Startup companies are the primary driving force for a sustainable business environment in Sofia and the country. Partnership opportunities, the city as a testbed, as well as access to funding for innovative products were presented during the event “Investors, Startups, City Administration: Effective Collaboration” event.
The meeting organised by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and Invest Sofia was attended by Tsvetan Simeonov, Chairman of the BCCI, Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO at Invest Sofia, Vladimir Tomov, President of the BCCI Investment Council, Nikolay Tsenkov, Manager of the Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs (MGFSME) and Dimitar Stoilov, Chief Expert at the Bulgarian Development Bank.
“Startups’ development is a priority topic. We had a meeting with businesses delegates from Italy who first asked about the innovative companies and startups in Sofia. Our Italian partners demonstrated great interest in cooperation opportunities with these companies,” Tsvetan Simeonov, Chairman of the BCCI said during the event. He emphasized the strong cooperation with the Sofia Municipality and Invest Sofia in this direction.
“Our mission is to stay close to the business in the city and to support it. We are a one-stop-shop service for foreign companies and entrepreneurs. Startups need financing and among our activities is to provide information about funding opportunities. We also know how important it is for a startup company to have a test field for its products, and a reliable partner in its portfolio. That is why we initiated campaigns that aim to meet the startups with different structures of the Sofia Municipality, which can allow them the opportunity to test and implement their projects,” Dr. Histova said. During the event, Nikolay Tsenkov, Manager at MGFSME presented the opportunities for the financial support provided by the Fund. Financial instruments were presented by Vladimir Tomov from the BCCI Investment Council and Dimitar Stoilov from the Bulgarian Development Bank.
Four startup companies presented their products that can be tested by the Sofia Municipality administration. National Archives is a company that provides outsourcing solutions for archiving, storing and digitizing documents. To date, the team of 35 people has gained experience with 250 clients. Cloud Office has more than a decade of combined experience with various Google Cloud products and is committed to providing the right solutions through Google technologies. SAT HELT is a company that provides patient assistance solutions, medical and social care, consulting services, and tech solutions in the pharmaceutical industry. Serenity
Four projects to receive support in this year’s edition of “Sofia chooses” – Sofia Municipality’s programme for ideas from citizens, civil and professional organizations for projects that improve the urban environment. Voting for the projects ended in the middle of March, and the set budget of BGN 1,000,000 can fund a total of 4 projects that gathered the most votes for implementation. The submitted proposals are related to green mobility, a river promenade and alley near the Lion’s Bridge, reconstruction of park spaces, and public areas. A total of 7105 residents of Sofia took part in the second edition of the Programme by having their say on 34 project proposals on green topics worth up to BGN 1 million and are eligible to become part of Sofia Municipality’s investment programme for 2022. The four most voted projects have a total budget of just over BGN 893,000, and the remaining BGN 106,971 will be set aside by the Municipality as a reserve for implementing the ranked projects.
This spring begins the afforestation of a new forest near Sofia. The new area is near the village of Negovan, Novi Iskar. Some 86,000 trees will be planted on an area of 137 decares. The aim is to restore the riverside forests lost in the area. The initiative is part of the “New Forest of Sofia” project, by which the Sofia Municipality has been planting new forests in the suburbs for several years already as part of the efforts to improve air quality. The project started with the terrain near Suhodol, which is already afforested with acacias and lindens on an area of 225 decares.
The first new-generation innovative school in Bulgaria with a focus on natural sciences, digital technologies, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to open its doors in Sofia. It will be situated in the building of the children’s center “Muzeiko”, which will continue to operate as an interactive children’s science center during the weekends and after the school classes on weekdays. Partners in the project are the America for Bulgaria Foundation, which provides the Muzeiko Children’s Center building, and the University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy in Sofia, which provides an additional building allowing more study space along with a teacher training center.
The construction of the new section of the metro has started, comprising 3 km from Poduyane to the Levski G district. The construction of the route
The Bulgarian Investment Agency (BIA) presented its traditional Investor of the Year awards. Three Sofia-based companies received the Golden Bull statuettes. The aerospace company “EnduroSat” received the award for Innovative Business Investment. Angry Building condominium management platform won the Startup of the Year prize, and Payhawk, the first Bulgarian unicorn, was awarded a special prize for innovation and growth.
