The Cyprus company Loulis Mills has turned the first shovel of soil for its new mill production plant in the Sofia-Bozhurishte Economic Zone. The investment amounts to BGN 18 million and will create nearly 50 new jobs. The building will include premises for raw materials storage, a building for loading bulk flour, and an office area. The investment is expected to encourage Bulgarian export of flour production.
Bulgarian telecom operator Neterra has also started building a new facility. The building for its second data center – “Sofia Data Center 2” (SDC-2) is already under construction next to the first building of the company near the metro station “Mladost 1” and Sofia Airport. The data center will cover 1,400 square meters on four levels and be equipped with the latest generation of energy-efficient air conditioning systems to ensure lower electricity costs of the systems and an optimized price for customers. SDC-2 will provide a rich portfolio of telecommunications services with round-the-clock support. Sofia-based Neterra is an independent telecom operator for standard and complex services and projects in Europe with over 20 years of experience. The company maintains a portfolio of integrated global communication solutions based on the latest technologies for optical, IP and satellite connectivity. These include VPN and data networks, Internet access, construction and maintenance of satellites and more.
For the last year, DHL Express Bulgaria has expanded the number of its employees in Sofia from 400 to 450 people due to the increased volumes of shipments for processing. In Bulgaria, the company recorded double-digit growth in international deliveries. In 2018, DHL built its large logistics center near Sofia Airport through an investment of EUR 10 million. Over 10,000 square meters house a high-tech sorting system with a capacity of 3,000 shipments per hour, production lines and equipment for reading barcodes, checking weight and size, X-ray scanning of shipments, and more.
The Sofia office of Milestone Systems is also increasing its team with more R&D experts. The Danish company is an international leader in the production of IP-based video surveillance software. Due to the growing demand for Milestone products, the sales team for the Bulgarian market, CEE and Russia has increased since last year. The current company also plans to expand the research and development department by about 20 people. Currently, more than 160 employees are part of Milestone Systems in Sofia. The R&D center in Sofia is the second
The fourth edition of the guide “Sofia – Business Destination 2021” is available on the website of the Sofia Investment Agency. Current general economic profile, data on taxes, fees, investment incentives, workforce, education, transport, industrial and office space are just some of the comprehensive information that you can find in the guide.
Special attention to the impact of the global pandemic of KOVID 19 on all aspects of life and business in the capital.
Mobility, e-commerce, smart city, AI, fintech, gaming, digital media, healthcare, proptech are some of the sectors in which Sofia-based companies attract the attention of investors. Since the beginning of the year, several local startups have raised capital from investment funds. Here are several success stories of the teams that chose the Bulgarian capital as a place to set up and develop their products and services with local and global application.
Amygda Labs, a predictive analytics platform for industrial assets, has received an investment from ВrightCap Ventures. With the attracted resource the company will establish a technological team in Sofia, further develop its product and manage the operations with clients from the European markets. Amygda Labs was founded two years ago by a Bulgarian and a British and started with software that forecasts the need for maintenance of aircraft engines. Due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on international flights, the team decided to widen the software application to the monitoring of technical components in the space, railway and industrial sectors. The software uses AI and machine self-learning to monitor engines and predict potential anomalies and damage. The great potential of Amygda Labs is that it offers operational efficiency to customers during a pandemic, as well as the potential future application of risk assessment and tracking software for autonomous vehicles.
The Sofia-based digital insurance broker Boleron received an investment of a total of EUR 500,000. from two funds – “New Vision 3” (NV3) and “Eleven”. The startup company is developing a digital insurance platform that enables consumers to buy, receive and manage multiple insurance products in a frictionless and easy way and will use the funds to accelerate its expansion across the SEE region, as well as enable team expansion and product development.
NV3 also backed up the AI-powered digital twin platform MYX Robotics. The Sofia-based startup will use the funding to accelerate product development, support local and international business development, as well as grow the company’s team.
Proptech companyFantasticStay, a fast-growing technology startup for real estate and rental management, also received funding from NV3 fund. With an investment of 1.3m euros, the startup plans to expand its global operations and further develop its products and services.
Vitosha Venture Partners started the year with four supported companies, three of which are based in Sofia. These are Hobo – the first Bulgarian micro-mobility startup for shared travel using electric scooters; Eirene
The virtual event for companies that want to scale up their business.
