Sofia and Bucharest are the most significant knowledge economy centers and together concentrate more than 44% of all outsourced operations in South Eastern Europe (SEE). Data is from the latest SEE Sourcing Industry 2022 report by the Association for Innovation, Business Services and Technology – AIBEST. A total of 598 companies operate with headquarter offices in Sofia (as of 2020), and another 42 sourcing vendors use the city as a secondary location. The outsourcing market in our country is close to 3.44 billion euros and the sector generates 5.6% of GDP= The number of people employed continues to grow and is now close to 79,000. The top foreign investor in outsourcing in our country is the United Kingdom.
Sofia, along with Bucharest, is the home to the major sourcing cities in terms of employees and suitable talent pool. The two capitals are undoubtedly recognized as the two most developed locations for technology and business services in the region. Due to their advanced stage of market development, Romania and Bulgaria are already seeing growth outside their capitals. In our country, cities with more and more companies in the outsourced services sector are Plovdiv and Varna. Sofia is also mentioned in the report as the location with competitive prices for Class A offices and the most favorable tax environment.
The annual survey covers a total of 2,015 companies from all 11 countries in the region. Outsourced service providers contributed a total of 137 million euros in corporate taxes to their countries’ budgets. The operating revenue in 2020 is EUR 10.7 billion, which is an increase of 4.9% on an annual basis. The ITO segment has a larger annual turnover – 5.7 billion euros, while BPO registered operating revenues of 5.0 billion euros. With the fastest growth rate of 6.8% in SEE is the ITO segment.
According to the overall findings, the leading segment is ITO with 1,182 companies across the region, while BPO consists of 833 companies. Shared service centers are the fastest growing sub-segment, accounting for one in four providers that have launched operations in the region since 2018. In SEE, the industry employs 250,000 people.
Nearly a third of all active sourcing providers were set up in the most dynamic period 2012-2016 alone. The trend continued afterward with 92 newly created sourcing companies since 2019. More than two-thirds of them are either Bulgarian or Romanian.
The largest number of investors
The first open call under the AMULET (Advanced Material and Manufacturing Technologies United for Lightweight) project with funding of nearly 1.3 million euros from the H2020-InnoSUP-1 programme is open for applications until July 20. The project aims to support new value chains through projects that will promote the introduction of advanced lightweight materials in four sectors: Automotive, Aerospace and aeronautics, Energy, and Building. Projects are accepted from micro-consortium of minimum 2 and maximum 3 legal entities including exclusively SMEs. The proposed solutions must be related to one of the challenges pre-defined by AMULET. Up to 36 projects will be shortlisted and invited to Jury Day to pitch their solutions. Of these, up to 26 projects will join the next stages of the programme and will receive support services until up to 7 projects complete the full program. For more information, see the website here: https://amulet-h2020.fundingbox.com/. You can also ask for assistance from the experts of EEN – Bulgaria here.
The Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of the European Commission, together with the EISMEA – European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, and the European Alliance DIGITAL SME, will create a catalog featuring innovative digital solutions of leading European enterprises and their use cases of software systems for a more sustainable industry. The initiative aims to highlight digital solutions and business models with high impact in the area of reducing dependence on oil, gas and imported raw materials, as well as increasing the resilience of global supply chains. The target group of the project are startups and SMEs that have developed innovative digital solutions in a relevant field. EU enterprises can propose their solutions for inclusion in the catalog. A special jury will select the solutions with the greatest impact, among all those proposed and included in the digital catalog, and companies will have the opportunity to present them within two seminars, as well as receive personalized consulting assistance from experts based on the specific needs of each enterprise. The application deadline is August 31. More information is available here.
