Hungarian OTP Bank Accepts Applications for its International Startup Program
The Hungarian OTP Bank will be accepting applications from companies from all over the world, including Bulgaria, for its OTP Startup Program until the end of November. Start-up and scale-up companies with products and solutions in the financial sector are eligible to apply. The three-month program will start at the beginning of 2019.
The OTP Startup Program accepts applications in the following 6 focus areas: data handling and analytical tools; open banking and security; internal efficiency; user experience and service; product innovations; disruptive bank solutions that do not belong to the above categories.
OTP Bank is the parent company of DSK Bank EAD. Its OTP Startup Program is being held for a second consecutive year and is supported by Hungarian and international corporate partners. The accelerator program is free, requires no capital, and will give selected companies the opportunity to test the integration of their products and services to determine if they are applicable in a market environment. During the program the participating companies will benefit from the experience and mentorship of key bank experts from OTP Bank’s wide partner network. Furthermore, they will be included in specially organized workshops.
More information about the program is available on www.otpstartup.com .
Additional EUR 115 Mln under the Innovfin Program to Support Bulgarian Innovative Companies
United Bulgarian Bank (UBB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF) entered a new guarantee agreement to provide additional EUR 115 million under the InnovFin program, which facilitates access to funding of innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-cap enterprises with up to 499 employees. Following the new agreement, the portfolio of the two banks under the program totals EUR 180 million.
InnovFin targets companies from Bulgaria and Slovakia. UBB will provide loans with guarantees under favorable conditions to innovative enterprises until November 30, 2021
Under the same program, EIF also signed a new agreement with Raiffeisenbank (Bulgaria) EAD. The funds under the new agreement are in the amount of EUR 43 million, in addition to EUR 35 million, signed in 2016. Up to now, the Bank has funded 140 Bulgarian businesses mainly in the field of production and trade. The funds allocated so far have been mainly for investments and working capital aiming at expanding the business. The approved projects include the construction of a cable optical path, the construction of an incubator
Bulgaria is positioned 51st with 63.6 points out of 100 in this year’s edition of the Global Competitiveness Index, prepared by the World Economic Forum. The index measures the ability of each country to provide prosperity for its citizens. The score of each country is based on 12 main categories, including general macroeconomic stability, institutions, labor market, financial system, infrastructure, business dynamics, application of new technologies, innovation capacity, etc.
Bulgaria’s score stands close to that of Romania, Uruguay and Bahrain, slightly improving compared to last year. In the overall ranking, however, the country retains the same position as in 2017, as some of the countries are improving faster.
Keeping its last year position, Bulgaria is ranked as the most competitive economy of the Balkans, outpacing Romania (52nd position), Greece (57th), Turkey (61st), Serbia (65th), Montenegro (71st), Albania (76th), Macedonia (84th) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (91st).
The upward trend in our country was driven by digital services. In “Implementation of Information and Communication Technologies” Bulgaria is positioned 30th. The next highest score for our country is in “Capacity for Innovation”, where Bulgaria is 48th. We also ranked high in “Labor Market” – 50th, and “Macroeconomic Stability” – 52nd. Furthermore, Bulgaria takes a high position in terms of the “Infrastructure” criterion – 58th.
Bulgaria’s score in “Institutions” and “Health” remained lower, ranking 70th for both indicators.
The lowest are the indicators for “Organized crime” and “Protection of property rights”, “Effectiveness of the judicial system”, “Easy hiring of skilled workforce”, “Extent of staff training” and “Skills of the future workforce“.
This year, the ranking includes 140 countries from all around the world. The three most competitive countries are the United States with 85.6 points, Singapore with 83.5 and Germany with 82.8. Chad stands last with 35.5 points.
The full report of the World Economic Forum is available for download here.
