Tomorrow, June 3, 2022, the biggest forum for innovation and technology in Southeast Europe will take place in Sofia. The SEE Innovation, Technology and Sourcing Summit is organised by the Association for innovation, business excellence, services and technology (AIBEST) and the Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO). Invest Sofia is co-organiser and institutional partner together with Sofia Municipality.
Our team will join the discussions on the virtual workforce and digital workers, the future of technology and services, the correlations in the ecosystem Talent + Education + Technology shift, and how to build the tech brand of the region. Deputy Mayor for Digitalization Gencho Kerezov will take part in the event to present the city’s ecosystems and how the city administration helps the testing process and the implementation of innovative urban solutions. During the event, the annual international Innovation, Technology and Sourcing Awards ceremony will be held. The awards will highlight the best-performing tech and business service companies, startups, and institutions that contribute to the development of the knowledge economy in the SEE region.
We believe that the initiators of the event AIBEST and BESCO, as well as Invest Sofia as co-organizer of the summit, will take another step forward toward our common goal to strengthen the development of the business ecosystem in Southeast Europe and position our country and the region as a top destination for high added-value services. Check out the Agenda and follow our website and social media profiles for highlights and minutes from the event.
The Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency (Invest Sofia) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the HR management company Indavor Ltd. The Agreement was signed by Viktor Gousev – Head of the Investment Analysis Department at Invest Sofia and Georgi Kolev, Manager at Indavor.
Under the agreed partnership, the company is now part of the partner network of the Sofia IS initiative launched by Invest Sofia – the first of its kind city programme in Bulgaria for partnership between the city administration and local companies operating in Sofia to provide full-scope services to new investors in the city.
Upon investor inquiries, our organizations will cooperate with initial consultations in areas such as organisational development of health and life sciences entities in Bulgaria, human capital management within the local biotech ecosystem, the state of the available pool of talents and strategies for attracting experts within the healthcare industry, growth opportunities in the Bulgarian life sciences sector, etc.
In this regard, and with a view to expanding the opportunities for more extensive and in-depth information, analysis, and reports in response to investment requests addressed to Invest Sofia, the cooperation between the two Parties will contribute to promoting the exchange of expertise and business contacts in support of our daily activities and helping our organisations to achieve our common goals. Invest Sofia and Indavor Ltd. will be able to regularly exchange information, publications, and materials on common topics of cooperation, as well as to prepare and promote economic data, statistics, and best practices using their established network contacts with investors, entrepreneurs, and various stakeholder supporting the ecosystem.
The Mayor of Sofia Fandakova, Viktor Gоusev, and Lachezar Borisov from Invest Sofia visited the production base of Etem Gestamp Aluminum Extrusions AD in the Iliyantsi Industrial Area. The visit was held at the invitation of the management of the Greek-Spanish company, which was among the first to receive a Green Card from Invest Sofia. The new initiative of Sofia Municipality in support of investors in the city provides a “fast track” to tailored administrative services and consultations to investors during the implementation of their projects.
Etem Gestamp provides parts for leading car manufacturers and automotive equipment suppliers, including BMW, Audi, Daimler, Porsche, and VW. In Sofia, the company also has an R&D center that works on product design together with the company’s customers. The CEO of the company Emmanouil Fountoukis and his team presented the production operations and the planned expansion of the company in Sofia. Etem Gestamp plans to introduce new green technologies and fully automated logistics solutions to its manufacturing unit. The new investment of 60 M euros in Sofia comes after Etem Gestamp signed two of the biggest projects in its history. At the end of 2022, the company plans to launch the mass production of battery boxes for Porsche and the Jaguar Land Rover Group.
First working meeting between representatives of the municipal and state administrations, financial institutions, and businesses was held today to mark the beginning of the creation of a step-by-step guide for entrepreneurs in Sofia.
Deputy Mayor for Digitalization, Innovation, and Economic Development Gencho Kerezov and the Head of the Investment Analysis Department at Invest Sofia Viktor Gоusev hosted the event. Representatives of the Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB), the Fund of Funds, the Bulgarian Venture Capital Association (BVCA), the BESCO – The Bulgarian Startup Association, and the Capital Investment Fund at BDB, attended the meeting.
The project aims to the development of a comprehensive and accessible tool for all entrepreneurs who start a new business in Sofia or Bulgaria. The Compass will feature all the opportunities for support that municipal, state, financial, and business organizations currently offer to entrepreneurs in Bulgaria, including open projects under national or European programs.
