Applications are now open for the startup competition for deep tech scaleups: The EIT Digital Challenge 2019. Fast-growing startups – so – called scaleups – are invited to apply in one of the following categories: Digital Tech, Digital Cities, Digital Industry, Digital Wellbeing, and Digital Finance.
25 companies will be selected and invited to an exclusive event in Brussels where they will pitch to a jury of high-profile corporates and investors. 10 winners will receive one year of tailored support from the EIT Digital Accelerator, valued at €50,000. In addition, the top winner in each category will receive a cash prize of €50,000.
To successfully apply for the EIT Digital Challenge 2019, the scaleups have to meet the following criteria:
The deadline for applications is 14 June 2019.
The German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce published two studies: The German Investment in Bulgaria 1990-2017, prepared by the Institute for Market Economics (IME) and The German-Bulgarian Trade Relations (2001-2018), by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
According to the official statistics, the share of foreign direct investment from Germany reached 8.49% of all FDI in Bulgaria. Thus, Germany becomes the second-largest foreign investor in Bulgaria, after The Netherlands. The third one is Austria.
The calculation includes natural or legal persons in Germany who invest in Bulgaria not directly but through their subsidiaries in other countries. Thus, according to the IME calculations, official statistics so far (6.8%) have underestimated the German investment in Bulgaria with about 25% or BGN 1.4 billion.
The most indirect German investments in our country come with the intermediation of companies from Austria, Italy and The Netherlands.
Three main economic sectors attract most of the investments (direct and indirect) – manufacturing (42%), trade (43%) and financial services (9.3%). The highest concentration of investments is in Sofia, Varna, Gabrovo, and Rousse. The entire survey of the German Investment in Bulgaria 1990-2017 can be found here.
According to the second report, German-Bulgarian Trade Relations (2001-2018), the volume of bilateral trade places Bulgaria among the top 20 of Germany’s most important trading partners within the European Union. In terms of trade turnover, Bulgaria ranks 41st among 234 countries and territories in the world with which German companies trade.
During the analysed period, bilateral trade marked an average annual growth of 10%, and in the last ten years it has grown twice and a half – from 3.2 billion to almost 8.3 billion euros. Germany exports to Bulgaria mainly electrical equipment, machinery, cars, and automotive parts. The import from Bulgaria is mainly electrical equipment, machinery and clothing.
In the full research, you can find information about the Bulgarian trade with each of the German provinces and the structure of the trade by sectors. Read it here.
Vivacom has opened a lab for testing smart solutions in a real environment that will also be accessible for startups developing intelligent technologies. The lab named Vivacom Tech Hall provides coverage of high-speed mobile and fixed networks such as 4.5G, Fiber Net, LoRa and NB Iot. Furthermore, this will be probably the first place in Sofia to launch the 5G network of the telecom.
Vivacom’s smart services demonstrated in the laboratory also include air quality monitoring system that measures the level of carbon monoxide, fine particulate matter, air humidity, and atmospheric pressure. The system enables upgrading with forecasting models for a period of 24 to 48 hours, according to the telecom.
The center can also demonstrate how the pilot project of the company for smart parking works. The system registers in real time the number of employees and free parking spaces at a specific location, equipped with sensors. It also includes alarm alerts when paid parking time is over.
In addition, Vivacom Tech Hall also demonstrates smart water meters and power meters. Smart water meters measure the value of the measured water volume remotely, including retrospectively. Smart power meters measure consumption, but also the actual power supply status of the customer reads tariff charts, controls the power supply of the final customer – turning on / off.
The face recognition system recognizes faces in video surveillance and compares them with database images, prints or stores them. The smart application counts and analyzes the human flow in the building, visitor behavior, recognizes and compares vehicle registration numbers.
Another solution involves continuous monitoring of containers (amount of waste, fire alarm, inverted container alarm, location). For this purpose, sensors are installed in separate waste collection containers. The sensors are specially designed for industrial conditions and are resistant to weather conditions. Their implementation aims to optimize waste collection and logistics.
Vivacom also announced that Vivacom Tech Hall will be open to the general public for events, lectures, and trainings in the field of new technologies. This is also the next step of the telecom in the education digitization initiative – “Education 4.0”.
You can see more about the lab in the videos at actualno.com
The National Cluster Conference “Innovations and Clusters to a Knowledge-driven Economy” took place on March 26 – 27, 2019 in the John Atanasov Hall at Sofia Tech Park. The event was organised by the Association of Business Clusters in Bulgaria, under the patronage of the Ministry of Economy and with the partnership of the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA) and ARK Consulting at the Enterprise Europe Network-Bulgaria. The National Cluster Conference was held within the framework of the European Cluster Weeks.
