09.12.2020

The Fintech Sector in Bulgaria in Figures According to the 2nd Annual Report of the Bulgarian Fintech Association. Again, Sofia is the Heart of the Ecosystem.

 

The Bulgarian Fintech Association just published its second comprehensive annual report about the Fintech sector in the country. The research was conducted in cooperation with SEE News and provides extensive information about the industry – number and distribution of the companies by sector, analysis of the regulatory landscape,  the investments in Fintechs and the place of the Bulgarian Fintech in South East Europe. For the first time, the annual report includes a mapping of the companies and the organisations that are part of the fintech ecosystem in Bulgaria 

According to the report, the estimated number of Bulgarian Fintech companies is 100 – 66 emerging and 34 advanced. More than half of the companies were established between 2015 and 2020, with 22 being established in 2018 alone. Following a constant increase in the number of employees in the last five years, there was a slight decrease in 2019 to 3,338 people from 3,667 in 2018.

In 2020 Fintech companies in Bulgaria hit an all-time high operating revenue of EUR 361 million. Venture capital investments in fintech companies equal to 1/3 of all VC investments in Bulgaria. The local startups are backed not only by a number of venture capital funds, angel organisations and private investors but also by startup supporting initiatives of local banks.

Again, the heart of the Bulgarian fintech ecosystem is the capital Sofia with 84 of the identified fintech companies being headquartered here. Our city is one of the fastest-growing destinations in SEE and is becoming the fintech centre of the CEE region as well.

 

 

The fintech enterprises cover a wide variety of fintech segments. Still, payments and billing, capital markets, lending and personal finance are the most preferred development field for the Bulgarian fintech companies. 

According to Valeri Valtchev, Co-founder and Chairman of BFA: Although the Bulgarian Fintech industry is considered a small contributor to the national GDP, it is one giant leap towards a high-value-added economy. For developing countries such as Bulgaria, the Fintech industry provides one of a few opportunities for catching up and promoting a highly efficient economy”.

 

09.12.2020

The Mapping of the AI Ecosystem in Bulgaria Has Just Begun. Local Companies are Invited to Join.

 

Trending Topics SEE, Vangavis, and AI Cluster Bulgaria are working on a comprehensive report on the participants, strengths, and opportunities for the #AI ecosystem in Bulgaria.

The document will map the organizations that are applying Artificial Intelligence in Bulgaria. It will aim to make the most complete and thorough analysis of the environment, to draw attention to the most prominent developments and companies. It will also explore how AI enters people’s daily lives, what technical expertise should engineers in the industry have, the labor market’s situation, where the potential and critical points in AI in Bulgaria are.

To make the survey as thorough as possible, Trending Topics and the partner organizations want to draw data directly from the environment. Companies in Bulgaria that use AI to solve problems across industries are invited to complete a survey designed specifically for the analysis’s needs. Everyone who fills in the survey will have the opportunity to have the company’s logo included in the first AI mapping in Bulgaria.

For the purposes of the research, an AI company’s definition involves organizations developing AI-based products or services, providing solutions using AI and having at least one engineer on the team having experience in areas such as machine learning, big data analysis, NLP Computer Vision, or other AI technology subsegments.

Organizations that are not directly using AI solutions but are only applying the term as a marketing tool will not be admitted. The same applies to companies that use or resell solutions of third parties.  

Newcomers in the segment and companies that have AI development planned on their roadmap at some point in the future will be included in a separate category of the report – “To Watch.”

If you are a company that implements solutions based on Artificial Intelligence in your business and wants to see your brand in the first Bulgaria AI sector analysis, fill in the survey and state your place on the local AI map: trendingtopics.eu/ai/

09.12.2020

356 SMEs Received Vouchers for ICT Services, 25 Projects to Receive Funding from the National Innovation Fund

EU-Additional-FundingThree hundred sixty-five vouchers with a total value of BGN 6,105,000 have already been distributed under the procedure “Voucher scheme for providing of Information and Communication Technology Services”. The indicative programme provides two types of vouchers – BGN 5,000 for website or application development and BGN 20,000 for digital marketing, process optimization, cyber- and information security, and others.

The procedure is managed by the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA), and the goal is to reach a total of 450 enterprises with a budget of over BGN 9 million. The funds are under the Operational Programme “Innovation and Competitiveness”. They are directed to the digitalization of Bulgarian enterprises, access to digital know-how and technology, integration of new business models based on technological solutions, and others.

The BSMEPA will also support 25 project proposals with nearly BGN 7 million from the 11th competitive session of the National Innovation Fund.  Through the funding, companies will be able to develop an innovative product or service or improve already existing ones to support the further development of the companies, including in times of economic crisis.