During the meeting, future partners of the initiative have been identified. They will be invited to join our upcoming working meetings – institutions, business associations, chambers, commercial banks, media. The kick-off of the Compass for Entrepreneurship project today is in response to commitments made during the “DIGITAL SOFIA – SMART CITY” Conference, organized by Sofia Municipality, Invest Sofia, and the Communications Regulation Commission.
Invest Sofia joined the event ‘Business Leaders Talks’ – part of the first of its kind in the country initiative ‘Professions Week’, organised by the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Sofia University. The event aims to present the specifics of different professions through the eyes of long-term experts in their respective fields. Our Head of the Investment Analysis Department Viktor Gоusev presented the activities of Invest Sofia. He also presented his career development and answered questions related to the mission of the Agency and our initiatives in support of local and foreign investors and startups in the city.
With Decision № 289 /21.04.2022 (announced on April 28,.2022) the Sofia Municipal Council approved the project proposals eligible to participate and receive funding under the second edition of the Accelerator Startup Sofia Programme. The Decision follows the rules for evaluating and ranking the project proposals adopted by the Managing Authority of the Programme and the Expert Commission of the Programme.
A total of 11 projects have been approved for funding under Decision № 748 of 28.10.2021 of the Sofia Municipal Council with a total budget of BGN 100,000. The list of approved projects is available HERE.
The budget of the Programme is provided through the Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs at the Sofia Municipality (MGFSME). According to the Decision of the Sofia Municipal Council, the MGFSME is assigned to conclude financing agreements with the approved candidates, control the implementation of the activities under the contracts, accept the final reports on the implementation of the projects and make payments under the concluded financing agreements.
The second edition of the Accelerator Startup Sofia Programme of Sofia Municipality aims to promote accelerated access to finance for innovative, start-up and social entrepreneurs in Sofia. The Accelerator will support all participants in developing and presenting well-founded proposals to potential investors and financing organizations by increasing their negotiation skills and encouraging them to develop and promote innovative products and services with high added value.
Accelerator Startup Sofia is a collaborative project by Invest Sofia, Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs, and the “Europe” Programme by Sofia Municipality. The application procedure was held from December 15, 2021, until January 31, 2022, on the website of the “Europe” Programme. A total of 24 projects were submitted, which showed the continuing interest of the entrepreneurial community in Sofia in the Accelerator Startup Sofia Programme of Sofia Municipality.
The International Economic Relations Centre at the Bulgarian Industrial Association provides support to enterprises towards restructuring or reshoring supply chains by including the companies in a dedicated platform by the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). The Center publishes offers for raw materials, parts, components and / or semi-finished products or services; encourages incoming requests from European companies to maintain their supply chains and connects international suppliers with buyers of goods and services. The initiative aims to support European companies in providing raw materials, parts, components and / or final goods or services they need to continue their operations. For more information and inclusion in the platform, follow the instructions here.
By May 3, start-ups and scale-ups can apply for the second edition of Discover Vienna: Manufacturing 2022, organized by Vienna Business Agency and EIT Manufacturing CLC East. The programme covers a 5-day all-expenses-paid stay in Vienna, intensive access-to-market workshops to get acquainted with the dynamics in Austria and the Viennese markets, free office space in Vienna, introduction to leading Austrian industrial corporates and investors and access to ViennaUP’22 – the largest startup festival in Central Europe. Submissions need to fit one of the EIT Manufacturing flagship areas: Simulation and Advanced Engineering Tools, Industrial VR/AR, Industrial Robotics, Logistics Tech, Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing), Predictive Maintenance, Advanced Sensors, Advanced Detection (IR/Noise/etc.), Industrial Cybersecurity, Connectivity and IoT Infrastructure, Data analytics/AI, Digital Twins and Green Manufacturing Tech. More about the programme is available here.
The European DIGITAL SME Alliance has launched a new platform for small and medium-sized enterprises, which aims to improve access to information on current funding opportunities, open calls for project proposals and participation in consortia. The platform is aimed at SMEs with products and services in the following areas: AI, Blockchain, Cloud/Edge Computing, Cybersecurity and Data Protection, FinTech, Innovation, Digital Skills, Digitalization, Energy renewables, Entrepreneurship, Health, Intellectual Property Rights, IoT, Manufacturing, Smart cities. The platforml allows filtering the calls by sector, and the proposals are listed by deadline for application submissions.