Until August 14, Bulgarian startups with a ready-made innovative product or service can apply the “Drazkite” initiative by Bloomberg TV Bulgaria. The products and services must demonstrate potential for market growth and positive impact on society and the environment. The most promising 21 companies, voted by mentors and a special jury, will participate
Four Sofia-based companies and one Bulgarian VC fund are included in the report summarizing VC Funding in CEE in 1Q 2022 by the online matchmaking platform Vestbee. The companies are SPARK Bulgaria, SessionStack, Cloudcart, and the first Bulgarian unicorn Payhawk= Among the most active VC funds is featured the fund manager of the Fund of Funds – Vitosha Venture Partners.
According to Vestbee, the biggest matchmaking platform for startups and scaleups in CEE, a total of 233 funding rounds were completed in the region from January to March this year, with Payhawk’s €89 million Series B in the Top 5 of the biggest deals. The total investment amount reaches over €1.6 billion compared to €1 billion in Q4 2021. Bulgaria ranks fourth in terms of investment volume after Estonia, Poland and the Czech Republic, and in fourth place in terms of investment deals – a total of 13 within the Top 50 investments for the period under review.
The most appreciated industries for the investors were Ecommerce, Fintech, Analytics, AI, SaaS, Advertising, and Big Data.
The Bulgarian companies featured in the report
SPARK Bulgaria is a car rental agency that provides electric car-sharing services. It has received a €30 million investment from Luxembourg-based investment group GEM Global Emerging Markets. SPARK is a Lithuanian-Bulgarian company and has operations in Romania as well.
The SessionStack product is used by developers, product managers, customer service experts and UX designers and helps them find and fix problems with their product or service in less time. It allows companies with web applications to get a detailed idea of the user path, possible product quality improvements, user experience and more. At the beginning of the year, the company received an investment of 750K euros from BrightCap Ventures and angel investment.
Cloudcart launched in Sofia in 2016 to develop its All-in-One SaaS eCommerce platform to create and launch an online store in no time. Last year, the company entered the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 ranking of the fastest growing technology businesses in CEE and was awarded in the Impact Stars category for successful products and services with a positive impact on society, business, innovation and the environment. Earlier this year, Cloudcart raised funds in an investment round led by Elevator Ventures, the venture capital division of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI), with the participation of the existing investor in the company – NV3.
The first Bulgarian unicorn Payhawk
Until July 29, companies can submit their applications for the Best Employer Career Show Awards 2022. The organisations can choose from over 70 categories distinguishing the employer brand and successful processes in companies. Invest Sofia will once again participate in the evaluation of applications. For another year, our executive director, Dr. Maria Hristova, is part of the jury.
The fourth edition of the awards once again will highlight the best examples of employers’ care for their talents, a good working environment, and labour market development. This year, the Career Show Awards has expanded the number of categories, paying attention to more details in the organisation of the work process. Among the new categories are “Fastest developing company”, “New product development”, “Innovations in the working environment” and others. With a brand new group of categories “Management and Teams”, the organisers will focus on individuals who have personally contributed to the success of the company.
The applications to be evaluated by a prestigious jury – a team of proven professionals in various fields, and outstanding public figures known for their work and visionary thinking.
“Career Show Awards have established as a leading initiative in the field of employer branding and employee care in our country. The trust we have built in the companies is due to the transparency and attention to every detail in the internal life of the companies. We value their work and give them a platform to share more about their success and development. That is the reason for the growing trust the Career Show Awards gain.
The most successful strategies for creating a good working atmosphere not only strengthen the image of the company but also serve as an inspiration and establish new trends,” Simona Harizanova, co-founder of Career Show says.
After the announcement of the winners, all applications and evaluations of the jury become publicly available, which guarantees the transparency of the competition.
Registrations are accepted no later than July 29 on the website here: careershow.bg/awards
The U.S.-based company GlobalFoundries announced the expansion of its team in Sofia. The company is one of the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers in the world and operates in Bulgaria through its subsidiary “GlobalFoundris Bulgaria”. It employs about 250 developers who participate in the creation of all state-of-the-art technological processes of the company and the creation of the so-called integrated circuit design – the structural descriptions needed for the design and then for the production of the chips. GlobalFoundris delivers to mobile and portable devices manufacturers, consumer and industrial electronics producers, as well as companies from the automotive and aerospace industries, fintech, and others. The development center in Sofia is starting to expand with more experts in the field of microelectronics, physics and programming with a plan to hire a total of 100 new specialists within two years.
