By invitation of the organisers, Vladimir Danailov, the Executive Director of Sofia Investment Agency, participated in the European Cluster Conference which was held on 14th May in Bucharest, Romania. The invitation was extended to the Agency following a recommendation from the European Commission about the good performance of our team in managing Sofia’s participation as a city in the Digital Cities Challenge project.
The European Cluster Conference is organised by the European Commission and discusses current and future cluster policies and priorities in order to continue to support sustainable industrial modernisation and interregional cooperation. This year’s event was dedicated on topics such as digitalisation and skills gap, circular economy, shared value and social impact. Every year, representatives of local and European institutions, cluster organisations, small and medium-sized enterprises, etc., are involved in the conference.
Vladimir Danailov participated in the panel discussion Promoting Strategic Interregional Cooperation and talked about the experience gained in the Digital Cities Challenge programme that aims to build cooperation between cities on their way to the elaboration and implementation of their individual digitization programmes.
At the end of 2017, Sofia Investment Agency won a place for the capital in the mentoring initiative of the EU along with 42 European cities. By the management of the project during the last 18 months, our team have managed to establish international contacts , as well as create an image for Sofia as a city that is ready for the digital transformation of the business environment.
The Digital Transformation Strategy for Sofia, prepared under the European Commission’s mentorship, is in the process of being finalised and the official document will be completed by June 5, 2019, when the high-level Conference ‘Digital Cities Challenges: Strategy for European cities in the 21st century’ will be held in Brussels. The event will mark the work of all cities in the initiative, and the CEO, Mr. Vladimir Danailov will take part in the discussion ‘Success Stories for Market Creation through the Digital Cities Challenge’ that is part of the panel The Cities As Market Creators.
Sofia Investment Agency will participate in the programme of the Digitalisation Conference, that will be held on June 18-19, 2019, in Vienna, Austria. The participation is at the invitation of Vienna Municipality and Eurocomm PR – the office for international relations of Vienna.
On the second day of the conference, CEO Vladimir Danailov will take part in the panel discussion on the topic E-government and European Municipalities. Jaroslav Bulka, representative of the city council of Krakow, will also participate in the discussion in relation to the issues of digital transformation Another participant will be Robin Heilig, project manager at Sag’s Wien. He will talk about the application that allows reporting to the Municipality by Vienna citizens.
The Digitalisation conference is part of the annual series of events – the European conferences of cities (ECC), that are organised by Eurocomm PR on behalf of the city of Vienna. The conferences are currently dedicated to the issues concerning municipal administration and services of public interest. For the events, Vienna welcomes experts from the urban institutions from Central and Southeastern Europe.
Here you can find full agenda and speakers.
Due to a special invitation from the organisers of The Next Web festival (TNW Conference 2019) a team from the Invest Sofia took part in the annual StartupCity Summit during the conference on May 9-10 in Amsterdam.
Together with representatives of more than 150 of the world’s most active startup cities from around the world, Invest Sofia team participated in the work groups during the Summit, which is part of the festival’s program for a third consecutive year and is considered to be the place to share insights, and discuss the current and future role of local governments in creating flourishing tech ecosystems.
More than 250 representatives from the participating cities discussed how to overcome the tech challenges we face today, how to promote female entrepreneurship and women in tech, explore new ways to help startups go global, create international partnerships, and much more.
During the round tables, we shared good practices from Sofia, how many of the startup founders are women entrepreneurs and what percentage of the employees in the IT sector are women. In the panel Round Table 2: Creating a clear ecosystem identity and branding on a global scale, we discussed the experience of Sofia with representatives from cities such as Seoul, Rome, Helsinki, Madrid, Zurich, and others.
The invitation to our team and Sofia as a city, to join the meetings on May 9-10 in Amsterdam is considered to be a huge acknowledgment.
All the valuable insights, key learnings, and takeaways that were shared during the StartupCity Summit roundtables are available here.
Last week our team had a very inspirational delegation trip to Stockholm. In the course of two days, we had a series of meetings with key ecosystem stakeholders in the Swedish capital, organized by the Commercial and Economic Section to the Bulgarian Embassy in Stockholm.
