The new edition of the international conference “Financial and investment support for SMEs – Sofia International Money Expo” (SIM EXPO 2022) started today in Millennium Hotel Sofia. At the organizers’ invitation, Invest Sofia is part of the event. Our Executive Director Dr. Maria Hristova will join today’s panel discussion on “Foreign direct investments – benefits for business and stimulus for the economy”. You can also find us in the expo area.
Experts from the Bulgarian Investment Agency, National Company Industrial Zones Bulgaria, the Ministry of Economy and Industry, the Ministry of Innovation and Growth, as well as trade attachés and representatives from the embassies of Austria, Turkey, Greece, and Romania will also participate in the discussion.
We would like to invite all our partners to join the Conference. Access is free, participants can register on-site at the Millennium Hotel in Sofia, where the conference is taking place.
SIM EXPO 2022 is organized by the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency together with the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Investment Council at the Chamber. Again, the forum aims to present current funding and investment opportunities. Participants will be able to make direct contact with potential partners.
At the exhibition area will be presented products and services of financial institutions, investment, and guarantee funds. We encourage SME founders to look for specific growth opportunities, tailored to their needs.
On September 26, 2022, the New European Innovation Agenda was presented in the “John Atanasov” hall of Sofia Tech Park. The Programme aims at further development of the European innovative ecosystem, new jobs in the EU, and support for startups.
The event was organised by the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency and the Bulgarian Innovation Forum Platform, which gathers investors, financial institutions, innovators, startup companies, scientists, policymakers, and civil organisations. At the invitation of the organizers, Viktor Gusev, head of the Investment Analysis Department at Invest Sofia, joined the event.
The New European Innovation Agenda was presented by the Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Maria Gabriel. Representatives of the European Commission and its structures also took part, as well as representatives of Bulgarian ministries, and local organizations such as the Bulgarian Innovation Forum, Junior Achievement Bulgaria, Health & Life Sciences cluster Bulgaria, Cleantech Bulgaria, etc., who presented opportunities for the Bulgarian entrepreneurs and startup companies for taking full advantage of the mechanisms of the Programme.
Until September 21, micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises can receive grants between BGN 180,000 and BGN 700,000 for new equipment and software under the open call “Technological modernization” under the Recovery and Sustainability Plan. The total budget of the invitation is BGN 260 million. The main objective of the procedure is to increase the efficiency of production processes, achieve higher productivity, reduce costs and optimize the production chain by providing grants to SMEs. Applications can be submitted through the UMIS 2020 postal here.
Until September 22, Bulgarian companies and organizations can apply for funding between BGN 70,000 and BGN 800,000 for new space technologies and applications. Project proposals ar accepted via the website of the European Space Agency (ESA) at: https://doing-business.sso.esa.int/.
The procedure is for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including startups, as well as research centres, for the creation of new space technologies, equipment or products suitable for ESA missions, market research, research and development activities, applications and training programmess for space engineering, etc. Partnership programmes between science and business will be encouraged, including organizing internships in real research or work environment.
The Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency, in partnership with the US Embassy in Sofia and the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, organizes the “EXPLORE USA” conference, dedicated to the opportunities for Bulgarian companies to start and expand their business in the USA. The event is free to attend and will take place on October 13 at the Millennium Sofia Grand Hotel. Details of the US market will be presented, recommendations for a business start, as well as the sectors in which companies have the greatest chance for successful expansion. Information will also be presented about the SelectUSA programme, which supports the entry of Bulgarian companies into the US market. To book your seat at the conference, only registration is required by October 7 via the link here.
Enterprise Europe Network at the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce invites enterprises, universities and research institutions from the healthcare sector to join the B2B meetings during the MEDICA Healthcare Brokerage Event 2022. The meetings will be held on-site during the exhibition – between 14-17 November 2022 in Düsseldorf, Germany, as well as online – until December 15, 2022. The event provides all participating organizations with an opportunity to establish international partnerships in product development, manufacturing, licensing agreements, distribution, research collaborations, joint ventures, investments,
Career Show 2022, the two-day leading career expo for qualified candidates is now on. The event started on-site yesterday at the Sofia Event Center. Today, the forum continues online with plenty of opportunities for the participants. Candidates can appoint meetings with over 100 of the largest employers in Bulgaria and watch the sessions from the conference programme focused on the latest career trends in Bulgaria, as well as new opportunities for professional development.
Invest Sofia is once again an institutional partner of the fair. At the invitation of the organizers, our CEO Dr. Maria Hristova joined the live opening. She was also part of the prestigious jury of the annual Career Show Awards 2022. Maria Hristova was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for “being a part of the expert team evaluating the best employers, their best practices, and innovative approach in the field of human resources in Bulgari.”. We are glad that the “Best Employer” award went to a Sofia-based company – the web hosting provider SiteGround.