Ten Bulgarian companies enter the SEE Top 100 ranking of the independent business news agency SeeNews. Two of them are positioned in the top ten – the Burgas-based refinery Lukoil Neftochim Burgas is ranked 5th and the Pirdop-based copper processing plant Aurubis Bulgaria, the biggest Bulgarian exporter, accounting for 9% of the country’s exports, is placed 6th.
The other Bulgarian companies in the ranking are: NEK (17th), Lukoil Bulgaria (23rd), Kaufland Bulgaria (47th), CEZ Electro Bulgaria (72nd), Bulgargaz (91st), the fuel distributor Saksa (95th), Express Logistics and Distribution (96th) and the biofuel producer Astra Bioplant (97th). Two of these companies, namely Saksa and Astra Bioplant, are included for the first time in the top 100 companies of the region.
This is the 11th edition of SEE Top 100. It ranks companies by revenue and profits for the past financial year and covers the countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro. In order to rank the top 100 companies, the analysis compares the financial results of 2 900 organizations. This year, Bulgaria increased the number of companies included in the ranking by one, compared to 2016, when there were nine. In 2014 and 2015, the companies in the ranking were 11.
The overall conclusion from this year’s ranking is that the past financial year was a record-breaking success for the region. The increased revenue and profit of companies were on the back of the growing domestic consumption, the strong investment interest in the region and the favorable international environment. All economies in the region showed an average growth of 4% in 2017 (compared to 3.5% a year earlier) – a growth that outstripped the average GDP growth rate in the European Union. The total revenue of the 100 companies included in the ranking rose by 12.5% to EUR 113.9 billion, compared to 2016. Profit grew even higher, by 22% to EUR 4.9 billion.
Bulgarian and other companies in the energy, fuel, automotive, wholesale and retail sectors dominate the ranking. Representatives of the IT sector are not included in the 2017 edition, although they are a major driver for many of the economies in the region, and tech companies are involved in the largest mergers and acquisitions.
The automotive industry
Sofia ranks second in Europe by growth of foreign visitors in 2017, according to Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index. The ranking is based on a comparison between the number of visitors in a given year with the number of visitors in the previous year. With a growth of 15.2% compared to 2016, the Bulgarian capital ranked immediately after Istanbul (16.8%) and some of the most popular tourist destinations on the continent, such as Lisbon (14.6%), Paris (13.1% %), Munich (12.9%) and Warsaw (12.3%).
Furthermore, Mastercard’s ranking also compared cities in terms of number of international overnight arrivals for the period 2009-2017. Here Sofia ranked fifth in Europe with an average annual growth rate of 9%, right after Bucharest (10.3%), Lisbon (10.6%), Minsk (10%) and Santa Cruz de -la-Palma (9.3%).
The most visited city in 2017 was Bangkok, welcoming just over 20 million tourists. The other cities in TOP 5 were London, Paris, Dubai, and Singapore.
This year, Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index added 30 more destinations to its large-scale survey, so the number of cities in the list grew to 162. The index is much more than a prestigious ranking of tourist destinations as the analysis also presents a growth forecast for 2018, key figures for the fastest growing destinations, and a deeper understanding of why people are traveling, as well as the amount and type of costs they have in different countries.
For more information please visit newsroom.mastercard.com
The Creative Industry Foundation is established in early 2018, aiming to unite and support the young people, professionals and companies/studios, involved and actively working in the realm of 3D visualization and design in Bulgaria.
The foundation aims to create means for collaboration and development of the business environment and the educational and training ecosystems in Bulgaria.
Four main pillars form the overarching purpose of “Creative Industries”:
The Creative Industries Foundation is inclusive to all people and companies involved in Architectural visualization, Interior and Landscape design, Visual Effects and Film, Games design, Automotive visualization, as well as all trainers and educational institutions offering different types of learning experiences.
The Creative Industry Foundation also supports and organizes one of the new and most significant events for the CG community in Bulgaria – The CGBG MeetUps. Every month more than 150 professionals and students get together for an evening of inspiration and learning.