We often travel to cities with a proven innovation track record and successful economic development initiatives to learn from others, connect, tell them and talk opportunities and business. Our interest in Sweden runs deep as many of Sofia-based ICT and tech companies have expressed interest in the Nordics. We felt very inspired by the Swedish culture of cooperation and came back with many takeaways and new ideas.
Here are some key facts about Stockholm that we kept hearing throughout our meetings:
– Stockholm is second only to the Silicon Valley in number of Unicorns per capita.
– 5 unicorns have been “born” in Stockholm to date: Spotify, King, Mojang, Klarna, and iZettle were all founded in Stockholm. Truecaller is another Stockholm based company about to reach a billion-dollar valuation.
– Stockholm is among the Top 10 cities with the most global headquarters of companies on the Forbes 2000 list.
– It is one of the most innovative cities in the world (WEF 2018).
– The Economist magazine named Sweden the best country in the world for working women.
– Greater Stockholm is home to Kista Science City – the leading ICT cluster in Europe, hosting the headquarters of global giants like Ericsson, as well as R&D labs and an IoT testbed.
– Stockholm has a long history in tech with ubiquitous dark fiber infrastructure, provided by the city of Stockholm and connecting every building in the city.
– Stockholm has the world’s first 5G bike, which serves as a rolling wireless LAN access point, HTTP server, data center, Bluetooth device and Internet of Things platform.
Some of Stockholm’s challenges include a deepening housing shortage and strain on public infrastructure, as Stockholm is of the fastest growing cities in Europe.
Stockholm built a strong brand, based on its strengths and calls itself “the Capital of Scandinavia” and is very vocal about its potential.
We were excited to see how different stakeholders in the city collaborate to create a common vision and ambition for Stockholm with most organizations in the city active in triple helix collaboration. Collaboration is in the Swedish DNA.
On June 5, 2019, a high-level conference ‘Digital Cities Challenge: A strategy for EU cities in the 21st Century’ concluded the Digital Cities Challenge – a project of the European Commission. The event celebrated the work of the participating cities on the development of their individual Strategies for Digital Transformation.
Sofia was invited to present its work at the exhibition area of the event along with other participating cities: Rijeka, Alicante, L’Aquila, Nice, Thessaloniki, Espoo and Pori.
As part of the conference programme, CEO Vladimir Danailov shared Sofia’s experience in working with key city stakeholders to create the Strategy for Digital Transformation for Sofia. Mr. Danailov joined the discussion “Success stories of market creation through the Digital Cities Challenge initiative” part of the “Cities as market creators” session.
The ICT sector in Sofia is very well-developed and consists close to 20% of the city’s economy. However, the majority of ICT companies in Sofia are export-oriented, meaning that they do not create products or services for the local market. As identified in the Strategy for Digital Transformation for Sofia, the city should aim to create opportunities for the local ICT sector to get involved in solving local challenges and to use the city as a test ground for new digital services. In order to achieve that, the Strategy recommends the creation of two new divisions as part of the Municipality – Sofia Digital Agency and Sofia Digital Officer. Those teams are going to be responsible for identifying the needs of the local market and managing the process of digitalisation both within the Municipality and in the city in general. In addition, Sofia Municipality is already supporting local startups through its new program Sofia Startup Accelerator by providing funding and mentoring and encouraging entrepreneurs to use Sofia’s infrastructure to build and test their products locally. Sofia Investment Agency is happy that more than 100 local stakeholders took part in the development of the city’s Strategy.
Watch the video from the “Cities as Market Creators” panel.
All participants’ Strategies have been submitted to the European Commission and are expected to be published by the end of this month. In the meantime, Sofia Investment Agency is preparing a Bulgarian version of its document.
The event brought together 450 city representatives, industry and business experts, smart city practitioners, international organizations, and EU, national and local policy makers. As every ending brings
Watch live now: CEO Vladimir Danailov will join the panel discussion “Cities as market creators”, 16:30 – 17:45.
