Sofia Investment Agency is pleased to announce that CEO Mr. Vladimir Danailov was invited to speak at the high-level conference ‘Digital Cities Challenge: A strategy for EU cities in the 21st Century’, that will be held on the 5th of June 2019 in Brussels. The conference will celebrate the work of the cities that have been part of the Digital Cities Challenge – the initiative by the European Commission helping over 40 European cities, including Sofia, to reap the benefits of advanced technologies, develop digitization strategies and achieve smart and sustainable growth.
Vladimir Danailov will join the discussion “Success stories of market creation through the Digital Cities Challenge initiative” part of the “Cities as market creators” session. The panel will discuss how cities can enhance growth and innovation at local level, by bringing together the new and the old economy, investing in advanced technologies and promoting innovative solutions.
Mr. Danailov will present initiatives undertaken in Sofia and the achieved results.
During the last several months, Sofia along with 40 other DCC participant cities had to design the roadmaps for their individual digital strategies, plan their implementation and monitoring. The high-level Conference will mark the end of the Digital Cities Challenge initiative and will pave the way for the future Intelligent Cities in the 21st century strategy.
The event is expected to bring together 400 participants from all over Europe, including cities, industry and business experts, smart city practitioners, international organizations, and EU, national and local policy makers.
The Sofia Investment Agency team just published the new Sofia Business Guide 2019 – now available for download from our website.
Sofia Business Guide covers a wide range of topics, such as the local economic development, labor force, education, cost of living, transport and connectivity, industrial spaces, priority industries, startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem, and many more.
The Guide also serves as a step-by-step handbook on how to start your business in Sofia as it contains latest data on business taxes, investment incentives, action list on how to register a company, among others.
By summing up and assembling the most important and up-to-date information in the second edition of the guide, we wanted to give a general, but detailed overview of Sofia as an investment destination and to assist those who have considered beautiful Sofia as a place to set up their business and everyday live for a successful onset .
The document is available in 2 languages – English and Bulgarian, and can be downloaded from Invest Sofia’s website. Data is presented predominantly in graphics, tables, and infographics.
Feel free to use all content and graphs in your business endeavors, whenever you present your projects to foreign partners and potential investors.
For partners from abroad, our team is available for further information and detailed analysis on specific topics, as well as for ongoing support on every stage of the investment plan.
Sofia Investment Agency would like to thank all supporting organisations for the information and guidance they provided: The Bulgarian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA), The Fund of funds, Institute for Market Economics, Economic Policy Institute, Sofia Tech Park, MGFSME, Puzl CowOrKing, Bulgarian Fintech Association, Zara Consult, Sofia Airport, IT Step, Bulgarian Outsourcing Association, Bulgarian Association of Software Companies (BASSCOM), Culture Department of Sofia Municipality, Creative Industries Foundation.
More than 30 student projects were presented at a conference organized by the UNWE Student Council and the Regional Development Department of the university. Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agencyр was also part of the jury evaluating the smart city development projects prepared by the students.
I am glad to have taken part in the conference because its subject is closely related to my work. It is important to make our city attractive for investment and way of living so that we can all stay here and continue to develop. I hope that we could also work with you in the future so that we could build Sofia and Bulgaria as a progressive and evolving place, Mr. Danailov said.
The jury ranked Stefan Lyutskanov first for his “Reasonable Cities in the European Union and Their Need in Bulgaria” development. Daniel Stoyanov (“The Role of Block Technologies in Financing Vertical Urbanized Agriculture in Innovative Cities”) was positioned second. Essen Chavdarova was ranked third (“Art Square”). The three students received cash prizes.
Two of the students have won the right to participate at the XIV International Scientific Conference “Regional Development and Demographic Processes in Southeast European Countries” in the city of Nis, Serbia, to be held on June 21, 2019: Maria Mardeva for her project “Development of Modern Technologies for Dealing with the Traffic” and Alexander Dimitrov for the development “Contemporary Concepts of Development of Smart Cities”
On March 27, 2019, Sofia Investment Agency and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria signed an agreement to support and develop bilateral trade and economic relations. In the presence of Mr. Francesco Calderoli, Deputy Ambassador of Italy in Bulgaria, Mr. Vladimir Danailov, CEO of the Agency, and Mr. Marco Montecchi, President of the Chamber, the two parties agreed on the exchange of information, projects and support for small and medium-sized enterprises on the territory of Sofia and Italy.