The major goal of the event was to create prerequisites for new opportunities for the Bulgarian clusters and businesses. Another goal was to start the tradition of holding an annual cluster conference, similar to the ones established in countries such as Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Norway, Denmark and Spain. The event included representation of good practices that make clusters an alternative response to the globalisation of the markets and the economy of knowledge.
The Conference gathered experts from different industries. The specialists were from the Automobile industry, Informatics and Digital Technologies, Creative Industries, Healthcare and Healthy way of life. They presented practical case studies and know-how based on their experience, as well as possible opportunities for growth. There were representatives of more than 10 countries among the delegates. As a result, the Conference transformed into a platform for the establishment of international contacts and positioned Bulgaria strongly on the European stage.
During the conference Nikolai Minkov, CEO of the Srednogorie Industry Cluster, presented the BASE program – a public-private partnership for business achievements and social entrepreneurship.
Mr Alan Hutchison, a specialist in international business development, had an interactive session on the ‘Innovations in Future’ topic.
During the second day, Helmut Kergel, Director of the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis, presented the current status and future prospects of cluster management excellence labeling, as well as the excellent achievements in cluster management.
At the National Cluster Conference, Sofia Investment Agency also presented its activities and services in support of local or international development of the companies.
Seven Bulgarian companies entered the prestigious Financial Times FT1000 ranking of the fastest growing companies in Europe. Six of the companies are based in Sofia. The exception is the Donau Star shipping and freight-forwarding company. This is the third edition of FT1000. In the previous two years Bulgaria was represented by only one organisation.
Accedia is the leader among the Bulgarian companies. It ranks on 448th place, with a growth progress of 388%. Right after Accedia is another technological leader in Bulgaria that was ranked in the previous two editions of the index as well – Bulpros Consulting. Next are Donau Star (476), Next Consult (642), the producer of groceries and RooBar – Smart Organic (908), the tech company Scale Focus (937), and the studio equipment company Dynaphos Studio (954).
Financial Times makes the ranking in partnership with Statista in order to create a list of 1 000 European companies from 31 countries across Europe. They are from all industries and have the highest annual revenue growth between 2014 and 2017.
Among the fastest growing companies, the technology sector dominates with a total of 149 organizations. The country with the largest number of listed companies is Germany – 230, and London is the city with the most companies on the list – 63. Thus, despite Brexit, London remains the leader for the third consecutive year – 78 organisations in the first edition and 74 in the second one.
The Fund of Funds chose the “Morningside Hill” partnership, a company incorporated under the Obligations and Contracts Act, as a financial intermediary for the management of the Venture Capital Fund (VCF). The selected fund manager will provide public funds for management in the amount to BGN 47.1 million from the “Innovation and Competitiveness” 2014-2020 Operational Programme. Furthermore, it also commits to provide private co-funding of at least 30 % of the total amount of the investments. Thus, the stream of investments is expected to reach BGN 67 million.
The winner in the procedure specified Pavel Velkov, Ekaterina Velkova, Todor Mutafchiyski and Delyan Ganevas as key partners – a team with long experience in managing venture capital funds, with professional experience mainly in the USA and successful investments in companies in Europe, Africa and the USA.
The funds are intended for investments in high-tech, innovative small and medium-sized enterprises in an early stage of development. The financial support invested in each company will range from BGN 1.5 to 7 million. The new intermediary will also support companies to access new markets and get expertise to improve their corporate management and overall capacity.
Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI): Women’s Global Edition, a program of Visa targeting female entrepreneurs in the fintech industry, is now open for application. Applications are to be sent until April 14 and the prize pool amounts to USD 100 000 (BGN 175 000).
Companies with a female founder and innovative solutions for transforming consumer or commercial experience in payments at local, regional or global level are eligible to apply. Projects should also have a socio-economic impact – to provide support for sustainable and equal means of living and to support local or regional economies.
Applicants from all over the world are welcome to apply. A total of six regions are identified, namely North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, France /a separate region/, Africa/ Middle East, and a winner from each region will be selected. The regional finalists will be selected in May and the international final in Paris will take place on June 7.
Visa Everywhere Initiative has existed for 4 years now and is dedicated to innovative commercial and payment solutions. This year, the program for the first time switches from regionally oriented initiatives to global ones and launches a project that specifically targets female entrepreneurs.
