At a special event in Hall 3 of the National Palace of Culture, the first in Eastern Europe Institute for Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology – INSAIT has been officially launched in Sofia. The institute is structured as a special unit at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski ”and is created in partnership with two of the world’s leading technology universities in Switzerland – ETH Zurich and EPFL.
The mission of the institute is to establish Sofia and Bulgaria as a global destination for research and innovation, an attractive hub for scientists and talents, as well as to create favorable conditions for the development of an economy based on products with high added value and intellectual property.
World-renowned scientists from the United States, Israel and Switzerland will provide expert supervision and assistance to the new institute. Members of the Institute’s Supervisory and Advisory Board include world-renowned scientists from ETH Zurich, EPFL, IST Austria, MIT, UC Berkeley, Yale, Princeton and Technion.
At the invitation of the organisers, the Chief Executive Officer of Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova attended the opening of the INSAIT Institute. The project for the Institute of Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology in Sofia is backed by the Bulgarian government, global tech giants such as Google, DeepMind and Amazon Web Services, local technology companies, entrepreneurs and investors. The INSAIT Institute has all the prerequisites to become a world-class research center that attracts the best researchers and talents from the region and the world.
The official launch was attended by President Rumen Radev, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer, President of the European Research Council (ERC) Prof. Maria Leptin, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Maria Gabriel, the Rector of Sofia University Prof. Anastas Gerdjikov, representatives of academia and business from Bulgaria and abroad.
The 3rd edition of the International university startup competition, organized by the University of Split and Student Business Incubator (SPI) in Split, Croatia is now open for application. On behalf of the organisers, we invite participants from Sofia and Bulgaria to apply for the STup!2022 competition.
Split will become the European center of innovation on June 17-18, 2022, where the chosen startups will be presented and will compete for the “Best University Startup 2022” award. The winners will automatically be entered to Wolves Summit 2022.
The main goal of STup!2022 is to provide support to university startups and to give young entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their service or product on the global startup scene. The competition will bring together international startups, entrepreneurs, accelerators, incubators and investors from the region and beyond. Pitch groups are divided into categories:
The term „University startup“ stands for a startup in early-phase, connected with one of the
University institutions OR with at least one member in student status. Each team must be affiliated with a university (through an incubator, accelerator, as a student, researcher etc.).
The application process is open until 15th of April, 2022.
Participants have to submit their startup presentation along with the application through the event official website: www.stup.efst.hr. Selected University startups will be notified by email with further guidelines from the organizers.
The Sofia Municipality and Invest Sofia, in partnership with the Communications Regulation Commission and the Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development department of Sofia Municipality (Innovative Sofia), are organizing the conference “Digital Sofia – The Smart City”. The event will be held on April 12, 2022 at Inter Expo Center – Vitosha Hall.
“Digital Sofia – The Smart City” will gather major stakeholders, policy and decision-makers – Ministries, Mayors, Municipal Administration and Municipal Councilors, Municipal enterprises and regional mayors, NGOs, telecoms, investors, startups, business, the academic community, banking and fintech sector. The event aims to support innovation and adoption of new technologies in the urban environment by ensuring effective complementarity between the public and private sectors – a focus area set out in the Action Plan for the implementation of the Strategy for Digital Transformation of Sofia adopted by the Sofia Municipal Council and in the Strategy itself.
Four panels are part of the Conference agenda on topics related to responsible and sustainable solutions for intelligent growth. The discussions will feature the perspectives of the city administration, regulators, businesses, and funding institutions.
The team of Invest Sofia is a co-organiser and partner of the “Digital Sofia – The Smart City” Conference. We will join the discussion “Speaks: Municipality” – the first panel in the conference programme. Our Chief Executive Officer Dr. Maria Hristova will join the discussion together with the Chairman of the Sofia Municipal Council Georgi Georgiev, the Chief Architect of Sofia Municipality arch. Zdravko Zdravkov, Ivan Antov – Member of the management board of the Urban Mobility Center Sofia, Municipal Councilor Hristian Petrov and arch. Elitsa Panayotova – Coordinator of project “Sofia Green” for Sofia Municipality. The panel is to be moderated by Gencho Kerezov, Deputy Mayor for “Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development” of Sofia.