The approved projects fall within the thematic areas of the Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization / ISIS/: “Informatics and Information and Communication Technologies”, “Mechatronics and Clean Technologies”, “Healthy Living and Biotechnology” and “New Technologies in Creative and Recreational Industries”.

The development of over 500 projects was funded in the previous ten calls with over BGN 90 million.

 

09.12.2020

Funding Opportunities

 

Microloans financed using funds from the Fund of Funds will be available at even more relaxed terms. Financing is now available to companies and self-employed that have registered no longer than 5 years ago. The administrative requirements for proving the eligibility of costs financed with the loan under the financial instrument have also been relaxed. The loans are granted for the acquisition of tangible and non-tangible assets intended for developing and expanding business, as well as to cover other costs relating to the core business, including occupational training of workers or the entrepreneur.  There is now an opportunity for granting small loans up to BGN 5000.

The modification comes as yet another step by the FoF to support business against the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The public resources earmarked for micro-lending with shared risk amount to BGN 23.9 million and come from OP Human Resource Development 2014—2020 which is co-financed by the European Social Fund. The funds reach the enterprises via three financial intermediaries: SYS Credit, MicroFund and First Investment Bank (FIB). 

Find out more. 

 

The European Commission has launched a €5 million call for strategic alliances to help the European Union’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) maximise their use of new technologies.

This call for proposals aims to contribute to the Commission’s COVID-19 recovery package by establishing strategic alliances between tech-savvy SMEs and the traditional SMEs facing the need to adapt to the post-crisis economic environment, focusing on the benefits of adopting advanced technologies.

Applicants must be legal entities and shall be representatives of industry, research community, and technology providers, for instance: cluster organisations, technology centres, SMEs. The projects shall specifically contribute to: 

  • – Explore concrete collaboration opportunities between different type of EU businesses, particularly tech-savvy SMEs and traditional SMEs. These collaborations should improve industrial competences, increase resilience and add value to existing industrial sectors and value chains;
  • – Increase the adoption of advanced technologies in traditional SMEs and help EU tech-savvy SMEs that developed critical technology applications to expand their market potential in the EU; 
  • – Exploit the strong potential of dynamic collaboration between the cluster organisations and their technology centres with a view to boosting the technological uptake and development of EU SMEs;
  • – Develop businesses collaboration between different clusters from the same industrial ecosystem and create partnerships with other relevant industrial ecosystems.

Click for more information.

 

Yet

09.12.2020

Over 12,000 People Study for Free Thanks to the Digital Initiative of Microsoft, LinkedIn and GitHub

The number of people in Bulgaria who study for free through the digital initiative of Microsoft, LinkedIn, and GitHub is growing. More than 12,000 people have decided to improve their skills or improve the competencies they already have in the disciplines proposed by the programme.

Bulgaria holds one of the leading positions in the number of engaged students in the region. The most desired course remains the course for software developers. Besides programmers, most Bulgarians want to become specialists in the field of trade and project managers.

After completing the training, students receive a certificate to verify their skills. According to a Global Knowledge survey, 93% of employers believe that certified employees bring more benefits to the company. In late June, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and GitHub launched a campaign to help 25 million people worldwide acquire the digital skills needed for the new economic reality.

Here are the disciplines from the free initiative and details about the courses themselves, selected based on the most sought-after positions by employers.

  1. Software Developer

This course helps learners gain insight into basic web development methods, software development, and CSS and HTML databases.

Become a Software Developer

 

  1. Sales representative

Helps people who want to develop the so-called soft skills” and become a trusted partner of customers.

Become a specialist in the field of trade


  1. Project manager

From small projects to the implementation of large-scale initiatives, this course provides the necessary knowledge for the efficient organization of such activities.

Become a project manager

 

  1. IT administrator

The course helps to prepare for industry-recognized certifications and to understand basic network concepts.

Prepare CompTIA Network + certificate.

 

  1. Customer service specialist

Once customer service is transferred to the digital environment, it is crucial to understand how to create a personalized user experience.

Become a customer service specialist

 

  1. Digital marketer

This is practical training for understanding and effective use of digital marketing.

Become a digital marketer

 

  1. IT and technical support

The course aims to help IT teams move to new and flexible ways of working with virtualization, creating desktop copies, and software and device maintenance.

Prepare for the CompTIA A + certificate.

 

  1. Data analyst

Students can learn how to create better business strategies by researching information using data analysis tools.

