“Green energy” was one of the topics that Viktor Gusev, head of Invest Sofia’s “Investment Analysis” department, discussed with Dr. Rumyana Grozeva – Executive Director of the Regional Economic Development Agency – Stara Zagora (SZEDA) for the podcast “Climate Stories”.
“We’ve noticed from the investors’ inquiries in recent months that many investors would like to know what the sources of energy are and what part of them are or may come from” green sources “. To a great extent, this is valid for large companies that are looking for implementation opportunities for their corporate environmental policies,” Victor Gusev said and confirmed that the topic of energy sources is already part of the controversy to attract investors. The experience of the Municipality of Stara Zagora confirmed the same, as it became clear within the discussion.
Victor Gusev also spoke about Invest Sofia’s activities, which aim to support foreign and Bulgarian companies, entrepreneurs, and start-ups that want to establish a business in Sofia, as well as Sofia Municipality’s investment incentives tools. The recently awarded Class B certificate for an investment project of municipal importance to the “Children’s Health” Medical Centre for the construction of a Children’s Medical Centre in Ovcha Kupel in Sofia was pointed as an example.
“Our services are not concluded by only providing preliminary information about the business environment, labor market, conditions in a particular economic sector. We also support investors in the next operational steps of establishing a business in the city – finding a suitable location, building a talented team, step-by-step administrative assistance, etc.”, Gusev specified.
The podcast also mentioned the invitation from our team to the participants in the recent Girls in AI Bulgaria hackathon to organize joint meetings and discuss how we can support the implementation of ideas born during the competition. “Some of the projects focused on clean and green urban environment, and we will be happy to look for opportunities for testing and applying urban innovations in Sofia. We also talked about Sofia Municipality’s initiative to study the potential of 880 municipal buildings for the use of solar energy. The idea is aimed at building clean energy installations in gardens, schools, public buildings for culture, sports, and more. The municipality is also working on the projects for constructing photovoltaic centers in two of the largest energy consumers in Sofia – Sofia Zoo and the Waste Treatment Company, Victor Gusev said.
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Invest Sofia and the Regional Economic Development Agency – Stara Zagora (SZEDA) are joining forces to attract investment. The Agency and SZEDA signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to implement joint initiatives in support of the business environment and the development of opportunities for attracting new investors.
The CEE ecosystem has come of age. Startup companies founded in the CEE region a decade ago are coming of age today with combined enterprise value over €186 billion, up 19x since 2010. Source: October 2021 Google for Startups, Dealroom.co and Atomico report.
But it has not been an overnight success and without number of strategic actions and moves. It is a result of many different factors like:
The coming of age of the CEE startup ecosystem is proven by the fact that many global market-leading companies have been founded and scaled there to become unicorns like Ui Path, In Post, Wise and Skype. Contribution to the success also have some software companies like AVG, Avast and Epam founded back in the 80’s. Today, the combined enterprise value of CEE startups is €186 billion, which shows big growth compared to 2010. Among the countries with the highest produced value from startups are Estonia, Poland and Romania.
The positive flywheel is going into full effect, with startup success driving continued ecosystem growth through atracting global venture capital; the emergence of more local VC firms with global quality standards; experienced and skilled talent, angels supporting early stage startups and high profile exits.
Aside from the big exits and known unicorns, there is a strong pipeline of rising stars & future unicorns in CEE. Good examples for rising stars in Bulgaria are companies like GTM Hub, Payhawk, Enduroast and Trading 212 and for future unicorns are Hyperscience and Nexo.