Before presenting their projects live in Paris, the Women’s
The European Investment Bank (EIB) granted two new loans in Bulgaria:
The loan agreement with Raiffeisen Leasing Bulgaria will support projects by some 300 Bulgarian SMEs and at least 8,000 jobs in the country. According to Raiffeisen, the new credit line will provide financing for a wide scope of companies in the agriculture, manufacturing, transport and logistics sectors and will help them increase their competitiveness.
The €18m loan to Software Group will facilitate the execution of the company’s R&D strategy and strengthen its global reach. Software Group is a global technology company helping financial service providers digitalise their business and successfully go through the process of digital transformation. According to the official statement of the company, in the next three years, Software Group will focus on developing new technologies, platforms and products in the fields of insurance, factoring and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, presented the work of the Agency on the Digital Transformation Strategy of Sofia at the “Towards a Competitive and Prosperous Bulgarian Economy” round table organised by the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA), the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA) and the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI). The forum was held under the patronage of President Rumen Radev and with the participation of ministers, chairpersons of parliamentary committees, branch organizations and owners and managers of companies from different sectors of the economy. The meeting aimed at identifying measures to eliminate the factors that underpin Bulgaria’s economic growth.
The Digital Transformation Strategy of Sofia was developed with the help of consultancy experts from the European Commission within the framework of the EC Digital Cities Challenge programme, where Sofia participates alongside 40 other European cities. At the round table Vladimir Danailov presented the work of the Agency on the project as an example of a regional instrument for economic development of the country.
The guidelines of the Strategy draw attention to Bulgarian local IT solutions and developments as a basis for the digitization of the city. The document focuses on intelligent growth supported by digital systems – both in the ICT-based ecosystems of Sofia (on the supply side), and in other industries and services that use digital services for the needs of their business (on the demand side).
The Strategy for Sofia was prepared with the participation of more than 100 representatives of the local ecosystem. Its draft was presented to EC experts and the other cities in the Digital Cities Challenge programme at an academic meeting in February this year. The strategy is based on the Assessment of Sofia’s Digital State report and the online inquiry, dozens of personal interviews and three working meetings with key local stakeholders – institutions, academic circles, the IT sector, utilities and the start-up community – conducted in 2018.
The strategy is currently awaiting completion.
Video from the event.
Pictures from the event.
Financial Tech Forum ‘The Metamorphosis of a Sector – the Digital World of Finance”
For 21st consecutive year, the Financial Tech Forum ‘The Metamorphosis of a Sector – the Digital World of Finance” will gather financial institutions and technology companies to look into the metamorphosis of the industry and to highlight the topics that will shape the evolution of the next-generation financial institutions.
The Financial Tech Forum targets banks, insurance companies, pension insurance companies, regulators, payment operators, financial brokers, microcredit financial companies, including online consulting firms, leasing houses, associations, the Government and FinTech companies.
Website of the event: events.ictmedia.bg/en/event/118
The 4th Annual Conference ‘Strategies for E-commerce Success‘
The Fourth Annual Strategies for E-commerce Success Conference is a regional event that focuses on the most important trends and developments in the e-commerce and digital retail sector. The event covers the rapid evolution of how consumers discover, shop, buy and reveal what shapes the Future of retail. An increasing number of established retailers are turning online looking for new customers and new ways to innovate and grow.
The conference also provides business opportunities for the entire e-commerce ecosystem: from merchants to platforms, hosting providers, logistics providers, payment processing and other online businesses solutions.
For more information, please visit events.economedia.bg/en/event/94
NEXT BLOCK Sofia 2.0
After the successful launch of NEXT BLOCK in Sofia in 2018, the conference is back with its second edition – NEXT BLOCK Sofia 2.0 on April 12 of 2019.
Blockchain executives, opinion leaders, top-tier investors will gather for fruitful discussions and in-depth networking.
The latest iteration of NEXT BLOCK Sofia 2.0 will address critical questions around the expected rise of security tokens, hurdles towards crypto’s mass adoption and the future of blockchain technology as we head into 2019. For more details, please check: NEXT-BLOCK.ORG
MachTech & InnoTech Expo
MachTech & InnoTech Expo is an international trade fair for machinery, technology and industrial equipment, which takes place once a year in Sofia. It is a B2B forum for the engineering industry in Bulgaria and other European countries. International exhibitors represent the latest products, equipments and technologies in the fields of engineering, metal processing, surface technology, laser technology, welding, hydraulics, pneumatics and tools.
