The Ministry of Innovation and Growth announced that nearly BGN 600 million under the 2014-2020 program period are still available for companies willing to apply by the end of 2023. BGN 200 million are available for equity investments in startups through the fund managers of the Fund of Funds, another BGN 200 million are for debt financing through seven banks, BGN 150 million are the remaining funds for municipal projects, and BGN 75 million BGN can be invested in agro projects. Startups, SMEs and projects from the public sector can apply for funding through the Fund of Fund’s partner network. You will find all available financial instruments and direct links to funding institutions that manage the resources available on the website here.
Under the Ministry of Innovation and Growth, seven procedures for a total of BGN 1.2 billion are expected to be open for applications by this summer. Small and medium-sized enterprises and family businesses will be able to apply for funding under three different axes: The Recovery and Resilience Plan, the new Competitiveness Programme and the new Research, Innovation and Digitalisation for Smart Transformation Operational Programme. You can view the table with the upcoming procedures on the ministry’s website here.
The Center for Foreign Economic Relations at the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) invites companies in the creative sector to the international B2B event CIMIx. The forum is suitable for projects in audio and visual production and technologies and aims to meet companies in the field with representatives from businesses in other sectors. The event provides an opportunity to pre-schedule individual online meetings – an easy way to meet future partners. The sessions will be held on January 17. For more information, please visit the webpage here.
BCCI organizes business meetings with companies from the city of Bursa. The event is scheduled for February 15 and will be attended by Turkish companies in chemical industry, construction mechanization, construction machinery, facade systems, fire alarm and protection systems, kitchen and bathroom furniture, doors and windows, metal structures, ceramics, paints, electrical materials, etc. If interested, Bulgarian companies can register for participation by February 1. Translation from and into Turkish will be provided by the organizers. For more details, please visit the website here.
We remind you that the Chamber maintains a database of over 200 offers for business cooperation with international partners. Companies
The Bulgarian Investment Agency presented a Class A Investment Certificate to two companies starting new projects in Sofia. The pharma manufacturer Adipharm received a certificate for the construction of a production and research center worth BGN 4.5 million. The company aims to expand its product range and increase production capacity. The second certificate is for the construction of a logistics base for BGN 4.2 million by the freight, forwarding and logistics company Stefi. The base is located in the Sofia-Bojurishte Industrial Park, where the cargo of the company’s customers will be stored.
Another logistics company is investing in a center in Sofia-Bojurishte. The Sofia-based Transpress will build a logistics center worth BGN 16 million. The base is to be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for cargo handling. A capacity of over 4 million pallets per year is planned. The center will have 60 loading ramps. The investment will create 100 new jobs for cargo transportation activities to locations in the country and abroad, for courier and logistics services.
The Israeli e-commerce company Sellavi starts its entry into European markets through its first European office in Sofia. The company is to invest 7 million euros to start operations in Bulgaria that aim to promote the e-commerce platform among merchants and consumers on the continent. Sellavi currently serves 75 million users per month in 27 markets worldwide. The platform provides all the necessary functionalities for an online store, including a domain, direct payments and invoices to users, customized design, targeted promotion, and 24/7 support.
Two Sofia-based startups raised funding from the Sirma Venture Lab incubator by Sirma Group Holding and Innovation Capital fund. These are Whisp and AskTheCP, which attracted an investment of 100,000 euros each. Both companies operate in the HealthTech sector. AskTheCP is a software solution for determining the most appropriate antibiotic treatment, while WHISP provides specialized HR software and services for the relocation of foreign employees to Bulgarian companies, issuance of Blue cards, documents for seasonal employment, administrative processes of getting access to healthcare upon relocation, as well as assistance in restoring health insurance entitlements of Bulgarian citizens after a long stay abroad. At the beginning of December 2022, Invest Sofia signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with WHISP for assistance to foreign investors regarding local legal practices.
The Promoto platform raised €434,000 from the VC funds Impetus Capital and NV3, and angel investors. Promoto was launched
The meeting of the Chairman of the Sofia Municipal Council Georgi Georgiev and the management team of Invest Sofia with the Executive Director of Teva Pharma Nikolay Hadjidonchev and Anna Duneva, Senior Director of Facility Management Europe at the company, lasted for more than an hour. The Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Invest Sofia, Nikolay Stoynev, the CEO of the Agency, Dr. Maria Hristova, and the head of the Investment Analysis department, Viktor Gusev, also took part.
A few months ago, the company received a “Green Card” from Invest Sofia as one of the key investors in the city. Over 400 employees are part of Teva’s head office in Sofia, including expert teams of global departments that manage the operations of global structures of the pharmaceutical company. In Bulgaria, Teva is the largest pharma producer in terms of production capacity and the number of employees. In Teva’s head office in Sofia, various intelligent solutions have been introduced to save energy and improve working conditions. As a next step, Teva continues to push the use of electric vehicles into the company’s operations.