Link to the live broadcast: 2019.digitallytransformyourregion.eu
We are excited to attend the high-level closing conference ‘Digital Cities Challenge: A strategy for EU cities in the 21st Century’, taking place in Brussels today. The conference will celebrate the work of the cities on the development of their individual Digital Transformation Strategies as part of their participation in the Digital Cities Challenge Programme – 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.
As part of the conference programme, CEO Vladimir Danailov will present initiatives undertaken in Sofia and the achieved results. Due to a special invitation from the organisers, Mr. 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.
During the last several months, our team had to design the roadmaps for the individual Digital Transformation Strategy for Sofia, plan its implementation and monitoring. Sofia is now part of a network of over 40 European partner cities within the framework of the Declaration on our commitment to cooperation on digital transformation and smart growth. We are looking forward to future collaboration between Sofia and other cities across Europe on mutual Digital transformation projects and City-to-City programmes that will help our cities achieve economic, social and environmental sustainability.
The event is expected to bring together 400 participants from all over Europe. Cities, industry and business experts, smart city practitioners, international organizations, and EU, national and local policy makers will celebrate the end of the Digital Cities Challenge and the beginning of its successor the ”Intelligent Cities Challenge” Programme.
Even though it started just 7 years ago, the ecosystem of fast developing startup enterprises in Sofia is already comparable to that in Vienna. At present, there are 16 venture capital funds and 500 startups in Sofia This was reported by the CEO of the Sofia Investment Agency, Mr Vladimir Danailov at the Tenth Credit Risk Management Conference. The event was organised by ICAP – the largest business information and consultant group in Southeastern Europe.
“Many companies, world leaders in their sectors, open not just a local branch, but their technological hub for Europe or even their global one. Bulgarian companies are increasingly engaged in international expansion and startups are scaling up. This comes to show that we are living in one of the best times for running a business in Bulgaria” Danailov said. He emphasised that Sofia Investment Agency is the first instrument in Bulgaria for regional development.
The Agency provides investors and entrepreneurs with information and opportunities to increase access to markets, support them with their communication with the municipal and state administration, as well as with funding opportunities. In addition to establishing close contacts between foreign and local companies in Bulgaria, Sofia Investment Agency also helps them reach potentially interesting markets.
SOFIA’s PLACE – the exhibition zone dedicated to Sofia at Webit.Festival Europe 2019 – welcomed hundreds of guests for a third consecutive year. Our team organized a special two-day program of ‘Sofia’s Place’ with focus on international partnerships and access to financing and mentorship.
The program included 20 speakers from 5 countries, over 13 presentations, and a one-hour accelerator. You can find the whole two-day program here.
Invest Sofia: Promoting Investments in Sofia
Sofia Investment Agency is the first regional instrument for economic development in Bulgaria. We work on activities and initiatives related to the 9 priority industries of the city, as well as on projects addressing the digitalization of Sofia.
A major part of our work is dedicated to helping businesses in Sofia find international partners and go global. For this purpose, we establish cooperation programs with other cities and develop initiatives for fostering the relationship with the Bulgarian diaspora abroad. We have handled over 170 inquiries from investors interested in setting up their business in Sofia.
Click here to download the presentation of Sofia Investment Agency.
Accelerator Startup Sofia
The Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs (MGFSME) and Sofia Investment Agency presented their joint pilot program for innovative start-ups and social entrepreneurs “Accelerator Startup Sofia”. The project is implemented in partnership with “Program Europe” of Sofia Municipality.
The thirteen finalists of the Accelerator presented their projects in front of the guests of “Sofia’s Place’. MGFSME also introduced their guarantee instruments in support of the development of small and medium businesses in Sofia. The presentation is available for download here.
