The Digital Transition partnership Programme was presented at SOFIA’s PLACE in the exhibition area of Webit.Festival Europe 2018. The partnership is part of the EU initiative Urban agenda for the EU. Sofia was selected as a co-coordinator of the partnership at the end of 2016 with Estonia and Oulu, Finland.
The project’s coordinators Veronika Manova and Mika Rantakokko presented the objectives of the program – to identify and implement new measures and solutions for improving the legislation in Europe, to finance urban policies and training programs to facilitate digital transition in Europe.
The European administrations, together with society and businesses, should envisage in the action plan of the program activities to provide better public services to citizens, promote innovation and create new business opportunities for growth for the European cities.
The team of Sofia Investment Agency initiated the presentation of the project at Webit 2018 because of the importance of its goals for the future of cities, society and business, as well as its similarities with the goals of Digital Cities Challenge (DCC), another project of the European Commission which Sofia will take part in. The DCC initiative aims to support the 15 European cities in initiatives for digital transformation of the urban environment and society. The implementation of the project is coordinated by a team of Sofia Investment Agency. Joint working meetings with the Digital Transition team are scheduled in July and September, as stakeholders in both projects are the institutions, the academic community and the private business. We believe that their guidelines and cooperation in the initiatives will help to identify specific implementation projects that are beneficial to the goals of both programs.
The development of the action plan for the partnership on Digital Transition is in its final stage. An introduction to the draft action plan is available here and the presentation of the coordinators Veronika Manova and Mika Rantakokko at Webit 2018 – here.
You can read more about the Digital Transition partnership on the EU’s website for the program: https://ec.europa.eu/futurium/en/digital-transition
Introduction to the Draft Action Plan of the Partnership on Digital Transition is available here.
Locally, the initiative is coordinated by Sofia Development Association – http://www.sofia-da.eu
The Financial Times in partnership with the Bulgarian office of the London-based consulting company Xoomworks is establishing a research and development center in Sofia. The technology team will be responsible for maintaining FT.com’s internal systems – subscription software, data domains, content publishing and distribution, billing and payments, finance and taxation reporting, corporate licensing, and more.
The Financial Times is one of the world’s leading business news and information organizations with more than 900 thousand subscribers across print and digital products. It provides a broad range of services, including news, comments, data, and analyses.
Sofia was selected due to its location and fast access to Financial Times’s head office in London, as well as for its technology talent pool. The company will hire 100 people over the next 12 months in the following directions: software engineers, business analysts and project and product management specialists.
An Entrepreneurship Fostering Procedure with a Total Budget of BGN 67 Mln Has Been Announced
The procedure for submitting project proposals under the “Innovation and Competitiveness” 2014-2020 Operational Program is now open. BG16RFOP002-2.024 “Promotion of Entrepreneurship” grants a total amount of BGN 67 227 768.06 under the procedure. The funds will be used for the establishment and development of new start-up companies and the market realization of their products. The minimum amount of the requested grant is BGN 50 000 and the maximum totals BGN 200 000, with a maximum intensity of the funding of 80%.
The grant procedure is implemented with the financial support of the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund. Applications shall be submitted only electronically with a valid Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) through the E-application module at https://eumis2020.government.bg. All documents related to the terms of application and the implementation of the activities are available on the website of the operational program at www.opic.bg
The procedure has two deadlines for submission of project proposals: by 16:30 on 05.09.2018 and by 16:30 on 07.11.2018. Feel free to ask questions by email at email@example.com.
The Bulgarian company for semantic software Ontotext, part of Sirma Group Holding AD, won funding in the amount of BGN 779 605 under the Innovation and Competitiveness Operational Program. The funding will be used to implement the ‘Іntеllіgеnt Mаtсhіng аnd Lіnkіng оf Orgаnіzаtіоn Dаtа frоm Dіffеrеnt Sоurсеѕ – СІМА’ project for a period of two years.
In order to implement the project, Ontotext will use technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and semantic modelling to link and integrate corporate data from different sources. The end product will be an in-depth tool for integrating heterogeneous data into market and business analyzes that are critical to various business operations such as customer relation management, attracting of new users, marketing campaigns, supply chain management, market analyses, study of competition, mergers and acquisitions, etc.
