The third workshop for the Digital Cities Challenge project was held on September 10th at the Microsoft Innovation Center at Sofia Tech Park.
The previous two workshops were focused on creating a community of stakeholders, implementing an “as is” analysis and defining the Vision and Ambition for digitalization of Sofia.
This one was the first workshop dedicated to strategy formulation.
The workshop gathered local stakeholders from the ICT sector, the start-up community, utility companies and the local government with the goal to review and validate the marked Operational Objectives and to identify potential actions and KPIs for the digitalization of the city in the areas of Government, Utilities, Transport and Start-up Ecosystem into a single strategy document.
The Digital Cities Challenge is an initiative of coaching and facilitation by the European Commission to help European cities develop and implement policies that focus on smart, sustainable growth through the uptake of advanced technologies by local businesses.
The aim of the Challenge is to offer high-level advisory services to 15 European cities and help them build up innovation ecosystems through the deployment of advanced tech. Due to the high interest showcased by the 92 applications from cities all over Europe, the initiative has increased its outreach to include 21 Fellow cities that have joined on their own resources and 6 Mentor cities that inspire and share best practices with the group. Together they create a network of over 40 cities that participate in the initiative.
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. Sofia’s participation is managed by the Sofia Investment Agency.
The mission of the digital transformation strategy of Sofia is to define a series of actions strengthening the business ecosystem of the ICT in Sofia in order:
(a) to develop and offer ICT solutions for the digital transformation of the city;
(b) to identify and open markets for digital products and services, local, national or global, and facilitate the access to these markets; and
(c) to support the local system of innovation for enabling the Digital Transformation.
Sofia Investment Agency will present the current project results on the next Academy Seminar that will gather representatives of all the 43 participating cities in Thessaloniki on October 17th and 18th.
The Academy Seminar in October will kick-start the next steps
Two years ago, when Sofia Investment Agency started work, we identified 9 priority sectors for the city. Tourism was naturally one of them.
Our team is glad to present the new Sofia Tourism and Air Transport Report 2018 we’ve been working on for the past two months. In short, for another year in a row, we are in the midst of an unprecedented tourism boom that shows no signs of slowing down. It is visible on the streets and in coffee shops and it did not finish with summer’s end.
The new report has 50 pages and covers a wide range of topics such as the number of tourists by country of origin and reason for visit, the accommodation capacity, traffic at Sofia Airport, opportunities for development of Congress and MICE tourism in the city and trends in the industry.
Here are some of the key points from the report:
The number of training centers in Sofia that develop new technology skills programs for children at primary school age are increasing. Sofia offers a variety of courses and activities for preschoolers, not only for programming but also in a variety of fields such as 3D modeling, robotics, design, gaming, introduction to engineering.
Here are some of the training programs available in the capital which can help children get acquainted with technology from an early age and find the areas of knowledge they are interested in.
International computer academy IT STEP
IT STEP organizes IT classes for children aged 8-15 in the fields of robotics, game development, web design, photo lab and computer games design. Children are given a real opportunity to turn their hobby or passion into a future profession. The Academy has 20 years of experience and is currently the fastest growing private educational institution with 58 branches in 18 countries across 5 continents. IT STEP is one of Cisco’s best authorized learning centers, and one of the most prestigious in CIS for Autodesk Maya. You can learn more about the Small Computer Academy herе.
TechnoMagicLand in Sofia Tech Park
The Science and Technology Center TechnoMagicLand launched its intensive courses for children only a few weeks after its opening in Sofia Tech Park. Young students can develop in fields such as engineering, informatics, science and technology. The courses include Introduction to Techniques for Children, Introduction to Engineering for Children, etc. The programs are suitable for kids aged 8 – 11 and include work with specialized software, which allows the children to operate robots, which they assemble and program by themselves. Kids can also graphic models and objects with the specialized software for computer 3D modeling for children SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids, get an introduction to Android, etc. More information about the courses is available in the Courses section at the TechnoMagicLand website and on the Facebook page of the center.
Space Academy organizes innovative space programs for kids aged 8-12. The courses help children develop skills and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM disciplines) and prepare them to be leaders of the future by thoroughly studying space sciences. Programs include subjects as Astronomy and Astrophysics, Astronautics and Space Engineering, Rocket modeling. Kids work with attractive scale models and assemble their own models by themselves. Detailed information is available here.
In July, Sofia Investment Agency organized the Paths of Digital Transformation Workshop as part of the European Commission’s Digital Cities Challenge project. The workshop is part of Sofia’s participation in the Digital Cities Challenge project /Phase 2: Formulation of a Strategy for the Digital Transformation and Industrial Modernization of Sofia.