The people behind the Creative Industries Foundation are coming from diverse backgrounds, all related to the 3D visualization industry. The core founders are Deyan Evlogiev, Maria Padalski and Nikolay Mihailov and they are already joined and supported by numerous professionals and companies, such as: ABComputers, TheBottleship, WWVFX, Generator.
Creative Industries Website: https://seecg.eu/
Due to the strong interest of Sofia businesses in opportunities to expand to new markets, we publish an overview of the opportunities for entering the market of the Czech Republic and the special features of the local business environment. The article was prepared by Georgi Stoilov, trade representative for Bulgaria in the Czech Republic at the Trade and Economic Office in the Czech Republic with the Ministry of Economy.
The Czech Republic is an open and export-oriented economy. As one of the fastest growing countries in Central and Eastern Europe, it is often referred to as one of the outstanding former socialist countries. The factors that make it very attractive for business include its geographic location, support from the Czech state through its export and economic development institutions, as well as its numerous business contacts with countries around the world. On the other hand, imports benefit from the upward trend of the price of CZK to EUR and USD.
Traditionally, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have good commercial and economic relations. Globally, the Czech Republic is among Bulgaria’s top 15 trading partners. From 2007 to 2017, exports to the Czech Republic rose more than five times, from EUR 95.1 million in 2007 to EUR 546.119 million. Imports grew at a slower pace, but more than doubled as well. The trade balance between the two countries over the period 2007 – 2017 went up from EUR 336.6 million in 2007 to EUR 1 228,861 million (over one billion two hundred million). The trade balance, though negative, was continuously decreasing to reach its lowest levels of EUR -136.622 million in 2017.
The Czech Republic is an attractive country for business partnerships, but there are several special features that Bulgarian exporters should bear in mind in order to implement successful projects.
In the first place, due to their conservatism, the Czech partners mostly buy and import from companies they know, mainly working with their representatives in the Czech Republic. Direct sales on the Czech market without a partner are almost impossible.
The Czechs do not speak many foreign languages which further impedes communication between partners. The Bulgarian minority in the Czech Republic, which is one of the officially recognized in the country, can be of help here.
The Czechs do not know much about Bulgaria. Our country is mainly popular with the Black Sea and some Bulgarian wine brands. Although the Czechs use
Sofia Investment Agency will present the Digital Transformation Strategy of Sofia at the next Academic Seminar of the Digital Cities Challenge program. The meeting will take place on October 17-18 in Thessaloniki and will be attended by representatives of all 43 participating cities and mentors in the project of the European Commission, which Sofia won a participation in.
The strategy resulted from several seminars at the local level. The discussions we organized were attended by representatives of Sofia’s IT sector, the start-up ecosystem, the utilities sector, the local authorities and academic circles.
The mission of the Digital Transformation Strategy of Sofia is to outline a series of actions to strengthen the IT business ecosystem in the city in order to:
– offer and develop IT solutions for the digital transformation of the city;
– identify and reach areas of application and markets for local digital products and services which can be introduced locally, nationally or globally, as well as to facilitate their demand and supply in these markets;
– support the local innovation environment in a move to help the process of digital transformation.
The Digital Transformation Strategy of Sofia, prepared with our partners at the seminars held, will be presented at the seminar in Thessaloniki in the so called peer review sessions in groups with other participants and mentors under the program. This will allow us to receive feedback regarding the strategy, additional guidelines and examples of good practice for implementing the ideas. The Strategy for Digital Transformation of Sofia document is available for download here.
At the academic seminar in Thessaloniki, as a next step, Sofia and the other cities will have to develop their detailed road maps to implement their strategies; to define the priorities and to draw up a plan for the consistency of the implementation of the particular projects; to define the role of all actors, leading or participating in the processes; to identify the necessary resources and funding opportunities for the implementation of the priority projects.
Digital Cities Challenge is an initiative of the European Commission for mentoring and supporting European cities to develop and implement policies aimed at smart growth and sustainable development through the introduction of advanced technologies to local businesses and institutions.
