The last Academy Seminar of the Digital Cities Challenge project took place on January 29-30 in Algeciras, Spain. Sofia along with forty other European cities participating in the initiative by the European Commission got together to share their strategies and key actions towards digital transformation to be implemented in the next few years.
Sofia worked on the development of its implementation roadmap and the fine-tuning of its digitalization strategy. We are grateful for all the suggestions and ideas we received as a part of the peer-review sessions during the seminar.
We would like to thank Angelina Todorova, Head of the FMFIB Advisory Platform, Fund of Funds, Bulgaria, for her participation in the seminar. Mrs. Todorova presented on ‘Leveraging European Funds to Support Urban Development and SMEs’ as a part of the overview of funding opportunities for digital projects.
Sofia Investment Agency, on behalf of the city of Sofia, continues its participation in the Digital Cities Project and in the next few months the Agency will be finalizing the strategy report and discussing the options for the creation of governance/steering bodies. We will begin the implementation of one pilot activity before the final conference in Brussels in June.
The mission of the digital transformation strategy of Sofia is to define a series of actions that will strengthen the ICT business ecosystem in Sofia and will enable it to:
(a) develop innovative solutions for the digital transformation of the city;
(b) create new markets for digital products and services at local, national or global level, and to facilitate the access to these markets; and
(c) support the system of innovation for the development of new digital services and solutions.
The roll-out of this strategy will be accompanied by the implementation of various activities that were identified during the interviews and workshops with local stakeholders.
The list includes a total of 14 activities to be implemented in the short, medium and long term. Examples of key activities to be implemented as part of the strategy include:
The creation of a governance structure has been suggested to ensure the implementation of the strategy.
The final step of the initiative is going to
‘Building green and low-emission buildings, while taking into consideration the public interest and impact on the urban environment’ – recommended Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova, Mayor of Sofia, during the meeting with the Association of Commercial Building Owners in Bulgaria (ACBO).
‘Investments you make in business buildings have impact on the environment, which is why the focus on landscaping and the use of energy-efficient materials and technologies are of great importance’, Mayor Fandakova added.
‘The creation of sustainable business buildings is important to the business, and that is why we will continue to focus on the creation of buildings with lots of green areas, trees and parkland’, Tanya Kosseva-Boshova, Chairperson of the ACBO Board of Directors, said.
The new office buildings and business centers are related to the construction of infrastructure and the provision of parking spaces. ‘The public transport access option for employees is already taken into account during the planning stage, which is important for the improvement of air quality in the city’, Mayor Fandakova said. According to her statement, in recent years Sofia has started the implementation of the largest modernization of public transport vehicles and the extension of the metro. With the supply of another 82 new buses this year, a total of 90% of the buses in operation will be renewed and the metro, which will have the first 8 km from its third line put into operation, will have an underground network of a total of 48 km.
The Association of Commercial Building Owners in Bulgaria supported the fostering of the use of public transport and said that they closely monitor transport development projects, including night transport, metro and infrastructure construction processes. Adina Welsh, Executive Director of Raiffeisen Property Management Bulgaria, also pointed out the interest in encouraging the use of shared travel, which is also important for the reduction of the number of cars in the city.
During the meeting, Mayor Fandakova introduced the priorities for Sofia’s development as well as the draft budget of Sofia Municipality for 2019.
Architect Zdravko Zdravkov, Sofia’s Chief Architect, presented the project for the construction of ‘Filip Kutev’ Blvd.
The Association of Commercial Building Owners in Bulgaria works in close cooperation with Sofia Investment Agency and, as a result, the two organisations had a joint participation with a stand of Sofia at the international EXPO REAL 2018 exhibition in Munich, in which the capital
New opportunities for partnership initiatives between Sofia and Berlin were discussed during the two-day visit of Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, and Stefan Yonkov, head of the Trade and Economic Office at the Embassy of Bulgaria in Berlin. The discussions were focused on startup collaborations and traditional and technological industries in the two capitals.
The talks with Dr. Christian Herzog, founder of the platform and head of the Digital Business and Startup Companies Division at Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und Technologie, were mainly focused on the joining of Sofia to the Start Alliance platform, the business network of the most attractive business centers in the world.
Berlin Partner is a public-private partner network that has been supporting the local and foreign business for more than 20 years and has shaped the face of the German capital as an attractive business destination. The organization cooperates with the Berlin State Senate and with more than 280 companies dedicated to promoting the city and responsible for the image of the German capital around the world.
The aim of Start Alliance is to help startups in adjusting their business models to international requirements, support their global growth and accelerate corporate innovation.