In regards to the venture capital raised by CEE founded companies there is a growth of 2.3 times in 2021. Startups founded in Estonia, Romania, Poland and Ukraine have all raised over €1B in VC funding since 2015. Bulgaria stays somewhere in the middle with € 415M raised VC for the period 2015-2021. The first place is taken by Estonia with €2.62 B and on the bottom of the ranking is Moldova with €2M. In 2017 the megarounds started appearing in
EU-based startups are invited to apply for the European Startup Mobility Award (EUSP), a public-private initiative between EU institutions, mobility corporations and technology companies. Startups with sustainable mobility solutions can apply for the investment and acceleration programme from the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, EIT InnoEnergy and private investors. The EUSP aims to reveal Europe’s 10 best sustainable mobility startups and praise 10 special awards in each of the categories in the contest. The best projects will also receive mentorship, networking opportunities with EU organizations and promotion. The application deadline is November 30 at this address: https://startupprize.eu/.
The EU Commission launched the second call for large-scale projects under the Innovation Fund, one of the world’s largest programmes for the demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies. With a budget of €1.5 billion it will finance breakthrough technologies for renewable energy, energy-intensive industries, energy storage, and carbon capture, use and storage. Projects will be evaluated according to their potential to avoid greenhouse gas emissions, their innovation potential, their financial and technical maturity, their potential for scaling up and their cost efficiency. Companies can apply via the EU Funding and Tenders portal here – https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_5473
Until November 16, you can apply for SpinLab – HHL Accelerator – a 6-month programme for mentoring and access to finance, that will take place in Leipzig, Germany. Enrolled startups will receive 6,000€ funding to help cover living costs in Leipzig while attending the programme.
SpinLab – HHL Accelerator will also provide special prizes worth up to 15,000 euros for the best presentation and the most sustainable idea presented during The Investors’ Day. The Programme focuses on start-ups that develop concepts in the areas of eHealth, Smart City, and Energy and are somehow technology-based. Without being a mandatory requirement, the accelerator encourages projects that use Hardware, IoT, Apps, and SaaS.
Berlin’s Earlybird Venture Capital has announced the launch of a new fund dedicated to helping deep tech innovations in European universities become commercialised products and services. With €75 million to play with, the UNI-X fund is targeting pre-seed and early seed investments, particularly university spin-offs. For more details, please visit https://earlybird.com/.
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has launched a call for proposals under the Culture and Creativity Programme. Projects can be submitted byconsortia of organisations and Cultural and Creative Sectors and
Web Summit 2021, Europe’s biggest tech conference, was held in Lisbon, Portugal from 1 to 4 November. The event was attended by over 1,000 speakers, 1,250 startups and more than 40,000 people. The conference gathered representatives from Bulgaria, Ukraine, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Portugal, USA, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and experts from various fields and industries, including IT, software, digital and marketing companies, government organizations. Strutting the main stage were the likes of Amazon Vice President Werner Vogels, Chief Marketing Officer of Mars Inc. Jane Wakeley, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement Ayo Tometi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi, Microsoft president Brad Smith and many more.
During the roundtable discussion, we had the opportunity to discuss the most complex and challenging tech, business and social issues. The masterclasses gave us the opportunity to exchange contacts and acquire new knowledge from leading global companies and organisations such as Siemens, Shell, Boston Consulting Group, the European Commission, and many more.
Invest Sofia plays a key role in promoting and developing investment opportunities in Sofia and improving the city’s business environment. Web Summit 2021 gave us the opportunity to establish new contacts for close cooperation with institutional and corporate representatives from different countries and sectors. Our goal is to support Sofia to develop as a modern, innovative and sustainable city; an attractive and preferred place to start and grow.
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”.
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/
Three 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.
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).
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:
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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.
This course helps learners gain insight into basic web development methods, software development, and CSS and HTML databases.
Helps people who want to develop the so-called soft skills” and become a trusted partner of customers.
From small projects to the implementation of large-scale initiatives, this course provides the necessary knowledge for the efficient organization of such activities.
The course helps to prepare for industry-recognized certifications and to understand basic network concepts.
Once customer service is transferred to the digital environment, it is crucial to understand how to create a personalized user experience.
This is practical training for understanding and effective use of digital marketing.
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.
Students can learn how to create better business strategies by researching information using data analysis tools.
Assists in making the right financial decisions using skills that allow the analysis of current and past economic and
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.
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
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.