The UK IT Roadshow is an initiative of the British Bulgarian Business Association aiming to promote Bulgaria as an IT business destination and to create business opportunities for both UK and Bulgarian interested parties. Bulgaria is named Offshoring Destination of the Year by the Global Sourcing Association (2016). The country also ranks 1st in Europe and 3rd in the world in IT-certified specialists per capita and offers excellent Internet and telecommunication infrastructure and strong programming and foreign language skills.
The UK IT Roadshow will take place during London Tech Week and the International Business Festival in Liverpool. The BBBA delegation at these unique events will comprise of representatives of IT companies, which intend to develop or extend business links between Bulgaria and the U.K.
A rich programme of events has been developed, with the emphasis on networking and presentation activities, as well as opportunities for 1-to-1 meetings, and participation in the two big international events in London and Liverpool. The delegation will be promoted among interested UK parties on the following web page where delegates will upload their profiles.
This is a unique opportunity to display your business on a truly global stage at two world-class events, each with hundreds of thousands of attendees. By aligning with the BBBA, participants will be able to access some of the most high-value events, as well as a number of unique networking opportunities and the pre-meeting selection tools will allow optimal time management and meeting effectiveness.
London – Market Briefing and Networking with Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce; Participation in London Tech Week;
London – Attendance of Createch Event at London Tech Week; Official Reception at the Bulgarian Embassy, promoted as part of the London Tech Week programme;
London – Dedicated matchmaking event with interested UK parties; Networking event, hosted by Gatwick Diamond OR Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce (TBC);
Liverpool – Participation in International Business Festival; Evening networking event with Northern Powerhouse Business Network;
Liverpool – Market Briefing and Networking Event with Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.
The British Bulgarian Business Association represents a strong group of IT companies, both Bulgarian and British, which have all been invited to send their delegates with the Roadshow. Confirmed delegates: Accedia, Athlon, BGO Software, Bulbera, Elando, Grafixoft, Mish Mash, Newtrend Agency, R&D Solutions, ScaleFocus.
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At the end of March, the Urban Mobility Center (UMC) launched a new service, allowing fast and easy mobile payment for a stay in a zone-paid parking area. The application also allows for a package payment for up to 2 hours for “blue zone” and up to 4 hours for “green zone”.
Furthermore, the new service will make it easier for foreign guests of Sofia who are not able to pay for parking via SMS, when external operators do not allow this type of payment.
Payment via SMS will also be possible, as such an option is built into the new application.
The application is available for download here: https://www.sofiatraffic.bg/bg/mobile-apps
The construction and development of Sofia Metro is “The Most Successful Infrastructure Project of the Decade” for the period 2007-2017. The project was awarded at the special edition of the Infrastructure Bulgaria Awards 2018 initiative. The award was presented on March 20 at an event organized by the City Media Group, part of the calendar of events of the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council 2018. Photos are available on the website of Sofia Municipality.
“Spring Cleaning”, the traditional initiative of Sofia Municipality, started on March 26. The campaign will continue until April 28 and will take place in two stages: area cleaning and landscaping.
The campaign has its own website, where you can learn more about the organization and how to get involved – spring.inspectorat-so.org
Italian university Universitas Mercatorum will open a branch in Sofia, as announced at the European conference EURONET-Italian Networking around Europe, organized by the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria. The University will offer bachelor’s and master’s degree courses in economics and tourism.
Universitas Mercatorum is a public-private university of the Italian Chambers of Commerce in Europe. By opening a branch in Sofia, the university aims to provide entrepreneurs in Bulgaria with professionals, trained in accordance with an Italian model of education, Giuseppe Saccone, a university representative said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Bulgaria. He was in Bulgaria to participate in “Innovation and Digital Innovation in Sofia as EU Digital Capital Markets”, a discussion panel within the framework of the conference of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria.