Investor of the Year for 2021 became the pharmaceutical Balkanpharma Dupnitsa. In the category Green Investment of the Year, the award went to the German electric car manufacturer Next.e Go Bulgaria. Solvay Sodi, one of Europe’s biggest soda ash producers, was awarded for Business Expansion Investment, and the companies Interlink Group and Profilink were awarded for Human Capital Investment.
The sixteenth edition of the Investor of the Year Awards evaluated over 40 submissions for the competition from all sectors of the economy. As every year, the leading criteria in determining the winners were the amount of the investment made, the number of jobs created, as well as the area where a new production facility was opened, or an existing enterprise was expanded. The official award ceremony was attended by the Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer, the Executive Director of the Bulgarian Investment Agency Stamen Yanev, the Deputy Minister of Innovation and Growth Karina Angelieva, the Minister of Social Affairs Georgi Gokov, among others.
At the invitation of IBA, our team joined the award ceremony, which took place on March 31 at Hyatt Regency Sofia. Invest Sofia congratulates all winning companies from Sofia and the country for their noteworthy investment projects in 2021.
Invest Sofia has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the smart career platform nPloy. The Memorandum was signed by Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia, and Konstantin Tsonev, Executive Director of nPloy and one of the founders of the platform.
Under the agreed partnership, the two parties will cooperate in the development of the labor market in Sofia, overcoming the shortage of staff, and helping talents and companies in the context of human resources management.
nPloy is a Sofia-based company with a young team of innovators in human resources and workforce management. Their career platform is a locally developed product that, unlike standard job boards, offers employers the opportunity to find and contact even passive job seekers, start a chat or video interview, and build and develop their employer brand by using various tools integrated into the platform. For job seekers, the platform is completely free and accessible via a mobile app. The product aims to meet all the needs of the increasing trend toward remote hiring. The nPloy database currently has over 450 companies registered and more than 75,000 applicants.
The hybrid event aims to bring together representatives of startup companies and municipal experts. Current funding opportunities and support instruments for startups to be presented. Projects for sustainable solutions to urban challenges developed by local startup companies will also be presented during the meeting. Watch “Investors, Startups, City Administration: Effective Collaboration” live on April 6, 2022, at 15:00 on the Facebook page of Invest Sofia. To join us online, please fill out the registration form here to receive your link for online access via Zoom.
At an official ceremony, the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI France-Bulgarie) announced the Innovation Awards 2022 winners. Award plaques were handed out in four categories: “Investment”, “Businessman”, “Businesswoman” and “Corporate Social Responsibility”. One finalist from each category entered the jury voting for the special award.
Here are the winners awarded for their dynamism, innovative approach, achievements and their corporate social and environmental responsibility:
The Innovation Awards by the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry aim to promote the most innovative projects developed in Bulgaria, and this year, for the first time, the competition was open to external companies, non-members of the Chamber. Companies from all sectors could apply, registered in Bulgaria for at least 18 months, with at least 5 employees.
The event took place on March 29 at the Grand Hotel Millennium Sofia. At the invitation of the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Chief Executive Officer of Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova attended the ceremony. CCI France-Bulgarie members, business representatives, and institutional partners also joined the event.
Among the official guests of the Innovation Awards 2022 were H.E. Mrs. Florence Robin, Ambassador of the Republic of France to Bulgaria, the Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer, the Minister of Education and Science Nikolay Denkov and the Minister of Labor and Social Policy Georgi Gokov.
Etem Gestamp announced an investment of over 60 million euros for the expansion of the production facilities, cutting edge technology and a fully automated internal logistic solution to its production unit in Sofia. The project will create over 130 new jobs for skilled personnel over the next 2 years. The start of series production is scheduled for early 2023. Invest Sofia is to issue a Green Card for administrative services to the company.
In Sofia, Etem Gestamp manufactures aluminum elements and profiles for the automotive industry and supplies products for major brands such as BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Audi, Porsche, VW and Daimler. The production unit of the Greek-Spanish group is situated in Iliyantsi Industrial Zone and started operating in 2019 as an investment of the joint company between Etem Bulgaria, part of the Greek Viohalco, and the Spanish Gestamp. The plant manufactures various profiles and parts for chassis, doors, safety and accident management systems, battery components and fasteners for electric vehicles and exports products to Europe, China and Mexico. Here, Etem Gestamp also has an R&D center that supports the company’s customers during the implementation of various product design projects.