Ontotext was founded in 2000 as a technology lab at the Bulgarian software group Sirma Group Holding. In 2008, it spun off in an independent company and attracted funding from the venture capital fund NEVEQ. At the start of this year, the company announced a key partnership with the Canadian DrugBank, one of the leading databases in the field of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. In April, it was announced that NEVEQ had sold its 26.06% stake in Ontotext to Sirma Group Holding, the majority owner of Ontotext, for EUR 4.2 million.
Under the funded project, Ontotext plans to use its long-term expertise and experience in the field of cognitive data analysis, on which the Ontotext Platform had been created. The platform facilitates the analysis of data from heterogeneous sources and the integration of structured information and texts in knowledge graphs, which include information on billions of concepts and on the relations between them.
You can find more details on the specifics of the developed product in the official press release of the company here.
Another Bulgarian company, still in its start-up phase, will gain an opportunity to grow and develop in the field of artificial intelligence, machine self-learning and processing of natural language and algorithms. The newly established Connecto.ai was acquired by Leanplum, a company for mobile marketing, co-founded by the Bulgarian entrepreneur Momchil Kyurkchiev. Connecto.ai has a team of 10 employees in Sofia and offers automated online customer service through chat boards. By being part of Leanplum, Connecto.ai will expand its portfolio of online marketing solutions
We are happy to announce that Sofia Investment Agency has been invited and will participate in the presentation of Bulgaria at EXPO REAL 2018 – Munich, the biggest real estate and investment fair in Europe. Our country will take part at the exhibition and will be presented as a real estate investment destination at the initiative of the Association of Commercial Building Owners in Bulgaria (ACBO).
EXPO REAL is the most prestigious real estate exhibition in Europe and this will be our country’s first major participation at the forum. This year, the exhibition in Munich will take place between October 8-10, and Bulgaria will present projects of six leading companies with diverse portfolios, including office buildings, commercial and logistic parks, hotels and residential buildings. Bulgaria’s exhibition area will be of 100 sq. m. The ACBO initiators aim to present the experience of the companies operating in Bulgaria, as well as their most innovative achievements in order to make the country more visible and attractive for international investors.
Our team will be involved in the presentation of Bulgaria at EXPO REAL as an institutional partner together with the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
‘It is very important for foreign investors to have institutional support. By preparing and implementing this participation, we will start a sustainable model of cooperation between institutions and business in the real estate sector and will send a positive message to the European market’, Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, said on the occasion of the Agency’s participation in the presentation of the country in Munich.
Top 100 of Technology Companies in Bulgaria – Awarding Ceremony
July 9, 2018
For the third year in a row, ICT Media will award the winners of the “Top 100 Technology Companies in Bulgaria” specialized edition. This year’s ranking is based again on objective financial criteria, such as the profits and activity gross income for 2017 of Bulgarian and international companies from the telecommunication, IT and outsourcing sectors operating on the Bulgarian market. The awards are divided into 8 main categories by sectors. In addition, two major awards will be given to telecommunication service providers and to companies that are developing, providing and introducing solutions and services in the field of information and communication technologies.
The event will include representatives of the largest IT companies in the country, IT managers, business development managers, as well as representatives of the public administration.
Learn more about the event here – https://events.ictmedia.bg/event/85
A to JazZ Returning to Sofia for the Eighth Consecutive Year
July 6, 7 and 8, 2018
The international A to JazZ Festival will be held for the eighth consecutive time in Sofia. One of the most anticipated musical events in the capital this year will take place on July 6-8 at its usual location – the vast meadow of South Park II. The festival is held with the exclusive support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, Sofia Municipality and the Ministry of Culture.
The program of the A to JazZ Festival 2018 includes again some of the biggest names on the global, Bulgarian and European jazz scene. The festival has free access and the program for the three days of the event is available on the Facebook page of the fest: https://www.facebook.com/events/611384229213478/
July 11, 2018
‘The Digital Knowledge and Innovation Conference – DigiThink 2030’ mainly aims to provide information on the ‘Erasmus + Design of Digital Innovation’ project and to present new concepts, themes, teaching methodologies, training programs, best practices and teaching materials, which the program offers in the field of lifelong learning, the building of key competences in a world of digitization and economies that are transformed into ‘knowledge economies’.