Sofia will have another vocational high school profiled in digital technologies and skills. The school called SoftUni Svetlina is a project of SoftUni – the largest software university in Bulgaria, and is in line with the institution’s policy to offer modern education. The concept of the digital technology school is to turn students into professionals, mastering modern digital and practical skills that meet the needs of the companies that would hire them.
One class in each of the three profiles – Programming and Software Technologies, Graphic Design and Multimedia, and Digital Marketing and Entrepreneurship – will start in the autumn. The school offers regular and online mode of education. Distance students are also required to pass the respective exams in order to obtain an accredited postgraduate diploma in accordance with the state requirements.
The program of the school is focused on social skills, practical projects, teamwork, ideas protection, problem solving skills, creative thinking – skills that aim to prepare high school students for the real life and turn them into young professionals for their future employers. The team of teachers has the ambition to present the traditional material in a more interactive, intriguing and attractive way for children, in contrast with standard way of studying by memorizing without any practical tasks.
Students who study online will go in for examinations at the school several times a year. Thus, students from other high schools will be able to study in parallel at SoftUni Svetlina and to obtain the respective diploma. A live interview will be conducted with those who applied for admission, including students and parents, prior to the final admission
Bulgaria ranks second in terms of wage growth in the European Union, data from Eurostat for the fourth quarter of 2017 showed. The increase in remuneration in Bulgaria reached 12.2% for the reported period. The labor costs for employers grew faster only in Romania – by 14.3%. Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia rank immediately after Bulgaria. Overall, the average EU cost of labor rose by 2.3%. A drop in wages was reported only in Italy and Finland.
Despite the reported wage growth in Bulgaria, Eurostat data from January 2018 show that the minimum wage of EUR 261 in the country remains the lowest among the 28 EU countries. We are followed by Lithuania with a minimum wage of EUR 400.
Eurostat data released in January also showed that the unemployment rate in the EU has reached its lowest level since 10 years – 7.3%. In Bulgaria, unemployment has reached its lowest value since February 2009 – 5.9%. This ranks the country 12th in the EU in terms of lowest unemployment rate. Bulgaria is also among the 17 EU countries with unemployment lower than the EU average.
The lowest rates of unemployment were reported in the Czech Republic – 2.4%, Malta – 3.5% and Germany – 3.6%. The unemployment was higher in Greece (20.9%) and Spain (16.3%).
The full Eurostat data on wages and unemployment rates by country are available on the following pages:
According to preliminary data of BNB, foreign investments in Bulgaria showed an annual growth of 64.6% in January and reached EUR 158.8 million. Investments were almost entirely in the form of debt instruments. Equity proceeds amounted to EUR 19.9 million. No data is available on the reinvested earnings yet. The figures are to be revised after BNB receives reports from the companies.
Most foreign investments came from the UK (EUR 58.8 million), the Netherlands (EUR 20.8 million), Germany (EUR 20.1 million) and Liechtenstein (EUR 19.6 million).
Meanwhile, the Central Bank has updated the data for the previous two years. The foreign investments in 2016 were revised to EUR 1.08 billion from EUR 660 million, mainly due to an upward correction in reinvested earnings. The initially announced foreign investments of EUR 902 million in 2017 were revised to EUR 950 million, an increase compared to the preliminary forecast, but a decrease compared to the year before.
The country’s trade balance data have also been updated
Bulgarian imports totaled BGN 59 billion in 2017, showing a higher growth of 15.4%, compared to exports. Exports exceeded BGN 52 billion, an increase of 11%, compared to 2016. We exported most goods and services to Germany (BGN 5.6 billion), as well as to the Balkan Peninsula (BGN 13.7 billion), or 26 % of total exports.
We export machines, clothing, food and medicines, but the main engine is the production of automotive parts and IT products. These are also the two sectors creating the highest added value. About 170 companies manufacturing automotive parts and systems for large automobile manufacturers in Bulgaria create 4% of GDP and employ more than 40,000 people in the country. The information and communication technology sector generates a turnover of services in the amount of EUR 2.5 billion, with an added value of EUR 1.14 billion. According to Eurostat data, the sector records a steady and dynamic growth and employs 51,000 people.
