Until September 21, micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises can receive grants between BGN 180,000 and BGN 700,000 for new equipment and software under the open call “Technological modernization” under the Recovery and Sustainability Plan. The total budget of the invitation is BGN 260 million. The main objective of the procedure is to increase the efficiency of production processes, achieve higher productivity, reduce costs and optimize the production chain by providing grants to SMEs. Applications can be submitted through the UMIS 2020 postal here.
Until September 22, Bulgarian companies and organizations can apply for funding between BGN 70,000 and BGN 800,000 for new space technologies and applications. Project proposals ar accepted via the website of the European Space Agency (ESA) at: https://doing-business.sso.esa.int/.
The procedure is for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including startups, as well as research centres, for the creation of new space technologies, equipment or products suitable for ESA missions, market research, research and development activities, applications and training programmess for space engineering, etc. Partnership programmes between science and business will be encouraged, including organizing internships in real research or work environment.
The Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency, in partnership with the US Embassy in Sofia and the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, organizes the “EXPLORE USA” conference, dedicated to the opportunities for Bulgarian companies to start and expand their business in the USA. The event is free to attend and will take place on October 13 at the Millennium Sofia Grand Hotel. Details of the US market will be presented, recommendations for a business start, as well as the sectors in which companies have the greatest chance for successful expansion. Information will also be presented about the SelectUSA programme, which supports the entry of Bulgarian companies into the US market. To book your seat at the conference, only registration is required by October 7 via the link here.
Enterprise Europe Network at the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce invites enterprises, universities and research institutions from the healthcare sector to join the B2B meetings during the MEDICA Healthcare Brokerage Event 2022. The meetings will be held on-site during the exhibition – between 14-17 November 2022 in Düsseldorf, Germany, as well as online – until December 15, 2022. The event provides all participating organizations with an opportunity to establish international partnerships in product development, manufacturing, licensing agreements, distribution, research collaborations, joint ventures, investments,
Since the beginning of July, the new electronic service for changing address registration in Sofia has already been fully integrated with the payment system of the Ministry of Electronic Government. All regional administrations are already working successfully with the system and delivering the service much faster. The service is available at https://address.sofia.bg
According to Sofia’s Deputy Mayor for digitalization, Gencho Kerezov, the next goal is to upgrade the system so that it can also support other electronic services and its gradual transformation into a single electronic counter for serving citizens entirely via mobile phone.
Sofia will host the International Conference and General Assembly of CITY DESTINATION ALLIANCE (City DNA) between 19 – 22 April 2023. During the Conference, delegates will get to know the strengths of Sofia and Bulgaria as tourist destinations. Over 200 delegates from over 100 cities are expected to attend the event. Sofia has been a member of the organization since September 2021 and uses its networking with the other 116 cities from 38 countries in the programme to develop the city’s potential as a tourist destination, exchange of good practices on various city challenges, and more. City DNA network includes members cities such as Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Belgrade, Berlin, Bratislava, Vienna, Cannes, Geneva, Istanbul, London, Tel Aviv, Monaco, Paris, Prague, Zagreb, Rome, Ljubljana, Zurich, etc.
For the third year in a row, the Calendar of Cultural Events of Sofia Municipality includes many outdoor opera and ballet performances. Performances from the programs of the “Water Muses” festival on Pancharevsko Lake and “Opera in the Park” are already underway in the green areas of the Military Academy “G. S. Rakovski ” where the programme is more oriented toward children’s audience. You can follow the programme for July, August, and September here: https://www.operasofia.bg/repertoire/opera%20v%20parka and here: https://www.operasofia.bg/repertoire/Panchrevskoto%20ezero
An innovative project aimed at overcoming the negative consequences of climate change “Blue-Green Acupuncture” will be implemented around the amphitheater space in “Vazrazhdane” Park in Zone B-5.
The site in this highly urbanized area of the city will be transformed into a shared ‘cooled’ space for recreation and events.
Shading of the amphitheater with vegetation, construction of sprinkler systems and a rock garden with greens resistant to climate change are planned. To avoid the urban heat island effect, flooring made of natural materials with low thermal capacity in light colors will be used. A coating will be placed on the
The ninth edition of the Innovation Academy, the biggest competition for student startup ideas, will take place soon. The competition is organised by the innovation agency Innovation Starter.