The workshop gathered local government and business representatives, as well as representatives from utility companies, ICT companies, and the academia. We discussed the transformation paths and actions for digital transformation in government (local authorities and public administration), utilities (energy, water, waste), transportation and the start-up ecosystem.
The next workshop under the DCC project/Phase 2 will be held in September and will be devoted to the roadmap development and the identification of preliminary investment priorities for Sofia’s digital transformation. Again, the workshop will bring together ICT companies and providers of digital services, stakeholders from non-digital sectors using digital services, and stakeholders from the innovation ecosystem (funding organisations, tech parks, incubators and accelerators, technology consultants) who will discuss the ways of facilitating the adoption of new services by digital and non-digital sectors.
The workshop is open for new participants as well. If you want to learn more about the project, please contact Nadia Soultanova, Head of ‘Investment and Business Development’ at Sofia Investment Agency by email: email@example.com.
To learn more about the work done so far, please review the results from Phase 1 of the project, as well as the Assessment report for the city of Sofia prepared during this first stage of the project.
For the second year in a row Sofia Investment Agency hosted SOFIA’s PLACE in the exhibition area of Webit.Festival Europe 2018. SOFIA’s PLACE welcomed hundreds of guests with a prepared program, presentations and opportunities for business meetings with foreign and Bulgarian partners.
SOFIA’s PLACE agenda has been jointly implemented by Sofia Tourism Administration, Sofia Development Association, the Green Sofia project and the Municipal Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. We are extremely grateful to all participants in the presentations – to our colleagues from Vienna and Gothenburg, who shared their valuable business experience and ideas for management of urban environment, business and investments; to the organizations that presented ideas for working communication between institutions and citizens and practices that turn Sofia and its citizens into a smart city and society; and to all Sofia entrepreneurs who presented the vitality and ambition for growth of the business eco-system in Sofia, by introducing the products and services they develop with their teams in the capital.
You can learn more about the participants in the program of SOFIA’s PLACE, download some of their presentations from the links below and benefit from the ideas and contacts that the participants shared at Webit.Festival Europe 2018.
Vienna Business Agency, Austria
Vienna business agency is part of the general administration of the Austrian capital.
The agency offers a business program to attract investors and supports companies that want to open offices in Vienna. The presentation Vienna: A great place to live and do business is available for download here.
Business Region Göteborg is an organization engaged in the development of the second largest city in Sweden as well as 13 municipalities in the region. The presentation Innovative Growth – Meeting the sustainability challenges with a diversified approach is available here. It also includes a presentation of Connect Sverige, a non-profit organization, funded by local government and industry, which connects growing companies with capital and key skills and contacts. The Connect Sverige network of more than 30 000 highly qualified specialists and over 500 angel investors covers all of Sweden. Connect works hard to develop its investment network at regional, national and international level.
The Municipal Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises is a dedicated
Mrs. Sabine Ohler, head of International Business Development, and Mr. Nikolay Rodimov, regional manager of Vienna Business Agency, visited Sofia on June 25-27 at the invitation of Sofia Investment Agency. They took part in Meet Vienna Business Agency: Opportunities for Bulgarian Companies, an open meeting held on June 25 with Sofia entrepreneurs. In addition, they also attended and participated in the presentations on June 26-27 in the exhibition area of Sofia at Webit.Festival Europe 2018. The presentations at the meetings covered topics on Vienna’s business environment, good examples of the city’s management and opportunities that Sofia entrepreneurs can benefit from in case of interest in business start in Vienna and Austria.
The meeting Meet Vienna Business Agency: Opportunities for Bulgarian companies, organized by our team with the support of Eurocomm-PR, gathered more than 60 Sofia-based companies interested in business in Vienna. Mrs. Sabine Ohler presented the city’s policy in support of private business, priority industries and incentives which startups can benefit from in the Austrian capital.
In Vienna, only in 2017 a total of 190 companies started business, thus opening 1000 new jobs and bringing investments of over half million euro in the city. The Austrian capital is attractive to foreign investors not only due to its favorable geographic location in the heart of Europe but also because Vienna is an international center for organizations all over the world, home to 14 international schools and over 1500 research and development organizations. International companies feel good in this environment and have access to numerous talents among more than 200 000 students from all over the world.
Foreign investors within the Information and Telecommunication Technologies sector are interested in Vienna as the city is home to both large international companies and numerous startups with small teams of less than 10 people. Another priority sector with strong traditions is the biotechnology sector and the so-called life sciences. A number of co-working spaces and business incubators offer startup support packages for foreign entrepreneurs willing to set up business in Vienna. In addition to grants, startups in certain sectors also benefit from various tax reliefs.
