The Bulgarian Fintech Association just published the first comprehensive report about the Fintech sector in the country. The research was conducted in cooperation with SEE News and provides extensive information about each of the elements in the industry – overview of the fintech ecosystem, market analysis of the companies, and the regulatory landscape in Bulgaria.
According to the report, the estimated number of Bulgarian Fintech companies is 65, which is higher than in any other SEE countries. The key findings of the report are indicative of the vitality of the Fintech landscape in the country. On average, a Bulgarian Fintech company is six years old as of April 2019. However, more than half of the companies were established after 2015, thus reflecting the key role of startups in the fintech ecosystem. In the last three years the total operating revenue of the fintech sector has more than doubled, maintaining a steady increase of approximately 33.5% on an annual basis.
Sofia is the heart of the Bulgarian fintech ecosystem with 54 of the identified Fintech companies being headquartered there. The 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 such as: Blockchain/Crypto; Capital Markets; Insurance (Insurtech); Lending; Payments/Billing; Personal Finance. Payments and billing solutions are the most preferred development field for the Bulgarian fintech companies with nearly 1/3 of them operating in the segment.
Download the full Report for free from the website of the Bulgarian Fintech Association here.
Due to the strong interest of Sofia businesses in learning more about new market expansion, we publish an overview of the opportunities for entering the Indian market and the special features of the local business environment there. The article was prepared by Mr. Iliya Dekov, Counsellor, Head of the Commercial/Economic Section at the Embassy of Bulgaria in New Delhi, India.
India’s economy is among the largest in the developing world. The country currently ranks fifth in the world in terms of nominal GDP ($2.7 trillion) and third in terms of purchasing power parity ($9.45 trillion), but GDP per capita is only $1,982.
India’s GDP reached $2.7 trillion and grew 6.8% in the 2018-19 fiscal year (April 2018-March 2019). India is the 19th largest exporter and 10th largest importer in the world. Although the data for the first quarter of the 2019-20 Indian financial year (April 2019 – June 2019) shows a GDP growth of 5% or the lowest growth in the last six years, the huge Indian market continues to be attractive to foreign investors. This is despite the fact that India protects domestic producers by imposing a number of tariff and non-tariff barriers for the imports of goods in the country. In addition to the high import duties on a number of EU goods (e.g. basic import duties on cars – 127%, liquor – 250%, wine – 150%, with additional duties at state level), there are a number of bureaucratic obstacles to the free imports of goods (e.g. special authorisation regime for the imports of certain foodstuffs, etc.).
According to information from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion at India’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, India succeeded in attracting foreign direct investment worth $44.36 billion in the 2018-19 fiscal year (April 2018-March 2019), compared to $55.46 billion in the previous year. The decline in FDI volume and the lowest recorded GDP growth over the last six years are the reasons why the government is currently undertaking measures to revive the economy, including promoting foreign investment by reducing taxes on foreign portfolio investment (FPIs).
As early as 2014, the Narendra Modi government launched an active policy to promote foreign direct investment in the country, introducing the ‘Make in India’ program. The Indian economy is subdivided into sectors where foreign investment is allowed under the ‘automatic procedure’ and sectors where foreign investment is allowed up to a certain percentage
Start-ups, SMEs, digital innovation hubs and research organisations within manufacturing or manufacturing solutions in the field of robotics can apply for funding from the European Commission’s DIH² Project, part of the Horizon 2020 programme. DIH² is a pan-European network of 26 Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) for flexible manufacturing, which started this past summer and will invest nearly BGN 3 million in the next 8 months.
In its first call, the program will allocate up to EUR 248,000 to selected 13 consortia of technology vendors and manufacturing companies for the implementation of robotics-related technologies. The deadline for applying for the first stage is 31 October.
Ten local companies will be selected for each category (technology providers and SMEs / Mid-Cap companies). Thus, a total of 520 companies from different countries will be allocated to a total of 26 events in the network of innovation hubs across Europe. The participants will receive EUR 1,000 each and will have the opportunity to form a consortium with other companies. They will also be able to continue their participation with guaranteed assistance from a DIH in the application process for the second stage of the competition until the final selection of 13 consortia.
The coordinator of DIH² is the Finnish research centre Teknologian tutkimuskeskus VTT.
More information is available on the website of Sofia Tech Park (in Bulgarian), as well as on the website of the programme itself:
Another program funded under Horizon 2020 has an open application window as well. Applications for the accelerator Block.IS are accepted until 6 November. The programme aims to build an open international cross-sectoral innovation ecosystem that promotes the use of blockchain technology in three vital sectors for the European economy: agrifood, logistics and finance.