Again, Invest Sofia will join the hackathon as an institutional partner of the event together with the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria and the European Investment Bank. At the invitation of the organisers, our CEO Dr. Maria Hristova will be a speaker and a member of the jury.
The Innovation Academy is the largest public-private partnership in the country between organizations from the private, academic, public and NGO sectors. The project aims at developing students’ entrepreneurial skills and at funding their early business ideas. The initiative started in 2014 in partnership with 1 university from Sofia. Today, the event is held nationwide, in partnership with 14 Bulgarian universities and training centers. So far, more than 4,300 participants and more than 720 teams have been trained in the project.
Innovation Academy 2022 will be held in 3 main modules:
The winning team will receive financial funding for their business idea, provided by the European Investment Bank, and an opportunity to visit the European institutions in Brussels provided by the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria. Innovation Starter will support the best project with a one-year mentoring and participation in the Innovation Starter Accelerator programme.
We invite all students from Sofia and the country to join the hackathon. Innovation Academy 2022 will be held on June 3-4th at Sofia Tech Park. You can apply online via the website here.
A new mobile app that promotes alternative and green mobility in the cities has been launched in Sofia. The app is called Sofia Coin and was developed under the INNOAIR project in active cooperation with Sofia Municipality and Sofia Development Association. Partners of the initiative are local companies such as Eventim, A1, E-bike rental, Hobo, and Brum. Sofia Coin users who choose to walk, ride a bike, or electric scooter, receive various prizes according to the kilometers traveled, such as gloves, a bicycle helmet, or free concert tickets. The application is available for both Android and iOS devices.
Automatic defibrillators of the latest generation are to be placed in special cabinets in Sofia’s busiest metro stations. They will be put on visible, protected places at the “Sofia University”, “Lyulin”, “Vitosha”, “NDK”, and stations. Some of the metro staff will be trained to operate the equipment. Defibrillators can be used by non-medical professionals. Sofia Municipality’s pilot project for their placement aims to provide an opportunity for a quick reaction in case of sudden cardiac arrest of a passenger. An average of 240,000 people use the metro every day, and ambulance access to metro stations is more difficult. In case of intervention in the first minutes of a heart problem, the probability of saving a person is 70%.
Three metro stations from the new metro line were awarded in the 20th edition of the City of Media Group’s National Building of the Year competition. The Grand prize went to the team that had worked on the design and construction of the Ovcha Kupel metro station, and the two special prizes went to the teams that had worked on the Mizia and Gorna Banya metro stations. According to Sofia Municipality, the three metro lines save 79 thousand tons of harmful emissions per year. The construction of the next section with 3 stops to the Levski G neighborhood is expected to begin in the first months of the year.
Financial and logistical support for the open-air stages, special focus on the youth audience and encouragement of young artists, flexible application procedures, and adaptation of projects in situations complicated by COVID-19 are among the highlights in Sofia Municipality’s Calendar of Cultural Events for 2022. This year, cultural operators and event organizers building an outdoor infrastructure to present cultural events will receive both logistical and financial support. Sofia Municipality will support festivals and
The Bulgarian Investment Agency (BIA) will present the Investor of the Year Awards. We invite all Sofia-based companies that have made new investments in 2021 or expanded their existing operations, to apply for the “Golden Bull” statuettes. Submit your applications until January 31, 2022.
In this 16th edition of the Awards, IBA will recognize the most significant investment projects in five categories: “Investor of 2021”; “Green Investment of the Year”; “Business Expansion Investment”; “Innovative Business Investment” and “Human Capital Investment”. Special awards will be presented in the categories “Startup of the Year” and “Municipality with the largest investments in Bulgaria”.
The Awards apprise the companies that have made a significant step ahead through sustainable and effective investments, created new jobs, and introduced high technologies for smart and sustainable economic growth.
Nominations can be submitted by Bulgarian and/or foreign companies that meet as many of the main evaluation criteria as possible:
Applications for “Investor of the Year” 2021 are accepted on the IBA website here.
The office space market in Sofia is gradually stabilizing, according to data from the consulting company MBL. By the end of 2021, the existing modern office space in the city reaches 2.410 million square meters. The total volume of newly delivered office space, including renovated Class B spaces, reaches 192,000 sq.m. This is a threefold increase compared to 66,000 sq.m. in 2020, thus reaching the pre-pandemic levels of 2019 (180,000 sq.m.). The volume of office buildings under active construction amounts to about 210,000 sq.m. These are the lowest levels of construction activity in the segment since 2016.
