The Second Academy Seminar of the Digital cities Challenge project took place on May 16-17 in Brussels. Sofia took part as a participating city, one of the first seven European cities selected for the Challenge. As a participating city, over the next year, Sofia will be receiving field advisory services by a dedicated expert, a local expert and a pool of thematic experts, as well as access to various online tools and face-to-face interaction with representatives of the digitally mature mentor cities.
Additional eight more Challenge cities joined the project as of February 2018, together with over 20 follower cities. Follower cities will have access to the methodology and the seminars but will not receive dedicated expert support.
The second Academy seminar concluded the Digital Vision and Ambition Phase of the project which included an online self-assessment from local Sofia-based stakeholders – over 30 representatives from IT companies, utilities, telecoms, academia and the Municipality participated in this phase. Based on the insights from the interviews with the stakeholders and after a series of discussions and workshops, we agreed on the formulation of a Vision and Ambition for Sofia and we drafted an assessment report of Sofia.
In May, in Brussels Sofia presented its Vision and Ambition for digitalization during a peer review session. A special thank you to Mr. Alexander Tzonev, CTO at Bulpros for representing the Sofia IT sector and for his active role in the discussions. A big thank you to all business, academia and Municipality representatives who guided the formulation of the Vision and ambition of Sofia through filling-in the self- assessment tool and participating in personal interviews and workshops. We would like to thank the city of Amsterdam and Nice for their constructive feedback, as well as our colleagues from Iași, Romania.
If you would like to learn more about the Phase one of the Digital Cities Challenge, the assessment of the digital maturity of Sofia via the self-assessment tool, please review the presentation of the Vision and Ambition of Sofia, that includes Sofia Mission for digitalization.
The next steps will include workshops in Sofia on 10 July 2018 and a second one in September for roadmap development and identification of preliminary investment priorities.
The Second Digital Cities Challenge academy seminar “Vision & Ambition seminar” will be held on May 16-17th, 2018 in Brussels. All 15 cities (including Sofia representatives) will attend a series of meetings and seminars that will mark the closing stage of the Vision and Ambition phase and will kick-start the Strategy phase.
During the first stage of Digital Cities Challenge (DCC) each country had to conduct a series of interviews with local stakeholders and to assess the digital maturity of the city, as well as to identify its strengths and the areas that need to be developed. Sofia will present in Brussels the findings from the digital maturity assessment conducted in March.
Presentations from all participating cities on the results of the Vision and Ambition phase will close this stage of the initiative. The sessions will include training, dedicated to the methodology for the next phase of implementation of the proposed Vision and Ambition developed by each city and their local strategies, exchange of good practices and know-how from the blueprint cities, as well as ideation sessions to feed-in the future local thematic workshops that will happen during phase 2 of the DCC journey.
Presentation of the digitization challenges from the companies’ perspectives will also be part of the two-day workshops in Brussels. The EC initiative thus offers the Digital city teams ways to better understand what the industry wants to achieve with the help of digital technologies and what they need to make it happen. The presentation will be structured as follows:
You can find all the participating cities’ profiles on the Digital Cities Challenge website at www.digitallytransformyourregion.eu/challenge-cities.
If you would like to learn more about the project, please contact Nadia Soultanova, Head of the Business Analysis Department at Sofia Investment Agency, by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Innovation Drivers for Regional Growth Conference – 3 May, 2018
The conference will be held under the auspices of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU and will focus on the role of smart specialization and technology transfer as innovation drivers for regional growth.
The Trio Presidency Estonia-Bulgaria-Austria identified investments in research, innovation and human capital as key priority areas for boosting jobs and growth, particularly in the context of digital economies. At the same time, EU enlargement towards the Western Balkans remains on the agenda with a special focus on fostering progress towards EU membership, inclusive regional cooperation and promoting socioeconomic development.
The Commission and the Bulgarian Presidency will provide a platform to discuss and commit to place-based innovation as a priority for Europe, with a focus on Southeast Europe, including the Western Balkans.
Over the course of two days, there will be parallel sessions on the broad themes of smart specialization, technology transfer and digital transformation.
Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, is attending the conference.
Date and venue: Thursday 3 and Friday 4 May 2018 at the National Palace of Culture, Sofia, Bulgaria
Estimated number of participants: 250 – 300
Video streaming starts on 03 May on the European Commission’s science and knowledge service web page.
Sofia Science Festival – May 10-13, 2018
The Sofia Science Festival is the one and only Bulgarian festival showcasing the achievements of contemporary scientists and young explorers from Bulgaria and abroad. It is directed at both children and grown-ups. It aims to stir the scientific interests of the young audience and to inform the general public about the newest endeavors of scientists in Bulgaria and around the world.