Block.IS will support SMEs and start-ups in the ICT sector all the way from idea to commercialisation with personalised business and technical support as well as direct funding. The program will invest a total of EUR 2.8 million in the current call and in another open call in the autumn of 2020.
Those accepted in the Block.IS accelerator will go through three stages in the program: Innovate – Experiment – Commercialise. At each stage, the companies will work closely with clusters and industry experts. Funding is provided for each phase as follows:
Æ Ventures, an investment company providing initial funding, acceleration, and advisory support to blockchain projects, announced that they have provided over 1,5 million USD in investments to blockchain start-up companies since their launch in 2018. Æ Ventures also announced that applications are now open for the third edition of its Starfleet Accelerator program, which offers members mentorship and investment opportunities of up to $100,000 USD. The Accelerator Program will commence in early November 2019 and will take place in one of the hottest spots for emerging blockchain companies – Malta. Applications are now open at aeternitystarfleet.com and the application deadline is October 20, 2019 (at 11:59 pm EEST).
By tradition, the third edition of the Starfleet Accelerator program will commence with Genesis Week, a period when participating startups receive access to mentorship and support in areas such as business models, token economics, blockchain infrastructure, and æternity apps architecture, from the best experts in the industry. This edition of the program in Malta will also be a part of an ongoing cooperation with Microsoft Innovation Centre Malta, which host all Starfleet activities. Teams from all over the world will be able to participate in the Accelerator either on-site in Malta or remotely via a constant live-stream, and upon completion, Æ Ventures will provide the selected teams with funding of up to $100,000 USD.
First Starfleet Accelerator program in 2020 to take place in India
Æ Ventures also announced that India was chosen to be the official location for the first Starfleet acceleration program in 2020, which brings great opportunities for promising seed-stage blockchain startups from this part of the world. India is currently hosting the third-largest number of startup unicorns globally and is home to over 5 million working developers. It is also estimated that over 300 blockchain startups are currently operational in India and several more early-stage startups can directly benefit from the Starfleet acceleration program. Moreover, the Government of India is also keen on implementing blockchain solutions to provide efficient public welfare programs. In light of this potential, Starfleet India will be organized in partnership with IBC Media, a blockchain-based media company with extensive experience in organizing accelerator programs and conferences in India.
“We are amazed by the growth of the Starfleet accelerator program from its start to
Robotics Strategy Forum 2019 is the first of its kind specialized forum on robotics and automation in Bulgaria, which aims to gather all stakeholders and build a comprehensive strategy for the robotics sector in Bulgaria.
The event will be held jointly by the Professional Association of Robotics and Automation (PARA), the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA), and the hosts at the Inter Expo Center on October 22nd.
Leading Bulgarian and international experts in the field of robotics, automation, machine learning, simulations, autonomous systems, infrastructure for electric vehicles and many more will join the Forum as speakers.
The panels will be joined by representatives of the government administration, the Bulgarian industry, educational institutions, international strategic investors, consultants, industrial zone managers and start-ups.
For more information about the Forum, please visit the official website of the event.
The event is free of charge, but requires pre-registration here.
Sofia Investment Agency is pleased to announce that CEO Mr. Vladimir Danailov was invited to speak at BIOTECH ATELIER – the one-of-a-kind event in the biotechnology field in Bulgaria that will be held on the 25th of September 2019 at the John Atanasov Innovation Forum, Sofia Tech Park. Vladimir Danailov will join the panel discussion “Access to Funding for Startups and Mature BioTech Companies in Bulgaria”.
BIOTECH ATELIER 2.0 will bring together international experts with experience in the areas of: advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs), artificial Intelligence and machine learning in medicine, the MEGA project, personalized medicine, biomarkers and biobanking, medical practice data (RWD / RWE), clinical trials, patient advocacy, access to funding and more.
The purpose of the initiative, organised by Prescriptia and the Bulgarian Association for Personalized Medicine (BAPEMED), is to once again bring together leading Bulgarian and international experts focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, catalyzing the growth and development of the Bulgarian and Southeastern European biotechnological ecosystem. The founders of BIOTECH ATELIER are convinced in the potential of life sciences and biotechnology, and believe that the key to successful development of the environment is in the international collaboration between science and industry. Both sides will have the opportunity for a direct dialogue on the day of the event.
This year, the Biotech Atelier will also organize 2 additional events – Intellectual Property and Technological Transfer on September 24th, organised with the British Embassy, and Computer Validation in the GMP Regulatory Standard, organised by Pharmalex Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Association of Qualified Persons on October 2nd and 3rd.
You are welcome to become part of this ambitious event, dedicated to the biotechnological business and science innovation in the region.
To register for the event, please visit its website: biotech-atelier.com
For more information and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Mr Miladin Ivanov, e-mail: email@example.com, mob.: +359 896 51 02 63.