Bulgaria ranks 58th among 115 countries in the world for enabling digital growth, according to the 2018 research from the leading trade credit insurer Euler Hermes. Its Enabling Digitalisation Index (EDI) analyses each country’s ability to provide the necessary environment for the business to succeed in an increasingly digitalized global economy.
The total score of each country (a score from 0=worse to 100=best) consists of five components – Regulation, Knowledge, Connectivity, Infrastructure and Size. Bulgaria scores best in terms of proactive digital regulation (Regulation) – 73.7 points. Its score is lower in the other four components: Knowledge – 46.1, Connectivity – 39.9, Infrastructure – 39.9, and Size – 0.5. Thus, Bulgaria’s overall performance is estimated at 40 points. The US tops the list globally with 87 points, followed by Germany – at 75.3 points and the Netherlands – at 74.3.
The EDI measures the conditions for companies to transform and thrive digitally. The score is made of the following 5 components:
Regulation: measures performance on regulations which matter for digitagility – ease of getting credit, investor’s protection and incentives
Knowledge: measures countries’ education and training score – secondary and tertiary enrollment rates, quality of the education system and the extent of employees’ training, as well as their efforts to boost innovation performance – stimulating R&D activities, collaboration between Universities and the private sector, intellectual property laws
Connectivity: measures the number of people using internet in % of population, mobile phone and fixed phones lines subscriptions per 100 people, and the number of secure servers per 100 people
Infrastructure: for this component Euler Hermеs uses the Logistics Performance Index tool by the World Bank as a proxy of soft and hard logistical infrastructure.
Size: measures the number of internet users, and their income (the component correlates with reducing digital inequalities)
The US is on top of the digital world with a score of 87 out of 100. The country benefits from a large market, a strong knowledge ecosystem and a stable business environment. In Europe, the best performer is Germany, ranking second best globally with a global score of 75.3 and leading the way in Europe.
Western Europe stands out when it comes to providing favorable environment for businesses to thrive in the digitalization era, with 16 countries ranked in the top 30 and four countries in the top 5: Germany, the
Women make up 44.6% of the workforce in Bulgaria’s technology sector, Financial Times wrote in an article dedicated to main statistical findings on the tech workforce in the EU. The technology sector is one of the fastest-growing in the country and holds the second-highest proportion of women as % of the total employment in the EU after Lithuania. The average for the bloc, according to Eurostat, the EU statistics agency, is 32%. In general, Eastern European countries have the highest percentage of women working in the sector of high-tech industry.
We now have lots of female C-level managers in the digital industry. They’re very visible in the tech community and in society, FT quotes Sasha Bezuhanova, Founder of the social innovation platform Move.bg. According to Ms Bezuhanova the country also has growing numbers of female founders of startups. Between 10 and 12% of Bulgarian start-ups are founded by women.
More statistical findings from Eurostat on the topic*:
In 2015, 2.4 million people were employed in high-tech manufacturing, corresponding to 1.1 % of total employment. Overall, roughly one out of three employees in the high-tech sectors was a woman in 2015. However, the share of women was different in manufacturing and services:
The number of persons employed as ICT specialists in the EU-28 grew by 39.5 % during the period from 2006 to 2016, which was more than 10 times as high as the corresponding increase (3.6 %) for total employment. In 2016, some 8.2 million persons worked as ICT specialists across the EU-28. Across the whole of the EU-28, ICT specialists accounted for 3.7 % of the total workforce in 2016; this was 37 % higher than the share recorded in 2006.
