On January 26, the hybrid event “Corporate Venturing in SEE for Sustainable Startups” was held in Sofia. The forum was initiated by Sofiyska voda, operated by Veolia, and The Recursive. At the invitation of the organizers, Maria Hristova the CEO of Invest Sofia and Kristin Dermendzhiev, Senior Expert at the Investment Analysis department of Invest Sofia, and our CEO Dr. Maria Hristova attended the event together with corporate innovation leaders, startup investors, and founders of startup companies that develop solutions for clever resource and waste management, clean environment, and climate change.
The event aimed to show what is the value of incubating cleantech, greentech, and sustainability-related technologies in a corporate context. Sofiyska voda, part of Veolia, presented best practices of regional cooperation between corporate innovators and venture capital investment funds. The panel discussions also highlighted opportunities for growth by connecting sustainable startups with relevant stakeholders and investment funds in South East Europe and beyond.
In addition to the discussion panels “How corporates work with startups” and “Financing opportunities for startups”, part of the event was a pitching session for startup clean and sustainable resource management solutions and successful collaboration with corporate innovation leaders. Two of the projects presented during the session are smart solutions developed by Sofia-based companies – Gridmetrics and SatGeo.
Gridmetrics offers a solution that optimizes industrial processes through digital twins and machine learning models to optimize and reduce energy consumption. The startup partners with Sofiyska voda for the optimization of the operation of pump stations according to the supply demand in periods of high and low consumption. As a result of the dynamic and automated control of the pumps’ activity, the project reports a nearly 30% average reduction in electricity consumption and 36% electricity savings in low-demand hours, when the pumps operate in a slower mode without disrupting the water supply needs.
SatGeo develops a technology based on satellite imagery that helps in the early detection and prevention of accidents on the water supply network.. In 2021, the project raised funding from a joint acceleration programme led by the innovation agency Innovation Starter and the French Veolia, owner of Sofiyska voda. The solution has been integrated into the company’s activities that ensure the water supply in Sofia. Over 50 accidents have been prevented, and hard-to-locate leaks have been detected, some of which are causing a water loss of 20 liters per second. On an annual basis, SatGeo’s
Six Sofia-based tech startup companies hit the 23rd annual edition of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 Central Europe 2022 ranking.
The companies are:
– Gtmhub (14th place) and Eurotrust Technologies (34th place) are part of the overall ranking of the Top 50 fastest growing techs in Central Europe.
– Among the companies that show great potential but are too young to meet criterion for the main Fast 50 category is the first Bulgarian unicorn Payhawk. The fintech ranks second in the Companies to Watch list with a growth rate of 6,629%. In the previous edition, Payhawk was named Investment Star 2021 – the category that recognizes companies that do not meet the main Fast 50 criteria but have received the greatest total investment.
– Dronamics, Nasekomo and Humans in the Loop are among the Impact Stars list – the ranking’s special classification of entities that successfully link great products/services with a positive impact on society, business, innovativeness, environment, and diversity.
Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Central Europe ranks the 50 fastest growing public or private technology entities in the region based on the revenue growth over the four years 2018 to 2021). Companies must have base-year operating revenues of 50 000€ in 2018, 2019, 2020 and a current year operating revenue (2021) of at least 100 000€. Startups self-nominate, by providing financial performance data which is then cross-checked by the authors of the report.
In the general Top50 ranking for the region, leaders are Poland and the Czech Republic, with the largest number of companies included in the list – 17 and 13, respectively. The average rate of growth among the 50 featured companies this year is 2,351%, surpassing the previous edition’s record of 2,278% growth. Find out more from Technology Fast 50 Central Europe 2021 here.
About the Sofia-based companies in Technology Fast 50 Central Europe 2022
Quantive is headquartered in Sofia and has teams in Denver, London, Berlin and Paris. The company’s SaaS product is based on automatic collection of data within a company and real-time measurement of performance indicators related to specific goals. Last year, the company received yet another investment – USD 120 million from foreign investors.
Dronamics is a cargo drone manufacturer. A few months ago, the company received new investment – a grant of 2.5 million euros from the European Innovation Council (EIC) to the European Commission. Dronamics is the world’s first cargo drone airline
For a fourth consecutive year, the Bulgarian Fintech Association (BFA) published its Annual Fintech Report which highlights the achievements of the digital finance industry in Bulgaria and Southeastern Europe. Once again, the Report was created in partnership with Innovative Sofia, the digitalization and innovation unit of the Sofia Municipality, and more than 15 private and public key stakeholders.
