New Index Calls Sofia Region a Brain Business Hub of Europe


Sofia ranks 27th in terms of concentration of knowledge-intensive jobs out of Europe’s 278 regions, according to the 2020 edition of The Geography of Europe’s Brain Business Jobs: 2020 Index issued by the European Centre for Policy Reform and Entrepreneurship. The study significantly advances the understanding of the geography of knowledge industries and highlights their importance for future income and productivity growth in Europe.

The Sofia region is praised as a new brain business hub of Europe. With the third fastest rate of growth of knowledge-intensive jobs, it keeps building on its previous strong position in earlier versions of the index, followed by Prague and Bucharest. This year, Sofia increased its share of advanced jobs to 10.1 percent of the working age population employed in Brain Business Jobs, which is more than twice the national average and higher than the European average of 6.3 percent. 

The report states: “It is evident that the Eastern and Central capital regions, such as Bratislava, Sofia, Prague and Bucharest, are the new hotbeds of Brain Business Jobs. It is likely that these regions will increasingly be linked to the strong Nordic and Western European Brain Business hubs, such as London, the Oxford Region, Paris and Stockholm.”


The 2020 Index contains 30 individual country reports. The analyses for Bulgaria sais:

In Bulgaria, the number of employees of the most knowledge-intensive firms has grown from 155 200 in 2012 to 194 600 in 2019. Out of the 39 400 new Brain Business Jobs, fully 73 percent have been created in ICT, 12 percent in creative professions, 8 percent in the tech sector and 7 percent in advanced services. 

Compared to the rest of Europe, Bulgaria has strength in design & other creative professions, IT-services as well as telecom, programming and the pharmaceutical sector. In fact, the concentration of highly knowledge-intensive jobs in these sectors is higher in Bulgaria than the European average. Weaknesses are found in head offices & management, engineering, R&D as well as publishing. 

Bulgaria has a stronger concentration of knowledge-intensive jobs than Romania, Poland, Croatia, Italy, Greece and Spain. The country has considerable opportunity to continue catching up to the leading European nations, granted that reforms, including anti-corruption policies and investments in higher education, are introduced to boost the business climate. 

The report has been published for the third consecutive year. It maps 31 countries and 278 regions


Funding Opportunities 


 In December, the Export Hub Bulgaria initiative was launched at the John Atanasoff Innovation Forum launched. The initiative aims to develop the export potential of Bulgarian companies. Twelve organisations signed the Agreement on the Establishment of Export Hub Bulgaria in the presence of the Minister of Economy Mr. Emil Karanikolov, ambassadors and trade attaches, the Executive Agency for Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises (BSMEPA) – initiator, the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria, CleanTech Bulgaria, Sofia Tech Park – host, Bulgarian Entrepreneurship & Startup Community (BESCO), SoftUni, the Association of Business Clusters, the Bulgarian Industrial Association.

The initiative will provide guidance on the steps that Bulgarian companies need to take in order to gain a foothold on international markets successfully. The initiative is hosted by Sofia Tech Park. A platform will be established that will facilitate businesses in their entry into foreign markets and provide them with access to information on the specifics and features of markets around the world such as regulatory frameworks, areas with high potential by country, practical advice.  

In the beginning of 2020, Export Hub Bulgaria will organise an export program for 15 Bulgarian companies that have a product already on the market and will assist them to access foreign markets through mentoring, practical training and direct support.

Follow the BSMEPA website for additional information and the launch of the companies’ registration form.


The Fund of Funds selected Vitosha Venture Partners to manage the last of the three Acceleration and Initial Financing Funds (FUNF II) under the Operations Innovation and Competitiveness Program 2014-2020, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

Vitosha Venture Partners will manage public funds amounting to BGN 35.6 million with an addition of at least 10% private equity. At least 76 companies will be financed with an investment amount of between BGN 30,000 and BGN 2 million. FUNF II’s investment period will continue until the end of 2023.

The new fund will support companies in the earliest stages of development with capital and know-how, in exchange for a minority stake in their capital. Part of the funding is also aimed at more advanced startups. 


The Information Day of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) aiming to stimulate the application and participation of Central and Southeast European countries in various competitions and projects will take place in 2020. The first of two planned events will be held on January


Invest Sofia Presented Sofia’s Business Environment to German Investors 


Mr. Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, presented the business environment in the city, the conditions for starting a business, the fastest growing sectors, the human capital and the quality of life in Sofia in front of a German delegation. He also introduced the major German companies already present with their business in Sofia including Lufthansa Technik, Behr Hella, Kaufland, Bosch, DHL, ProSiebenSat.1, Festo, Lidl and others. 

The delegation featured both companies planning to expand their business in Bulgaria, as well as those intending to invest in the country for the first time. 

The representatives of the German business also met with the Minister of Economy Mr. Emil Karanikolov, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Mr. Boyko Borisov and the President Mr. Rumen Radev. 

The delegation was organised by the Eastern Commission of the German Economy with the assistance of the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, which confirmed the news that Commerzbank AG plans to build a large IT centre in Bulgaria next year. Initially, 400 jobs will be created for highly qualified IT professionals, with the intention to increase their number to 600.

During the meetings in Sofia, it became clear that German investors are interested in the areas of transport infrastructure, water and waste management, mechanical engineering, e-health, the food and banking industries



Upcoming Events in Sofia



17.01.2020, European Commission Representation in Bulgaria

The upcoming IMI2 information day aims to bring together representatives and key figures from the research and business sectors in Bulgaria and SEE in order to boost application and participation of CE and SEE countries in different IMI calls and projects. The first of two planned events will be held on the 17th of January 2020 in Sofia.

Along with the general information about IMI, a representative from the initiative will join the workshop and will present detailed information about the upcoming funding opportunities in 2020, as the focus will be on IMI2 – Call 20.

Access is free upon registration.



31.01 – 02.02.2020, Sofia Tech Park

Sofia Game Jam is a 48-hour hackathon where everyone is free to experiment with game mechanics, explore their imagination and try out new ideas. Everyone is welcome – from those who are really into game development to those who are gamers or just want to try making games.

SGJ Week is a completely non-profit event organized by volunteers with the support of the Bulgarian game dev community. The event is a proud member of the Global Game Jam family – one of the fastest growing initiatives in the world. In 2019, 47 200 participants from 860 sites in 113 countries around the globe created 9 010 games in 48 hours.

Sofia Game Jam Week 2020 is co-organized by ARC Academy and supported by Institut français de Bulgarie, Instytut Polski w Sofii, Sofia Tech Park, Incineration Productions JSC, V-Ray Chaos Group, Ubisoft Sofia, Creative Assembly – Sofia, SEGA, Black Sea Games, 11 bit studios, SUPERHOT, ChibiPhoenix, TELUS International Bulgaria, Global Game Jam.

Register to be a participant at the official SGJ page here.