The Sofia-based company “Digital Condominium” and its platform “Entrance-Expert” raised 25 thousand euros of funding from Innovation Starter Accelerator. The platform has been launched in less than a year, but already serves its first clients – house managers and real-property owners. The company plans to develop a mobile app and add new services and functionalities for the users of the platform.
Sofia’s CloudCart grabbed the award for best startup of the year in the most influential technology event for young companies in Central and Eastern Europe – Rodim DH. Recently, the company entered the Top 50 CEE Funding Rounds Closed in 1Q 2022 list because of the capital attracted by Elevator Ventures and NV3 Fund, which in 2020 invested in the e-stores building platform nearly BGN 1 million. CloudCart was founded in 2016 and today has offices in Sofia and Beverly Hills, California, USA. The platform aims to provide the easiest-to-use e-commerce software, with a rich set of integrated marketing tools for more sales even to sellers with no previous experience in e-commerce.
Five companies became part of the spring cohort of the accelerator programme for entering the US market organsied by the Bulgarian Innovation Hub (BIH). Four of them are Bulgarian companies from Sofia. These are Humans in the Loop – the social startup for hiring and training people from conflict-affected regions and communities, the data storage company StorPool, the e-sports platform Augment.gg and Rush – the software for tracking shipments. The BIH accelerator provides companies with expert advice, know-how and resources for global expansion and access to investors. The
Yet another company is now part of the Sofia IS initiative launched by Invest Sofia to provide integrated free of charge services to investors in the city. This is the commercial real estate brokerage company Trinity Real Estate. The company joined the network of Sofia IS under a Memorandum of Cooperation signed at an official meeting.
Accоrding to the Agreement, Invest Sofia and Trinity Real Estate will assist each other in business meetings and initiatives in the field of real estate investment activities and will encourage the exchange of expertise and contacts that will help joint activities in investor inquiries concerning market information in the segments of office, industrial and retail segments in Sofia and Bulgaria.
Trinity Real Estate is a Bulgarian brokerage company specialising in business real estate transactions. The team provides fast and high-quality professional services to its customers by applying latest software solutions, in-depth knowledge and excellent sales and negotiation skills. The company covers transactions in the office, retail, industrial space and land market.
Invest Sofia took part in an expert discussion during a workshop that is part of the international project “RRI-LEADERS: Leveraging Leadership for Responsible Research and Innovation in Territories”, funded under the Horizon 2020 Programme. The discussion was hosted under the so-called world café methodology and was organized by the Sofia Development Association and the Applied Research and Communications Fund (ARC Fund) – Bulgaria – the local coordinators of the project. At the invitation of the organizers, Viktor Gusev, Head of the Investment Analysis Department at Invest Sofia, joined the discussions.
RRI-LEADERS represents a partnership of 9 organisations, of which five are methodological partners and four are territorial partners, collectively coming from 5 countries – Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Spain (Catalonia) and Switzerland. It examines the applicability of the principles of Responsible research and innovation in the territorial governance of four European territories – Western Macedonia in Greece, the Sofia Municipality in Bulgaria, the Municipality of Talville in Switzerland and the Municipality of Sabadell in Spain.
During the meeting, the results of a 3-month Delphi survey among over 40 experts – representatives of local authorities, academia, business, NGOs, in four areas were presented: Support for Innovation, Digital Transition, Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship, and Sustainable Urban Development. Over 190 individual responses were collected in the study and were summarized according to several criteria.
The purpose of the world café expert discussion was to gather different opinions on the assessed statements and practices related to the development of long-term policies in the Sofia Municipality and the integration of the principles of responsible research and innovation (RRI) paradigm within territorial innovation systems. In the conversation, the participants gave their ideas on which priorities and measures should be included in the transformative vision of the four policies for the long-term development of the Sofia Municipality in the next ten years. Stay tuned for more news about the project.