The FinTech Mapping is a visual representation of the FinTech industry in Bulgaria. BFA’s data encompasses more than 95% of the industry in the country and all interested in the development of the sector parties, including the Entrepreneurial ecosystem, Regulators, FinTech supporting companies, and institutional players, among which Invest Sofia is also listed as a supporting the Bulgarian fintech sector organization.
Four of the Top 5 best performers by total revenue in this year’s Report are companies with main operating offices in Sofia. These are Datecs, Paysafe, Easy Payment Services, and Experian. myPOS, also part of the Top 5, has a main operating office in Bulgaria based in Varna and another one – in Sofia. In 2021, their revenue accounts for around 48% of the total annual revenue of the Bulgarian Fintech sector.
More highlights from the Report
The petascale supercomputer in Sofia Tech Park provides a new service, the so-called High Performance Compute-as-a-service. The cloud service is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses and companies that need computing power and data analysis for their developments at an affordable price by paying only for the resource used without an annual license or subscription. The resource of Discoverer is available for use by businesses from Bulgaria and abroad. Sofia Tech Park also works in cooperation with the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) on a joint voucher scheme that aims to assure better access for Bulgarian enterprises to the service. Scientific teams and businesses from Bulgaria, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Belgium, France, etc. are already using the computing power of the supercomputer in Sofia for activities such as modeling and simulating processes for scientific research and for creating and testing products and services.
The Petascale Supercomputer Bulgaria Consortium also provides access to the Ezmeral platform for data analysis. A project by the Sofia Municipality is currently under development. It aims at resolving urban environmental challenges. A similar project has already been implemented with the city administration of Istanbul.
Petascale Supercomputer Bulgaria Consortium and Sofia Tech Park are awaiting the results of a project application for graphics accelerators under the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) program. The funds will enable further upgrades to Discoverer’s capabilities and its use in AI-related developments.
The Ministry of Innovation and Growth announced that nearly BGN 600 million under the 2014-2020 program period are still available for companies willing to apply by the end of 2023. BGN 200 million are available for equity investments in startups through the fund managers of the Fund of Funds, another BGN 200 million are for debt financing through seven banks, BGN 150 million are the remaining funds for municipal projects, and BGN 75 million BGN can be invested in agro projects. Startups, SMEs and projects from the public sector can apply for funding through the Fund of Fund’s partner network. You will find all available financial instruments and direct links to funding institutions that manage the resources available on the website here.
Under the Ministry of Innovation and Growth, seven procedures for a total of BGN 1.2 billion are expected to be open for applications by this summer. Small and medium-sized enterprises and family businesses will be able to apply for funding under three different axes: The Recovery and Resilience Plan, the new Competitiveness Programme and the new Research, Innovation and Digitalisation for Smart Transformation Operational Programme. You can view the table with the upcoming procedures on the ministry’s website here.
The Center for Foreign Economic Relations at the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) invites companies in the creative sector to the international B2B event CIMIx. The forum is suitable for projects in audio and visual production and technologies and aims to meet companies in the field with representatives from businesses in other sectors. The event provides an opportunity to pre-schedule individual online meetings – an easy way to meet future partners. The sessions will be held on January 17. For more information, please visit the webpage here.
BCCI organizes business meetings with companies from the city of Bursa. The event is scheduled for February 15 and will be attended by Turkish companies in chemical industry, construction mechanization, construction machinery, facade systems, fire alarm and protection systems, kitchen and bathroom furniture, doors and windows, metal structures, ceramics, paints, electrical materials, etc. If interested, Bulgarian companies can register for participation by February 1. Translation from and into Turkish will be provided by the organizers. For more details, please visit the website here.
We remind you that the Chamber maintains a database of over 200 offers for business cooperation with international partners. Companies
The Bulgarian Investment Agency presented a Class A Investment Certificate to two companies starting new projects in Sofia. The pharma manufacturer Adipharm received a certificate for the construction of a production and research center worth BGN 4.5 million. The company aims to expand its product range and increase production capacity. The second certificate is for the construction of a logistics base for BGN 4.2 million by the freight, forwarding and logistics company Stefi. The base is located in the Sofia-Bojurishte Industrial Park, where the cargo of the company’s customers will be stored.
Another logistics company is investing in a center in Sofia-Bojurishte. The Sofia-based Transpress will build a logistics center worth BGN 16 million. The base is to be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for cargo handling. A capacity of over 4 million pallets per year is planned. The center will have 60 loading ramps. The investment will create 100 new jobs for cargo transportation activities to locations in the country and abroad, for courier and logistics services.