Over the past few years, Sofia has been showing a sharp development of the technology sector and entrepreneurial environment and is enjoying a strong international investor interest. The inclusion of Sofia in the alliance will be an extraordinary opportunity for our city to be a valuable partner in the network, which has now included undisputed startup hubs like Beijing, Berlin, Dubai, London, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Tel Aviv, Vienna and Warsaw, CEO Danailov said.
In addition, opportunities for cooperation in the field of traditional and technological industries and partnership initiatives between the two cities in support of startup businesses were also discussed at the meeting with Berlin Partner.
The activation of the economic relationships between Sofia and the German capital was also the focus of the discussion with representatives of the Senate Department of Economics, Energy and Business of Berlin.
According to Stefan Yonkov, Bulgaria’s commercial representative in Berlin, both cities have many common interests in entrepreneurship, high technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) and many others. Our country is an attractive business partner because of its geographic location with convenient logistical connection to leading German business markets as well as due to our
On December 4, the Digital Cities Challenge Project of the European Commission brought together the mayors of the participating cities for a summit of knowledge sharing and collaboration on the digital transformation of Europe driven by the cities. Sofia was presented by Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency.
Sofia was among the first 7 cities approved to take part in the implementation of the project and to develop its own strategy for digitization in a network of over 40 cities that currently participate in the initiative. The Digital Cities Challenge (DCC) Project aims to achieve sustainable economic growth in the cities through the integration of advanced technologies. Sofia’s participation in the programme is managed by the Sofia Investment Agency.
In what was a day full of presentations and panel discussions, Markku Markkula, Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions and Rapporteur for Digital Europe, opened proceedings by calling it a “revolutionary step forward for the cities”.
Picking up the baton, Slawomir Tokarski, Director for Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing at the European Commission highlighted the importance of merging Digital, Industrial and Urban policy. He also invited the participants to inspire and learn from each other to make the Digital Cities Challenge stronger and to better to respond to societal challenges. An overview of the Digital Cities Challenge so far and the vision ahead was given by Dana Eleftheriadou, Head of Advanced Technologies Team at European Commission.
Franc Weerwind, Mayor of city of Almere and Member responsible for Digital Connectivity at the Amsterdam Economic Board, shared the success story of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, as one of the six Mentor cities in the Challenge.
“The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area is one of the Mentor cities in this programme, because we believe in sharing our vision with other cities in terms of knowledge and innovation, but, please, let me assure you that our ‘success’ story has been established, due to knowledge and innovation coming also from your cities,” said Mayor Weerwind.
All mayors presented their cities visions in the 4 panel sessions:
Insight was shared on how to Shape a winning strategy and brand, by ”REal” Granada, Herakleio’s first Greek smart city strategy, the talent management in the youth-full city of Derry and the ”Connected city” of Gelsenkirchen.
Pori’s ROBOCAST cluster, Alcoy’s smart governance plan, Padova’s self-driving vehicles and Smart Costa Blanca were the examples on how to reinvent growth through technology
The team of Sofia Investment Agency published its new report titled ‘Sofia: Economic and Investment Profile’, developed by the Institute for Market Economics for Sofia Investment Agency. The paper contains data and analysis of the leading industries, the target sectors for investments, the importance of infrastructure, local taxes and business conditions, as well as information about Sofia’s performance in comparison to other popular business destinations in the region.
Key report highlights:
At the invitation of Ms. Rosa Cusmano, chief secretary of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, Sofia Investment Agency participated in the 27th edition of the Convention of the Italian Chambers of Commerce Abroad. The conference was held on November 10-13 in Verona, Italy.
Mr. Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, was invited to present the activities of the Agency, the business and investment climate in Sofia, as well as to take part in international meetings and events with representatives of the international and Italian business on November 13. The meetings took place with managers of companies who stated their interest in participating in B2B meetings with Invest Sofia and receiving up-to-date information on the conditions and opportunities for business and investment in specific sectors in Sofia.
The international business forum is organized once a year by the Association of Italian Chambers Abroad and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Verona. The event brings together representatives of chambers of commerce, Italian trade associations, universities, Italian and international institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises from all sectors, national agencies and representatives of international businesses from all over the world.
This year the conference was attended by more than 540 delegates from 61 countries. The participants discussed the potential and opportunities for international trade cooperation with Italy.
Mr. Marco Montecchi, President of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, and Ms. Rosa Cusmano, Secretary General, and Mr. Giorgio Perillo, SEO Specialist, Social Media & Branding Manager, also took part in the presentation and participation of Sofia and Bulgaria at the event.