*Data extracted in December 2017. ICT specialists are defined as persons who have the ability
According to the Global Investment Atlas 2018 report published in mid-March, Bulgaria reports the highest annual growth of 153% in real estate investments among 60 countries in the world. The report was published by the international advisory company Cushman & Wakefield, which partners with Forton for Bulgaria. According to the report data, the value of the transactions reached EUR 856 million, ranking our country 32nd among the top 40 countries in terms of volume of new investments with cross-border capital. The good 2017 was primarily due to the large deals for commercial and business properties in Bulgaria from South African funds. Cushman & Wakefield’s experts believe that investment volumes will continue to go up in 2018, driven again mainly by the markets in Eastern Europe, which Bulgaria is also part of.
Positive outlook for 2018 on the back of strong market in 2017
2017 has been very successful for Europe. This refers especially to the office space segment, which registered a record investment volume of EUR 253 billion. This was 43% of the total investment volume and was an increase of 10% compared to 2016, according to data from BNP Paribas Real Estate. The market showed an upward trend in most major cities in Germany, as well as in Paris, London, Dublin, Warsaw, Madrid, Milan, Amsterdam, etc., where the percentage of utilized office space recorded a historical growth and the decline in vacant office space raised prices.
The region of Central and Eastern Europe also showed stable growth. Europe reported an increase of 8.3% in investment volumes for the year, according to experts of Global Investment Atlas 2018. The growth was mainly due to the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, which experienced an increase of 19.2% in investment property deals in 2017.
According to a report by Colliers with a forecast for 2018, investment in commercial real estate in CEE reached a new record of EUR 13.1 billion in 2017, with Bulgaria being the most liquid market. Profit levels in the Bulgarian capital were the highest compared to other capitals in the region – 7.25% for retail space, 8.25% for offices and 10.0% for industrial properties. According to the company’s 2017 analysis, the volumes of local investors were highest in the Czech Republic (EUR 1.08 billion), Hungary (EUR 708 million) and Poland (EUR 421 million). Bulgaria ranked fourth with local level investments worth EUR 110 million
Hungarian real estate holding Wing has acquired two office buildings in Mladost district in Sofia for EUR 9.85 million. The buildings are not new and were owned by different companies – Bulmag Real Estate and C.3.I. (С.З.И.?) Management, according to Capital newspaper.
The larger building is located in the area between Sofia Tech Park and Megapark and has an area of 8 000 sq.m. The other is a three-storey office building close to Mladost 1 metro station and has 770 sq.m of rental area.
About Wing Zrt.
Wing Zrt. is one of the largest private real estate developers in Hungary. For its 20 years of operation the company has made investments amounting to more than EUR 500 million in activities such as construction, reconstruction, rental, etc. The company’s portfolio comprises a total area of about 800 000 sq. m. for offices, industrial and logistics projects, hotels. Wing Zrt. also offers planning and design services, as well as facility management. This is the company’s first investment outside Hungary and is part of its strategy to further develop in foreign markets.
Canadian TELUS International Europe, the world’s largest outsourcing industry employer, announced its plans to recruit 2,000 new employees by 2020 at its hubs in Sofia and Plovdiv. Thus, the company, which currently employs more than 2,600 employees in the country, will increase its staff to nearly 5,000. The company’s management announced its growth plans at the official opening of the new head office of TELUS International Europe in the newly-built City Tower office building at Macedonia Square in Sofia.
TELUS International occupies 6 floors of the building, with a total capacity of 2,300 people. Currently, the company employs 1,500 people there. TELUS is the largest tenant in the new 23-storey business center built in accordance with the latest standards of sustainable construction. That is why the building will soon change its name from City Tower to TELUS Tower. The company will also retain its other office in Sofia, located in Infinity Tower, next to Bulgaria Mall, where another 1 200 employees will continue to work.
Telus is already the country’s largest employer in its field and the fact that it is taking the next step with an investment of BGN 5 million and the opening of 500 new jobs shows that the company feels good in Bulgaria, Alexander Manolev, Deputy Minister of Economy, said at the official opening, quoted by the press center of the ministry. According to Jeffrey Puriet, President and CEO of Telus International, over the last few years, the company has invested more than EUR 150 million in the Bulgarian economy in salaries, capital expenditures and taxes, and plans to double this investment by 2020.