The Israeli e-commerce company Sellavi starts its entry into European markets through its first European office in Sofia. The company is to invest 7 million euros to start operations in Bulgaria that aim to promote the e-commerce platform among merchants and consumers on the continent. Sellavi currently serves 75 million users per month in 27 markets worldwide. The platform provides all the necessary functionalities for an online store, including a domain, direct payments and invoices to users, customized design, targeted promotion, and 24/7 support.
Two Sofia-based startups raised funding from the Sirma Venture Lab incubator by Sirma Group Holding and Innovation Capital fund. These are Whisp and AskTheCP, which attracted an investment of 100,000 euros each. Both companies operate in the HealthTech sector. AskTheCP is a software solution for determining the most appropriate antibiotic treatment, while WHISP provides specialized HR software and services for the relocation of foreign employees to Bulgarian companies, issuance of Blue cards, documents for seasonal employment, administrative processes of getting access to healthcare upon relocation, as well as assistance in restoring health insurance entitlements of Bulgarian citizens after a long stay abroad. At the beginning of December 2022, Invest Sofia signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with WHISP for assistance to foreign investors regarding local legal practices.
The Promoto platform raised €434,000 from the VC funds Impetus Capital and NV3, and angel investors. Promoto was launched
The meeting of the Chairman of the Sofia Municipal Council Georgi Georgiev and the management team of Invest Sofia with the Executive Director of Teva Pharma Nikolay Hadjidonchev and Anna Duneva, Senior Director of Facility Management Europe at the company, lasted for more than an hour. The Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Invest Sofia, Nikolay Stoynev, the CEO of the Agency, Dr. Maria Hristova, and the head of the Investment Analysis department, Viktor Gusev, also took part.
A few months ago, the company received a “Green Card” from Invest Sofia as one of the key investors in the city. Over 400 employees are part of Teva’s head office in Sofia, including expert teams of global departments that manage the operations of global structures of the pharmaceutical company. In Bulgaria, Teva is the largest pharma producer in terms of production capacity and the number of employees. In Teva’s head office in Sofia, various intelligent solutions have been introduced to save energy and improve working conditions. As a next step, Teva continues to push the use of electric vehicles into the company’s operations.
“Teva just launched a global green campaign. All Teva employees can contribute to various nature-positive initiatives,” the company’s Executive Director Nikolay Hadjidonchev announced. The Sofia City Council Chairman Georgi Georgiev shared details about Sofia Municipality’s new recycling campaign in schools. “It is important to teach children to care for the environment. More than 200 schools have no recycling containers,” said Mr. Georgiev. He also presented municipal projects in the field of health care and care for vulnerable groups. Future joint initiatives were also discussed during the meeting.
The team of Invest Sofia team invites Sofia-based small and medium-sized enterprises to participate in the first 2023 session for the selection of investment projects organized by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).
The initiative is being held for another year and is in partnership with the consulting companies Ernst & Young Bulgaria and Investor Relations Services. The session aims at supporting Bulgarian SMEs through consultations on different funding opportunities – loans, equity, grants, hybrid, financing through the Beam market of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, or any other type of investment according to the specific project and area of activity of the companies. Connecting enterprises with potential funding partners is also part of the session.
Companies can submit their applications until January 9, by filling in the e-form at:
As a next step, an expert committee will assess and evaluate the proposals. The evaluation process is due on January 12, and the approved candidates will be notified by January 13.
In the final stage, the selected companies will have the opportunity to present their projects in a pitching session in front of investors and funding institutions. The event will take place on January 20. All candidates will receive mentoring support and assistance during their preparation for the pitching day.
Don’t miss the opportunity. Apply here!
The Bulgarian Startup Association – BESCO presented its annual awards, which honor the achievements of key players in the Bulgarian entrepreneurial ecosystem. Statuettes were awarded in five categories during a ceremony where the Association presented “The Way of the Unicorn” – a short movie that tells the success stories of the BESCO Awards 2022 winner companies.
The first Bulgarian unicorn PayHawk grabbed prizes in three categories – Startup of the Year, Founder of the Year, and Deal of the Year. In March, the fintech reached a valuation of $1 billion in an investment round led by the US fund Lightspeed Venture Partners.
PlanDelta took the award in the category Newcomer of the year. The Sofia-based startup develops solutions for flexible financial planning. The product has already attracted funding twice – 350K euros in a round led by the Bulgarian fund Eleven Ventures and 2.3M euros risk investment in a round led by the international investor RTP Global.
In the last fifth category – Investor of the year the winner is Eleven Ventures fund.
The BESCO Awards 2022 ceremony this year coincided with the 5th anniversary of the Bulgarian Startup Association. The events were celebrated with partners and members of the Association and the official release of the movie “The Way of the Unicorn” which you can watch on BESCO’s YouTube channel here.