Become a data analyst

 

  1. Financial analyst

Assists in making the right financial decisions using skills that allow the analysis of current and past economic and

04.12.2020

The Winners of CESAwards Bulgaria 2020

 

For another year in a row, the most deserving startups and people in Bulgaria’s entrepreneurial ecosystem were awarded in the national round of the Central European Ѕtartur Award 2020 (СЕЅАwаrdѕ). The startup of the year award went to the information security company LоgЅеntіnеl.

This year СЕЅАwаrdѕ Bulgaria was held in an entirely online format, organized by the Bulgarian Startup Association – ВЕЅСО. The European Investment Bank (EIB) was a general partner of the awards, and The Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA), the Fund of Funds, Ѕіtеgrоund, ВrіghtСар Vеnturеѕ, РubGаlаху, РhоnеАrеnа, ЅМЅ Вumр (а Yоtро соmраnу) and Соhоnеѕ Вrеwеrу were partner organizations. A recording of the live broadcast is available here – https://www.facebook.com/besco.startups/videos/389794782465633

The winners in the national round were decided by a comprehensive assessment of the jury’s votes in the competition and the votes of the audience after an open vote on the competition website.

Not only the winners in the ten categories of CESAwards 2020, but all 42 Bulgarian finalists will take part in the СЕЅАwаrdѕ regional competition on 10 December. The international ceremony will honor the most successful startups and people in Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

The winners

Startup of the Year is  LоgЅеntіnеl – a company for information security on large data sets, using technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence.

Best Newcomer (for companies with up to two-year history) – the starting Meteo.Rockѕ, which develops a network of autonomous and solar-powered meteorological stations for data in real-time.

Best FinTech Startup – Рhуrе – a mobile application for orders from traders worldwide, money transfer services, etc.

Founder of the Year – Sabina Gyosheva – co-founder of ВY FАR  – a brand for high-quality ladies’ shoes.

Investor of the Year for the third consecutive year is the Bulgarian venture capital fund LАUNСНub Vеnturеѕ.

Best Co-working Space – Саmрuѕ Х.

Best Social Impact Startup – Рrоѕfіt Тесhnоlоgіеѕ. The company manufactures prostheses using new technology and supports the integration of people who have undergone amputation.

Best Accelerator/Incubator Program for the second consecutive year is Endeavor’s Dаrе То Ѕсаlе.

This year, in the two new categories – Best Virtual Teamwork Solution and Ecosystem Hero of the Year – were awarded: DіgіtаlКіdz, who improve the digital competences of teachers, students, and parents, and Vassil Terziev – investor, co-founder of Саmрuѕ Х and the Telerik Academy, and managing

04.12.2020

BeamUp lab Just Launched – the Bulgarian Stock Exchange Programme to Stimulate the Growth of Bulgarian Startups and SMEs

 

In November, the beamUp lab was launched – the Bulgarian Stock Exchange program to stimulate and encourage the growth of Bulgarian start-ups and small- and medium enterprises. The first 20 companies are about to begin their participation in a 12-month cycle of meetings and development trainings – from their launch to readiness for initial public offering (IPO).

The initiative is on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, under the Ministry of Finance auspices, and is implemented in partnership with the Fund of Funds, the Bulgarian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Bulgarian Association of Licensed Investment Intermediaries, and the Bulgarian Startup Association.

beamUp lab is a unique program for Bulgaria and covers the whole spectrum of investors and financial intermediaries, and the first class of companies in the program are fast-growing companies with average revenue growth for the group of over 40% for the last three years.

The program aims to distinguish promising and innovative Bulgarian companies with sustainable business models, give them visibility to potential investors, and increase their knowledge about financing opportunities.

Read more about the program and the first 20 approved companies here.

Submission for applications is already open for companies that want to join the second group of beamUp lab in 2021. You can apply for participation here.

You can watch a recording of the official start of the program with information from the participants about the benefits of the program on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange Youtube Channel here.

 

05.11.2020
Calendar-Sofia-Events

Upcoming Events in Sofia

 

ECOMMERCE AND RETAIL SUMMIT

5 November, online

The year 2020 turns out to be challenging for the whole world and the retail sector is not an exception. What will be the “new normal”? Can we expect a long-term e-commerce shift? Capital is organizing the Ecommerce and Retail Summit, carrying the tradition of the previous successful formats of the Retail in Detail and the Strategies for Ecommerce Success conferences. 