Don’t miss out to meet us at our stand in the exhibition area of the conference. We will be happy to meet partners and colleagues live during the event and talk about topics related to sustainable solutions for the city. The Conference is free to attend but requires registration on https://digitalsofia.bg/.
Official guests of “Digital Sofia – The Smart City” will be Mr. Daniel Lorer – Minister for Innovations and Growth, Mr. Alexander Yolovski – Minister of Electronic Governance, Mr. Dilyan Berkovski – Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications, Mr. Stefan Asparuhov – Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, as well as
At an official meeting on April 7, 2022, the Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency (Invest Sofia) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the corporate real estate advisory firm Avalant Bulgaria. The Memorandum was signed by Viktor Gusev, Head of Investment Analysis at Invest Sofia and Dimitar Ivanov and Ivan Parmakov, Founding Partners at Avalant Bulgaria.
To expand the opportunities for attracting potential investors, the two parties will join forces to promote, support and facilitate business cooperation between them and their business partners. The joint activities will encourage the proactive exchange of expertise and business contacts. Using both parties’ partner networks established so far, Invest Sofia and Avalant Bulgaria will be able to promote and exchange economic and market data, statistics, and investment policies.
Under the signed agreement, the two parties will cooperate in investor inquiries by delivering market analyses, auditing, advisory and brokerage services, recommendations on specific actions and next steps, among others.
The Invest Sofia team would like to thank Avalant Bulgaria for their confidence and readiness for long-term cooperation with us. We believe that the company’s analytical approach, in-depth market knowledge and expertise in the field of corporate real estate, Avalant Bulgaria will be a valuable partner in providing services to investors in Sofia.
The UK-based Amdaris, an IT consulting, software development and digital transformation company, announced the opening of its new office in Sofia. Our city is Amdaris’ sixth location along with the head office in Bristol and the teams in Moldova, Romania, Dubai and Ukraine, where the company started activities last year but decided to reorganise its operations of the employees there due to the war.
“The news supports Amdaris’ pledge to offer employment to any developers, QAs, project managers or other people with relevant skills who have been forced to leave Ukraine”, the official statement of the company says. The Bulgarian capital is defined as one of the emerging IT centers of Eastern Europe with a growing pool of tech talent not only in the city but across the country as well.
Amdaris starts operations in Bulgaria with a plan to form a team of over 50 employees by the end of the year. Open positions for software specialists have already been published on the company’s website.This is the second foreign company operating in Ukraine to open a center in Sofia in the context of choosing a new location in the region since the start of the war. A few weeks ago, the American spacecraft company Launcher, relocated its Ukraine staff to Sofia soon after the invasion. The Bulgarian capital became the home of the new Launcher Europe office after the company opened an office and housed entirely at its own expense its employees and their families from the Ukrainian city of Dnipro.
Startup companies are the primary driving force for a sustainable business environment in Sofia and the country. Partnership opportunities, the city as a testbed, as well as access to funding for innovative products were presented during the event “Investors, Startups, City Administration: Effective Collaboration” event.
The meeting organised by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and Invest Sofia was attended by Tsvetan Simeonov, Chairman of the BCCI, Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO at Invest Sofia, Vladimir Tomov, President of the BCCI Investment Council, Nikolay Tsenkov, Manager of the Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs (MGFSME) and Dimitar Stoilov, Chief Expert at the Bulgarian Development Bank.
“Startups’ development is a priority topic. We had a meeting with businesses delegates from Italy who first asked about the innovative companies and startups in Sofia. Our Italian partners demonstrated great interest in cooperation opportunities with these companies,” Tsvetan Simeonov, Chairman of the BCCI said during the event. He emphasized the strong cooperation with the Sofia Municipality and Invest Sofia in this direction.
“Our mission is to stay close to the business in the city and to support it. We are a one-stop-shop service for foreign companies and entrepreneurs. Startups need financing and among our activities is to provide information about funding opportunities. We also know how important it is for a startup company to have a test field for its products, and a reliable partner in its portfolio. That is why we initiated campaigns that aim to meet the startups with different structures of the Sofia Municipality, which can allow them the opportunity to test and implement their projects,” Dr. Histova said. During the event, Nikolay Tsenkov, Manager at MGFSME presented the opportunities for the financial support provided by the Fund. Financial instruments were presented by Vladimir Tomov from the BCCI Investment Council and Dimitar Stoilov from the Bulgarian Development Bank.