The measures set out in the agreement include the exchange of experience in organizing and managing of company service activities, participation in joint forums and trade fairs, exchange of good practices and experience with structural funds, as well as information on European programs and tenders on direct management of the European Commission or its agencies, mainly in the field of scientific research and development of innovation in SMEs.
Signing this document between the Chamber and the Agency is of utmost importance to us when taking in consideration the existing ties between the two countries, Mr. Calderoli said.
We have many things in common in our work, and our business plans include the presentation of Sofia and its business in Italian cities this year, as well as the publication of the “Business Guide”, which Sofia Investment Agency publishes with up-to-date data, in Italian, Mr. Marco Montecchi said.
The interest of the Italian business in Bulgaria and Sofia in particular is steadily growing and our job is to help anyone willing to invest in Bulgaria, Mr. Vladimir Danailov stressed upon.
According to statistics, Bulgarian exports to Italy are + 9.5% (EUR 2.26 billion), while Italian imports in Bulgaria are + 11.6% (EUR 2.23 billion). Italy is the third importer in Bulgaria (following Germany and Russia) – 7.5% (EUR 2.24 billion) and Bulgaria’s second trading partner (after Germany) with an exchange of 12% (EUR 4.5 billion). The increase compared to 2017 is 10.5%.
Sectors with the highest import dynamics are: beverages and cigarettes, machinery, equipment, transport vehicles.
Italian investments in Bulgaria amount to EUR 58.3 million, while Bulgarian ones total EUR 26.7 million.
At present, a total of 2 667 people are registered in the Italian Embassy in Sofia as citizens living in Bulgaria. Among the main reasons for Italians to choose our country and develop business here are the tax breaks and skilled labor force.
The team of Sofia Investment Agency published its new report titled “Manufacturing Industry in Sofia”. The paper contains data and outlines the trends in the processing industry in the capital city of Bulgaria. Despite its share of less than 20% of the local economy, in recent years the sector has been increasing its weight in both the total output and the export of the city.
Key report highlights
More detailed data, charts, analyzes and trends can be found in the full version of the report.
The ‘Manufacturing Industry in Sofia’ report was developed by the Institute for
Creative industries and their importance for urban economies were the focus of the Create&Grow: Creative Sofia Meets Creative Vienna event, which took place on February 22 as part of the Conference of the cities of Vienna and Sofia. The meeting was chaired by the business agencies of the two capitals – Vienna Business Agency and Sofia Investment Agency – and is part of the common policy of the cities for fostering knowledge sharing and internationalization of companies from the sectors that have high potential to drive the economies of modern cities.
A total of 65 Sofia-based companies from the fields of film production, video games, animation, fashion, design, architecture and creative sector marketing took part in Create&Grow. Six of them shared their successful stories in Bulgaria and their experience on the Austrian market and participated in the discussion panels to launch a discussion on important topics such as: the importance of knowledge sharing programs and funding; creating an environment for internationalization of the business as the only opportunity for continued growth in a small internal market; evaluating the creative idea in creating new technological developments; the image of the Bulgarian companies that outpaced the outsourcing model and has already demonstrated their potential in creating and developing local products and services, etc.
The key topics for the sector discussed at the meeting can be found in the publication of Nikolay Mihaylov, member of the board of directors of Creative Industries Foundation, who moderated the panel “Creative Sofia: success stories and opportunities for cooperation with Vienna “.
The creative industries sector in Sofia in figures
The Chief Executive Officer of Sofia Municipal Privatisation and Investment Agency Vladimir Danailov took part in the Municipal Strategies and Digital Economy discussion panel, part of the Knowledge City Conference 2019. The event was organised by Investor.bg under the patronage of Sofia Municipality and was held on February 28.
The conference gathered business representatives, public administration and institutions for an open discussion about the possible solutions to specific sector topics. The programme included presentations of good practices from cities close to Sofia like Ljubljana, Warsaw, Vienna, and others. Topics related to the management of knowledge resources, digitisation and the most innovative technologies, the local example of the Sofia Municipality and other European cities, the participation of the business in the sectors of mobility and connectivity, urbanization, and funding were also discussed during the conference.