Bulgarian companies are invited to join PropTech Vienna with a 10% discount premium entry fee. The event is one of the largest international proptech events in Europe and this year will take place on November 07 in Vienna.
PropTech Vienna will be the venue of well-established companies in the construction industry, real property sector, Facility Management, Asset Management, information technologies, proptech startups and scale-ups, venture capital funds, university representatives in such industries and areas, plus, organizations as vendors to the proptech business.
The event is:
Bulgarian companies and organisations may join the forum taking advantage of a premium entry fee to the event accessible through PrEXCELerator Bulgaria – the exclusive communication partner for the event in Bulgaria.
To get your premium code, please fill in the form here.
PropTech Vienna ranks amidst the foremost international proptech conferences in Europe. A single day is just as long for you to enjoy the delivery of over 50 leading lectors presenting in parallel tracks. Speaking of which, some of the tracks on this year edition come as follows:
In need of further details, contact directly PrEXCELerator Bulgaria: Sylvia Pavlova, Managing Partner, mob. + 359 887 16 18 00, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
PrEXCELerator Bulgaria admitted 12 participants with technology start-up ideas in its first edition for 2019 which launched on June 24. All but one of the selected participants are from Sofia.
This is the first pre-acceleration environment in Bulgaria targeting three groups of start-up companies:
(1) Start-ups in the stages proof-of-concept & minimum viable product (MVP);
(2) Distressed start-ups looking for a way to pivot in a protected environment;
(3) Start-ups who want to move from the validation phase to the fully operational phase as an independent legal entity.
The ideas approved for the June edition of PrEXCELerator Bulgaria are in the following areas: PropTech, HRTech, EduTech, Creative Industries, Social Digital. The start-up solutions involve the use of virtual and added reality (VR & AR), match-making platforms, machine learning & data science, artificial intelligence (AI), etc. A large number of projects combine at least two digital technologies to implement the envisioned solution.
Only one of the start-ups has a solution that will be limited to development in Bulgaria. The other projects have international potential and imply global application.
The first pitching session, part of the pre-accelerator programme, has already taken place. The event was held on July 8 at Puzl CowOrKing in Sofia and the start-ups could meet with industry experts and innovative entrepreneurs – members of the Advisory Boards of PrEXCELerator.
Upon ending its participation in PrEXCELerator Bulgaria, each start-up will:
– be able to make an informed choice between several funding options accessed through the pre-accelerator ;
– be directed towards an international partner of PrEXCELerator for business development;
– have a team (in cases where the start-up is represented by an individual participant with an idea and who is the only founder in the company);
– be fully prepared to pitch its project to investors at a high level;
As the start-ups demonstrated a great interest in the opportunities offered by PrEXCELerator Bulgaria, the pre-accelerator has just opened a second application window for the autumn session of the programme, which will start on October 31.
PrEXCELerator Bulgaria provides solutions tailored to the specifics of each individual start-up for:
– international business development in the UK, Germany and Austria for start-ups with ideas with international potential;
– the areas of PropTech & ConTech, BioTech (Life science), Social Digital, EduTech, Industrial Engineering & Manufacturing;
– access to international mentoring and start-up resources for female entrepreneurs;
More information on the pre-accelerator
Тhree final and one preliminary agreements with investors were signed by the National Company for Industrial Zones for the Sofia-Bozhurishte Economic Zone this summer, according to a report by National Company Industrial Zones PLC. The total value of the investments is BGN 52 million and their realisation will create 100 new jobs in the industrial zone.
Zora Logistics MMC OOD will invest BGN 17 million in the construction of storage facilities.
AIKO EOOD is also boosting its warehouse space requiring an investment of BGN 15 million for the construction.
RGC Invest has earmarked BGN 16 million for the construction of a logistics centre and ancillary office buildings.
The fourth project belongs to LIM Technics OOD and is related to the expansion of the company’s activities at Sofia-Bozhurishte Zone. It will build its own production and office building for BGN 4 million. The company manufactures silicone products for the automotive industry, medical devices, household appliances, electronic devices and others.
Another company, Multivac Bulgaria Production, that has been a part of the industrial zone since 2016, also made an investment. The Bulgarian subsidiary of the German leader in packaging solutions Multivac invested EUR 2.5 million in new machines and another 20 jobs in its manufacturing plant in Bulgaria, which is the group’s first to be located east of Germany.
Impetus Capital, a Sofia-based private investment company, will operate the first alternative investment fund in Bulgaria.
The fund is named ImVenture II KDA and will support growing Bulgarian companies in industries that account for over 70% of the growth of the Bulgarian economy: information technology and computer science; modern trade; production (including fast moving consumer goods and food); transport and Logistics and services like fintech.