The conference programme covers a wide range of topics such as communication and public speaking techniques, tips for your job interview, doe stepping out of the “comfort zone” is helping or hindering your career development, technologies in the sharing economy, what skills are needed in a fast-growing company, what are the most important social benefits for you as an employee, how to create a working team in a virtual or hybrid environment, how to build our personal and professional brand, the role of emotional intelligence, presentation techniques and many more.
You can still register for the Career Show 2022. Participation for candidates is free: https://careershow.bg/expo/
We are glad to share that today we had the chance to meet and talk with so many young talents and experts from innovative Bulgarian companies during Tuk-Tam Hive 2022. The event was held with parallel conference programs on two different stages and in nine thematic areas in Inter Expo Center Sofia.
Our team was part of the Buzz Hive zone for B2B networking, where we met many partners, with whom we talked about business, talent pool, and career opportunities in Sofia and Bulgaria. Trade and industry associations and chambers we also part of the Buzz Hive – our partners from the British-Bulgarian Business Association – BBBA, the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria – AmCham, Confindustria Bulgaria, the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry – CCI France Bulgarie, the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce – AHK Bulgarien, the Bulgarian Fintech Association and the Association for Production, Storage and Trading of Electricity – APSTE.
Hive 2022 brought together over 50 international speakers and more than 100 companies who presented their achievements, and sought new ideas and experts for their teams. Hive 2022 was livestreamed to encompass entrepreneurs, experts, and students outside Bulgaria.
We would like to express our gratitude to the organizers from Tuk-Tam for the opportunity to join the forum. We are glad that once again Invest Sofia partnered one of the most significant events in Sofia and the country, which gathers and gives the stage to motivated and proactive people who make Bulgaria a better place.
Sofia Became the Capital of Bulgaria with a Population of 11,694 Inhabitants – Less than the Number of Newborns in the City in the Last Year
Sofia is a city with 7000 years of history and is among the European cities with the most ancient past. To this day, excavations reveal tools of the Neolithic and ancient remains from the Stone and Bronze Ages.
It is believed that the abundance of warm mineral springs attracted the first settlers to these places. There are still eight types of hydrothermal deposits in Sofia Valley with 49 mineral springs of great depth, which protects their waters from pollution.
The earliest name of the city mentioned in historical sources is Serdonpolis. The name Sofia began to appear in historical archives a lot later – in the 14th century.
The oldest preserved building is in the very heart of the city – St. George Rotunda, built in the early 4th century.
became the capital of the autonomous Principality of Bulgaria in 1879, at the suggestion of Prof. Marin Drinov, co-founder of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
The decision was made because of the following advantages of the city: the geographic location between Northern and Southern Bulgaria, the vast valley that would allow the expansion of the town, and its location on the most important road of the Balkan Peninsula connecting Europe and Asia. Today, three trans-European transport corridors run through Sofia.
According to the first census conducted in Sofia in 1880, the city became the capital of Bulgaria with 11,694 inhabitants, 3,306 houses, and 2 schools.
To date, 1,276,909 people live in the city, the number of public secondary schools is 1,948, another 96 are private, and there are 16 universities. For the last year, Sofia has become the hometown of nearly 13,000 newborns – more than the city’s population at the first census as a capital.
The Coat of Arms of Sofia was created for the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900. The motto was added 11 years later and was originally “Ever Growing, Never Aging”. Later the word “but” was added to avoid the number of letters in the inscription being thirteen.
Part of the coat of arms is the image of a lion – the guardian of the city. There are a total of nine lion monuments in various places across the city
In the first half of 2022, the market for class A, B, and C offices in Sofia will reaches 2,603 million sq.m. and registered a growth of 2%. The volume of projects under construction has maintained its level since the end of 2021 – 254,400 sq.m. Buildings under construction have been completed, but the launch of new ones has been postponed due to rising inflation and increased prices of construction materials, Colliers’ analysis for H1 2022 shows.
Demand continues to grow – a trend that started in Q3 of 2021. Thus, the net take-up reaches 45,910 sq.m. with the largest share of transactions coming from relocations – 38% and contract renewals – 34%. A small share of the transactions is due to expansions or new entries.
Again, the most active sectors are IT and outsourcing – 44%, followed by professional services – 29% and pharmaceutical products – 13%. Rental levels remain stable at €14 per sq m for Class A in the city center, €12.5 per sq m broad center and €12 per sq m for the suburb areas of the city. An average increase of 10-15% in service charges has been registered, mainly due to higher electricity prices and safety measures related to the pandemic.