“Teva just launched a global green campaign. All Teva employees can contribute to various nature-positive initiatives,” the company’s Executive Director Nikolay Hadjidonchev announced. The Sofia City Council Chairman Georgi Georgiev shared details about Sofia Municipality’s new recycling campaign in schools. “It is important to teach children to care for the environment. More than 200 schools have no recycling containers,” said Mr. Georgiev. He also presented municipal projects in the field of health care and care for vulnerable groups. Future joint initiatives were also discussed during the meeting.
The team of Invest Sofia team invites Sofia-based small and medium-sized enterprises to participate in the first 2023 session for the selection of investment projects organized by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).
The initiative is being held for another year and is in partnership with the consulting companies Ernst & Young Bulgaria and Investor Relations Services. The session aims at supporting Bulgarian SMEs through consultations on different funding opportunities – loans, equity, grants, hybrid, financing through the Beam market of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, or any other type of investment according to the specific project and area of activity of the companies. Connecting enterprises with potential funding partners is also part of the session.
Companies can submit their applications until January 9, by filling in the e-form at:
As a next step, an expert committee will assess and evaluate the proposals. The evaluation process is due on January 12, and the approved candidates will be notified by January 13.
In the final stage, the selected companies will have the opportunity to present their projects in a pitching session in front of investors and funding institutions. The event will take place on January 20. All candidates will receive mentoring support and assistance during their preparation for the pitching day.
Don’t miss the opportunity. Apply here!
The Bulgarian Startup Association – BESCO presented its annual awards, which honor the achievements of key players in the Bulgarian entrepreneurial ecosystem. Statuettes were awarded in five categories during a ceremony where the Association presented “The Way of the Unicorn” – a short movie that tells the success stories of the BESCO Awards 2022 winner companies.
The first Bulgarian unicorn PayHawk grabbed prizes in three categories – Startup of the Year, Founder of the Year, and Deal of the Year. In March, the fintech reached a valuation of $1 billion in an investment round led by the US fund Lightspeed Venture Partners.
PlanDelta took the award in the category Newcomer of the year. The Sofia-based startup develops solutions for flexible financial planning. The product has already attracted funding twice – 350K euros in a round led by the Bulgarian fund Eleven Ventures and 2.3M euros risk investment in a round led by the international investor RTP Global.
In the last fifth category – Investor of the year the winner is Eleven Ventures fund.
The BESCO Awards 2022 ceremony this year coincided with the 5th anniversary of the Bulgarian Startup Association. The events were celebrated with partners and members of the Association and the official release of the movie “The Way of the Unicorn” which you can watch on BESCO’s YouTube channel here.
The Japanese leader in the design and manufacture of electric motors and integrated controls, Nidec, officially opened its R&D center in Sofia. Nidec announced its decision to invest 3.5 million dollars in a Sofia-based R&D center earlier this year. The company’s office is located in Sofia Airport Center and according to the plan, a team of 100 Bulgarian engineers will work there on the development of next-generation hardware and software for the Japanese Group, which will be integrated into millions of electric vehicles of global car producers, to which Nidec delivers hybrid and fully electric car inventors, cameras, sensors, advanced driver-assistance systems, etc.
Cargo drone manufacturer Dronamics announced that it has been awarded a €2.5 million grant by the European Commission under the prestigious European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator program. The Sofia-based company is the world’s first cargo drone airline licensed to operate in Europe. With the investment received, the team will support the development and roll-out of Dronamics’ cargo drone fleet, the deployment of the first droneports in its network as well as operations in Europe. “Dronamics aims to democratize air freight, by enabling affordable, and sustainable same day delivery for businesses and communities everywhere, especially remote and under-served ones,” the company said in the official statement.
The Sofia-based platform for second-hand smartphones Swipe.bg raised BGN 1 million investment from Vitosha Venture Partners and NV3 funds, which invest public resources from the Fund of Funds and additional private capital. Many angel investors also participated in the round, including CEO Angels Club’s members. The company will invest the funds in expanding the models it buys, repairs and resells. It is exactly the addition of more models that has multiplied the company’s revenue in recent months. Swipe.bg also plans negotiations with telecoms and retail chains, that can offer their customers the opportunity to return their mobile devices in return for a share of the original price. The company also intends to open a chain of physical service stores, thus overcoming customer distrust towards the online business model.
Vitosha Venture Partners and NV3 have made yet another investment in recent weeks. Together with Impetus Capital, they invested €1.2 million in the further development of Rebenefit.bg – a cloud-based platform that allows company employees to individually select their monthly benefits package from hundreds of selected vendors in health, education, entertainment, charity, culinary, insurance, and many more. The company was established in 2021
The Sofia Municipal Privatization & Investment Agency (Invest Sofia) signed today a Cooperation Agreement with the ‘YES to Sharing Stories of Success in Entrepreneurship’ Foundation. Our organisations will work together in promoting the success stories of companies from all sectors of the economy, as well as in activities that increase SMEs competitiveness and boost their growth potential. The Agreement was signed by Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia, Gena Sabeva and Victoria Stoyanova of the Foundation “FOR good examples in business”.