According to BNB preliminary data, the foreign direct investment net flows in Bulgaria recorded a positive value of EUR 653.2 million in January – April 2022, growing by EUR 456.5 million or 232% compared to the same period in 2021, when they amounted to 196.8 million euros.
The most significant net direct investment inflows in Bulgaria were from the Netherlands (EUR 485.8 million), Belgium (EUR 163.1 million), and Austria (EUR 120.9 million), whereas the largest net outflows were to Luxembourg (EUR 58.6 million) and Germany (EUR 56.2 million).
Values include Debt instruments as well as Equity and reinvestment of earnings. The net inflow of foreign investments in real estate decreased by EUR 5.3 million, as the inflow was negative by EUR 0.3 million in January-April 2021.
Detailed data from BNB is available here.
In Sofia, several large investment projects have been implemented since the beginning of the year. The leading manufacturer in the field of aluminum extrusion Etem Gestamp Aluminum Extrusions AD has announced a new investment of 60 million euros in cutting-edge technology and a fully automated internal logistic solution for its production unit in Sofia. The expansion of the company’s capacity in Sofia will create 130 new jobs. The French cybersecurity company Athos IT Solutions and Services EOOD has opened a new global operational security center for over 300 new employees.
Both companies have been provided a green card for administrative services from Invest Sofia. Since the beginning of the year, Invest Sofia has presented seven Green cards to investors currently implementing new projects on the territory of Sofia Municipality. The total amount of planned investments is 125 million euros, which will bring the city about 500 new jobs.
The green card gives companies a fast track for administrative services and the right to receive upon request assistance for administrative services, mediation in case of legal or regulatory issues, networking with partners, provision of specific sector data and/or analysis, and more.
Apart from Etem Gestamp Aluminum Extrusions AD and Athos IT Solutions and Services EOOD, green cards were also provided to the metallurgical company Sofia Med AD, the pharmaceutical company Teva Pharma EAD, the startup company Elka.bg, the engineering company Key Bio Industry Bulgaria Ltd, which will build the high-tech industrial park “Hemus” in “Kremikovtzi”, and the startup company Dexicon Ltd., which offer fully integrated digitalization solutions to help small and medium-sized businesses.
The Collision Conference, Toronto’s largest international technology event and the fastest-growing technology forum in North America, was held from June 20 to June 23. Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia, and Viktor Gоussev, Head of the Investment Analysis Department took part in the event.
Collision is part of a series of technology conferences that include the Web Summit in Europe and RISE in Hong Kong. After being hosted online twice during the pandemic, Collision’22 now gathered more than 35,000 visitors, more than 900 speakers, 1,500 start-ups, 1,200 journalists and 850 investors from 140 countries. Further, more than 120 trade delegations participated to explore business opportunities with international partners.
For the Canadian city, the event was an opportunity to engage the local business community with potential foreign partners and investors, as well as a stage for promoting international trade. Toronto is the city with the fastest-growing technology ecosystem in North America. Before the pandemic, as the third-largest tech center in North America, the Toronto region concentrated the highest number of technology companies in Canada. The sector employs over 400,000 people in 18,000 technology companies, representing 15% of all jobs. Based on its rapid growth, the city expects more technology jobs than Silicon Valley within two years.
During the networking sessions, Dr. Maria Hristova and Viktor Gusev talked to a number of entrepreneurs, investors, academia representatives, start-ups, and business leaders. They had the opportunity to present the activities of Invest Sofia and the business environment in Sofia, thus setting the stage for new potential contacts for investment in the city and for business partnerships between the local ecosystem and companies and organizations from around the world.