The industrial and logistics market has maintained its activity levels since the end of 2021. Demand has been driven mainly by retailers and wholesalers (69%), followed by logistics operators (23%), professional services companies (3%), pharmaceuticals (3%) and manufacturing (1%). A slight increase in supply, along with steady demand levels, has seen vacancies fall by 2% to 6%. Rental rates remain unchanged. For class A warehouses, with a good location and established infrastructure, they are between 4.7 – 5.2 euros per sq.m. Class B areas cost an average of 2.7 euros per square meter per month.
Colliers’ forecast in the retail space segment is for continued investor interest in the second half of the year for retailers with a primary focus on retail parks. New discounters are expected to enter the market. Potential development is expected in the North/ West direction of the capital and around the main roads connected with Hemus and Trakia highways. Colliers is monitoring whether inflation and lower purchasing power will affect the sector.
The analysis of the segment shows a 10-12% increase in vacancies on “Vitosha” Blvd., mainly due to the closing of sites in the food and beverage
The average salary in Sofia (city) and Sofia (region) is the highest compared to the national average – BGN 2,373 and BGN 1,645, respectively, according to the preliminary data of the National Statistical Institute. The analyses show that the employed in the capital receive 37% higher income than the rest of the country (BGN 1,710 / BGN 1,327 net). On an annual basis, the average salary increase in Sofia is 14.6% (compared to 13.6% on average for Bulgaria).
The economic activities with the highest average monthly remuneration of employed persons in the second quarter of 2022 are (national data):
– “Creation and distribution of information and creative products; telecommunications” – BGN 4,216;
– “Financial and insurance activities” – BGN 2,739;;
– “Mining industry” – BGN 2,544
The lowest paid are those employed in “Accommodation, hospitality and catering”, “Other activities” and “Water supply; sewerage services, waste management.
Apart from the fact that the labour market in Sofia offers the highest remuneration levels, the city also remains a preferred place for internal migration of the working age population. The city concentrates ¼ of the employed in Bulgaria or just over 22% of all employed. The statistics of the National Statistical Institute for Q2 of 2022 report some 704,000 working people aged 15 and over. Together with the Sofia region, the number of employed people reaches 26% or 814,300 people.
The Professional Association of Robotics and Automation (PARA) has published its annual report “Bulgarian Success Stories in Robotics and Automation” dedicated to the achievements in the sector. The fourth edition contains data from 2021 and features good practices from companies and organizations specified in four groups – startups, industrial automation, service robotics, and education. The document also includes a mapping of the key stakeholders in the ecosystem – companies /with Bulgarian ownership and multinationals/, universities and educational centers, integrators, R&D centers, as well as government, industry, media, and tech supporters.
In the mapping, 100% of the included robotics and automation multinational companies have their headquarters in Sofia, as well as over 75% of the Bulgarian companies. All R&D centers listed in the mapping are also in Sofia. These are the Institute for Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Technology (INSAIT), the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia Tech Park and the co-innovation hub Resonator. Sofia-based companies such as FESTO, OCADO Technology, Schneider Electric, Zuhlke Engineering, Gimatic, ABB, FANUC Bulgaria, SPESIMA, Giga Automata, Allterco Robotics, Kimex, Neurorehabilitation Robotics, Amygda Labs, ZekEng, Ondo, Technology Valley, IRise Mechanics, Biodit has been featured among the main players in the ecosystem.
This year’s edition also includes an overview of the activities of Innovative Sofia – the digitalization and innovation department of Sofia Municipality. The document features some of the initiatives led by the department that aim at consolidating and guiding all of the city’s digital and smart city projects and supporting high-tech and R&D companies in the city, the Sandbox for innovative solutions and the partnership in the GATE’s project for the first of its kind for Bulgaria city digital twin, being among them.
According to the report, there is a new trend among enterprises regarding the most desired activity to automate. While in previous releases, it was production, last year, the attitudes have changed and more than half of the surveyed enterprises (58%) stated data collection and processing as the activity they most want to automate. This, according to PARA, shows that in the Bulgarian industry there is an increased deployment of infrastructure that generates more and more data.
Companies’ reasons for introducing automated processes are also changing. Until now, it has been an “increase in production capacity”, but currently there is a new predominant motive – “cost optimization” (58%), followed by process integration (54%), improved quality (50%), increase in production capacity (42%) and shortage of
ARICOMA Group, part of the Czech holding KKCG, acquired 100% of the Bulgarian IT company Musala Soft. The value of the deal remains undisclosed. The Bulgarian management team will stay on board in the long term. Founded in 2020 in Sofia, Musala Soft builds next-generation software products and enterprise solutions for local and international clients. The company is provider of high-end software engineering services in AI, Big Data, IoT, Analytics, Cloud, and Integration. Musala Soft covers all elements of the software life cycle for clients in IT, Telecom, Finance and Automotive. The company has a team of 750 employees and, apart from the office in Sofia, it also has offices in Burgas, Ruse and Skopje, as well as local partners in Egypt, Albania and Kosovo. With the acquisition of the company, ARICOMA Group becomes a family of 10 technology companies and a leading supplier in the development of software solutions from South-Eastern Europe with a consolidated turnover exceeding EUR 400 million, and more than 4000 professionals. The group partners with more than 1,000 clients in a total of 15 markets from its 8 Europe-based delivery centers and provides end-to-end digital transformation solutions, including UX design and consulting, software development, IT infrastructure, IT operations management, cloud services, and security.