The Foundation explores and promotes successful practices and achievements in the Bulgarian industry, nurtures the development of micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses, carries out research and certification activities, and organizes seminars, round tables, and networking events promoting and developing the business ecosystem in Bulgaria.
Through its contact network, the Foundation will assist Invest Sofia in activities that aim to increase foreign investments in Sofia. Our partnership will help both parties share best practices, latest data, analysis, and investment policies in line with our common goals.
An ice rink and a Christmas market in the Prince’s Garden just opened in Sofia. It was built on the model of the famous skating park in front of the municipality building in Vienna and has a total area of 3,600 square meters, which makes it the largest in the Balkans. Lovers of winter skating can also skate on 500 meters long beautifully illuminated ice trails. The rink has 2,000 rentable ice skates, 50 trainers for kids, 12 instructors for beginners and a medical center. For student group visits, the rink is free from 10 to 11 a.m. after January 1. Ice Park Sofia works every day from 11:00 to 22:00. Ice skating is divided into sessions of 2 hours. Rules and tickets:
Sofia signed a Memorandum of cooperation with the South Korean city of Busan. The document was signed by Mayor Yordanka Fandakova and the Mayor of Busan Park Heong-joon. The ceremony was also attended by the Deputy Mayor of Sofia, Irina Savina, in charge of “European policies, international tourism activities”. The two cities will cooperate in green policies, renewable energy, digitalization and tourism. Busan is the second largest city in South Korea after Seoul, with a population of about 3.6 million people. It is the cultural, educational and economic heart of the region located in the largest industrial area. It is also the largest maritime logistics hub in South Korea.
At the beginning of 2023, the construction of a new 6 km of the Sofia metro will start, Sofia Municipality announced. The planned route is from the Military Academy through “Slatina” to “Tsarigradsko shose” Blvd. There will be three metro stations along the route, that will serve another 40,000 people daily. According to the Municipality, after this next expansion, the subway in Sofia will have a 50% share of the city transport. The construction of the line through the “Poduyane” area is going according to schedule. Three new metro stations are under construction – Georgi Asparuhov Stadium, Trakia station, and “Gen. Vladimir Vazov” next to Stanislav Dospevski street.
Our country is the second most attractive location in Southeast Europe for foreign startup companies setting up overseas offices, shows data from Dealroom.co – the Amsterdam-based global provider of data and intelligence on startups and tech ecosystems. The agency’s annual report ‘Startups & Venture Capital in South Eastern Europe 2022’ explores the state of VC investments in the region and was presented during an event organized by the Bulgarian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA).
According to the study, Bulgaria ranks third in density of startup companies (right after Romania and Greece). It is the absolute leader in number of locally-based funds – 18 in total. Our country is considered one of the leading investment hubs in SEE as local funds make investments not only in local companies but also in promising startups in Romania, Greece, Serbia, Croatia, etc.
The analysis features a number of Sofia-based companies of Bulgarian founders, as well as the names of foreign companies that have chosen Sofia to set up their overseas offices. Among them are the first Bulgarian unicorn Payhawk, Gtmhub, Dronamics, Spark, Nexo, Hyperscience, The Recursive, Software Group, Alcatraz AI, Nuvei, Paysafe, Hopper and many more.
The report also notes that VC investment in startups across the eleven SEE countries now exceeds $1.3 billion (as of Q3 2022). This is an all-time record and more than the previous three years combined. For Bulgaria, new funds raised in Bulgaria reached $251 million over the past 18 months, more than any previous period since 2012.
More data on our country and the SEE region is available in the full report ‘Startups & Venture Capital in South Eastern Europe 2022’ by Dealroom. You can download it from the BVCA website here: https://bvca.bg/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/SEE-Report-2022.pdf
Only a day after Bosnia and Herzegovina got candidate status for EU membership, the Mayor of Brčko Municipality Esed Kadrić, together with representatives of Brčko’s city administration, arrived on a one-day official visit to Sofia. The delegation was received by the Mayor of Sofia Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova. Opportunities for cooperation and joint initiatives between the two municipalities were discussed. The guests presented to Mrs. Fandakova the administrative structure of Brčko and the incentives that Brčko district provides to local and foreign investors. The main purpose of the working meetings organized by Invest Sofia was to exchange best practices and discuss potential partner initiatives between Sofia and Brčko.