The main topic of the lectures and the discussions will be “What are the new roles and skills of the people in the organizations”. The forum is suitable for IT specialists, managers, R&D experts, entrepreneurs, students, startups, management consultants,
On June 23, a new type of children’s interactive technology center opened in Sofia. It is a place where children of different ages can learn about different fields of science through play and experiments. The center called TechnoMagicLand is located in Sofia Tech Park, in the Experimentarium building. The facility covers an area of 1 300 sq m and offers nearly 40 interactive and cognitive experiments in the fields of natural sciences, mathematics and information technology – the so-called STEM fields. Furthermore, TechnoMagicLand has a demonstration space and laboratories for workshops and events in the field of science and technology. The place is suitable for individual and group visits, as most of the exhibits are accessible for people with disabilities, and the explanations for the facilities are both in Bulgarian and English.
TechnoMagicLand is suitable for children over the age of 7 and is open every day, excluding Mondays. Find more at www.TechnoMagicLand.com
A plan for 15 new metro stations in the capital is in a stage of public consultation before becoming a subject of a voting procedure by the City Council. The new stations are in line with the expansion of the third ray of the Sofia metro and will be in the following neighborhoods: Lyulin – between the second and the third micro-district, Mladost – in the direction of Simeonovski lift, Studentski grad – to the National Sports Academy and in ‘Slatina’ district.
A new mobile application, serving as a virtual guide for cultural events, historical sites and tourist routes in Sofia, was created. The application, funded under the “Culture” Program of Sofia Municipality, provides information on the nearest tourist sites depending on the current location and offers visits to museums, galleries, churches, hiking trails, traditional cuisine restaurants, events (including theater, ballet, opera and concerts). The application called Sofia CulTour was developed by Baise Systems Ltd., the creators of the Listen Up platform that provides real time sign language and speech-to-text translation for deaf people.
The “Green zone” for parking in Sofia is planned to be extended this autumn. It is envisaged that the zone for paid parking will also cover the upper part of Lozenets residential district, part of Krasno selo, between “I. Geshov “,”P. Slaveykov”,” Totleben” and “G.Sofiyski” boulevards, part of “Vazrazhdane” district – between “K. Velichkov”, “Slivnitsa”, “Al. Stamboliyski” boulevards and “D. Petkov” and “Opalchenska”, and Oborishte district
The International Business Alliance.Bulgaria, a London-based company created by two Bulgarians, launched the one of a kind online business network of international business and culture with a Bulgarian connection. The alliance aims to bring together representatives of the entrepreneurship, investment and finance sphere, cultural industries, education, philanthropy on a global level.
The networking platform www.ibaconnect.com already has more than 220 members from over 15 countries and 4 continents. The first members include institutions, business associations, professionals from different business sectors, entrepreneurs, experts, journalists, etc.
The founders and the team of the International Business Alliance.Bulgaria are developing the new network in order to provide a direct contact between the users to cooperate with ideas and partnerships to develop and expand the business in new markets and in new directions.
‘Effective, successful and a must in this global business world – that’s how I see the opportunity for Bulgarians with businesses around the world, as well as their foreign partners, to communicate directly. Everyone knows the conditions of the particular market where they work best, and can help with experience and knowledge’, Miroslav Bogdantsaliev, one of the founders of the platform, entrepreneur and investor, says.
The platform offers a number of attractive business opportunities. Users can share business projects in a move to attract partners and investments, offer and seek employment, consult international experts, or contact the official Ambassadors of the Alliance on local market and regulatory issues. The online network allows users to create and participate in professional groups and events, share articles and news from their business activities, benefit from different advertising and communication options.
Currently, the team is also working on the IBA Institute, an educational section, where platform members will be able to take part in video trainings, webinars, online and offline events, etc. with the participation of international experts and consultants in various business and cultural fields.
The International Business Alliance.Bulgaria project also includes the creation of an official print media – the bilingual business magazine Elysium. The magazine targets the Bulgarian embassies, the members of the platform, Bulgarian and foreign business and cultural organizations around the globe, investors, entrepreneurs, etc.
The first of its kind online business network dedicated to international business with a Bulgarian connection aims to provide interactive, fast and reliable communication between Bulgarian entrepreneurs and their foreign partners. Paola Minekova, co-founder of the
The global management consulting and professional services company Accenture plans to double its staff in Sofia and Plovdiv. The Bulgarian branch of the Dublin-based company announced its intentions to expand its IT team of 140 specialists by 160 within one year.