28 April, 2021
9.15 a.m. – 1.30 p.m. (CET)
The Vienna Business Agency cordially invites established companies, startups and scaleups that would like to expand their business internationally to a virtual tour “Open Vienna – A
Thriving Startup Ecosystem”, as part of ViennaUP’21, to explore the city’s innovative spirit.
By attending this event, the participants will find out how can their business benefit from
the business location Vienna even in these challenging times.
The focus topics of this event will be:
The participants can register now for free at the event’s homepage: here, fill out their matchmaking profile and immediately start networking with other participating companies.
Among others, the participants will be able to network with successful Viennese startups and scaleups such as TourRadar, Kaleido AI or Gurkerl, to connect with the well-acclaimed fintech accelerator Elevator Lab and get a free consultation with experts of the Vienna Business Agency.
In support of the companies in Sofia listed below are several current opportunities for participation in growth and development programmes and B2B events.
The application for the Dare to Scale growth programme by the global entrepreneurial network Endeavor has started. The four-month programme focuses on businesses from all sectors that have passed their early development phase and are now in a growth stage. Partners in the programme are Post Bank, Software Group and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises (EASME). Companies with up to 150 employees and a minimum turnover of BGN 200 000 for the past year can apply. They are expected to work on products or services that are already on the market and have potential for global growth. The interviews with the pre-selected enterprises will be held in May. The programme starts in September and will be held in hybrid format – online sessions and live events in Sofia, aimed at building skills in four main areas: management, marketing, sales, business planning and raising capital. Each company will have its own individual mentor from the Endeavor network. Applicationcan be submitted on the website of the programme here.
By 23 April, companies from the manufacturing and supply chain in the fashion industry, logistics, production, online trade and textile filelds can submit applications for participation in the B2B event Fashion Match Supply 2021. It will take place online between 26-30 April and will include seminars, discussions and free bilateral business meetings on a preliminary statement of interest. Registration can be made at https://fashion-match-supply-2021.b2match.io/. The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry provides assistance to companies that are interested in participating. More information is available here.
By 24 April, the Executive Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises (EASME) will accept applications for participation in ANUGA 2021 – the largest food industry exhibition in the world, held every two years in Cologne, Germany. This year, the forum is scheduled for 9-13.10.2021, but because of the complicated pandemic situation, fewer participants will be allowed. The international participation in the exhibition is over 50 % and for visitors – more than 80 %. The event presents global trends and innovations in the sector and provides opportunities for B2B contacts. EASME shall bear part of the costs for the participation of exhibitors from Bulgaria. For more information and instructions on how to apply please visit EASME’s webpage here.
Solutions Review ranked software co-developed by the Sofia team of the U.S. AtScale among the world’s top 14 data virtualisation tools for 2021. The product is a flexible platform that combines access to data from different locations where they are stored, as well as offers visualization and management of datasets.
Solutions Review is an American online media that brings all of the technology news, opinion, best practices and industry events in the field of Data Integration together in one place. Its list of 14 best tools globally was made based on research and evaluation by the editorial team, as well as the results of analysis of user sentiment through the web’s most trusted business software review sites.
Being present in the selection of the best data virtualisation tools globally AtScale falls among international leaders such as IBM, Oracle and SAP. The full list can be found here.
AtScale formed its team in Sofia at the end of 2018. The office in the Bulgarian capital is the first for the company outside the USA. The IT leader offers big data management solutions that help companies convert big datasets into business intelligence and intelligent analytics tool. The company is based in California and its clients include organizations like JPMorgan Chase, Toyota, Visa, Groupon, GlaxoSmithKline, CNN, Bloomberg.
EU Startup Nations Standard of Excellence will require the Member States to apply practices that encourage entrepreneurship and create a more favorable environment for start-ups. These include the introduction of a startup visa, facilitated company registration procedures and quick access to the local market, fully electronic communication between companies and administration, fast visa procedures for talents and entrepreneurs from outside the EU, incentives for experts to return to Europe, access to venture and equity capital, equal access to entrepreneurship, etc. The single standard also affords national and local institutions to establish regulations that provide an experimental environment for the development of city solutions by the companies, the so-called. “Sandboxes for innovation in a regulated environment”.