“Although Sofia and Brčko are situated in two neighboring countries, we communicate more often with European institutions than with each other. This is why such visits are very useful,” Nikolay Stoynev, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Sofia Municipal Privatization & Investment Agency said during the meeting. He presented the EU programmes and projects that Sofia Municipality has been working on in recent years and good practices for dealing with urban issues that Sofia has already overcome. Within the current programming period, the Municipality of Sofia has implemented more than 50 European projects worth more than BGN 2.5 billion, of which BGN 1.8 billion in grant financing.
Potential initiatives in the field of tourism were also discussed. The Municipal Councilor and Chairman of the Permanent Commission for International Cooperation and Tourism, European programmes and projects, Ekaterina Yordanova, presented Sofia’s experience in promoting the city as a tourist destination, as well as various initiatives in the field. Anatoly Iliev, Municipal Councilor and Chairman of ‘Sofia – European Capital of Sport’, presented the initiatives and international events taking place in the city.
Our final discussion was devoted to business support mechanisms. Nikolay Tsenkov, Manager at MGFSME, spoke about the activities of the Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs, its projects, and the challenges faced by the institution. Head of the Investment Analyses Department at Invest Sofia, Viktor Gusev, presented the economic profile of Sofia Municipality and the Agency’s activities. During the talks, Invest Sofia undertook the initiative to coordinate future relations between Brčko and experts from the Sofia Municipality. Along with the Mayor of Brčko Esed Kadric, the meetings in Sofia were visited by the Chief Officer of the coordination Unit for the Brčko district at the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as
On December 9, Sofia Event Center hosted the Conference “Bulgaria in the Eurozone: Advantages and Opportunities” organised by The Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency, “DIR.BG” and the Confederation of Industrialists and Employers in Bulgaria.
The event gathered institutions, policymakers, employers, founders and managers of small, medium and large enterprises, financial institutions, experts from the non-governmental sector, media, academic community representatives, investment agencies, and many more. At the invitation of the organisers, Invest Sofia also took part in the event – Viktor Goussev, Head of the Investment Analysis Department at the Agency joined the attendees.
In four and a half hours and three panel discussions, the event managed to outline what has been done so far and what lies ahead regarding our country’s accession to the Eurozone and the adoption of the euro as the national currency. The experience shared by experts from the Board of Directors of the Bank of Slovenia and the Croatian National Bank was particularly valuable. Slovenia is among the newly joined countries to the Eurozone, and Croatia will become part of the Eurozone from January 1, 2023. Both countries have gone through the process that lies ahead for Bulgaria and shared good practices and challenges to look forward to.
Former finance and economy ministers from the last 20 years discussed the prospects for financial stability and economic growth. A special panel presented the perspectives of employers, businesses and trade unions regarding incomes and expected benefits for the business.
The event managed to address the perspectives of institutions, businesses and citizens on what all this means for Bulgaria, as well as outline best practices in preventing speculation and inflation.
The conference was streamed live. A video recording is available on the event website here and the DirBg channel here.
The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a co-organizer of the IoT Solution World Congress Brokerage Event, which will be held between January 31 and February 2 in Barcelona and between February 7-9 online. The event provides B2B opportunities with partners in IoT, AI, Digital Twins, Augmented Reality, 5G technologies, Cybersecurity and their applications in production, smart factories, energy, smart cities, mobility, healthcare, etc. Find out more details here.
We remind you that the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce Industry regularly updates its landing page dedicated to current funding opportunities and open calls.
The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) has launched a series of meetings between Bulgarian entrepreneurs and heads of the Trade Economic Section at Bulgarian Embassies in foreign countries. The sessions are part of EASME’s EXPORT HUB BULGARIA initiative that aims to increase the export potential of Bulgarian enterprises. The next meeting is on December 14th and will be hosted by Petar Moysov, Head of the Trade Economic Section at the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Riyadh, KSA. Companies interested in opportunities to enter this market can register for free via the registration form here. The registered participants will also receive information about upcoming meetings with representatives of Trade & Economic Offices at Bulgarian Embassies abroad.
The Fund of Funds announced that it is granting an additional resource of BGN 700,000 to its financial intermediary SIS Credit, which manages funds under the financial instrument Risk-Sharing Micro-Finance Facility. The investment period has been extended until 31.12.2023. Companies and self-employed persons, including enterprises whose owners are from vulnerable groups such as those unemployed for more than 6 months, young people aged 29 or less, people with disabilities, as well as social enterprises, can apply for funding. The loans are granted under relaxed terms, for investment loans or working capital loans in the amount of BGN 5,000 to BGN 48,895. Under this instrument, the Fund of Funds works through a total of three financial intermediaries. A link to these institutions and details for this type of financing can be found here.
On December 13 and 14, information days for funding opportunities in 2023 under the Horizon Europe Programme will be held. The opportunity is suitable for ideas and projects in the following areas: food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and environment. The calls that will soon be open