More information is available here.
eCommCongress – 11 May, 2018
eCommCongress is the largest event for e-commerce in Bulgaria. More than 700 specialists in the e-commerce field are to attend the event.
More than 30 speakers will share knowledge, latest trends, best practices, tips and tricks for e-commerce in 3 parallel halls .
You can register for the event at http://ecommcongress.com/en/shop/ecommcongress-2018/
The Crypto Conference 2018 – 11 May, 2018
The Crypto Conference 2018 will host 500 attendees and 200+ CEOs from more than 30 countries. The event is dedicated to investors, IT Professionals, young experts, CEOs, managers, students, entrepreneurs, community leaders, business owners, directors, professionals.
Webit grows more and more every year and creates new horizons and opportunities for Bulgarian and European entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystems. The tenth anniversary edition of Webit.Festival Europe will be more influential and spectacular than ever, welcoming prime ministers, EU Commissioners, ministers, mayors, presidents and leaders of the world’s largest and most innovative companies, hundreds of investors and thousands of entrepreneurs.
The festival will be held on 26-27 June in Sofia – named the Digital Capital by Webit and the global media, and it will be the flagship event of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the EU Digital and Innovation Week.
Webit.Festival will host over 10 parallel conferences and exhibitions. Over 300 top lecturers from around the world will create over 60 hours of conference program. The topics include: Еurope in 2030-2050, Smart Cities, Modern infrastructure, Blockchain, Cybersecurity, Entertainment and media in 21st century, where current issues such as fake news, the future of television and advertising, the place of virtual and augmented reality in media will be discussed, Society / Culture in the Digital Age: GDPR Regulation, Network Privacy, Digital skills and education, Digital Health: Innovation and integration of modern technologies in healthcare, Women in business and politics, which will be part of the Plenary Sessions, chaired by EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel.
Sofia Municipality and Sofia Investment Agency are official partners of Webit.Festival and co-organizers of Webit.Sities Summit.
Among the confirmed speakers of this year’s edition are:
Matt Brittin – President, EMEA, Google,
Maurice Levy – Chairman & CEO of Publicis Groupe,
Jelena Djokovic – National Director, Novak Djokovic Foundation,
Jim Green – Senior Vice President, Salesforce
Mounir Mahjoubi – Secretary of State for Digital Affairs, France,
Sharan Burrow – General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation,
Floris van de Klashorst – SVP, Digital Products and Services, Volkswagen Group
Enrico Salvatori – Senior Vice President and President Qualcomm, EMEA,
John Frank – Vice President, Microsoft Corporation
Simon P. Worden – Chairman, Breakthrough Prize Foundation,
Mari Kiviniemi – Deputy Secretary-General, OECD, United Nations,
Tawakkol Karman – Nobel Peace Prize winner,
Duarte Cordeiro – Vice Mayor of Lisboa,
Catherine Carlton – Mayor elect (2014 and 2015) Menlo Park City, Silicon Valley,
Andrew Tsao – Managing director, Silicon Valley Bank
Carl Bildt – Chair, Global Commission on Internet Governance,
Iliyana Tsanova Deputy Managing Director, European Fund for Strategic
Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, is attending the Innovation Drivers for Regional Growth Conference in Sofia, which will take place on 3-4 May 2018 in the National Palace of Culture. The Conference is held under the auspices of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The panel discussions will focus on investments in research, innovation and human capital as key priority areas for boosting jobs and growth, particularly in the context of digital economies.
The Commission and the Bulgarian Presidency will provide a platform to discuss and commit to place–based innovation as a priority for Europe, with a focus on Southeast Europe, including the Western Balkans. Over the course of the conference, there will be parallel sessions on the broad topics of smart specialization, technology transfer and digital transformation.
Accelerator and Training programs of EIT Health
EIT Health, with the support of the European Committee and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), offers several programs for funding and support of startups or innovative teams developing projects in the fields of medicine, pharmaceuticals and research. For its accelerator and training programs, the organization uses its network of contacts with leading healthcare and technology specialists, institutions and companies.
The application deadline for the MedTech Bootcamp and ValidationLab programs expires on July 1, 2018. The Investors’ Network Program is open all year round and application for presentation before investors is open at any time by the end of 2018.
Innovative Enterprise Initiative
Innovative Enterprise is an initiative of the European Commission which aims to raise awareness of financial instruments and opportunities to support small and medium-sized businesses, especially under Horizon 2020. Innovative Enterprise Week Sofia 2018, a two-day international information meeting, with focus on the access to funding for research and innovation.
The event aims to bring together representatives of institutions, financial intermediaries, representatives of the research community, business representatives (from large companies or SME owners), as well as anyone interested in the EU’s financial instruments to foster research and innovation. The conference will be held at Sofia Tech Park on June 14-15. The meeting has free access upon mandatory preliminary registration by June 1 on the website of the event.