— CCIE Bulgaria (@CCIE_Bulgaria) November 15, 2018
Italy is among Bulgaria’s main trade and economic partners and the second largest export destination for our country, following Germany. In 2017, Bulgaria’s exports to Italy amounted to EUR 2.212 billion and imports totaled EUR 2006 billion. Italy ranks third after Germany and Russia in terms of total imports in Bulgaria. The country is also the fourth largest investor in Bulgaria with companies in sectors such as construction, finance, textile production, energy, trade, etc. In 2017, the largest number of foreign tourists in Sofia came from Italy, some 70 000.
Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, presented the business environment in Sofia and current sectoral data during the Second Lebanon-Bulgarian Business Forum, held on November 12 at Intercontinental Hotel in Sofia. The Forum was organized by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), the Lebanon-Bulgarian Business Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, and with the support of the Lebanese Embassy in Sofia.
At the event, Vladimir Danailov presented the investment opportunities in the capital to representatives of large enterprises, state and private sector, the chairmen of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Beirut, Tripoli, Saida, executives of the Lebanese Investment Agency, the Association of Lebanese Industrialists, etc.
The official guests of the event included H. E. Toufic Jaber, Ambassador of Lebanon in the Republic of Bulgaria, as well as Mr. Ahmed Aladin, chairman of the Lebanon-Bulgarian Business Council and organizer of the Second Lebanon-Bulgarian Business Forum.
Over 80 business representatives from both countries attended the business meetings. The Bulgarian companies had the opportunity to meet representatives of the Lebanese business in the sectors of construction and construction machinery, real estate, food industry and supermarkets, financial and investment brokerage, consultancy services, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, IT and software development, textile, equipment, etc.
According to data of the BCCI, the trade between the two countries increased by 56% in 2017. More than 300 companies with Lebanese capital are registered in the Chamber and a total of 95 Lebanese companies have registered trade representation offices in Bulgaria.
We are sharing an invitation to take The Balkan, Black Sea & Baltic ICT Network (3B ICT Cluster Network) barometer survey. The Network has launched an initiative dedicated to mapping the innovation potential and overview of the state of Industry in the wider region. Through the common effort of 16 cluster organizations from 9 countries, the network aims to significantly increase the global visibility of the region as a technology-oriented destination and establish a common research and business framework for IT sector development.
3B ICT Cluster Network is thus inviting companies active in the IT industry to fill the online barometer survey on the innovation potential of the region.
The common conclusions and results will be used by the organizations during presentations on national and international events, fairs and business missions.
If you are a digital SME from the targeted regions, please contribute by filling the survey on the following link by December 5th.
About 3B ICT Cluster Network
Established in 2015, 3B ICT Cluster Network now consists of 16 business organisations and a network of more than 1 000 member companies from 9 countries. The main goal of the Network is to create a framework to intensify collaboration of ICT Clusters and ICT organizations in the Balkan and the Black Sea region aiming to meet common challenges affecting SMEs growth, innovation and business environment.
The Balkan and Black Sea ICT Clusters’ network is recognized by the European Commission, (DG Growth), as a reliable partner in the region supporting digital transformation using cross-cluster, cross-industry and cross-regional collaboration.
Java2Days and CodeMonsters – the largest professional events focused on software development not only in Bulgaria but in Eastern Europe, announced a complimentary #Explorer Pass for technology professionals and enthusiasts. The conferences will take place in parallel from 27th to 29th of November in the National Palace of Culture – right in the center of Sofia – the innovative capital of Bulgaria. Over the 3 conference days, more than 60 renowned speakers from all over the world will present the latest technologies and will share their experience with the audience of software developers, IT professionals, university students and enthusiasts.
The #Explorer Pass is a unique opportunity to feel the atmosphere of the event that is consistently named one of the best in the region. Keynotes and thought leaders will present the future of software development – from the new AI based platforms to all the challenges connected with cybersecurity, blockchain technologies and IoT. All the attendees will have the opportunity to participate in different discussion panels focused on topics that include: the leading tools and platforms for software development; how to write secure code; are blockchain based solutions really unhackable; algorithms for autonomous vehicles; smart technologies; what’s behind chatbots;
In addition to the keynote sessions and discussions, the #Explorer Pass holders will also get access to hundreds of software developers and will become a part of the global community at the “Community Zone”. In the “Exhibition Hall” the event offers many surprise appearances, participation in video game competitions, ping pong matches and charity initiatives.
The technology entrepreneurs with #Explorer Pass will have the chance to take part in several business discussions with investors, lawyers and influencers from Silicon Valley. Those who are looking for the tips and trick on how to improve their career development will meet the Top HRs from the leading tech companies.
In the evening of November 28, as a part of Global Tech Summit, in the Main Hall will take place the official awarding ceremony of the GTS Technology Awards.