Sofia became Southeast Europe’s Smart City of the year at the ceremony of SEE INNOVATION, TECHNOLOGY AND SOURCING SUMMIT – the biggest tech event in the region. Sofia Deputy Mayor for Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development Gencho Kerezov accepted the award on behalf of Sofia Municipality. The forum, organized by the Association for Innovation, Business Excellence, Services and Technology (AIBEST), the Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO), the Ministry of E-Government and Sofia Municipality in partnership with Invest Sofia, was held in early June and aimed to support the development of the business ecosystem in Southeast Europe and to position the region as a leading destination for high value-added services in the world. Business leaders of leading technology companies and startups in Bulgaria and Southeast Europe attended the event, and discussed trends and forecasts for the development of the business services industry and the technology sector. The necessary transformations that need to take place in the region for the knowledge economy in Southeast Europe to grow at an even faster pace and to be a competitive player on the world map were also set.
Sofia University climbed 30 places and ranked among 40% of the best universities in the world ranking of universities QS World University Rankings for 2023, the academic institution stated. The university ranks 561-570 among 1 422 admitted institutions out of 2 462 applications. The evaluation is based on eight criteria: academic reputation, reputation among employers, students and faculty ratio, number of citations per faculty, number of foreign students, number of foreign lecturers, professional fulfillment of graduates, and participation of the institution in international research networks. According to the ranking, the highest success of Sofia University is the professional fulfillment of graduates indicator. Alma Mater is the only Bulgarian university that finds a place in the rankings.
Sofia residents will be able to watch Bulgarian and international short films for free in several places in Sofia during the summer season. The screenings are provided by the team of Kinematograf.bg, and the programme includes both classic and unscreened titles. The screenings are free and will be broadcast at the following locations: Studentski Park, the parks in Mladost 2, 3 and 4, North Park, Goethe Institute, and the yard of 127 SU. The programme is published on the website kinematograf.bg/programa, where you can also register for notifications of changed dates in case of inappropriate weather conditions.
Last year, the
The Silicon Valley-based company with Bulgarian roots Leanplum is now part of the global leader in cloud marketing solutions for customer engagement CleverTap. Lеnрlum is a fast-growing technology company and a leader in mobile marketing, co-founded in 2012 in San Francisco by Momchil Kupkachiev. The company has offices in Sofia, San Francisco, Amsterdam and Singapore. In Sofia, one of the main R&D centers of the company is situated, with an expert team of local engineers and product specialists. The team in Sofia resolves product-related issues to help hundreds of millions of users who generate petabytes of data.
The value of the acquisition remains undisclosed. The deal is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of 2022. The new partnership plays a key role in the technology ecosystem in Bulgaria as CleverTap plans to make the Sofia office one of the company’s main international hubs together with the office in Mumbai. The number of employees in Bulgaria is expected to increase 20% by the end of the year. An interesting fact for Leanplum is that every fifth team member has returned to Bulgaria from abroad to become part of the company. CleverTap will continue its mission to create world-class jobs for engineers in Sofia and attract talent from across the region.
The merger will create a global company with more than 600 employees and customer-oriented technology teams in North America, Europe, Latin America, India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. The two organizations will combine their product portfolios and their customers will exceed 1,200 in over 100 countries across the world.
At a meeting initiated by the Sofia Development Association, the team of Invest Sofia presented the policies for the integration of citizens with temporary protection and funding opportunities for entrepreneur projects at the national and municipal levels. The meeting eas held during a visit by representatives of the network of major European cities EUROCITIES. The main topic was the integration of Ukrainians who fled their homes and live in Bulgaria, as well as the support that Invest Sofia and the Sofia Municipality provide to those who are looking for a job.
During the meeting, we presented our platform Jobs in Sofia, created to help Ukrainian refugees who are already establishing their daily lives in our country and need employment support. is available in Ukrainian, Russian, English, and Bulgarian, and vacancy announcements have already been listed by Sofia-based companies. The platform is open to companies that want to list their open positions, as well as to job seekers. Users can easily create a personal profile and professional resume by listing their education level, skills, previous professional experience, and language skills. Users are allowed to attach a CV, certificates and diplomas, video presentations, etc.