The program aims to provide high-level consultancy services to 15 European cities and to support them in building innovative ecosystems through the implementation of modern technologies.
ADDITIVE DAYS IN SOFIA
October 3-6, 2018 I Sofia Tech Park
Additive Days is a new four-day 3D show organized by B2N and partners. The event is focused on the fast-growing sector of additive manufacturing technologies and their multifaceted applications in sectors like medicine, industrial design, education and many more.
Additive Days aims to create a propitious occasion for a meeting between manufacturers, distributors, consumers, designers and technology fans from Southeastern Europe.
The conference and complementing workshops are a great place for attendees to share ideas and know-how, and to lay the grounds for meaningful international collaborations.
The program is available here.
The access is free.
The International Conference requires registration.
AUTOMOTIVE EXPO SOFIA
October 18-21, 2018 I Inter Expo Center
Automotive Expo Sofia is dedicated to car parts, maintenance and accessories. Its first edition will be held from October 18th to October 21st at Inter Expo Center.
Automotive Expo Sofia will focus on the fast-growing automotive industry and after-sales service in Bulgaria. The forum is the place for all types of car parts and components, car service and garage service, accessories, consumables for light, light commercial and heavy goods vehicles.
Besides parts and components, Automotive Expo Sofia will offer the audience electronics and electronic systems, digital solutions, audio and video systems and security systems, consumables, equipment and materials for repair and professional maintenance, accessories and much more in the sphere of auto parts and car service.
HR AND LEADERSHIP FORUM: MANAGEMENT 4.0
October 24, 2018 I Sofia Event Center
The Annual conference for HR and management organized by Capital and Karieri is the leading event in Bulgaria in the field of leadership and people management.The conference focuses on the future of work and professions and how these concepts are being redefined.
The 15th edition of the leading forum on HR, leadership and management will focus on the
future trends and new technologies. You will have the chance to hear inspirational talks by
international speakers, get practical advice and experience by yourself different gadgets,
HR software or business management concepts.
For more information please visit the website of the event.
CEE BLOCK SOFIA
October 25, 2018 I Sofia Tech Park
CEE Block Sofia will take place on Oct. 25-26 in Sofia Tech Park and will gather highest-level policymakers from the European Commission and European Union member states and investors to present digital concepts and
At the invitation of Emídio Sousa, mayor of Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal, Sofia Investment Agency will present the investment profile of Sofia and the business opportunities in the capital at the international Fórum Bizfeira in Portugal. The invitation followed a meeting held in Sofia in May, when Sofia Investment Agency presented the opportunities for business in the city to a delegation from Portugal.
The forum will take place on October 11 and the business meetings will be attended by chambers of commerce and industry, branch associations and business organizations from Canada, Sweden, France, Japan, Colombia, Senegal, Cuba, etc. In addition to a conference program, the event traditionally includes an exhibition area, pre-arranged business meetings and networking area, as well as informal discussions on topics previously announced in the program.
Our team will take part in the exhibition area and in the informal discussion on Growing the Future of ICT in Cooperation – Bulgaria, Portugal & Sweden. Anna Dimitrova and Nadia Sultanova from the Investment Analysis Department of Sofia Investment Agency will present Sofia as a technological hub in the Balkans. The other participants in the panel are Erik Behm from Business Region Göteborg, an organization active in the development of the second largest city in Sweden and 13 municipalities from the region, as well as Antonio Teixeira from the Portuguese Information and Communication Technology Companies Association. The discussion will focus on IT and creative industries.
The program of our team during Fórum Bizfeira also includes a meeting with the deputy mayor on creative industries of Santa Maria da Feira.