It was very important to the businesses in Sofia, which show increasing interest in partnerships in Vienna, to find out what incentives the city offers for Sofia companies. A cooperation agreement between the two cities will allow more Austrian businesses to access more easily and with more
The Digital Transition partnership Programme was presented at SOFIA’s PLACE in the exhibition area of Webit.Festival Europe 2018. The partnership is part of the EU initiative Urban agenda for the EU. Sofia was selected as a co-coordinator of the partnership at the end of 2016 with Estonia and Oulu, Finland.
The project’s coordinators Veronika Manova and Mika Rantakokko presented the objectives of the program – to identify and implement new measures and solutions for improving the legislation in Europe, to finance urban policies and training programs to facilitate digital transition in Europe.
The European administrations, together with society and businesses, should envisage in the action plan of the program activities to provide better public services to citizens, promote innovation and create new business opportunities for growth for the European cities.
The team of Sofia Investment Agency initiated the presentation of the project at Webit 2018 because of the importance of its goals for the future of cities, society and business, as well as its similarities with the goals of Digital Cities Challenge (DCC), another project of the European Commission which Sofia will take part in. The DCC initiative aims to support the 15 European cities in initiatives for digital transformation of the urban environment and society. The implementation of the project is coordinated by a team of Sofia Investment Agency. Joint working meetings with the Digital Transition team are scheduled in July and September, as stakeholders in both projects are the institutions, the academic community and the private business. We believe that their guidelines and cooperation in the initiatives will help to identify specific implementation projects that are beneficial to the goals of both programs.
The development of the action plan for the partnership on Digital Transition is in its final stage. An introduction to the draft action plan is available here and the presentation of the coordinators Veronika Manova and Mika Rantakokko at Webit 2018 – here.
You can read more about the Digital Transition partnership on the EU’s website for the program: https://ec.europa.eu/futurium/en/digital-transition
Introduction to the Draft Action Plan of the Partnership on Digital Transition is available here.
Locally, the initiative is coordinated by Sofia Development Association – http://www.sofia-da.eu
The Innovative Enterprise Week Sofia 2018 conference took place in Sofia Tech Park on June 14-15.
The event was organized by the European Commission, the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of Europe and the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science, in association with the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Investment Fund (EIF) and representatives of the Bulgarian entrepreneurial ecosystem, supported by Tech Tour Global.
The topic of the conference was ‘Financial Instruments Fostering Research and Innovation’, and its main aim was to raise the levels of awareness regarding the role of the various European financial instruments, programmes, facilities and measures, such as Innovfin, COSME, the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the European Innovation Council, as well as many other regional, national and local instruments, in fostering research and innovation in the EU and the world. The main focus of the discussion was on the potential of startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for growth and development.
More than 300 key participants from different sectors and backgrounds, such as policy-makers, financial intermediaries, entrepreneurs, representatives of the research, innovation and the business community, came together to discuss the current bottlenecks, opportunities, and the further needs of the financial instruments fostering research and innovation in Bulgaria, the EU region and the world.
Mr. Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, was invited as an expert in one of the parallel interactive workshops dedicated to the ways in which innovators can scale-up in order to compete internationally. (Co-panelists of Mr. Danailov were Mr. Christian Dubarry from BPI France, and Mr. Milen Vrabevski, owner of Comac Medical. Chair of the panel was Prof. Dr. Marco Cantamessa from the Polytechnic University of Turin, and rapporteur was Mr. Antonio Carbone from the Agency for the Promotion of European Research.)
During the panel called ‘Scale: How Can We Offer Innovators Continental Scale to Compete at a Global Level?’ Mr. Danailov shared his observations and recommendations regarding the role of financial instruments in the development of the business environment in Bulgaria. ‘Bulgarian SMEs and startups have achieved lots of progress in the last 11 years, since Bulgaria became part of the EU, especially in terms of improving their abilities, increasing their credibility, diversifying their products, making use of various financial instruments, and slowly but steadily expanding internationally. Although in the past Bulgaria was
With the mission to fulfill the potential of our city to the full extent, Sofia Municipality, Sofia Investment Agency, Sofia Development Association and Sofia Tourism Administration invite entrepreneurs, politicians, city administrators and business representatives to visit our SOFIA’s PLACE tent at Webit.Festival Europe 2018.
Check out the Agenda, find us on the exhibition area map and join us!
Sofia Investment Agency is pleased to invite you to the Vienna Business Agency‘s presentation “Opportunities for Bulgarian companies”.