The fund, that is already registered with the Financial Supervision Commission, will focus on growing, innovative, export-oriented Bulgarian private companies. It will provide up to 90% of the investments and will assist with the preparation for initial public offering of shares (IPO) on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange.
Currently, private equity firm Impetus is involved with capital and management support in companies including transport specialist Discordia; Alterco, which manufactures products in the IoT segment with sales in 65 countries; Excitel – the fastest growing Bulgarian company in India with over 220,000 users, biometric solutions company Biodit; Browswave – a company specialising in price positioning and market analysis; A4E which focuses on forecasts of business sales and consumer risk assessment and Bioseek – a semantic search engine in large databases with application in medicine.
See more in Bloomberg TV Bulgaria’s interview with Victor Manev, a partner at Impetus Capital.
Proznanie Foundation is looking for sponsors and mentors for its Teenovator project – a programme focused on creating and facilitating start-up clubs at Bulgarian high schools.
The initiative is supported by Bulgarian Entrepreneurship Center (BEC) and is part of the international U School network, which is represented by 200 start-up clubs at schools around the world. The programme has all the licenses and permissions from the Ministry of Education and the Regional Inspectorate.
In school year 2019/2020, Teenovator will expand the programme into more than 20 schools in Sofia, Varna and Vratsa. You can check who the mentors for the next year are here.
How to support
The project is looking for more passionate associates who share the vision that the startup culture should be nourished and encouraged. If you are a founder or an entrepreneur who would gladly share business insights and know-how with talented young people, follow the Application form on the website of the initiative.
If interested to support the programme financially, please follow the link.
More about Teenovator
At Teenovator, start-up companies, founders, and entrepreneurs from different business fields mentor students who are in the 10th and 11th grades. The mentors help the students find their passion and turn it into a successful start-up project. Teenovator is implementing successful practices from Stanford University. The programme is focused on developing the students’ creative thinking skills and boosting their confidence. The programme runs during the school year and at the end of each year, there is a national and international pitching competition.
Teenovator aims at teaching soft skills, creative skills, teamwork, as well as helping students develop a business idea, design a business model, build an execution plan, pitch in front of investors.
In 2018/2019, Teenovator started in four elite Bulgarian high schools: Sofia High School of Mathematics, High School 19 “Elin Pelin, High School 105 “Atanas Dalchev” and High School 32 “St. Kliment Ohridski”. The teaching began in October 2018. Eighty people in total started the education, fifty of whom continued and graduated.
In January 2019, Teenovator organized a mid-term event called Startup Weekend. It took place at Sofia Tech Park and was opened by EU Commissioner Maria Gabrielle. Kids from all 4 schools had to form teams and pitch their ideas in front of judges in competition with Slovenian teams. Team Headstarter from Sofia High School of Mathematics won the prize
The Investment Council of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is looking for Bulgarian investment projects to present to potential investors in the framework of an investment seminar on October 10, 2019 in Milan, Italy.
Project information should include: a short presentation in English, project business case, amount of investment pursued (equity and / or debt), offered share of the business, financial forecasts, market forecast, required resources for project development / human, material , market, financial /, ROI data, contacts.
Projects must be emailed to: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information, please contact Gabriela Dimitrova, Secretary of the Investment Council at the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, tel: 02 8117 489 or Vladimir Tomov, President of the Investment Council at the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, tel: 0899 707475
The application deadline for funding under two programs of the Research Fund of the Ministry of Education and Science is approaching.
The program “Excellent Research and People for the Development of European Science” is aimed at scientists who wish to organise their own independent research team or research program. The estimated budget is BGN 1 235 000 and will be distributed among 8 scientific panels: Chemistry, Social Sciences and Humanities, Economics, Informatics and Engineering, Environmental and Earth Sciences, Life Sciences, Mathematics, Physics. The budget for each project will depend on the duration of implementation and can be up to BGN 5,000 per month.
/Information for the call in English:www.fni.bg/956 /
The program “Peter Beron. Science and Innovation with Europe” is aimed at the career development of promising scientists with internationally recognised scientific results. The indicative funding budget is BGN 1 425 000.
/Information for the call in English: www.fni.bg/959 /
The deadline for submitting proposals for both programs is September 20.
Start-ups and social enterprises can access BGN 25 million from the Fund of Funds through the selected financial intermediaries First Investment Bank (BGN 19.3 million), Microfond (BGN 3.23 million) and SIS Credit (BGN 2.84 million). Microcredit will also be available to vulnerable groups and young people aged up to 29 with an own business plan.
The loans are granted with the financial instrument “Micro-credit with shared risk” of the Operational Program “Human Resources Development”. Around 850 companies will be able to receive between BGN 5,000 and BGN 49,000 with a repayment period of up to 10 years and a grace period of up