MachTech & InnoTech Expo is aimed at professionals only and it offers its visitors, including engineers, technicians and other decision-makers from manufacturing companies, the opportunity to socialize and exchange information about the trends and
More than 80% of the Swedish companies in Bulgaria plan to invest in their business during the current year. This information is based on a survey made by Business Sweden and is conducted in collaboration with the Swedish Embassy. The companies plan to invest the majority of their capital in staff, digital technologies, production and office facilities.
The data was presented by H.Е. Louise Bergholm, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden to Bulgaria, during the Opportunities and challenges for the business in Bulgaria meeting, organised by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), the Swedish Embassy in Bulgaria and the Swedish-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce.
Thirty-two Swedish subsidiaries in Bulgaria participated in the survey. Almost one third of them operate in the industry, while the others operate in the sectors of services, telecommunications, healthcare, transportation, constructions, etc. The majority of the companies offer B2B services for other companies.
In general, the Swedish business in Bulgaria has a positive attitude: 76% of the participants in the survey expect growth in their sector, and 84% are optimistic for 2020 as well. The report points out that the strong advantages of our country are the EU membership, the low income tax, the well-prepared employees and the competitive labour costs.
According to the Swedish companies (47%), the biggest challenge for growth in Bulgaria is the process of recruiting suitable employees. The analysis notes that the lack of people and the continuous growth of the economy could increase the remunerations in mid-term plan.
Almost half of the participants in the survey point that competition is also a challenge. At the same time, 40% consider the need for additional measures for relief of the administrative burden as another challenge.
Sofia is placed 90th amongst 133 countries around the world in this year edition of Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living 2019. In fact, our capital rises up by 29 positions compared to 2018 and is placed among the cities that made the biggest change in ranking compared to the previous year.
According to the report: “Bulgaria is an economically stable east European country, which pegs its currency, the Bulgarian lev, to the euro but is yet to join the Eurozone. Like many cities in the region, Sofia continues to offer good value for money. Nevertheless, prices for groceries in the capital city are beginning to converge with west European destinations in anticipation of the country adopting the euro currency in the coming years. Growth in food prices (one of the main drivers of the 3% inflation in the country for 2018) averaged 2.6% year on year in December 2018. Utility prices (electricity, gas, district heating and water) as well as recreation and culture prices, continued to rise at the slightly higher pace of around 4% over the last 12 months.”
When making the ranking, Economist Intelligence Unit compares prices of more than 150 goods and services as commodities, home appliances, house rents, monthly public services, transportation, cosmetics, clothes, private school taxes, restaurant prices, as well as the price of theatre, concert or cinema tickets.
For the first time in the history of the ranking, the top spot is occupied by three cities at the same time: Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong. The top three positions are completed by Zurich and Geneva. At the bottom of the ranking are the cheapest cities in the world: Caracas (Venezuela), Damascus (Syria) and Tashkent (Uzbekistan).
Bulgaria is placed 35th in terms of opportunities for women around the world according to the Women’s Liveability Index 2019 survey. The survey includes hundred countries and ranks them according to 20 different indicators such as gender equality, opportunities for professional career, representation of women in science, politics and on management positions, traffic and violence protection, access to education, number of women entrepreneurs, etc.
Bulgaria has a leading position in the number of women managers (10th place with 49%), it is 13th in the percentage of women on ministry positions and 16th in number of women in the National Assembly (25.4%). However, Bulgaria is placed 48th in the category for women entrepreneurs.
Sofia Tech Park starts its new program for support of innovators and start-up companies from Sofia and Bulgaria. The goals and instruments of the program were presented at the first Investum Supersonic conference organised by the science and technology park.
The Sofia Tech Park program will focus on the applied science and the commercialisation of the research activities from Sofia and Bulgaria. It will be implemented in partnership with Source Institute, an international organisation for entrepreneurship education. Sofia Tech Park will offer mentorship, trainings, thematic events and special events to help the teams of innovators and entrepreneurs to present their ideas on stage.
For more information, Sofia entrepreneurs with R&D projects can send their requests at the following email: email@example.com.
At the Investum Supersonic conference leading investors from around the country reviewed the current investment climate in Bulgaria and what are the projects that raise the local business interest for investments. The programme included a demo-day of the pre-acceleration program Gargarage, while international lectors presented their experience on how entrepreneurs could overcome the funding and scaling barriers. All of the conference details as well as pictures can be found here.
Photos are also featured on Sofia Tech Park’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/SofiaTechPark/?ref=bookmarks