As part of the forum, Mr. Danailov presented Sofia’s participation in the European Commission’s Digital Cities Challenge initiative as an example of the role of city administrations in the process of digital transformation of the cities.
“The industries in Sofia have come a long way and currently the majority of them (e.g. the IT sector, Outsourcing, Creative industries) are industries of knowledge. They moved from outsourcing to complex smartsourcing services. Thus, Sofia became a wonderful example of a city of knowledge”, Vladimir Danailov said in an interview for Bloomberg TV Bulgaria after the conference. He added that the business understands the need for intelligent solutions and that human capital is the major resource on which the cities of knowledge rely.
You can watch the entire interview here.
The “Investment in Smart Cities” Forum was held in Sofia on 21 February, as part of the two-day Conference of the Cities of Vienna and Sofia, organized on the initiative of the Municipality of Vienna, in partnership with Sofia Municipality. Experts from the two capitals exchanged good practices and new ideas, as well as discussed ongoing municipal projects.
Presentations on “Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with a Focus on Smart Urban Solutions” were delivered by Botyo Botev, Municipal Councilor, Deputy Chairman of the Standing Committee on Economics and Property at Sofia Municipal Council, and Elisabeth Miksch-Fuchs, head of the Public-Private Partnership Unit in the Construction and Mechanization Department of the Municipality of Vienna. The Municipality of Vienna transfers specific tasks to the private business after detailed negotiations on work mechanisms and remuneration, and Mrs. Miksch-Fuchs gave examples of public-private partnership benefits, both for the public and the private sector.
Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, and Gabriele Tatzberger, Startup Services at Vienna Business Agency, gave presentations on the topic “Encouragement and Funding of Startups and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises on a Municipal Level ”.
The subsequent discussions were focused on the issues related to the growth of shared economies and the development of innovations in smart cities. Presentations on these topics were delivered by Mr. Petko Anchev, “Green Sofia” Project, Sofia Municipality; Arch. Lyubo Georgiev, Director of OP “Sofproekt – Master Plan”, Sofia Municipality; Dominic Weiss, Head of the Intelligent Cities Agency – Urban Innovation, Municipality of Vienna; and Klemens Himpele, Head of the Economics, Labor and Statistics Department of the Municipality of Vienna.
Klemens Himpele pointed out that the sharing economy must become an economy of justice. The phenomenon of shared use of public libraries, swimming pools or ski rentals is not new neither in Vienna nor in Sofia. A relatively new phenomenon is the use of the Airbnb platform. The problem is that twelve platforms are currently renting out flats in Vienna, and it is not clear whether tourist fees have been collected and paid to the municipality. Himpele is convinced that the benefit of sharing should not be for tourists only but for citizens too.
The huge potential of digitisation in all areas of life was also highlighted. However, the main focus of this digitalisation processes should not be on the replacement of people with technology, but above all on supporting and easing people’s
The fifth edition of Innovation Explorer took place in a crowded hall on February 22. Again, it met the expectations to give stage to the ideas of tomorrow and the ambassadors of the future. Organised by Innovation Starter together with Capital, the 2019 release of the technology forum was titled Beyond Ultimate Frontiers of Technology and Humans.
We have come a long way to develop Sofia’s technology industry from an outsourcing centre into a sector that not only provides high-quality products and services, but develops and invents them here, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency Vladimir Danailov said in his opening remarks. Here is an excerpt of his welcome address.
‘Sofia has a great story to tell! My team and I have had the privilege to be telling this story on behalf of the city for the past two years. We are telling it in Europe and the rest of the world. It is a story of Humans and Technology and built up on 3 pillars:
The first: It has never been a better time for entrepreneurship and scaling companies, in and from Bulgaria, than now! We have a vibrant startup ecosystem, 15+ VC funds, incubators and accelerators, access to market. The trust and the image of our business and companies in our 12th year as an EU member are at its greatest level ever. We are turning “made in Bulgaria” into a quality brand and reshaping the image of Bulgaria and Sofia.