The GTS Technology Awards are dedicated to all tech companies, software developers and IT professionals who are developing revolutionary solutions, establishing and refining best practices, contributing success to the IT industry
At the invitation of Georgiy Poltavchenko, governor of St. Petersburg, to Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova, mayor of Sofia, the Bulgarian capital will take part in the VI St. Petersburg International Congress “St. Petersburg and the Slavic World”, to be held on November 28-30, 2018 in St. Petersburg.
Sofia will be represented by a team of Sofia Investment Agency with a presentation during the plenary sessions of the Congress program, and the city will have its own information stand as part of the “Global and Regional Partners of St. Petersburg” exhibition under the three-day forum.
The event will focus on the introduction of innovations, in particular, digital transformation, and their successful implementation in urban life. The Congress is organized by the Government of St. Petersburg and is part f the XI St. Petersburg International Innovation Forum “Transition to innovative digital economy”, the largest congress and exhibition event in Northwest Russia dedicated to innovations. The Forum welcomes more than 10 000 experts annually. It is a place for professional dialogue between the Russian and international community and aims to support innovation and cooperation between institutions, business and science.
At the invitation of Emídio Sousa, Mayor of Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal, Sofia Investment Agency presented the investment profile of Sofia and the business opportunities in the capital at the International Fórum Bizfeira in Portugal.
For a 4th year in a row Biz Feira Business Forum is organized by Santa Maria da Feira, a municipality near Portugal’s second biggest city Porto, a metro region of over 2M people.
The event took place on October 11 in the Europarque Congress Centre, located in the Porto Metropolitan Area. BizFeira was visited by nearly two thousand people and exhibitors from Europe, Canada, USA, Brazil and Africa, as well as many bilateral chambers of commerce, associations connected to the Portuguese diaspora, and municipalities from several European cities. Member companies of the local IT cluster AETICE formed the majority of the exhibitors.
The Invest Sofia representatives had many meetings with local IT, manufacturing and trading companies with presence or interest towards Sofia and Bulgaria. As a part of the BizFeira event, the city of Sofia participated in a workshop on the opportunities of further developing the IT sector in cooperation between Portugal, Sweden and Bulgaria with participants from the AETICE cluster and the Swedish city of Gothenburg. Our partners from Portugal, Sweden, Canada and the US were interested to learn more about the fastest growing sector of Sofia’s economy.
A very special thank you to Ms. Celine Fernandes, the International Business Director of NU Boyana FX, for participating in the workshop and sharing her insights on working with teams from Bulgaria and Portugal:
‘Working with Bulgaria is very easy. The English is excellent and there are no language and cultural barriers. The country has strong traditions in IT and creative industries.’
We explored possibilities for cooperation in the IT sector between the three countries in cost-reduction in manufacturing through digitalization, team-development and access to new markets.
The visit also included a tour of Centro Empresarial Feira, a former shoe factory that is being turned into a new business and logistics center with a built-in area of over 50 000 sq. m. by a private investor.
Santa Maria da Feira is a municipality with approximately 140 000 people and the administrative center of a highly developed industrial area in Portugal, known mainly for the production of cork and articles for the footwear industry.
At the initiative of the Association of Commercial Building Owners in Bulgaria (ACBO), Sofia Investment Agency presented the investment profile and investment opportunities in Sofia in the construction and real estate sector at the biggest real estate and investment forum in Europe – EXPO REAL 2018, held in Munich. For the first time in the history of the exhibition, Sofia had its own stand at the event. This made the capital the first city that presented Bulgaria at an event of Messe München.
The Bulgarian participation at the exhibition also included six leading companies in the construction sector in Bulgaria that presented their projects: Expo 2000 Real Estate, Galaxy Investment Group, Real Estates BG, Business Park Sofia, East Ring Logistic Park and Harmony Group. The purpose of the Bulgarian delegation at EXPO REAL was to show the experience of the real estate companies operating in the country and their most innovative achievements, as well as to present Bulgaria and Sofia as attractive business destinations for international investors.
Visit the Bulgarian booth at the largest European trade fair for property and investments EXPO REAL in Munich: hall A1, booth 442 @exporeal_team #PartnerForTradeFairs #PartnerForSuccess #messemuenchen pic.twitter.com/zpQK3N722I
— AHK Bulgarien (@AHK_Bulgarien) October 8, 2018
The Bulgarian companies presented a diverse portfolio of projects, including office buildings, commercial and logistic parks, hotels, residential buildings.
This year EXPO REAL welcomed a record high number of visitors and exhibitors:
Sofia Investment Agency provided potential investors from all over the world with current information about the real estate development in Sofia with a focus on the following segments: offices, retail space, logistic and industrial areas, and presented the overall economic and investment environment in the city.
During the official program