Companies with innovative and scalable solutions that use rubber, textile, steel, designed to give these components a new life, can now apply for the NextLab accelerator of the Portuguese innovation hub Beta-i. The 4 month programme will provide access to industrial and commercial partners for mentoring and market validation, expert assistance and training, opportunity for a 5.000 Euro prize, introduction to potential industrial partners, as
The “European Forum for Women Founders”, which aims to grow into a network to support women’s entrepreneurship, was launched in Sofia at the initiative of the Bulgarian EU Commissioner Maria Gabriel and the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova. Invest Sofia co-organized the event, bringing together women entrepreneurs and innovators from across Europe, and mayors of cities from Italy, Germany, Finland, Greece, and Romania, who joined the meeting online.
“I truly hope that we would create a common network of women entrepreneurs; a network of companies to make women the leading force in the fight against climate change, everyday solutions, and many more solutions created by women-led companies overall.” Bulgarian EU Commissioner Maria Gabriel said at the opening. She emphasized the important role of local government in institutional change.
“Confidence in women’s governance has grown. It is critical to develop and increase our capacity to make things better. To me, education has always been essential for equality and social justice. It is the basis of everything and, of course, the basis of women’s career development, “stated Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova.
The Chief Executive Officer of Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova presented to the participants the initiatives of Sofia Municipality and the Agency, aimed at supporting women’s entrepreneurship. “According to last year’s European Commission REPORT on achieving women’s economic independence through entrepreneurship and self-employment, the European economy has the potential to benefit from € 16 billion in GDP growth by encouraging more women to enter the job market in digital technologies, including by improving gender equality and empowering women’s entrepreneurship as key approaches to accelerating and strengthening European recovery,” said Dr. Hristova.
The first meeting of the European Forum for Women Founders was attended by representatives of 19 countries. The goal is for the event in Sofia to be the beginning of an initiative at the pan-European level.
On June 3, 2022, Sofia will host the SEE Innovation, Technology and Sourcing Summit – the largest forum for innovation and technology in Southeast Europe. The event is organized by the Association for innovation, business excellence, services and technology (AIBEST) and the Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO). The Sofia Municipality, together with Invest Sofia, are co-organizers and institutional partners of the Summit.
The upcoming event will focus on the virtual Workforce and digital workers, the future of technology and services, the correlations in the ecosystem Talent + Education + Technology shift, and how to build the technological brand of the region.
Invest Sofia will join the event as an institutional partner of AIBEST and BESCO to support their goal of strengthening the development of the business ecosystem in Southeast Europe and positioning the region as a top destination for high added-value services. This goal is our mission as well.
We believe that the dialogue between the public sector and the local tech community will strengthen both Sofia’s and Bulgaria’s potential to be the driver of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Southeast Europe. The strong position of the city was recently confirmed by the “Mapping the Sofia Tech Sector” report published by the global entrepreneurship network Endeavor – another initiative in which we were also a partner. According to the study, our country is in a stronger position compared to the neighboring countries and the local ecosystem shows significant advantages.
The annual international Innovation, Technology and Sourcing Awards ceremony will be held during the event. The awards will highlight the best-performing tech and business services companies, startups, and institutions that contribute to the development of the knowledge economy in the SEE region.
Applications for the awards are accepted until May 20th on the ЅEE ITЅ Awards website: https://seeitssummit.com/awards-2022
Early bird registrations for the Summit are also open on https://seeitssummit.com.
Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova presented a Green Card for administrative services to Teva Pharma’s Executive Director Nikolay Hadjidonchev. In Sofia, the pharmaceutical company is currently developing a Global Shared Service Center which delivers support in IT, Supply Management, Transport&Logistics, Design, Regulatory Services, Quality Management, Data Management, and many more. The company’s expert local team, which serves Teva’s markets and production facilities worldwide, intends to reach 400 people.
“For me, the development of Sofia as a green city, using innovative solutions and attracting investors in the IT sector, is crucial. I am glad that Invest Sofia presents the seventh Green Card to a company focused on environmentally friendly production and relying on green technologies. The tech sector is the fastest-growing in the city, and it further boosts the growth of other industries through digitalization. Sectors such as BioTech and MedTech and healthcare also have great potential, Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said.