TOPICS

– How to thrive – not just survive – in a post-pandemic  world

– Ecommerce and physical stores –  long-term shifts in market shares

– Consumers’ preferences and habits – is there a space for new brand loyalty and ethical retailing

– Reinventing the supply chain

– New marketing strategies

– The importance of Big data in the new realities

– Retail technologies emerged from the crisis  

– Online payments and security issues

When and where

5th November 2020

Online

 

BALREC 2020

11 November, hybrid event

Established in 2006, BalREc is a leading real estate investment conference in Bulgaria and the region, providing the opportunity to all stakeholders on the market to meet, network and discuss the latest industry trends. Leading investors, financial institutions, consultants, project managers, law firms and other parties involved in the major projects in the sector will take part in panel sessions, emphasizing the current perspectives and investment environment in the key market segments: office, retail, residential, industrial & logistics, hotels & hospitality and the growing alternative asset classes.

Hyatt Regency Sofia and online streaming

11 November 

Learn more about the event here.

 


h.i SUMMIT 2020

11 November, Inter Expo Center and online streaming

Human Business Studio in partnership with Investor Media Group organizes the first international annual forum h. i summit.

You will hear the most important details about key global trends in:

– Change management

– Organizational design and culture

– Forecasting and strategic planning

– Systematic thinking for solving problems by putting the person in the center and exploiting his potential.

  1. i summit 2020 will bring together business leaders, forward thinkers, artists, futurists, and innovators from Bulgaria and abroad to conduct a meaningful dialogue about the future of organizations and the role of people in that.

The event will be held both online with live streaming and on-site at Inter Expo Center with a limited number of participants. There will be keynote presentations both in Bulgarian and in English

05.11.2020

Sofia City News

 

Sofia Municipality and the GATE Center of Excellence signed a cooperation agreement as part of the implementation of the Sofia Digital Transformation Strategy. Work will be carried out on the creation of the first City Digital Twin. It will be located on the territory of Lozenets district.

City Digital Twin is a large interdisciplinary project of the GATE Institute in the field of big data and artificial intelligence and is the first of its kind in Bulgaria. The project aims to develop a digital platform – a twin of Sofia’s real urban environment to design, test, implement, and service solutions from the entire life cycle of urban life through a 3D simulation of the city before implementing them in the real environment.

The agreement was signed by the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova and the Rector of Sofia University, Prof. Anastas Gerdjikov. Watch a recording from the online signing event with more information about the project “City Digital Twin” and what lies ahead here.

***

At the initiative of the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova, Sofia Municipality in partnership with the Regional Department of Education and the Center for Creative Training launched a pilot project – “School in the Cloud” – for the development of digital skills and work in an online environment. It includes 16 schools in Sofia.

Information about the project was presented during the online streaming of an event by the Second English Language High School “Thomas Jefferson” in Sofia on the high school’s approval for Google Reference School – the first in Sofia and the second in Southeast Europe. The school is also part of the pilot project “School in the cloud” and implements the “One to One” model for carrying out the learning process by a device for each teacher and student to complete the school’s digital transformation.

“School in the Cloud” aims to make the capital a leader in using digital technologies in education, following the example of projects that have already been implemented in the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, Belgium, USA, and others. The goal is to develop it successfully and implement it in more schools in Sofia to make way for their digital transformation.

Watch a recording of the event here.

***

The voting for the practical proposals submitted in Sofia’s “Sofia chooses” campaign for ideas from citizens, civil- and professional organizations for projects to improve the city is

05.11.2020

Funding opportunities

 

Soft loans with guarantees from the Fund of Funds will also be offered by First Investment Bank, BACB, and Tokuda Bank. The portfolio guarantee agreement supports small and medium-sized enterprises’ liquidity in response to the economic crisis related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund directs to Bulgaria’s small- and medium-sized business, an additional anti-crisis resource of BGN 42 million. The funds are for liquid support of SМЕs affected by the COVID crisis and will reach the companies through the equity investment managers Innovation Capital, Morningside Hill, and Vitosha Venture Partners. After the upcoming signing of the agreement with the fourth financial intermediary – New Vision 3, the total amount of the anti-crisis resource will reach BGN 56.3 million.

Тhe enterprises can contact the banks mentioned above and four financial intermediaries directly for more information and discussions on potential cooperation.

***

Young (with up to 3 years of experience) or future entrepreneurs (with a business idea) can apply for the Erasmus program for young entrepreneurs. The program offers on-the-job training in a small or medium-sized enterprise abroad with a funded stay of 1 to 6 months. Among the advantages for the participants are improving the business plan, acquiring know-how, accessing new markets and partners abroad, looking at different cultural and organizational attitudes, and doing business in another EU country.

The application is made entirely electronically on the Erasmus website for young entrepreneurs here.