In Bulgaria, some of the practices have already been adopted. Access to capital in our country is supported by 14 venture and equity funds, which invest in companies from different sectors and at different stages of an enterprise. A Startup Visa has been introduced since mid-February, and at the local level, Sofia Municipality was the first to launch its Sandbox for Innovative Solutions programme. It tests pilot projects of the capital’s business for applicability in a real urban environment. However, Bulgaria has not yet signed the Declaration on EU Startup Nations Standard. The document was proposed during “Digital Day 2021” – a virtual event of the European Commission in cooperation with the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU, which took place a few days ago. The declaration was adopted by 25 European countries and so far only Bulgaria, Hungary, and Croatia have not signed it. Member States are not obliged to adopt the Single Standard, but the Commission will expect those that do so to change some of their regulations over time or to introduce new good practices.
With the introduction of the EU Startup Nations Standard of Excellence, the European Commission aims to fulfill Europe’s potential to become the most attractive place for startups compared to global leaders such as the United States. With the establishment of proven practices in all countries of the continent, European startups will get better conditions, stay in the EU instead of moving their business to another continent, stimulate competition, technological exchange, scientific development, and more.
Read the full text of the Declaration on EU Startup Nations Standard here
For the 8th consecutive year, Innovation Starter is organizing the national competition Innovation Academy – Bulgaria Innovation Hackathon. Invest Sofia is an institutional partner of the event, and Senior Executive Officer Dr. Maria Hristova accepted the invitation of the organizers to be a lecturer and a member of the hackathon jury.
Innovation Academy is the largest public-private educational partnership in the country between organizations from the private, academic, public and NGO sectors. The project develops students’ entrepreneurial skills and supports their first business ideas with funding and mentorship. The Academy started in 2014 with two partner universities in Sofia, and to date 14 universities and training centers from all over the country are part of the initiative. Over 4,000 participants and more than 370 teams have been trained in the project so far.
Again, Innovation Academy 2021 will take place as a 24-hour hackathon, on June 4 and 5 in Sofia, at the Peroto Literary Club of the National Palace of Culture. The Finals will be broadcasted online on Facebook and YouTube. The winning team with the most creative idea will receive funding, provided by the European Investment Bank, and a visit to Brussels with the institutional support of the European Commission in Bulgaria.
Together with Invest Sofia, partners of the Innovation Academy 2021 are the European Commission in Bulgaria, the European Investment Bank, the America for Bulgaria Foundation, Sofia Water, part of Veolia, Aurubis Bulgaria, Coca Cola Bulgaria.
Team registrations are open by mid of May. For more information and application link, please visit the initiative’s website here.
The municipal enterprise Sofiaplan has published an analysis of the current situation and tendencies in Sofia’s economics. The analysis is part of an extensive study of the various aspects of the urban development of Sofia that will become the basis of “Plan for Sofia” – a plan for the integrated development of the city with the most high-priority projects in the following years.
The analysis shows that Sofia’s GDP is growing faster than the country’s, and the largest volume of foreign direct investment (28%) is allocated in the IT sector and outsourced services. Attention is also paid to the concentration of economically active population in the different regions of Sofia – the most economically active people live in Mladost (57.7 thousand) and Lyulin (61.8 thousand), and the least in Bankya (6 thousand) and Kremikovtzi (11.2 thousand).
According to the data, the dynamic development of services in recent years, and the emergence of large business and office areas in specific areas of the capital, lead to their outpacing development. For example, in Mladost, where there is a high concentration of class A office space and an inflow of foreign investments, over 13% of the revenues of the companies in the capital are generated. Another rapid development areas are Lozenets, Triaditsa, Vazrazhdane, Sredets and Vitosha. Other parts of the city are have more residential function. Such is, for example, the Lyulin district, which has the largest population and number of economically active people, but concentrates less than 3% of the companies’ revenues in Sofia.
The overview of Sofiaplan also includes an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities that lie ahead the capital. The points where the city can further develop its potential are attracting strategic investors who are a global leader in their market; expansion and delineation of new high class business and office spaces; more serious connection of higher education institutions with the industry and high-tech companies; greater influence of Sofia on the corporate map in the region through finding and communicating competitive advantages over the other capitals; development of the promotion of Sofia as an investment destination, incl. good coordination with neighboring territories, etc.