Eastern Europe Tech Tour
Another event in June will also enable contacts with potential partners and investors – the first edition of Eastern Europe Tech Tour, to be held on June 12-13 in Sofia. Tech Tour is an initiative that runs a series of meetings in different cities throughout Europe in a move to promote high-tech entrepreneurship and identify local emerging stars to be supported in their development from ideas to advanced business. For the first time the initiative has events in CEE countries. The interest in the region is expected, given the strong economic growth in the region and the rapid development of entrepreneurial ecosystems in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
The two-day meeting offers a format allowing companies to present their business or ideas to a delegation of international investors and top European entrepreneurs. If you want to join the meetings, please contact the organizers on the website of Tech Tour or on the Facebook
Our monthly newsletter provides information on upcoming international trade exhibitions and fairs where you can introduce your business to a professional audience and potential partners and customers. Registration for participation in such forums usually takes place weeks and even months before the start of the events. The trade fairs listed below will take place in June and July, so you have the time necessary to prepare your application.
Export Business Festival – Prague
June 21, 2018 I Businesses in a Digital Economy
On June 21 Prague will host the sixth consecutive edition of the Export Business Festival. This year’s focus will be on businesses in a digital economy. The festival aims at attracting and presenting innovative companies, startups, innovation support organizations, academic institutions, research centers, etc.
The festival offers several forms of participation – as a trade organization, as a visitor and as a participant in the B2B panels. Participants included in the list of companies and persons at the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in the Czech Republic will benefit from exceptionally preferential price terms for presentation or visiting the fair. For assistance, please contact the Office of Commercial and Economic Affairs in the Czech Republic:
tel: +420 601 025 755
China International Robot Show CIROS – Shanghai
04 – 07 July 2018 | China International Robot Show
China International Robot Show (CIROS) is an international exhibition that is completely dedicated to robots. The event is taking place at the National Exhibition and Convention Center of Shanghai and presents industrial robots, household service robots, medical robots, underwater robots and bionic robots including software, components and spare parts. The visitors have the opportunity to participate in accompanying conferences.
Semicon West – San Francisco
10 – 12 July 2018 | International Trade Fair for Semiconductor Products
The Semicon West, which takes place once a year in San Francisco, is the flagship of the international Semicon trade fairs for the global microelectronics industry. Exhibitors show the latest products and technologies from the fields of design and manufacturing reflecting the entire supply chain of the microelectronics from the electronic design automation of the production of components to final production including assembly, packaging and testing. Semicon West is complemented by related industries such as LED, MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems), photovoltaics, flexible electronics, displays
Since early April night public transport has been launched in Sofia. Four bus lines cross the city to connect all large neighborhoods. The buses run from 12 pm until 4 am. The transfer location where all buses meet is at Knyaz Alexander I Square. The price of the night card is BGN 2. It is valid for all lines and is sold by conductors onboard. The routes of the four lines of Sofia’s night transport and a timetable can be found here.
Sofia’s public transport will have 20 electric buses as of October, Yordanka Fandakova, the Mayor of Sofia, announced on her Facebook page. The vehicle technology is based on a 324kW battery with slow charge that allows travelling for at least 300km with a single charge. The electric buses meet the highest technological requirements. They are air-conditioned and equipped for disabled people.
Sofia will have a new sports hall for volleyball. Its construction at the Garitage Park Complex, near the “Vitoshki kambani” area, has already begun. It will be the new home of the “Levski Sofia” volleyball club. The hall will have a capacity of 1700 seats. The complex will also have a training block, a swimming pool, a fitness center, a physiotherapy center, a conference hall, a journalists’ and athletes’ area. The investment of the facility amounts to BGN 5 million, with Garitage Park being the main investor.
As of the end of March, the entry of cars in the Borisova Gradina Park has been totally limited. Only police, fire and ambulance cars will be allowed to enter the park, as well as cars with a pass from the Green System Directorate of Sofia Municipality, which will be allowed a temporary stay in the Borisova Gradina Park for servicing the park’s facilities and maintaining the green areas. The barriers are put at the entrances from Nezabravka Str. and from Dragan Tsankov Blvd. Parking on “Dragan Tsankov” will be allowed at weekends in the right lane, in the section between Park Hotel Moskva and the roundabout junction of the TV tower.
