivery is an online catalog for local Bulgarian producers. It aims to help the smaller and niche businesses in
The Sofia Council approved the first package of measures in support of some of the most severely affected businesses by COVID-19. The measures include:
The establishment of a guarantee fund of 1 million leva which will allow banks to issue guarantees on loans to self-employed people and SMEs affected by the crisis.
– securing up to 50% of the principal sum of the loans up to 50 000 leva.
– Sofia Municipality will announce a competition for the election of a financial intermediary to provide additional guarantee loan coverage.
– the guarantee limit will be up to 300 000 leva – thus guarantees may reach 80%.
– street trading license fee of owners of business premises and restaurants that were closed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
– rent from traders, tenants of municipal property for the time their premises have been closed due to COVID-19.
Rent discounts for municipal tenants who have been working but are facing a decline in their turnover compared to the same period last year.
– 50% discount at a 50%+ drop
– 20% discount at a 20%-50% drop
(The measures apply to all tenants of municipal trade premises. They should show a proof of the decline in turnover – a declaration and accounting documents).
The measures that have been voted upon are in support of the family- and medium-sized businesses in Sofia and include additional instruments in support of artists, cultural institutions, and municipal polyclinics.
Our team is working on a pilot for the use of the European cloud infrastructure by the public administration and the pilot project for Sofia is already on the European Commission’s PolicyCLOUD program website.
With our participation in the project, Sofia Municipality will be able to perform simulations, tests and analysis of potential policies, using different categories of data – from existing sources (the Call Sofia call centre for citizens’ signals) and from new open data sets of the EU, which will be accessible to Sofia and the other 15 European cities in PolicyCLOUD.
The project features the development of a tool for analysis of large data sets and visualisation of different scenarios, which will allow assessment of policies and activities related to urban management case studies such as:
☑ road infrastructure, street lighting, road signs, parking
☑ waste management
☑ cleanliness of public spaces, ecology, green systems, playgrounds
☑ violations of public order and others
The analysis of the territorial distribution of the signals by category will enable the municipal administration to identify problems and trends in the urban environment. The analysis will also facilitate the monitoring and control of the services under review, enabling preventive action to identify potential risks and to guide decision makers to adjust the current policies or adopt new ones, as well as to use the budget and public resources effectively and efficiently.
More about Sofia’s participation in the EU Programme can be found here.
A description of Sofia’s project for PolicyCLOUD is available on the initiative’s website here.
Source: Innovative Sofia