Four startup companies presented their products that can be tested by the Sofia Municipality administration. National Archives is a company that provides outsourcing solutions for archiving, storing and digitizing documents. To date, the team of 35 people has gained experience with 250 clients. Cloud Office has more than a decade of combined experience with various Google Cloud products and is committed to providing the right solutions through Google technologies. SAT HELT is a company that provides patient assistance solutions, medical and social care, consulting services, and tech solutions in the pharmaceutical industry. Serenity
Four projects to receive support in this year’s edition of “Sofia chooses” – Sofia Municipality’s programme for ideas from citizens, civil and professional organizations for projects that improve the urban environment. Voting for the projects ended in the middle of March, and the set budget of BGN 1,000,000 can fund a total of 4 projects that gathered the most votes for implementation. The submitted proposals are related to green mobility, a river promenade and alley near the Lion’s Bridge, reconstruction of park spaces, and public areas. A total of 7105 residents of Sofia took part in the second edition of the Programme by having their say on 34 project proposals on green topics worth up to BGN 1 million and are eligible to become part of Sofia Municipality’s investment programme for 2022. The four most voted projects have a total budget of just over BGN 893,000, and the remaining BGN 106,971 will be set aside by the Municipality as a reserve for implementing the ranked projects.
This spring begins the afforestation of a new forest near Sofia. The new area is near the village of Negovan, Novi Iskar. Some 86,000 trees will be planted on an area of 137 decares. The aim is to restore the riverside forests lost in the area. The initiative is part of the “New Forest of Sofia” project, by which the Sofia Municipality has been planting new forests in the suburbs for several years already as part of the efforts to improve air quality. The project started with the terrain near Suhodol, which is already afforested with acacias and lindens on an area of 225 decares.
The first new-generation innovative school in Bulgaria with a focus on natural sciences, digital technologies, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to open its doors in Sofia. It will be situated in the building of the children’s center “Muzeiko”, which will continue to operate as an interactive children’s science center during the weekends and after the school classes on weekdays. Partners in the project are the America for Bulgaria Foundation, which provides the Muzeiko Children’s Center building, and the University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy in Sofia, which provides an additional building allowing more study space along with a teacher training center.
The construction of the new section of the metro has started, comprising 3 km from Poduyane to the Levski G district. The construction of the route
The Bulgarian Investment Agency (BIA) presented its traditional Investor of the Year awards. Three Sofia-based companies received the Golden Bull statuettes. The aerospace company “EnduroSat” received the award for Innovative Business Investment. Angry Building condominium management platform won the Startup of the Year prize, and Payhawk, the first Bulgarian unicorn, was awarded a special prize for innovation and growth.
Investor of the Year for 2021 became the pharmaceutical Balkanpharma Dupnitsa. In the category Green Investment of the Year, the award went to the German electric car manufacturer Next.e Go Bulgaria. Solvay Sodi, one of Europe’s biggest soda ash producers, was awarded for Business Expansion Investment, and the companies Interlink Group and Profilink were awarded for Human Capital Investment.
The sixteenth edition of the Investor of the Year Awards evaluated over 40 submissions for the competition from all sectors of the economy. As every year, the leading criteria in determining the winners were the amount of the investment made, the number of jobs created, as well as the area where a new production facility was opened, or an existing enterprise was expanded. The official award ceremony was attended by the Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer, the Executive Director of the Bulgarian Investment Agency Stamen Yanev, the Deputy Minister of Innovation and Growth Karina Angelieva, the Minister of Social Affairs Georgi Gokov, among others.
At the invitation of IBA, our team joined the award ceremony, which took place on March 31 at Hyatt Regency Sofia. Invest Sofia congratulates all winning companies from Sofia and the country for their noteworthy investment projects in 2021.
Invest Sofia has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the smart career platform nPloy. The Memorandum was signed by Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia, and Konstantin Tsonev, Executive Director of nPloy and one of the founders of the platform.