Placement of signboards to guide guests and foreign tourists in Sofia for their location has begun. The text on the boards will be available both in Cyrillic and Latin. The facilities are two-sided and provide directions for the surrounding streets, closest sites and
Sofia expects the number of 5-star hotel rooms to double by 2020 upon the completion of key sites of international chains, including Marriott in Macedonia Square, Hyatt, located in place of the former Serdika cinema next to the monument of Vasil Levski, Swissotel in the Grand Canyon Complex in Mladost 1 residential district, and the hotel part of Millenium Center in the tallest part of the three-unit complex. The rooms in the highest class hotels currently total 1 400. Following the planned opening of the new hotels, the capacity will grow by 80%.
The new investment in the hotel business is triggered by several factors, including the increased passenger traffic at Sofia Airport. The expansion of low-cost airlines and the increased number of destinations have led to a record high number of served passengers – a total of 6.5 million. This resulted in an increase in the number of overnight stays and the average price per night in the capital. The trend was mainly seen in 4- and 5-star hotels owned by foreign brands and offering not only accommodation, but also conference halls, restaurants, sports and leisure areas.
Together with the improved economic environment in Bulgaria and in the region, as well as the strong investor interest in hotels in Central and Eastern Europe, investment interest in high-class hotels in Bulgaria has grown as well. The positive trend is expected to be maintained, driven by the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. In addition to attracting more visitors to the capital at the moment, the EU Presidency is also an advertisement that has turned Sofia into an attractive and interesting destination.
The investor of the first Marriott Hotel in Bulgaria is Italian Finvis. The project is funded by Postbank and the Black Sea Bank for Trade and Development. The funding totals EUR 58.3 million and covers the construction of a 113 meter building consisting of two blocks in Macedonia Square, to be named Itower (from Italian Tower). The complex will include a six-storey unit with offices, shopping center, gym, spa and restaurants and a connected second block of 30 floors. The hotel part is to take up the area up to the 21st floor of the building, and the upper floors are planned to be for apartments. The five-star hotel will offer 232 rooms, conference rooms and ballrooms. The building is
According to the latest Colliers report, investments in business, industrial and retail space in Bulgaria amounted to EUR 52 million in the first quarter of 2018. Average prices and return on business properties remained stable. According to the consulting company, rent levels and profitability in the three main segments – industrial, commercial and office space – will remain the same in the coming months.
The office space market recorded deals covering a total area of 35.5 thousand sq. m at average prices (for Sofia) from EUR 13.5 / sq.m for class A and EUR 10 / sq. m for class B. Part of the deals were concluded at the stage of construction. At the end of the three-month period, a total of 9% of the offered 2 million sq. m. class A, B and C offices, were available.
Sofia offers a total of some 400 000 sq. m. of retail space (in shopping centers) and 40 000 sq. m. are under construction. In shopping areas, the average rental price is EUR 39 / sq.m per month, and on busy streets, it reaches EUR 49 / sq.m. The share of vacant areas in the segment dropped to 12%.
The rent of class A industrial areas in Sofia stayed at EUR 4.5 / sq.m and for class B – at EUR 2.7 / sq.m. At present, the segment offers 900 thousand sq. m. of total volume and new 188 thousand sq. m. are in a construction stage. Only 7% of the available areas are vacant.
The largest volume of buildings under construction was registered in the office sector – 384 thousand sq. m., followed by industrial areas with 188 thousand sq. m., and commercial areas with 40 thousand sq. m.
All data from the first quarter report are published on the website of Colliers.
According to Eurostat’s labor force survey, Bulgaria had the highest employment growth rate for people aged 20-64 in the European Union in 2017. Bulgaria’s employment rose by 3.6% and reached 71.3%. EU’s average employment rate was 72.2%, given that the target of the Europe 2020 strategy is the total employment rate of people aged 20-64 in the EU to reach 75% by 2020.
The countries with the largest increase in employment after Bulgaria are Slovenia (3.3 percentage points), Portugal (2.8 percentage points), Romania (2.5 percentage points), Croatia (2.2 percentage points) and Estonia (2.1 percentage points).
The upward employment trend is apparent both for men and women. For men, employment rose to 78% in 2017, compared to 76.9% in 2016, thus reaching the 2008 employment rate. For women, the employment rate has been going up steadily since 2010, reaching 66.5% last year.
The employment rate for the age group 55-64 reached 57.1%. The greater participation of older people in the labor market is part of the Europe 2020 strategy, given the fact that in 2002 the number of employees in this age group was barely 38.4%.
The German global leading automotive parts manufacturer Веhr-Неllа Тhеrmосоntrоl (ВНТС) will increase its production capacity in Bulgaria by launching its fifth production line in its plant in Bozhurishte Economic Zone.
ВНТС has reported increased customer demand – the supply contracts signed with new customers require capacity expansion, which will be met by the opening of a new production line in the industrial area on the outskirts of Sofia.
The exact amount of the investment is not specified, but it will probably cover the construction of a completely new production hall to the current plant, where some 200 new employees will work.