With the summer season starting, the outdoor sports training sessions with free access in the park “Zaimov” just started. The activities are part of the “Vacation” Program of Sofia Municipality, Directorate of Sports and Youth Activities. The trainings will take place every Friday evening and Saturday until noon until the end of July. Included are cardio workouts, zumba and body shaping workouts. Find out more here.
For those who prefer swimming and spa, the Vazrazhdane water park is now open. The swimming pool for the youngest visitors has a constant water temperature of 28 – 30 degrees, and for all other water areas daily information is posted on the Facebook page of the facility.
Over 1/3 of the metro extension through Poduyane is already built. The construction is on schedule and work on the 3km section is expected to be completed by the end of 2025. Over the last 15 years, the Sofia Municipality has built 42km of underground lines and the extension continues. On the route of the section from Hadzhi Dimitar district to Levski G in Poduyane district, over 70 thousand people live and work next to the planned stations. It is expected that the construction of the subway section through the Slatina district to start soon with 6 km and six metro stations. Preparations are also underway for the metro line from Lozenets through Simeonovo to Studentski grad, which will be 4 km long. The metro extension from the Business Park to the Ring Road is also being prepared.
More than 160 projects have been approved under the “Green Sofia” programme for the improvement of playgrounds and green spaces between buildings, the Sofia Municipality announced. The programme has been implemented since 2011 and launched by Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova. At the request of citizens and organizations, the Sofia Municipality provides trees, flowers, benches, and pergolas, as well as equipment for the maintenance of the areas, while citizens handle the entire implementation of their project proposals and the maintenance of the green areas. More than 1 200 green spaces have been landscaped so far under the programme, with condominiums and organisations also committing to look after the renovated gardens within 3 years. The green projects approved for support in 2023 include those of 13 community groups and 16 associations and foundations.
A total of 350 children from 14 kindergartens in Sofia learned Bulgarian sign
The Executive Director of the Sofia Municipal Privatization & Investment Agency Verginia Stoyanova and Radostina Belcheva, Chief Expert at the Agency, participated in the international Deep Startup Ecosystem Conference, which took place on July 5 and 6 in Budapest, Hungary.
The event was organized by DEEP Ecosystems, which holds the forum twice a year as part of its international accelerator program DEEP Startup Ecosystem Accelerator (DEEPSEA). The organisation is one of the largest communities in Europe for building entrepreneurial ecosystems on the Continent and globally and since 2018 has trained over 180 companies in its accelerator.
DEEP Ecosystems also maintains the open data platform Startup Heatmap Europe, which gathers data on ecosystems across European cities in terms of startups, fastest-growing companies, accelerators, investment funds, preferred location by founders, and much more.
The conference in Budapest once again brought together innovation ecosystem builders, investors, corporates, and government representatives who seek to build stronger ecosystems that can tackle our communities´ most pressing challenges. Highlighting the program were interactive discussions and workshops with country experts on several topics. The results will be soon summarized and published in a White Paper.
Among the topics for the deep-dive sessions, in which the Agency’s team also took part, were Impact Ecosystems & Investing “Building the impact innovation scene in emerging markets”, Startup Technology Trends “Communities of Future: The Blockchain and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)” and Startup Accelerators “University Accelerators: A Sandbox for Future Startups Unicorns”, in which we had the opportunity to share Sofia Municipality’s experience in working with local companies within the framework of the “Sandbox for Innovative Solutions” that help innovative solutions to urban challenges.
We would like to thank DEEP Ecosystems for the invitation to participate in the two-day conference. The international meeting allowed us to compare Sofia with leading international destinations for start-ups, share our experiences and learn best practices from other cities, and connect with experts and potential partners for geographically-oriented initiatives to develop European regions and innovation hubs.
Yoanna Dragneva Ph.D., Chief Expert at the Investment Analysis Department of Invest Sofia, took part in the final phase of the project “Leadership for Territorial Development through Responsible Science and Innovation” (RRI LEADERS), funded by Horizon 2020 and implemented by Sofia Development Association and Applied Research and Communications Fund (ARC).
Sofia’s participation in RRI LEADERS aimed at the development of a strategy and action plan for the future application of the principles of responsible research and innovation (RRI) in the development and management of the innovation ecosystem of the participating territories (Sofia, Talville (Switzerland), Sabadell (Spain), West Macedonia in Greece).
The final workshops were held in Sofia on 29 and 30 June with the participation of representatives of the organizations leading the initiative in the other countries involved in the project – Switzerland, Spain, and Greece.