The vacant Class A and B office areas as of Q4 2021 are 390,000 square meters, 42.5% of which are located on Tsarigradsko Shosse Blvd., 13.5% in Lozenets and Hladilnika, and 11.8% in Mladost and Business Park areas. As a result, the total vacancy rate amounts to a record high of 16.2% as of year-end. The volume of existing or under-construction areas of class A and B, which are actively offered on the market, is 495 000 sq.m., 40% of them being along Tsarigradsko Shosse Blvd.
The net absorption on an annual basis reaches 42,000 sq.m. Although this volume is far from pre-pandemic levels, the data show a twofold increase compared to 2020. New leaseacquisitions for the year stands at 120,000 sq.m., which is also an increase of 40% compared to 2020.
Rental rates for Class A office spaces remain stable – from 12 to 14 euros/sq.m, and for Blass B – between 8 and 11 euros/sq.m. Pressure is expected on rental levels in suburban areas and where the availability of vacant spaces is high, such as the buildings on Tsarigradsko Shosse Blvd.
According to MBL, the office space market is gradually returning to its traditional activity and this is evident from the rising net utilization compared to 2020 and the new leases for additional office space from current tenants, which reach pre-pandemic levels. The largest transaction on the market last year was the acquisition of Park Lane Office Center by SAP. Investment activity in the office segment is higher than in 2020, with a total transaction volume of around 95,000,000 euro, 80% of which were from existing tenants – large IT companies that bought the offices they operate from. This year, investments are expected to be driven mainly by the office segment and the hospitality segment.
The industrial market remains
Applications for the Accelerator Startup Sofia Programme are still open until 31 January 2021. The Programme aims at supporting companies based in Sofia that develop innovative products, services or processes and demonstrate potential for growth, wide application and impact. The companies will be supported to accelerate access to finance through training sessions on how to develop and present well-founded proposals to potential investors. It will also increase their skills to pitch, negotiate, and partner with funding organizations that will help them further develop high-value-added innovative products and services.
“The Programme will provide BGN 100,000 in grant funding to SMEs based in Sofia. When you are a startup entrepreneur, financing is not the only thing that you need. Your idea has to be presented to the local ecosystem, mentorship and expert assistance, as well as networking for go-to-market activities locally or internationally, are also needed”, CEO at Invest Sofia Maria Hristova commented.
The pilot edition of the Accelerator Startup Sofia was held in 2019 and 13 projects were funded. Sofia-based SMEs can submit their document for participation in the second edition of the Programme until the end of January. Individuals are also allowed to apply, but within 6 months they must set up a company in Sofia. “The application process is easy, fully online. Entrepreneurs can submit their applications on the website of the Europe Programme”, Maria Hristova added.
“Support has always been essential. Micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises tend to have difficulties in terms of competitiveness. Financial mechanisms and expert assistance are the least we could support the companies with, while at the same time considering options for additional funding to the projects showing the highest potential for growth”, Invest Sofia’s CEO said.
The registration deadline for the virtual bilateral meetings during the Health Tech Hub Styria Pitch & Partner 2022 (HTH Styria) has been extended. The event will take place on February 27 and 28, 2022 and it is an excellent opportunity for start-ups, small and medium enterprises with solutions in the field of health care, digital technologies in healthcare, clinical activities, etc. Companies will be able to present their work to corporate participants who have already listed the specific challenges for which they are looking for solutions. The deadline for registration and meetings scheduling is January 27, 2022. The cases from the companies are already available on the competition website here – https://www.hth-styria.com/page-4901. You can ask for assistance from the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce at the contacts listed here.
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has announced its second Call for Proposals, inviting higher education institutions to design activities that will improve entrepreneurial and innovation capacity. The program will support up to 40 consortia of higher education institutions with research centers, public organizations, associations, private companies. each selected project will be awarded a maximum of EUR 1.2 million. Funding Phase 1 will run from July to December 2022, and projects will be awarded a maximum of EUR 300,000 during this period. Upon successful completion of Phase 1, Phase 2 funding of up to EUR 900,000 will follow for the period from January 2023 to June 2024. The deadline for submission of proposals is 28.02.2022. More information can be found on the website of the Program here: https://eit-hei.eu/calls/call-for%20-proposals-november-2021%20/
Companies from the private sector, academia and public administration in all EU countries can also apply for the Digital Europe program. Grants will be targeted towards an investment of over €415 million in cloud to edge infrastructure, data spaces, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum communication infrastructure, in advancing people’s digital skills, and projects that promote a safer internet, fight child sexual abuse, and disinformation, until the end of 2022. The call is also open to proposals for the creation and implementation of the European Digital Innovation Center (EDIH) network, which will support private companies, including SMEs and start-ups, as well as the public sector in their digital transformation. The application deadline is February 22, 2022 via the site here.