“We highly appreciate this Certificate and we would like to sincerely congratulate you on this incentivizing initiative. We are proud that Sofia and Bulgaria were chosen over other much larger countries for the location where some of Teva’s global departments to be set up and developed,” said Nikolay Hadjidonchev, CEO at Teva Pharma.
In Bulgaria, Teva Pharma is the largest pharmaceutical company in terms of production capacity, sales in packaging, and the number of employees. The company pays special attention to environmental protection. In the new building of the company in Sofia, a lighting control system is installed. It is automatically controlled by the intensity of sunlight, which ensures healthy and safe working conditions. Since the beginning of the year, the company’s policy has been further aligned and currently, Teva’s fleet consists of electric vehicles.
Sofia has been selected as a finalist in two categories of the Future of Emerging Europe Awards 2022 – a prestigious international competition for sustainable, social, economic and democratic development in Europe. The public voting for the projects is now open. You can support Sofia by May 31 at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/EEAwards2022
The capital is competing for the awards in the following categories: Green Energy – for facilitating increased energy efficiency in public buldings via sustainable green energy production for self-consumption and remote energy monitoring, whilst also ensuring better air quality, and Modern and Future-proof Policymaking Initiative of the Year – for pushing through its initiative Sandbox for Innovative Solutoins for local innovation and smart city solutions that can improve the quality of life and stimulate local businesses.
Almost 50 organisations and individuals from across Central, Eastern, South-Eastern Europe and the Caucasus have been shortlisted for the fifth edition of the Future of Emerging Europe Awards. The winners will be chosen by a mix of jury and public votes. The winners will be announced at an official ceremony in Brussels on June 23rd.
Sofia has a history in previous editions of the awards. In 2018 the city was nominated in the category Strategy for stimulating foreign investment, and in 2020 the capital ranked 1st in the category Smart city development and 7th in the overall ranking for the cities for doing business in Central and Eastern Europe – The Business-Friendly Cities Perception Ranking 2020, prepared especially for the Emerging Europe Awards 2020. Back then, Sofia ranked in the Top 10 cities in the category Quality of Life competing with 75 cities in the region.
The nominated projects
Sofia Municipality launched its project for green energy and smart in the summer of 2021. The initiative is part of the efforts of the city administration and to improve energy efficiency in public buildings by installing solar panels and systems providing “smart” utilities to measure energy consumption from various sources. Real-time access to data allows the building administration to take measures towards electricity costs optimisation. Thus, within a one-year cycle, sufficient data will be generated, facilitating both the development of data-based policies for the installation of renewable energy sources, and for costs-reducing consumer behaviour. Under the project, real-time monitoring of water consumption is also carried out.
The implementation of this pilot project started with the installation of solar panels and a system providing smart
Sofia IS, a joint initiative between Invest Sofia and Sofia-based companies, that aims at integrated services to potential investors, is expanding its network of partner companies. Since the start of the initiative in December last year, 14 companies have joined the network.
Sofia IS is the first of its kind city programme in Bulgaria for partnership between the local city administration and local companies operating in Sofia to provide a full scope of services to new investor inquiries. The initiative is under the coordination of Invest Sofia and comprises independent international consulting companies whose expertise covers all the necessary initial activities in exploring the business environment and investment opportunities in Sofia.
The initiative brings together international companies with expertise in business analysis; financial and legal consulting; labor market and human capital; office, commercial and industrial real estate; administrative support, coworking spaces and much more. Their experience so far forms a rich total portfolio of over 80 companies – local and international, from all sectors of the economy. Thus, the programme has the potential to offer free support in a wide range of services that cover every stage of setting up a business in Sofia.
The website of Sofia IS contains a detailed list of all services that investors can receive free of charge through the partner network of the initiative, including those delivered by the expert team of Invest Sofia. Short profiles and company presentations of all network partners have also been published, as well as infographics on the mission of the initiative and the services which investors in Sofia can request assistance for.
Invest Sofia would like to thank all the partner companies that are already part of Sofia IS. These are: Adecco Bulgaria, ARS Bulgaria, Avalant Bulgaria, Cushman & Wakefield Forton, Easy Consult, Entract 127, InfoGraffiti, Innovative Consulting Ltd., Matrix Relocations, Networking Premium Coworking, nPloy, PwC Bulgaria, RIR and HRS. The network is open to more Sofia-based companies that want to support investments in the city and are ready to share their expertise in investor inquiries.