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
On December 2, Invest Sofia presented its new initiative Sofia IS. This is the first of its kind city initiative that aims to unite the efforts of the city administration and Sofia-based companies towards integrated services for investor inquiries and free assistance in the process of establishing business operations in Sofia.
Sofia IS gathers independent international consulting companies operating in our city whose expertise covers the full range of necessary initial steps and activities such as research and data on the business environment, opportunities of Sofia as an investment destination, consultations on finding the best talents for the local team, among others.
The Executive Director of Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova and the Head of the Public Relations and Marketing Department Aneta Petkova welcomed the guests and partners of the Sofia IS launch event. “The expertise of our partners so far forms a rich portfolio of over 80 local and international companies from all sectors of the economy,” Dr. Hristova said and presented the step-by-step process of the implementation of the new initiative. She also outlined the short and long-term goals of the programme in the coming months. During the discussion, various future initiatives emerged related to how Sofia IS tools could better and faster reach and support future potential investors.
Dr. Lilyana Zagorcheva from InfoGraffiti , the most recently joined partner of the initiative, presented digital marketing opportunities for promoting the work of the new programme, as well as pro bono services that can be provided to new investors. Dr. Zagorcheva has over 20 years of international experience in the field of corporate, crisis and institutional communications.
Dr. Georgi Georgiev, a leading expert in the field of EU programmes for innovation in education and urban environment, presented the opportunities that he and his company can provide to each of the participants and partners in the programme. Dr. Georgiev is also part of the external partners of the Agency.
During the discussion, specific next steps were outlined for the communication of the programme. The head of the Investment Analysis Department of the Agency Viktor Gusev shared best practice examples of joint projects between the city administration and the local business.
The team of Invest Sofia would like to thank all our partners: ADECCO BULGARIA, ARS Bulgaria, Cushman & Wakefield Forton, Coworking, Easy Consult, EuRA, PWC, RIR and HRS, for being part of the
“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.
Listen to the
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