Festo Production, the Bulgarian company of the German leader in the production of magnetic sensors Festo, also announced a new investment at its plant in Sofia. The company will invest BGN 20 million in expanding its base and will increase the number of its employees by 30%. Thus, the unit in our country will become the second largest center after the one in the company’s headquarters in Germany. In Sofia, Festo also has its own R&D center, which works with the German development department on joint production projects. Festo’s plant in Sofia manufactures over 1,300 types of products and is a world leader in the production of various types of sensors and accessories, as well as connector cables.
The London-based technology company Kin + Carta acquires the Bulgarian software developer Melon Group, the two companies announced in an official statement. The price of the deal is worth 17.7 million pounds (21.3 million euros) and may reach 23.5 million pounds (28.2 million euros) in the coming years.
Melon Group is a fast-growing software engineering company based in Sofia and with offices in North Macedonia and Kosovo. Its team consists of 300 web, mobile and data specialists. Melon Group’s portfolio includes medtech, fintech, banking, and human resources tech
At an official ceremony, the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA) presented the Business to the Rules awards for 2021. The annual competition aims to promote the best actions that fight against the informal economy and highlight leading institutions and individuals whose initiatives demonstrate an active position and contribute to reducing the gray practices.
At the invitation of BICA, Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO at Invest Sofia, attended the award ceremony. Representatives of the executive and legislative institutions, businesses-, non-governmental organizations, and social partners of the Association also joined the event.
The ceremony took place on March 21 at an official event at Sofia Hotel Balkan. Statuettes were awarded in three categories: Normative act or administrative practice that leads to a curtailment of the gray economy and improvement of the business environment, Person or organization that contributed to limit and prevent the informal economy through an active position, and Journalist or media, who have contributed to change public attitudes towards intolerance to the informal economy. The 2021 winners in the respective categories are:
The awards were presented by Vasil Velev, Chairman of the Board of Directors of BICA, the Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer, and Georgi Gokov – Minister of Labor and Social Policy.
The nominations for the awards were made through a broad public consultation among the members of the Association of Industrial Capital in Bulgaria, all social partners, members of the Public Council for Restriction and Prevention of the Informal Economy, which includes representatives of many state institutions and the media. The winners were announced by secret ballot by an expert jury composed of over 100 prominent personalities: prominent economists, public figures, media representatives, members of the National and Control Council of BICA, the Public Council for Restriction and Prevention of the Informal Economy, and the undeclared employment, and others.
The nominations for the awards were made through a broad public consultation among the members of the Association of Industrial Capital in Bulgaria, all social partners, members of the Public Council for Restriction and Prevention of the Informal Economy, which includes representatives
The German programme Entrepreneurship Explorer Ruhr 2022 is now open for applications until April 11. The programme is free of charge, with a duration of one week in May and is aimed at international students, early career researchers (PhD students, postdocs), solo founders or teams, early-stage start-ups working in different high tech areas (esp. cyber security, material, robotics, AI, chemistry). Entrepreneurship Explorer Ruhr 2022 will enable participants to test and implement innovative business ideas in the Ruhr area, Germany, explore the local ecosystem – one of the most vibrant startup communities in high-tech industries in Europe, and receive mentoring support for successful development of team, product and business model, as well as look for clients and investors from the region. Details about the programme can be found here.
PULSATE, the new PAN-European Network under the Horizon 2020 designed to boost the adoption of Laser-based Advanced and Additive Manufacturing, is looking for small and medium-sized enterprises that are interested in introducing laser-based advanced technologies and additive manufacturing technologies. Businesses have the opportunity to receive funding of up to 25,000 euros and 3 months of mentoring for performance evaluation. The application deadline is March 31. The call is aimed at companies that are looking for radical changes towards flexible production and highly digitalized production environments from areas such as aerospace, automotive, medical devices, industrial machinery, customised electronics, textiles & clothing. More information can be found here.
The second call of the SHOP4CF consortium is now open and looking for use cases that solve real challenges in the production environment and improve the safety and well-being of people at work. SHOP4CF (Smart Human Oriented Platform for Connected Factories) is funded by the EU under the Horizon 2020 Programme and aims to create an infrastructure for the deployment of human-centric industrial applications. Under the project, 20 partner organizations are developing a comprehensive software platform containing a wide range of components that cover a wide range of industry requirements in the context of modern, flexible and data-rich manufacturing. With its second open call, the project is looking for new contributors (integrators, manufacturing companies, developers) who solve problems related to the automation of monotonous, labor-intensive work and / or increase human productivity and safety with a focus on workplace well-being. The proposed use-cases should have a clear positive impact on several components listed here.