Ms. Sabine Ohler, International Business Director at Vienna Business Agency, will present Vienna’s Business Welcome Programme and opportunities for Bulgarian companies to establish presence and to open an office in Vienna.
The presentation will be held on June 25, 2018 (Monday).
Time: 3 p.m.
Venue: 1 Paris St, Sofia
Working language: English
Please confirm your presence by 20.06.2018 (Wednesday) by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Vienna Business Agency
Vienna Business Agency has been actively supporting the development of national and international companies from various sectors in the Austrian capital for more than 30 years by providing financial support, real estate, and urban development incentives as well as free service and advice. With its activities, the Agency is developing Vienna as a competitive business destination in Europe and as a stimulating environment for new companies, while constantly boosting the growth of existing businesses in the city. Vienna Business Agency offers financial support to companies through its own fund, settles a real estate, office and housing issues, and offers grants, advice and consulting.
The Agency employs more than 160 people and the Vienna Еxpat Center international department has 11 employees who speak 15 languages and work to provide consulting and easy adaptation to foreign companies that have chosen to establish a presence in Vienna. The team of the organization works to promote the city outside the country and helps foreigners who have chosen to work and live in Vienna to settle more easily in the local environment. The other departments of the organization provide support to start-ups or development in specific industries – creative, scientific, technology, etc.
Invest Sofia is a partner to the BBBA’s Bulgarian ICT Roadshow taking place in London and Liverpool this week.
The roadshow is the first of its kind bringing 17 leading Bulgarian IT companies with close to 30 delegates and is included in the official programme of the London Tech Week and the International Business Festival in Liverpool.
The participating Bulgarian companies are BGO Software, Scale Focus AD, mishmash.io, Accedia, R&D Solutions Ltd., Newtrend Agency, Athlon, eLando AD, Bulbera, Grafixoft, DataStork, MiNDS Technologies, Futurist Labs, Next Consult, Interconsult Bulgaria (ICB), Questers, Telelink Business Services.
The roadshow is organized by the British Bulgarian Business Association in partnership with Sofia Investment Agency and will take place between June 11th and June 15th.
The event started this Monday with a market briefing presentation to the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce by Invest Sofia’s CEO Vladimir Danailov and a big interest from the Chamber’s members. Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce is the 5th largest accredited chamber in the UK with over 4 000 members from one of the world’s most impressive and vibrant international business communities, including the M4 corridor, a launchpad for global brands; Oxfordshire, home to science, research and collaboration; and Buckinghamshire, the UK’s hub for enterprise and creativity.
Invest Sofia’s CEO also attended a panel discussion at London Municipality, as a part of London Tech Week.
As a part of the roadshow’s programme, the Bulgarian Embassy in London organized an official reception on June 12th.
The programme continues with a networking event hosted by the Gatwick Chamber of Commerce. During the event, the interested British companies will have the opportunity to meet all of the participants from the Bulgarian delegation, have face-to-face meetings with them and learn more about the IT sector in Sofia and Bulgaria.
On June 14th and 15th, the Roadshow continues in Liverpool, where the Bulgarian delegation will join the International Business Festival and meet with representatives of Northern Powerhouse, Sci-tech Daresbury and Science and Technology Facility Council to discuss the potential for cooperation.
On May 14, Google launched its Digital Garage project /learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalengarazh/ in cooperation with SoftUni Digital /digital.softuni.bg/ and in partnership with the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 12 consultants specially trained by Google, will hold free seminars and individual trainings in more than 37 cities in Bulgaria. The trainers will focus on the opportunities provided by the digital world and will train representatives and owners of small and medium-sized companies as well as anyone willing to expand their digital skills, in using online growth tools.
Google plans to train 15 000 people from small and medium-sized companies by the end of the year. Detailed information on the tour schedule and how to sign up for the program is published on the website.
What is Digital Garage?
Digital garage is a free of charge program that helps people to improve their digital skills. The program offers online and offline training created by Google that help the business to grow online at its own pace and through flexible and personalized training. The campaign in Bulgaria started in May 2018 and will continue until the end of 2018.
Why is online presence so important to small and medium-sized enterprises?
70% of people in Bulgaria use the Internet for personal purposes
55% of people in Bulgaria use smartphones
48% of people in Bulgaria using the Internet shop online
56% of people in Bulgaria using the Internet compare services and products online before buying
In order to reach the goal of the project, our digital consultants will hold a number of free seminars and individual consultations. You can also sign up for an individual consultation here. You can register on the official website of Digital Garage.