On the first day of the meetings, a panel discussion on Transforming territorial policymaking through co-creation and citizen engagement: how to design a “transformative outlook” took place. Each of the participating cities (Sofia, Talville (Switzerland), Sabadell (Spain), West Macedonia in Greece) presented how co-creation and citizen engagement have helped to address political cases at a local level. Roundtables and open discussions on the Vision for Responsible Territorial Development (RTD) were held. The participants discussed a range of issues including: what constitutes responsible territorial development; what are the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders (policy makers, researchers and academics, businesses, civil society organisations) and citizens for responsible territorial development; who are the leaders for achieving responsible territorial development; what are the social, technological, economic, environmental, political challenges for cities/territories to achieve responsible territorial development.
The second day of the final meetings featured an open discussion on the potential of RRI to address societal challenges and societal transformation processes; drivers and barriers and the role of local governments and local stakeholders in RRI for steering transformation to public benefit. The tools that Responsible Research and Innovation – RRI provides to manage citizen expectations and participation in transformations were discussed. Discussions included the learnings on responsible territorial governance; what is the added value of incorporating the RRI framework in local policies; what is the place of citizens in future policy-making and many more. Following this panel, summary presentations were made and wrap-ups from the four countries’ participation in the RRI LEADERS project were presented.
During the implementation of the project, a number of consultations were
Invest Sofia took part in the seventh edition of the international conference Business and Regional Development, organized by tTrakia University. At the invitation of the organizers, our Executive Director Ph.D. Maria Hristova presented opportunities for career orientation and internships in Sofia Municipality. She highlighted key career events and the active role of the business ecosystem in Sofia in joint programs with the academic community.
The scientific conference was also by Ph.D. Joanna Dragneva, Chief Expert at the Investment Analysis Department at the Agency. She presented the report “Labour Integration of Refugees in a Socio-economic Perspective”. The results are based on Invest Sofia’s work on the Jobs in Sofia platform, which the Agency and the Sofia Municipality created days after the arrival of the first Ukrainian refugees in our country.
The project is an example of an city initiative for early intervention in integrating newly arrived refugees into the labour market. In just three months since the launch of the platform, more than 540 inquiries from Ukrainians have been submitted and more than 20 Sofia-based companies have been involved. Nearly a third of the inquiries have resulted in finding a job through Jobs in Sofia.
The results show that similar tools increase the chance of refugees being hired, which reduces the likelihood of social exclusion. The impact of such programmes is immediate and lasting, and they can bring not only direct but also indirect benefits to refugees, to their labour integration in general, and to the economy.
The International Scientific Conference “Business and Development of Regions” is held every two years on the initiative of the Faculty of Economics at Trakia University. The forum brings together researchers and gives the floor for fruitful discussions and scientific data aimed at academics, business representatives, local administrative and public authorities developing sectoral and regional policies at national and international level.
Sofia Municipality and Mayor Yordanka Fandakova hosted an official reception for the speakers and participants in the international technology festival Webit. The reception, which was organized with the assistance of Invest Sofia, took place a day before the start of the festival and was held at the Sofia City Art Gallery.
Among the dignitaries were Plamen Rusev, founder and executive chairman of the Webit festival, Prime Minister Academician Nikolay Denkov, guests and speakers from the program of the summer edition of Webit 2023 in Sofia, as well as Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia. Among the guests were experts from leading companies such as SAP, McKinsey Health Institute, Coursera, Unilever, Viber, System1 Group PLC, FaZe Clan and many others.
The focus of this year’s event was on artificial intelligence, investment strategies and adaptation to change. Presentations and panel discussions set the stage for AI’s impact on the labour market. The latest advancements in areas such as financial technology, e-commerce, blockchain, cybersecurity and more were presented at the festival.
In parallel with Webit 2023 Summer Edition, the InvestX investor event was held in Sofia, as well as this year’s edition of Digital Sofia – a project under the Europe 2023 programme of the Sofia Municipality to promote innovative and digital initiatives in collaboration between citizens, public organisations and local authorities.
More than 2000 visitors from 50 countries, leading investors and dozens of scientists, visionaries and managers of tech companies arrived in Sofia to participate in the summer edition of the largest forum for innovative technologies Webit. The event took place in the heart of the city, in the National Palace of Culture and besides keynote speaches and panel discussion on the main stage, part of the programme were two parallel forums – the InvestX investment forum and this year’s edition of Digital Sofia, organized by the Sofia Municipality.
Webit’s core message this year was focused on the development and impact of artificial intelligence and how humanity is adapting.