See the Sofia data infographics here, and the compiled document containing resumes of the analyses on the aspects of urban development, including the data on economics, has been published on the website of Sofiaplan here.
Bulgaria ranks 35th among 178 countries in the Heritage Foundation’s 2021 Index of Economic Freedom. Thus our country maintains its position in the “mostly free” category, where Bulgaria climbed up a year ago.
The index measures countries on 12 indicators in four categories: Rule of law, Government size, Regulatory efficiency, and Open markets. With a maximum score of 100 points, Bulgaria received 70.4, an increase of 0.2 points compared to the previous year, mainly due to an improvement in the assessment of the tax burden. The result is above the average for the region and the world. In Europe, Bulgaria ranks 20th among 45 countries, and 1st in the Balkans.
In the Government size category, Bulgaria put on a good performance in the indicators of tax weight and fiscal health, with the good result mainly due to the flat tax and government gross debt.
The assessments for Open markets and Regulatory efficiency have also risen. For the category of open markets, the study shows that as a member of the European Union, Bulgaria has 45 existing preferential trade agreements. Traditionally, our country lags behind in the Rule of law category.
This is Heritage Foundation’s 27th edition of the “Index of Economic Freedom”. The study defines the term “economic freedom” as the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property.
At the top of the index, this year are Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, and Iceland – each with a score of over 80 points. The survey page offers easy-to-read comparisons between countries, custom graphics, and an interactive map. Bulgaria’s profile and full index can be viewed here
Our Senior Executive Director – Dr. Maria Hristova & Joanna Dragneva – Senior Expert at Invest Sofia will take part to the International conference ‘Innovations in Science and Education’ with the article “Exploring opportunities for the return of Bulgarian migrants in response to the growing need for specialized staff in Sofia”. You can read the abstract below, the full article will be published in April.
This article examines the issues related to Bulgarian migration after the country’s accession to the EU in 2007 and focuses its research on the phenomenon of “brain drain” – the process of mass emigration during which specialists, scientists and skilled workers leave. Today this phenomenon is quite typical for Bulgaria as part of the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe. The problems associated with the “brain drain” are very relevant as the country suffers significant economic and cultural losses, while the host countries acquire large and inexpensive intellectual capital.
During the years of transition, Bulgaria strives to be not only a full member of the EU but also to provide opportunities for development and realization of specialists, scientists and researchers. This requires the adoption of measures and initiatives to establish sustainable development in the capital and in the country, as well as to meet the need for highly skilled labor in the industrial sphere.
The aim of the article is to explore the possibilities for the return of Bulgarian migrants in response to the growing need for specialized staff in Sofia. The quantitative study involved more than 500 Bulgarian migrants residing in different host countries, who were selected randomly and responded voluntarily.
The article defends the thesis that if Bulgaria provides opportunities for the development of specialized staff through the undertaking of specific initiatives, this can be an attraction and a motive for the return of Bulgarian migrants.
The results show that in recent years the need for specialized staff is constantly growing. In response to this need, the initiatives that are undertaken are aimed at innovations in science and education. The study also takes into account the readiness of Bulgarian migrants to return home.
Bulgaria ranks first in the study “The Best European Countries for Women to Work” conducted by the British digital marketing agency Reboot Online. Our country scored 236.6 points out of a possible 300.
The index evaluates the European countries on a variety of factors to determine which countries offer the best prospects for female professionals. Aspects considered in the study are: maternity leave packages, economic opportunity and women in leadership roles.
According to Reboot Online Bulgaria has one of Europe’s best maternity packages. The country allows women to take a minimum of 58.6 weeks off (410 days) – the longest minimum maternity leave in the world. In addition, mothers receive 90% of their full salary during their leave. As a result, Bulgaria scores the highest possible 100 points per category.
Bulgaria comes in third place for women in leadership, awarded 90 points in the index – 10 points less than the leader in this category – Norway, and 6 points behind the second in the ranking – Romania. According to our analysis, 22.1% of Bulgarian women hold leadership roles.
Bulgaria finishes mid-table in terms of economic opportunities (46.6 points), but its overall result ranks it first among all 29 countries in the ranking.
More about the study and the performance by country is available here.