The smart career platform nPloy raised an investment of over BGN 3.8 million. The main investor is the Morningside Hil venture capital fund. In this first round for the Sofia-based startup, funding was also attracted from Blue Ocean Ventures, Digimark Ventures and GAP Investments. The investment will help nPloy enter new markets in Central and Eastern Europe. By the end of next year, the company plans to launch operations in 10 countries in the region. Currently, the platform is active in Bulgaria and Romania.
The nPloy 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. In April, Invest Sofia signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the company for joint activities in the development of the labour market in Sofia, overcoming the shortage of staff, and helping talents and companies in the context of human resources management.
The Foody.to platform
The first edition of the International Conference under the Spinoff Bulgaria Initiative is to be held between September 1-2, 2022 in the Burgas International Congress Center. Invest Sofia is a partner of the event and we will join the forum with the participation of Victor Gusev, Head of the Investment Analysis Department in the ‘The Governmental Perspective – Governmental support for spinoff creation’ panel.
The conference is the first of its kind in our country and aims to create and implement a sustainable spin-off ecosystem and culture, which by 2030 will create 100 new technological startups originating from science universities or existing corporations. By definition, a spinoff is a newly created company with high added value, which arises from an already existing organisation (university, SME, corporation). A spinoff has a new strategic goal, stimulates research and development, the adoption of innovations, and attracts investment for them.
The forum will focus on the New European Innovation Strategy and how it can be implemented best in the future Bulgarian innovation strategy, as well as on topics related to academic technology transfer and corporate spin-off programs, early-stage investment and innovation, and access to the ecosystem. During the conference will be presented international spinoffs and best practices from Bulgarian. All attendees at the event will have the opportunity to expand their network, connect with international partners and start cooperation initiatives with universities and representatives of the existing scientific infrastructure.
The Spinoff Bulgaria conference is free to attend and suitable for IT and tech companies, R&D centers, NGOs, clusters, government structures, and associations, as well as for companies and academic units that develop innovations. The initiative is created by Biotechnology and Health Cluster Bulgaria, Cluster Artificial Intelligence and Venrize with the support of BRAIT (Bulgarian Employer Association for Innovative Technologies) and general partner BSMEPA – Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises.Save the date and book your presence by August 26, 2022 (Friday) on the event webpage here: https://b2bconnect.bg/bg/events/view/142
The Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA) invites Bulgarian SMEs on a Trade Mission during the international startup event Slush. The forum will take place from 16 to 19 November 2022 in Helsinki, Finland. Slush is an annual startup and tech forum that brings together entrepreneurs and investors from around the world.
Startups from all sectors of the economy can register for participation until August 16. The economic activity of the companies should fall into one of the groups specified in the National Strategy for the Promotion of SMEs – 2014-2020, Annex No. 10. BSMEPA will partially cover expenses for transport and transfers, accommodation for one representative from a company, hall rentals for bilateral meetings, technical equipment; translation services, entrance fees to networking events, and other related expenses. Participating companies should bear a percentage of the costs. For more details please visit BSMEPA’s website here: https://b2bconnect.bg/bg/events/view/129
BSMEPA, together with the US Embassy and the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria invite Bulgarian companies to join the international conference “EXPLORE USA”. The forum is dedicated to the opportunities for Bulgarian companies ready to start and expand their business in the USA. The event will be held on October 13, at the Millennium Sofia Grand Hotel. Details of the US market will be presented, as well as guidance on how to establish a business in the country. The Agenda also includes practical sessions, as well as information about the SelectUSA project, which aims to support Bulgarian companies that want to develop activities in the USA. Participation is free and upon registration by October 7.
No later than August 18, companies can submit project proposals in the 13th session of the National Innovation Fund. Applications should be in the following four areas: Informatics and ICT; Mechatronics and clean technologies; Healthy living and biotechnology industry; New technologies in the creative and leisure industries. The intended maximum value of the grant per project is up to BGN 500,000. You will find more details here.
Companies, universities, and research centers in the field of healthcare can join the bilateral business meetings during the MEDICA Healthcare Brokerage Event 2022, which this year will take place between 14-17 November 2022 in Düsseldorf, Germany, as well as online to December 15. The event is suitable for organizations seeking international partners for product development, manufacturing and licensing agreements, distribution, R&D collaboration, investment, or other