Accenture offers IT service consulting, as well as e-commerce solution developing and consulting. The Bulgarian office has a key role in the services for Southeast Europe and the expansion of the team will further strengthen its positions in the region. Accenture is looking for specialists with Java, SAP Hybris, Saleforce, and Adobe. The company will hire both experienced programmers and young specialists willing to learn and grow within the organization.
Accenture set foot in Bulgaria in 2015 with the acquisition of Javelin Group. Since then, the Bulgarian unit has proved to be one of the leading high-tech centers for the company with its few but very competent employees.
Accenture was founded in 1989 in the USA, but has its headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, since 2009. Today, the company employs more than 440,000 people and works with customers in 120 countries. Accenture’s main teams are in India, the USA and the Philippines. In 2017, the company generated total revenue of USD 34.9 billion. The tech giant has been present in Sofia and Plovdiv since 2015. The Bulgarian teams work on complete e-commerce solutions.
The packaging company Multivac opened a new €18.8 million production facility in Sofia. The new manufacturing plant is located in the industrial area of Bozhurishte and has a total surface area of 20,000 square metres. In addition to a factory building for the production of machine parts for packaging equipment, the complex also includes a state-of-the-art warehouse and a logistics centre, a training centre and an administration building. The new building will house the Sales and Service departments, an international shared service centre for IT, the Strategic Purchasing, and Design and Service teams.
150 jobs will be created as a result of the investment. The new plant is Multivac’s first production facility in Eastern Europe and has opened after a construction period of roughly two and a half years. In addition to the new plant in Bulgaria, the German company has eleven additional production sites in Austria, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Finland, the USA, and in Germany, as well as more than 80 sales and service companies worldwide.
The new Southeast Europe Fintech and Innovations 2018 industry report by SeeNews is focusing on the IT sector in Southeast Europe (SEE).
According to the report, Bulgaria is a leader in SEE with the highest number of fintech companies, a total of 70 enterprises, followed by Slovenia and Romania.
Key insights from the Fintech and Innovations 2018 report
Despite the fact that the internet usage in Bulgaria rates below 60% due to the aging population, the country scores much better in the ranking than Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It ranks 3rd right after Slovenia and Croatia, outperforming Serbia, Romania, Moldova, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania. Government support – the other major pillar for the development of national ICT sectors – was assessed as very strong.
The report rates Bulgaria as the country with the biggest development potential, pointing out that its fintech market is still three times narrower than that in Slovenia and Romania, but the unmatched number of fintech companies and the best startup environment in the region can be a basis for a rapid growth.
The market size of the fintech segment in the four EU-member states in the region, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Croatia, was estimated at EUR 371 mln in 2017. Although it still represents a very modest part of the IT sector in all countries, fintech is the most dynamic segment and is growing at the highest annual rates, significantly outpacing the IT sector as a whole. Payment transactions and financing are the two largest fintech segments in the SEE region.
SeeNews’s analysis is based on a study by UniCredit Group, The Tenth edition of The Global Innovation Index 2017, and International Telecommunication Union, Measuring the Information Society Report 2017. Detailed data for Bulgaria and the other countries in the SEE region is available here.
Europe’s largest and most influential Business Angel event, The EBAN Annual Congress 2018, took place in Sofia, 25-27 June, at the same time as Europe’s most influential technology event – Webit.Festival Europe 2018. The EBAN conference brought more than 300 elite business angels and investors to Sofia from across Europe, Africa, Asia and the North America.
This was the 18th edition of the annual flagship event by EBAN organized in collaboration with Eleven Ventures and the Bulgarian Association of Business Angels. This year the Congress focused on Digital Transformation, bringing together Business Angels, venture capitalists, corporates, policy-makers and innovators, Seed Funds, Early Stage Market Players and The European Trade Association for Business Angels members. 56 startups pitched their ideas to expert jury members and investors at the EBAN Sofia Startup Competition.
A part of the EBAN Annual Congress, European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot workshop took place on 27 June 2018. EIC presented their SME Instrument that supports top-class innovators with funding opportunities and acceleration services. The Bulgarian Endurosat was presented at the workshop as one of the EIC SME Instrument funded companies, listed amongst Europe’s 200 most promising startups.
EBAN Sofia 2018 booklet is available at http://www.ebansofia2018.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/BOOKLET-FOR-WEBSITE-COMPRESSED.pdf