Under the agreed partnership, the two parties will cooperate in the development of the labor market in Sofia, overcoming the shortage of staff, and helping talents and companies in the context of human resources management.
nPloy is a Sofia-based company with a young team of innovators in human resources and workforce management. Their career platform is a locally developed product that, unlike standard job boards, offers employers the opportunity to find and contact even passive job seekers, start a chat or video interview, and build and develop their employer brand by using various tools integrated into the platform. For job seekers, the platform is completely free and accessible via a mobile app. The product aims to meet all the needs of the increasing trend toward remote hiring. The nPloy database currently has over 450 companies registered and more than 75,000 applicants.
The hybrid event aims to bring together representatives of startup companies and municipal experts. Current funding opportunities and support instruments for startups to be presented. Projects for sustainable solutions to urban challenges developed by local startup companies will also be presented during the meeting. Watch “Investors, Startups, City Administration: Effective Collaboration” live on April 6, 2022, at 15:00 on the Facebook page of Invest Sofia. To join us online, please fill out the registration form here to receive your link for online access via Zoom.
At an official ceremony, the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI France-Bulgarie) announced the Innovation Awards 2022 winners. Award plaques were handed out in four categories: “Investment”, “Businessman”, “Businesswoman” and “Corporate Social Responsibility”. One finalist from each category entered the jury voting for the special award.
Here are the winners awarded for their dynamism, innovative approach, achievements and their corporate social and environmental responsibility:
The Innovation Awards by the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry aim to promote the most innovative projects developed in Bulgaria, and this year, for the first time, the competition was open to external companies, non-members of the Chamber. Companies from all sectors could apply, registered in Bulgaria for at least 18 months, with at least 5 employees.
The event took place on March 29 at the Grand Hotel Millennium Sofia. At the invitation of the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Chief Executive Officer of Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova attended the ceremony. CCI France-Bulgarie members, business representatives, and institutional partners also joined the event.
Among the official guests of the Innovation Awards 2022 were H.E. Mrs. Florence Robin, Ambassador of the Republic of France to Bulgaria, the Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer, the Minister of Education and Science Nikolay Denkov and the Minister of Labor and Social Policy Georgi Gokov.
Etem Gestamp announced an investment of over 60 million euros for the expansion of the production facilities, cutting edge technology and a fully automated internal logistic solution to its production unit in Sofia. The project will create over 130 new jobs for skilled personnel over the next 2 years. The start of series production is scheduled for early 2023. Invest Sofia is to issue a Green Card for administrative services to the company.
In Sofia, Etem Gestamp manufactures aluminum elements and profiles for the automotive industry and supplies products for major brands such as BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Audi, Porsche, VW and Daimler. The production unit of the Greek-Spanish group is situated in Iliyantsi Industrial Zone and started operating in 2019 as an investment of the joint company between Etem Bulgaria, part of the Greek Viohalco, and the Spanish Gestamp. The plant manufactures various profiles and parts for chassis, doors, safety and accident management systems, battery components and fasteners for electric vehicles and exports products to Europe, China and Mexico. Here, Etem Gestamp also has an R&D center that supports the company’s customers during the implementation of various product design projects.
Festo Production, the Bulgarian company of the German leader in the production of magnetic sensors Festo, also announced a new investment at its plant in Sofia. The company will invest BGN 20 million in expanding its base and will increase the number of its employees by 30%. Thus, the unit in our country will become the second largest center after the one in the company’s headquarters in Germany. In Sofia, Festo also has its own R&D center, which works with the German development department on joint production projects. Festo’s plant in Sofia manufactures over 1,300 types of products and is a world leader in the production of various types of sensors and accessories, as well as connector cables.
The London-based technology company Kin + Carta acquires the Bulgarian software developer Melon Group, the two companies announced in an official statement. The price of the deal is worth 17.7 million pounds (21.3 million euros) and may reach 23.5 million pounds (28.2 million euros) in the coming years.
Melon Group is a fast-growing software engineering company based in Sofia and with offices in North Macedonia and Kosovo. Its team consists of 300 web, mobile and data specialists. Melon Group’s portfolio includes medtech, fintech, banking, and human resources tech