Forum Bizfeira is an annual initiative of the mayor and the municipality of the city of Santa Maria da Feira – the administrative center of a highly developed industrial area in Portugal, known mainly for the production of cork and articles for the footwear industry. The forum aims to build and maintain a network of business contacts among small and medium-sized entrepreneurs from around the globe. This one and other initiatives of the municipality helped 1889 enterprises worldwide with businesses in 60 different sectors to join the Bizfeira platform.
If you want to join the business network with your profile and offers and look for suitable partners, visit the website of the platform here.
17 Bulgarian companies rank again in the Coface’s list of the biggest companies in Central and Eastern Europe for 2017 – CEE Top 500.
The total turnover of the Bulgarian companies included in the ranking of the international credit insurer reached EUR 18.552 billion, which is an increase of some EUR 2 billion compared to the year before. Their net profit totaled EUR 724 million, which is about 2.5 times more compared to 2016.
The leader among the Bulgarian companies is still the Bulgarian Energy Holding, which ranked 29th, compared to the 25th position a year ago. Second comes Lukoil Neftochim which is going faster and faster upwards, moving from 44th to 35th position in 2017. Third is Aurubis Bulgaria, which also marks a big jump in positions, climbing from 77th to 43th. The other companies ranked in the top 10 of the biggest Bulgarian companies are NEK, Lukoil Bulgaria, Kaufland Bulgaria, Advance Properties, CEZ Electro Bulgaria, Bulgargas and Saksa.
Coface’s analysis shows a strong and expanding region in Central and Eastern Europe with declining risks in 2017, which results in higher revenue of EUR 652 billion (+ 11.8% on an annual basis). In addition, an increased profitability was also reported, with a net profit rise of 16.2% for the 500 largest companies in the region.
According to the tenth consecutive report of Coface, Bulgaria is among the countries with an improved risk assessment, which for the past year reached the A4 level, and for the business climate in Bulgaria – A3, compared to A4 in 2016.
In addition to Bulgaria, other countries with improved credit risk in the region are Estonia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Russia and Latvia. Only Croatia remains with a very high defaulting risk.
At an official opening ceremony held on September 20th, Ocado Technology’s new office in Sofia was officially opened by the British Ambassador to Bulgaria Emma Hopkins OBE.
It was a pleasure to attend the official opening of Ocado‘s own dedicated and standalone software development center in Sofia. “Congratulations to the management team and to all talented engineers who will work on The Ocado Smart Platform in our city. I wish the company every success in the future”, Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, said in his welcome speech.
Welcome to our brand new Sofia offices! Take a look around… https://t.co/nOQxxcFT1u
— Ocado Technology (@OcadoTechnology) September 25, 2018
Few months ago, Ocado Technology announced its decision to expand its existing team in Sofia from 50 to 150 engineers. The company has signed a five-year lease for two floors totaling 2,000 m2 of floor space in a new office building close to Vitosha Metro Station and Paradise Center. The development center in Sofia became Ocado Technology’s fourth location outside the UK, alongside two offices in Poland and one in Spain.
The company currently employs 60 employees and plans to expand its staff. The Sofia team will work on Ocado Technology’s world-class systems and solutions in the areas of robotics, machine learning, simulation, data science, warehouse control, warehouse management, and more.
Between November 15-23 Vienna will host Vienna Fintech Week – an initiative of Fintech Austria, the Austrian Bankers Association, FINTECHMATTERS and Vienna Business Agency. Vienna Fintech Week aims to be a platform for meetings and exchange of experience between fintech organizations from Austria, Europe and the rest of the world, to enable the opportunity to share experience and vision of trends and growing opportunities for development and partnerships in the ecosystem.
The event is organized in a format, allowing different fintech organizations to organize their own events within one week at different locations in Vienna. Some initiatives are free of charge, while others have paid access. A link to all events is available here.
Information about the program and the access options is available on the pages of each individual event.
Startups from abroad, including from Bulgaria, interested in traveling to Vienna for Vienna Fintech Week, may apply for financial support from Vienna Business Agency under the Start Alliance program.
The deadline to apply for financial support to cover participation costs is October 14.