In the opening panel, Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova encouraged the entrepreneurs at Webit to invest in Bulgaria’s young talents – educated dreamers and the city’s biggest asset. “When more than 10 years ago we started talking about urban digital solutions, to many that sounded strange, but my mission has always been education, science, and their effective involvement in the development of both the country’s potential and in solving the city’s challenges. Technology transforms our lives, we need to use it to improve the quality of life” – the Mayor said in his welcoming remarks to the audience
She pointed out that Sofia has become not only a preferred place to live, but also an economic, educational and cultural center, thanks to the efforts of many people, and namely those of the Municipality’s investment team.
“A few years ago, I took a decision to launch the Invest Sofia unit. The Agency aims to support investors interested in Sofia with fast and flexible administrative solutions,” the Mayor added, and encouraged investors in the hall to reach out the team of Invest Sofia during the networking sessions to talk about the city’s potential.
Held alongside Webit, the InvestX Investment Forum became the first event of its kind in the country with the main aim of showcasing the business potential of Sofia and Bulgaria to global leaders in the investment community. Investors from Blackrock, European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund, Mercer, Adams Street Partners, Citi Ventures, J.P Morgan and many others were part of the event.
The Invest Sofia team met with representatives of the Netherlands Embassy, led by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Bulgaria – His Excellency Mr. Simon van der Burgh. During the meeting, Victor Gusev, head of the Investment Analysis Department, presented the activities of the Agency and the instrument we use to help new investors in the city, as well as those who already have established businesses and plan to expand their teams, activities or production facilities.
The guests from the Netherlands shared that they are highly impressed by the development of the business ecosystem and business environment in the city as a whole. They emphasized that they consider Sofia as an attractive business destination that offers many opportunities.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is one of Bulgaria’s traditional and main trade and economic partners According to the latest data by the Ministry of Economy and Industry, the total value of direct foreign investments of the Netherlands in Bulgaria amounts to 7,411.3M euros. Thus the country ranks 1st in terms of FDI in Bulgaria.
The exchange of goods between the two countries amounts to 2534.8M euros. Leading export commodities are rape seed (9.6%), biodiesel (5.2%), sunflower seed (5.2%), pharmaceuticals (4.5%), glassware (4.1%), wheat and wheat-rye mixture (3.9%). Imported goods are biodiesel and biodiesel blends (18.9%), medicines (6.0%), automatic information processing machines (4.2%), blood products (2.8%).
Among the key investors in our country with Dutch participation are companies such as Heineken (Zagorka), ING bank, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Shell, Strypes – part of ICT group holding, and many others.
Our city hosted the fourth edition of the Sofia Economic Forum, a high-level meeting tha once again gathered the most influential Bulgarian and international political and corporate leaders. Organised by the Delphi Economic Forum and the Centre for Liberal Strategies, the event focused on possible solutions to the pressing challenges facing Europe and the world. Among the guests at the forum was our CEO Ph.D. Maria Hristova.
The forum was attended by the Vice President of Bulgaria Iliana Yotova, Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov, the Vice President of the European Investment Bank Liliana Pavlova, ministers and deputy ministers, ambassadors, and many other institutional and economic leaders and experts.
With nearly 40 participants and keynote speaker,the event raised topics such as the impact of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine on Bulgaria’s geopolitical situation; EU enlargement; developments in the financial sector; developments in the South East Europe region: economic cooperation and future prospects; Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen; Turkey’s elections and what’s next for the region; energy transition and carbon neutrality, tourism and many more
The Sofia Economic Forum provided an opportunity to identify and assess critical challenges to the countries’ growth, discuss best policy practices from other countries, support the adoption of corporate social innovation practices in the private sector and identify specific policy actions toward more competitive and inclusive economies in South East Europe.
On 29 June 2023, the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA), in partnership with the British-Bulgarian Business Association, is organising a workshop on “How to sell in the UK?”. The event is suitable for Bulgarian manufacturers and will cover topics such as behaviour and style during trade negotiations with UK companies and why “big companies don’t know how to buy from small companies who don’t know how to sell to big companies”. The event is free to attend, bit pre-registration is required here.
The Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB) has launched a new financial instrument that provides easier access to funding for the implementation of projects under European and national programmes in the absence of bridge or complementary financing. The Bank will provide investment loans of up to BGN 5M with a repayment period of up to 6 years and a grace period of up to 2 years, as well as an unsecured capital loan of up to BGN 200 000 in addition to the investment funds – both on preferential terms. The BDB will provide financing for the full cost of projects under the programmes to already approved applicants, and up to 85 per cent of the costs for those who have not yet signed their grant agreements. The product has been developed in conjunction with businesses to meet current market needs. For more information see here.