The call also aims to expand the
ZAYA.app developed by the Sofia-based GR Consulting Ltd was recognized as a Microsoft #BuildFor2030 Hackathon Hero. ZAYA was included in a list of 15 projects from around the world, for their excellent entries and solution potential and impact. With its #BuildFor2030 initiative, Microsoft aims to promote environmentally and life-changing solutions and services that meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a set of 17 areas focused on creating a more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient world by 2030. ZAYA is a virtual library of instructions for using household appliances and applies artificial intelligence, voice assistant, and other technologies to facilitate the maintenance of household appliances throughout their life cycle. Among the 15 “heroes” in Microsoft #BuildFor2030 Hackathon are companies from the United States, India, Australia and Canada, and from Europe – Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Bulgaria’s largest producer and distributor of organic food Smart Organic has increased its sales by 30% over the past year. The company is building a new warehouse and production site in Knyazhevo and plans to build yet another plant. Thus, the company will increase its production capacity and introduce new products in order to meet the growing demand for its products in key markets. The company’s team currently consists of 280 people and continues to grow. At the end of 2021, Smart Organic attracted nearly BGN 6 million from the SME beam growth programme on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange and acquired a distributor in the Netherlands. This year the company plans acquisition in Germany. For its success on the German market, Smart Organic received the “German Economy Award” in the SME category by the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Details can be found in the interview here.
With a new 12 million euro investment, the Danish furniture and home goods chain JYSK will expand its base in the Bozhurishte Industrial Zone. The company’s logistics center near Sofia started operations in 2019 and currently supplies not only in Bulgaria but also in Greece, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Serbia, as well as in franchise stores in Azerbaijan, Albania, Kosovo, Moldova and Northern Macedonia. The facility impresses with its two towers, in which operations are fully automated. The newly built facility will be located on a new 14,170 square meters and will add 33 new ramps for loading and unloading. With the investment, JYSK is expanding its capacity to serve
The team of Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency (Invest Sofia) and the Chairman of Sofia Municipal Council Georgi Georgiev granted a Green Card for individual administrative services to the French company Atos IT Solutions and Services Ltd, which just opened its new global Security Operations Center in Sofia. The new center is designed to rapidly identify and limit the impact of security incidents for large organizations globally. Athos is a French multinational company and the European number one in cybersecurity, cloud, and high-performance computing. More than 300 new jobs will be created in the new Security Operations Center in Sofia
Despite the global and national challenges, with the new expansion of Athos, Sofia continues to establish itself as a leader in attracting investment in IT – a dominant sector in the city’s economy that creates more than 15 % of the value added. The development of local high-tech services and innovations in the city strengthens the positive economic development of Sofia and improves the quality of life in the city. The Atos’ Green Card for Administrative Services is the fifth to be issued since the beginning of the year, Invest Sofia being supporting this way investments of over BGN 65 million and over 400 jobs.
The team of Invest Sofia presented the Jobs in Sofia platform to Ukrainian refugees at a meeting organised by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and hosted by the Open Sofia Foundation. During the meeting, our experts assisted the Ukrainians who are currently establishing their daily routine here and looking for temporary or permanent employment to create their professional resumes on the platform. The meeting took place on March 22, at Networking Premium Coworking.
The Jobs in Sofia was created by the Sofia Municipality and Invest Sofia. The platform’s functionalities were presented by the Chief Executive Officer Dr. Maria Hristova. She also participated in a Q&A session on women’s rights in Bulgaria in the context of labor legislation.
The website jobs.investsofia.com is available in Ukrainian, Russian, English, and Bulgarian and vacancies 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, language skills. Users are allowed to attach a CV, certificates and diplomas, video presentation, etc.
The team of Invest Sofia has created the Jobs in Sofia platform to help Ukrainian refugees who are already establishing their daily routine in Bulgaria and want to start a job search. The Agency partners not only with companies in Sofia but also with other major municipalities in the country. We have spread the information about the platform to a wide partner network to encourage companies from Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas and other Bulgarian cities with local refugee communities to publish their open positions.