One-hour acceleration program for startups with Source Institute
More than 20 startups joined the one-hour accelerator of Salim Virani, founder of the international institute for entrepreneurship education Source Institute. The participating entrepreneurs took part in several practical exercises based on four important issues that business founders face: reducing risk, researching monetizable customer needs, product launch & iteration, and management by the metrics
Opportunities for cooperation with Vienna, Amsterdam and Göteborg
Guest lecturers from Vienna Business Agency, Technordic & Business Region Göteborg, Sweden and The Next Web Amsterdam presented their activities in the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation as well as the opportunities for cooperation and support programs that would facilitate the expansion of Sofia-based companies in these
Due to a special invitation from the organisers of The Next Web festival (TNW Conference 2019) a team from the Invest Sofia will participate in the conference on May 9-10 in Amsterdam. It will be part of the special delegation of government and institutional representatives from more than 40 countries from around the world.
The delegation is with an individual programme and aims at networking and best practices exchange in the technological festival, considered to be the core of the startup environment in Europe.
Invest Sofia team will participate in the work groups during the StartupCity Summit, which is part of the festival’s program for a third consecutive year and is considered to be the place to share insights, and discuss the current and future role of local governments in creating flourishing tech ecosystems.
This year, representatives of more than 150 of the world’s most active startup cities from around the world will join the StartupCity Summit. During the last years, these cities have successfully proven their image of locations with dynamic entrepreneurial and startup environment.
The invitation, received by Sofia, to join the meetings on May 9-10 in Amsterdam is considered to be a huge acknowledgment of our capital.
This year at TNW2019, there will be also a strong presence Bulgarian companies. Six Bulgarian startup companies will take part in the festival with the support of Sofia Tech Park. Sofia Tech Park negotiated preferential access for the Bulgarian startups and. The companies Referial, Mimirium, Huperfold, Prodronesys, 15togo, and Dynax will attend the festival this year.
The Next Web Conference is the largest conference dedicated to innovation, startups and technologies in Europe. The event brings together 17 500 visitors a day, 7 000 companies from over 100 countries, 72% of the visitors are the decision makers in the organization they represent.
This is the 14th edition of the festival and this year it will take place at a new, bigger venue – a former shipyard in the Amsterdam Noord residential district, which today is a creative center for artists and entrepreneurs. There is a convenient free of charge ferry to the festival area.
Due to the successful cooperation established during the participation of Sofia Investment Agency in the European Commission’s Digital Cities Challenge (DCC) project, our team was invited to a study trip to Amsterdam by the Amsterdam Economic Board and the Amsterdam Smart City platform. Our team got acquainted with Amsterdam’s business and entrepreneurial development and smart city projects and initiatives. Sofia is one of the participants of the DCC project alongside 40 other European cities. Amsterdam is one of the six mentoring cities in the program, due to its development in the fields of innovation, technology and digitization.
During the visit we had the opportunity to learn more about Amsterdam’s experience and successful policies in regards to digital and “smart city” transformation, and the development of sustainable environment for the everyday life of citizens and business.
Our team was welcomed by the Amsterdam Economic Board. AEB is the most important advisory body in the Amsterdam region in the economic field. The Board members are leading CEOs, academicians and government officials. AEB addresses complex urban issues through innovation and collaboration between the private sector, knowledge institutes and government organizations on the metropolitan scale. The Board works with decision-makers, innovation managers and change-makers in industry, universities and government to develop the smart, green, healthy Amsterdam of the future.
Our team was introduced to the ‘Tada – data disclosed’ initiative – a manifesto for the development of a handbook for a responsible digital city. The Manifesto is backed up by individuals, organizations and businesses engaged in responsible attitude and strict data policy. It is open to all stakeholders supporting the idea that data can contribute to tackling the major problems of modern cities, making them cleaner, safer, healthier and more habitable, but only by using them for the benefit of society.
The Economic Board also presented its work on the Triple-helix collaboration – an innovation model, where the business, academia and government collaborate dynamically, supporting innovation and city development, e.g. by implementing common strategies, bundling financial resources, focusing on smart specialization, etc.
The Amsterdam Smart City Platform presented its public policies in four key urban directions: Energy, Digital City, Mobility and Circular Economy. The organization unites citizens, municipalities and institutions in finding and implementing innovative ideas and sustainable solutions to urban challenges. More than 280 smart city projects have been implemented under the Amsterdam Smart City program so
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.