A total of 20 innovation vouchers for digital and green innovation/technology projects will be granted under the Euroclusters’ RE-CENTRE initiative. Small cross-sector partnerships that demonstrate new models of collaboration will be funded. Proposals will be accepted from consortia of at least two enterprises active in at least 2 of the 3 priority sectors – traditional furniture and living sector, IT sector, and green/circular economy sector. The deadline for applications is 27 June.
Between 10-13 October, the European Biotech and Pharma Partnering conference will take place in Osaka, Japan. This year’s event focuses on drug discovery, regenerative medicine, therapeutic and diagnostic tools, artificial intelligence and IoT technologies with applications in medicine and drugs, and digital therapeutics – non-pharmacological therapy systems and combinations of applications and devices. The conference invites SMEs and clusters from the EU. Find out more here.
The Innovation Village 2023 virtual brokerage event, organised by ENEA, a partner of the BRIDGeconomies Consortium of the Enterprise Europe Network, will take place between
Deloitte Bulgaria (Deloitte) is now part of Sofia IS – the city initiative between local Sofia companies and Invest Sofia aimed at free-of-charge integrated services to investors in Sofia. The partnership was agreed upon by signing a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency (Invest Sofia) and Deloitte. The document was signed by Sylvia Peneva – Managing partner of Deloitte Bulgaria during an official meeting.
Deloitte was founded in London in 1845. The international company has been present in Bulgaria since 1992. The company provides audit services, tax and legal advice, technology solutions, risk management services, cyber security consulting, etc.
Under the signed Agreement, Deloitte’s team in Bulgaria will provide entrepreneurs exploring Sofia as a next investment destination with initial advice on Grants and Incentives, Public Procurement, State Aid, Global Mobility Services, Corporate Tax, Indirect Tax, Accounting and Payroll, Legal Services.
Vitosha Venture Partners invested a total of €1 million in nine new companies, five of which are startups in a more advanced stage of development and t4 are part of the Vitosha ACCELERATE accelerator programme. Among the supported Sofia-based companies are the Nakantara platform for selling cars through auctions, which receives 100 thousand euros, the manufacturer of tin-lead and lead-free alloys SN Metals – with 200 thousand euros and the FinqUp fintech platform for individual investors supported with 50 thousand euros. Among the younger companies from Sofia that received funding are Diplom.id – a platform for electronic issuance and verification of educational diplomas and certificates, and the pet care platform PetStay.
Sofia-based EnduroSat raised $10 million in a Series A round led by Luxembourg-based investment firm Ceecat Capital. Existing investors such as German seed fund Freigeist Capital also participated in the round. The investment will enable EnduroSat to expand its operations and work on a wider range of satellite technologies. The company is now headquartered in Luxembourg and has core R&D operations in Sofia, Bulgaria. EnduroSat has new offices in Luxembourg, Berlin, Toulouse, Naples and Delaware, and has opened a new space centre in Sofia with 3,200 square metres of office space and 700 square metres of state-of-the-art space testing and component assembly laboratories. EnduroSat has seen 6 consecutive years of growth of over 200% year on year and now has a solid customer base in the US and EU. Since its launch in 2018, the company has supported over 200 customers and delivered over 2500 satellite modules that fly in orbit on satellites to customers around the world.
Another Sofia-based aerospace technology company, Dronamics, announced the successful completion of the first flight of its Black Swan cargo aircraft from Balchik Airport in Bulgaria. Dronamics is the world’s first drone cargo airline and has made it its mission to make cargo deliveries affordable and possible within a day. The cargo drone was remotely controlled from a Dronamics ground control station. The successful flight test validates the company’s licensed cargo drone technology for commercial flights in Europe, which will begin later this year and serve industries such as e-commerce, pharmaceuticals, spare parts and short shelf-life goods.
The Sofia-based gaming startup Augment, has announced a joint project with Riot Games, the world’s largest game publisher and creator of League of Legends. Augment’s data analytics platform will be used in
Joanna Dragneva, Ph.D. Chief Expert at the Investment Analysis Department of Invest Sofia, took part in the panel discussions on the development of municipal policies that support innovation, digital transition, youth employment, entrepreneurship, and sustainable urban development. The discussion was held under the Horizon 2020-funded Territorial Development through Responsible Science and Innovation Project – RRI-LEADERS. During the discussions, Dragneva, Ph.D. presented the activities of Invest Sofia in support of startup companies and young entrepreneurs, as well as the Agency’s activities that aim to help foreign citizens who want to set up in Sofia. The RRI-LEADERS project aims to support the local governments in four European territories – Sofia, Bulgaria, Talville – Switzerland, Sadabel – Spain, and West Macedonia in Greece. Joanna Dragneva Ph.D took part in the discussion at the invitation of Sofia Development Association which is leading the implementation of the project.