The Japanese leader in the design and manufacture of electric motors and integrated controls, Nidec, officially opened its R&D center in Sofia. Nidec announced its decision to invest 3.5 million dollars in a Sofia-based R&D center earlier this year. The company’s office is located in Sofia Airport Center and according to the plan, a team of 100 Bulgarian engineers will work there on the development of next-generation hardware and software for the Japanese Group, which will be integrated into millions of electric vehicles of global car producers, to which Nidec delivers hybrid and fully electric car inventors, cameras, sensors, advanced driver-assistance systems, etc.
Cargo drone manufacturer Dronamics announced that it has been awarded a €2.5 million grant by the European Commission under the prestigious European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator program. The Sofia-based company is the world’s first cargo drone airline licensed to operate in Europe. With the investment received, the team will support the development and roll-out of Dronamics’ cargo drone fleet, the deployment of the first droneports in its network as well as operations in Europe. “Dronamics aims to democratize air freight, by enabling affordable, and sustainable same day delivery for businesses and communities everywhere, especially remote and under-served ones,” the company said in the official statement.
The Sofia-based platform for second-hand smartphones Swipe.bg raised BGN 1 million investment from Vitosha Venture Partners and NV3 funds, which invest public resources from the Fund of Funds and additional private capital. Many angel investors also participated in the round, including CEO Angels Club’s members. The company will invest the funds in expanding the models it buys, repairs and resells. It is exactly the addition of more models that has multiplied the company’s revenue in recent months. Swipe.bg also plans negotiations with telecoms and retail chains, that can offer their customers the opportunity to return their mobile devices in return for a share of the original price. The company also intends to open a chain of physical service stores, thus overcoming customer distrust towards the online business model.
Vitosha Venture Partners and NV3 have made yet another investment in recent weeks. Together with Impetus Capital, they invested €1.2 million in the further development of Rebenefit.bg – a cloud-based platform that allows company employees to individually select their monthly benefits package from hundreds of selected vendors in health, education, entertainment, charity, culinary, insurance, and many more. The company was established in 2021
The Sofia Municipal Privatization & Investment Agency (Invest Sofia) signed today a Cooperation Agreement with the ‘YES to Sharing Stories of Success in Entrepreneurship’ Foundation. Our organisations will work together in promoting the success stories of companies from all sectors of the economy, as well as in activities that increase SMEs competitiveness and boost their growth potential. The Agreement was signed by Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia, Gena Sabeva and Victoria Stoyanova of the Foundation “FOR good examples in business”.
The Foundation explores and promotes successful practices and achievements in the Bulgarian industry, nurtures the development of micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses, carries out research and certification activities, and organizes seminars, round tables, and networking events promoting and developing the business ecosystem in Bulgaria.
Through its contact network, the Foundation will assist Invest Sofia in activities that aim to increase foreign investments in Sofia. Our partnership will help both parties share best practices, latest data, analysis, and investment policies in line with our common goals.
An ice rink and a Christmas market in the Prince’s Garden just opened in Sofia. It was built on the model of the famous skating park in front of the municipality building in Vienna and has a total area of 3,600 square meters, which makes it the largest in the Balkans. Lovers of winter skating can also skate on 500 meters long beautifully illuminated ice trails. The rink has 2,000 rentable ice skates, 50 trainers for kids, 12 instructors for beginners and a medical center. For student group visits, the rink is free from 10 to 11 a.m. after January 1. Ice Park Sofia works every day from 11:00 to 22:00. Ice skating is divided into sessions of 2 hours. Rules and tickets:
Sofia signed a Memorandum of cooperation with the South Korean city of Busan. The document was signed by Mayor Yordanka Fandakova and the Mayor of Busan Park Heong-joon. The ceremony was also attended by the Deputy Mayor of Sofia, Irina Savina, in charge of “European policies, international tourism activities”. The two cities will cooperate in green policies, renewable energy, digitalization and tourism. Busan is the second largest city in South Korea after Seoul, with a population of about 3.6 million people. It is the cultural, educational and economic heart of the region located in the largest industrial area. It is also the largest maritime logistics hub in South Korea.
At the beginning of 2023, the construction of a new 6 km of the Sofia metro will start, Sofia Municipality announced. The planned route is from the Military Academy through “Slatina” to “Tsarigradsko shose” Blvd. There will be three metro stations along the route, that will serve another 40,000 people daily. According to the Municipality, after this next expansion, the subway in Sofia will have a 50% share of the city transport. The construction of the line through the “Poduyane” area is going according to schedule. Three new metro stations are under construction – Georgi Asparuhov Stadium, Trakia station, and “Gen. Vladimir Vazov” next to Stanislav Dospevski street.