We remind you that current open call on EU priority areas are published on the European Commission’s website here
Companies, organizations, and public administrations from the EU Member States, as well as those from the countries associated with the Digital Europe programme, are eligible to apply for the open calls for projects for digital transition progress. EUR 1.38 billion will be invested in artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing services and data spaces, quantum communication infrastructure, advanced digital skills, and the widespread use of digital technologies in the economy and society by the end of 2022. In addition to this main work programme, the Commission has published two specific work programs: the first focuses on cybersecurity funding with a budget of EUR 269 million by the end of 2022; the second – on the creation and operation of the network of European digital innovation centers with a budget of EUR 329 million by the end of 2023. Documents for the Digital Europe program and information on how to obtain funding are available here: https: // ec. europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_5863
The Danish venture capital fund Kompas Ventures to invest USD 160 million in start-ups from the US, Europe, and Israel with real estate, construction, and manufacturing developments reducing waste and CO2 emissions. Investments in the initial rounds are expected to range between USD 1 million and USD 5 million. Within the housing sector, Kompas Ventures is looking for young companies focused on modern materials, smart home technology, IoT, and climate technology. Eligible to apply in real estate and construction, are teams with ideas for lifecycle asset optimization, architecture and design of buildings, construction methods, and improving the customer experience. There is also a search for companies with projects in industrial automation, digital supply chain management, cybersecurity, corporate software, and the circular economy – in cases where they are applicable in the above stated areas.
Berlin’s venture capital fund Greenfield One for investing in crypto companies has announced its third fund with a capital of EUR 135 million. The funds are provided entirely by private sector investors. The new fund aims to invest in about 35 companies in the initial or advanced stages of development with an average of about EUR 3.8 million per company. Greenfield One is looking for blockchain-based business ideas and models of companies with operations in Europe.
Companies with revolutionary technologies in renewable energy, energy-intensive industries, energy storage and capture, use, and storage of carbon dioxide can apply for funding from the European Commission’s innovation fund by
Six tech startup companies, all with headquarters in Sofia, are now part of the 22nd annual edition of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 Central Europe 2021 ranking.
– OfficeRnD (9th place) and Endurosat (50th place), which hit the overall ranking of the Top 50 fastest growing technology startups in Central Europe;
– phyre, CloudCart and Dronamics are among the companies announced to be Impact Stars – the ranking’s special classification of entities which successfully link great products/services with a positive impact on society, business, innovativeness, environment and diversity;
– and Payhawk, which was named Investment Star 2021 – the award that recognizes companies that do not meet the main Fast 50 criteria but have received the greatest total investment between 1 January 2018 and 31 May 2021 (with a minimum amount of €500,000).
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 four years (2017 to 2020). Companies must have base-year operating revenues of €50,000 in 2017, 2018, 2019 and a current year operating revenue (2020) of €100,000 and above. Startups are allowed to self-nominate, the financial data are provided by the entrants themselves and this information is then cross-checked. A record number of nominations have been submitted for this year’s edition.
About the Sofia-based companies in Technology Fast 50 Central Europe 2021
OfficeRnD, one of the Top 10 Fastest Growing Technology Companies in Central Europe, is developing an intelligent centralized platform for easy and convenient management of shared workspaces and business centers through various features such as billing and invoicing, desk booking, management of services and many others. The OfficeRnD team consists of over 120 people in 4 offices – Sofia, Atlanta, London and Melbourne and for the period under review demonstrated 1883.9% revenue growth. A month ago, OfficeRnD raised USD 10 million to accelerate its growth and increase its market share. The main investor is the US-based Runa Capital, with the participation of previous investors Flashpoint Venture Capital and LAUNCHub Ventures.