***

Bloomberg TV Bulgaria accepts applications for its “Inspirational 5” campaign. The initiative is aimed at start-up companies and strives to support innovative business solutions and promote successful business practices in Bulgaria.

Every start-up based in Bulgaria, having a developed innovative project and activity on the Bulgarian market of no more than three years, can apply for the “Inspirational 5” on the initiative’s website until 15 November .

The five start-ups that receive the most votes among consumers will be announced in the first week of December and will receive advice and know-how from a special mentoring team of specialists invited in the initiative by Bloomberg TV Bulgaria.

***

In connection with the preliminary evaluation of financial instruments for the next programming period 2021-2027, the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry conducted an anonymous survey among potential final recipients (companies) that would apply for future financial instruments under the “Human Resources Development” Operational Program. The aim is to study the attitude among potential beneficiaries who would

05.11.2020

The Annual Study of the Professional Association of Robotics and Automation (PARA) for Automation in Bulgaria Is Now Available for Download

The Professional Association of Robotics and Automation (PARA) presented its latest report on the role of automation in Bulgaria during the “Robotics Strategy Forum 2020”, which took place on 22 October. 

PARA has prepared the report for the third consecutive year through a survey among Bulgarian companies. This year, the report also includes an analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and how it has affected the industry’s plans to invest in automation. 

The results are based on 32 companies’ answers with nearly 15,000 employees from the sectors of automotive components, furniture, electronics, mechanical engineering, and others. The Association emphasizes that the survey does not claim the representativeness of the sample. Some of the main highlights include:

– 50% of the companies claim a delay or complete postponement of automation investments due to the pandemic. Half of these companies are in the automotive sector.

– Still, there are companies – 19% of all, in which the pandemic has accelerated the process. Among them are representatives of the chemical-, smart home sensors companies, manufacturers of microelectronics.

– 44% consider implementing software and discrete automation.

– Companies want to automate mostly the production process, data collection and processing, administration, and quality control.

– The automotive industry remains the main user of industrial robots in Bulgaria – an average of one robot per 45.85 employees help in 4 factories for automotive components; in mechanical engineering, the food industry, automation, and household appliances, one robot assists 70.66 employees in the company.

– The primary incentive for investment in robotic systems is quality, cost optimization, and workforce lack.

Find more data from the survey in the PARA blog here and in the video from the opening session of the “Robotics Strategy Forum 2020”. Watch all videos on PARA’s YouTube channel here.

 

07.10.2020

Upcoming Events in Sofia

 

DIGITAL FINANCE FORUM

6 October, online

 

In its 22nd edition, the Digital Finance Forum will focus on the future of financial technology, open banking, payment innovation, insurance technology, and will showcase good practices and examples of new and improved financial services and solutions.

 

The main topics of the 2020 event include:

  • The change of processes and technologies in the context of a global pandemic
  • Recent changes in the regulatory framework and the impact of the sector
  • Digitalization, optimization, and automation of the internal business processes in financial institutions
  • The role of IT managers in financial institutions in the time of crisis/pandemic
  • The future of payments
  • Innovation at the heart of next-generation financial services
  • Looking to the new decade – what is the future of financial technology
  • Technological ways to put the consumer at the center of financial services
  • Facing the user experience

Find more and register here.

 

OFFICIAL RELEASE OF FINTECH SOFIA MAP 2020

8 October, online

 

Innovative Sofia, together with Bulgarian Fintech Association is hosting the official release of the very first Fintech Sofia Map 2020.

The event aims at presenting the Sofia Fintech Landscape in 2020, the main specifics of Sofia’s Fintech market and the ecosystem players. The webinar will be the first of a series of English-led events manifesting Bulgaria as the Fintech Hub of Southeastern Europe.

To watch and participate in the event, please sign up in the Zoom form here. After signing up you will receive a confirmation email with the link to the event

You can also follow the Facebook event. Stay tuned to be the first to learn who will be the participants in the virtual event.

 

FIFTH ANNUAL INDUSTRY 4.0 FORUM

8 October

 

The Fifth Annual Industry 4.0 Forum is one of the major industrial conferences in Southeast Europe and a key event focusing on the digital transformation of manufacturing. It brings together business and policy leaders from Bulgaria and the region to showcase the innovators and the industrial champions which are already shaping the future.

 

When and Where

October 8, 2020 (15:30 – 17:00) – Live on Capital.bg

The future of the regions: cooperation for investment and development

October 21, 2020 (10:30 – 12:00) – Grand Hotel Plovdiv | Live on Capital.bg

 

Topics in 2020:

  • Post COVID-19 Economic recovery
  • Creating an innovative environment – policies and funding strategies
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