The second: We already have a strong technology brand! We have come a long way to develop our technology sector from outsourcing into high-level technology projects done in Sofia. We climbed the ladder of the value chain and our companies are no longer preferred only because of the lower prices – they are preferred because of the high level of excellence they deliver. Moreover, we already invent products and solutions here.
The third, and most inspiring thing: people are coming back to Bulgaria. They are coming back home. The brain drain is starting to reverse. So many bright Bulgarians choose to come back to Sofia after graduation or after spending several years of working abroad. They come back to start a business, to develop a career and to raise their children here. They find challenging and interesting business projects here, a good standard of living and comfortable lifestyle, innovation and business friendly environment.’
Due to the great interest of Sofia business in funding and growth instruments, Sofia Investment Agency, in cooperation with the Investment Council at the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs, is organizing an open information meeting on “Sofia Municipality’s support for investments, entrepreneurship, innovative and startup companies in Sofia”.
The meeting targets startups and small and medium-sized enterprises based in Sofia and aims to provide information on the activities of Sofia Municipality in support of entrepreneurs willing to develop business in Sofia.
Information on the following business initiatives and instruments will be provided:
The meeting will be held on February 18, 2019 at 2.30 pm at BCCI, Hall A, floor 1, No 9 Iskar Str., Sofia
Participation in the information meeting is free of charge but a preliminary registration is required.
For additional information:
Iskra Yovkova, Sofia Investment Agency, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. +359 884 648 080
Gabriela Dimitrova, Investment Council at BCCI, e-mail: email@example.com, Tel. 02 8117 489
Sofia Mayor, Yordanka Fandakova met with representatives of the Family Business Association – Bulgaria. The meeting discussed the ongoing cooperation between the municipality and the association and participation in joint initiatives. At the invitation of the Mayor of Sofia, the Family Business Association will join the spring afforestation season of the new forest in Sofia.
Sofia Municipality began planting a new forest on an area of 225 decares in the district of Suhodol, with the aim of planting over 125 000 trees.
Mr. Viktor Gugushev, President of Next Generation at the Association and Mr. Ivan Staykov, Vice-President of the same attended the meeting. Mr. Vladimir Danailov, Executive Director of the Municipal Investment Agency, was also present on the side of the municipality.
Over the recent years, business conditions in Sofia have been developing and the city has become more attractive to various companies, shared from the Association. In the last years, the Bulgarian capital has become an attractive place for opening of offices and development centres of many global and European companies.
Sofia Mayor, Yordanka Fandakova pointed out that the development of business and the creation of a good business environment is a key factor for the city’s economy. Well-educated young and innovative people are the potential for the success of Sofia. Through the Municipal Investment Agency we support business in the city, develop opportunities for entrepreneurship and especially youth entrepreneurship and innovation, said the Mayor. 90% of the IT companies in the country are based in Sofia and here are employed more than 40 000 of the workers in the capital.
Mayor Fandakova informed that the Municipality of Sofia opens a call for project proposals within a pilot programme for innovative, start-up and social entrepreneurs, Accelerator Start-up Sofia. The program aims to help accelerate access of innovative entrepreneurs to funding by helping them develop and submit proposals to potential investors and funding organizations. It will be implemented jointly with the efforts of the Municipal Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises at Sofia Municipality, the Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency and the Europe Programme of Sofia Municipality.
Mr. Viktor Gugushev presented to Mayor Fandakova the programme of the Bulgarian Association, which managed to win successfully the competition to host the World Meeting of the Youth Structure to the International Family Business Organization, which will take place in 2020. Part of the initiatives will start from Sofia, and the
fDi Intelligence, a Financial Times publication with world leading authority on foreign investment, just published an interview with the Mayor of Sofia Mrs.Yordanka Fandakova about the city’s rapidly improved business environment.
Investments require three key things: knowledge, security and opportunities. This autumn almost every week a new company opens a new office in Sofia or expands its current operations. More and more companies from all around the world do research on Sofia. According to the latest fDi Intelligence survey, in the next two years Sofia will be among the most attractive international investment locations. I am sure that the fact that Sofia is being listed in a growing number of world rankings will contribute to the increasing interest towards the city, Fandakova says in the interview.
More on how Sofia is catching up with other European capitals: fdiintelligence.com/Locations/Europe/Bulgaria/Sofia