The nanosatellite company EnduroSat recorded 558.32% revenue growth and ranked 50th. This summer, EnduroSat received third consecutive support from the Neo Ventures fund. The new investment amounts to EUR 2 million. EnduroSat was founded in 2015 and is developing low orbit nanosatellites. With the funds, the company plans to attract more specialists to its team and invest
The Sofia Municipal Council approved the second edition of the supporting financial instrument “Accelerator Startup Sofia” which aims to facilitate access to finance for innovative and startup companies and social entrepreneurs in the Sofia Municipality. Applications are now open – from 15.12.2021 until 31.01.2022.
Accelerator Startup Sofia is a joint platform between the Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs (MGFSME), Invest Sofia and the “Europe” Programme by Sofia Municipality. Funding for the second edition of Accelerator Startup Sofia is worth BGN 100,000 provided by MGFSME.
The programme, whose pilot edition was approved by the Sofia Municipal Council in 2018, aims to promote accelerated access to finance for innovative and startup companies and social entrepreneurs in the Sofia Municipality by supporting them in developing and presenting proposals to potential investors and financial institutions. It also aims at increasing their capacity to negotiate for funding with the banking sector and encouraging them to develop and present innovative products and services with high added value.
The Programme will provide initial financial resources for starting or developing a product or a service, and in parallel or after this stage, the participants will be able to benefit from the guarantee programme of MGFSME. The experts from Invest Sofia will provide mentoring, training, contacts, shared office space during the implementation of projects, as well as the opportunity for the companies to present their projects to potential investors. The experience of the “Europe” Programme will be used to support NGO’s innovative and digital projects, as well as the expertise of the Sofia Development Association in support of entrepreneurship, innovation and digital technologies.
“With its 13 years of experience in supporting projects in Sofia, the “Europe” Programme is a respected and proven tool towards implementing the policies of Sofia Municipality. “In the context of the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19, the second edition of the Accelerator Startup Sofia Program will aim to achieve social and economic impact in the living conditions in the capital,” Ekaterina Yordanova, Chairman of the “Europe” Programme Council said.
On December 17, 2021 (Friday), at 12:30, Information Day on the application procedure under the Accelerator Startup Sofia Programme by Sofia Municipality will be held. The meeting will be held online through the Cisco Webex platform. Access link and password are listed below.
During the meeting, explanations will be made on the Guidelines for Applicants, the application form, the accompanying documents, the evaluation methodology. Q&A
The second edition of the “Sofia chooses” initiative is underway. Sofia Municipality’s program is directed toward projects proposed by citizens and selected by them by voting which aim to improve the urban environment. This year’s topic is “Sofia chooses green” and submission is open for proposals of citizens and organizations for ideas focused on tackling climate change, biodiversity conservation, growing trees in the urban environment, green roofs, urban agriculture, reducing air pollution, alternative energy sources, etc. Sofia Chooses aims to encourage the direct participation of citizens, non-governmental and professional organizations in proposing projects for the city. The budget for 2022 is BGN 1,000,000, and proposal submission is open until 31 December. Read everything about the Program and how to submit here: https://www.sofia.bg/en/sofia-izbira-zelenoto
The marking of 100 km of tourist routes and 72 km of mountain biking trails on Vitosha mountain has been renewed. This is the first part of the planned gradual renovation and addition of the marking for hiking and biking tours on the low mountain road path horizontally of the nature park. It’s an initiative of the “Sofia – European Capital of Sport” Foundation, Vitosha Nature Park, and the “Vertical World” Sports Club and its implementation will continue next year.
Six locations in Sofia are in preparation for vertical urban agriculture under the CityZen project, funded by the INTERREG Europe Program and co-financed by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The vertical gardens were made within 2 design seminars and installed in different locations, including a residential building in Iztok district, in Sofia Municipality, Sofia Tech Park, the supermarket of the Central Cooperative Union, a branch of the Sofia Library, and SofiaLab. Along with the specially designed vertical gardens, the teams of volunteers have everything they need – pots and boxes, soil, drainage, seedlings, and compost, provided by the Khan Bogrov Biological Treatment Plant of Sofia Municipality. The implementation of the project is coordinated by the Sofia Development Association, which will monitor the first harvest of vertical gardens in the months to come, and the effect of urban agriculture on people and places in urban environments.
The gradual planting of 200 linden trees in the new linear park in the center of Sofia between the roads on Macedonia Blvd. has started. 13,000 shrubs and more than 5,000 flowers will also be planted throughout the area. The landscaping is part of the implementation of the