In Bulgaria, Telus hires new employees every month, including foreign citizens from Europe, North America and other countries, as its divisions work with inquiries and customers from around the world.
To celebrate its new office, on March 23-24 TELUS International Bulgaria opened its doors for a 24-hour marathon with a midnight movie projections, a Go Guide special event, a learning & development session, a FIFA tournament, a brunch, board games, and many other events with open access. Photos from 24 Hours @Telus Tower are available on the Facebook page of the company for Bulgaria.
A striking landmark on the Sofia skyline, #TELUStower is the new home of Canada’s @TELUSint in the Bulgarian capital. Today I joined just some of the 2,500+ Bulgaria-based employees of this award-winning employer,
“City-to-City”, the new business agreement to support business between London and Sofia, is now a fact. On behalf of London, the program is implemented through the British Investment Agency London & Partners, and on the part of Sofia – through the Sofia Investment Agency.
The City-to-City program aims to encourage and facilitate the establishment of foreign businesses in London or British companies in partner cities. The common ambition is to build two-way, mutually beneficial commercial and investment ties, providing the necessary support for establishing business in new cities.
The agreement between Sofia Investment Agency and London and Partners regulates the terms and services that partner cities are willing to provide as necessary support for start-ups on their territory.
The encouraging measures make provision for:
– providing office desks in office spaces with a discount for a certain period of time;
– discounts for local accommodation partners;
– travel discounts for local public transport;
– getting acquainted with the local business and start-up environment;
– providing useful contacts in specific business areas;
– access to tourist attractions.
On the links below, you will find useful information related to:
– a short presentation of London & Partners;
– a detailed description of the types of assistance that foreign companies receive in the process of expanding their business in London;
– a 9-step guide to setting up a business in London;
– useful contacts of London & Partners.
Should you require further information, you may contact Nadia Soultanova – Head of Investment & Business Development Department.
Following the final reporting of economic growth and investment data for 2017, the forecasts for the indicators we expect in 2018 also started. Here you can see the forecasts of several key institutions for the economic growth and investments in Bulgaria, not only at a local level, but also in comparison to the indicators for the region of Central and Eastern Europe.
The European Commission’s outlook
EC sees an economic growth of 3.7% in Bulgaria in 2018 and 3.5% in 2019. As expected, the growth will be due to the economic upturn in the Eurozone as a whole and will affect the whole CEE region. In three countries, Poland, Slovakia and Romania, the forecast is for growth exceeding 4%.
The growth in our country will continue to be mainly enhanced by strong domestic demand. It is expected that the wage growth will boost private consumption and EU funds will further trigger public investment in 2018. Inflation is expected to gradually go up to 1.4% in 2018 and 1.5% in 2019 as a result of international oil prices that will continue to push energy prices up.
Forecast and recommendations by IMF
With its forecast of a 3.8% growth this year and a gradually slowing pace in the coming years to just under 2.8%, the IMF considers turning the continued economic recovery into a sustainable growth the greatest challenge, given the rising costs for the aging population, modest expectations on the volume of new investments and wage growth due to lack of quality personnel in emerging sectors.
According to the Fund, the economy will be boosted by low financing costs, EU funds absorption, decline in non-performing loans and corporate indebtedness as well as alleviated credit conditions. However, a key problem will be the aging population and decreasing productivity of the limited labor force. The IMF recommends excess revenues to be allocated now for costs for the elderly and curricula to be updated and education to be adjusted to business needs through vocational education programs in direct cooperation with companies. In addition, the Fund also recommended public funds to be used more efficiently and the management of state-owned companies to be improved in order to bring the incomes in Bulgaria closer to the average for Europe.
Industry Watch on foreign investment in Bulgaria and