The official Opening ceremony for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU will be held tonight, at the Ivan Vazov National Theatre in Sofia. The ceremony will start with the national anthem performed by the Children’s Choir of the Bulgarian National Radio. Authentic Bulgarian folklore music and the anthem of the EU will also be part of the opening ceremony.
The Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov will speak at the ceremony.
“I believe in Bulgaria" – "Вярвам в България" says @JunckerEU ahead of the opening of #EU2018BG in Sofia. Get to know the country presiding over the Council of the EU for the next six months → https://t.co/iXRXB3JzEY pic.twitter.com/raxzzdH0Er
— European Commission (@EU_Commission) January 11, 2018
The calendar of cultural, political and live-streamed events, that will take place during the Bulgarian Presidency (January -June, 2018) is available at the official website of #EU2018BG.
For additional news go to the Daily News section at the European Commission website here.
The Invest Sofia team won a place in the Digital Cities Challenge project of the European Commission. Thus Sofia is among the 15 cities that will be supported by the project in initiatives for digital transformation of urban environment and society. Sofia will be included in a special mentoring and networking program and will receive strategic support in solving and implementing specific projects for the city.
The European Commission’s Digital Cities Challenge initiative aims to help 15 European cities to promote the use of cutting edge technologies. Thus they will stimulate their growth, create jobs and become more attractive places to live in. The initiative includes cities in Europe, currently showing steady progress in digitization and strongly motivated to benefit from digital transformation.
As part of the project, Sofia will receive free support, mentorship and assistance in implementing projects that promote further innovation and productivity and above all improve the quality of life in the city.
What else is expected:
– Free advice and assistance from experts who will be familiar with city environment, current challenges and future ambitions;
– Access to tools that allow an assessment of the digital maturity of the city and outline future results that are to be achieved;
– Access to training sessions, European networks and platforms to build a local team of experts;
– Dialogue with other European cities that have begun or are about to begin the process and have good practices for exchange of experience and ideas;
The team of Invest Sofia won the project at the very first stage of the competition, when the first 5 cities were selected. The project will last for 18 months as of January 2018 to June 2019. The remaining cities of all 15 will be included in a 14-month program and will be selected in February at the second stage of the application.
The organization responsible for the implementation of the Digital Cities Challenge project is Invest Sofia, and the contracting authority for the implementation of the program is Sofia municipality. At the end of its participation in the European Commission’s project, Sofia will have a developed clear strategy and action plan for the transition to digital transformation. It will include actual, achievable and measurable steps that are to be taken in the short, medium and long run. A community of local stakeholders willing to be involved in the digital transformation process will
2017 has been full of success stories of foreign companies setting up or expanding their operations in Sofia, as well as with local companies starting or growing up their business and gaining recognition. Sofia experienced yet another year of stable growth and innovation. According to the sixth annual analysis of the economic and social development of the 28 districts in the country, once again, Sofia is the richest region with the country’s highest GDP per capita (more than double the national average) and the region with the highest investment activity and relative number of active enterprises of 85 per 1 000 people. Sofia and the region were the preferred location for the establishment of many local and international companies. Sofia also experienced outstanding growth in the sectors of Tourism, BPO and ICT.
Here are some of Sofia success stories for 2017.
Lufthansa Technik Sofia
With its investment of EUR 35 million, Lufthansa Technik Sofia (LHT) has completed the expansion of its base at Sofia Airport, making it the largest in Europe. Following the investment, the capacity of the civil aviation repairs and maintenance center includes a new hangar and a new 8-storey building with offices and workshops. The investment will help the center to boost its production capacity by 60% and to be able to service 8 machines simultaneously.
Sensata Technologies opened a $3 million testing laboratory, its largest worldwide in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia. The company is a global industrial technology leader in the development, manufacture and sale of sensors and controls for mission-critical applications that improve safety, efficiency and comfort in a wide array of automotive, appliance, aircraft, industrial, military, heavy vehicle, heating, air-conditioning, data, telecommunications and marine applications. The testing lab in Sofia is already operating on a total area of 6 000 sq. m. with over 100 newly hired highly-qualified engineers and experts in safety testing and development of equipment for Sensata’s components.
Dynamo Software, the premier provider of configurable, cloud-based investment management software for the alternative asset investment industry, announced a majority investment from Francisco Partners, a global, technology-focused private equity firm. The investment from the US-based fund will provide Dynamo with a capital partner to support the company’s continued growth and product innovation.
Cargo-partner started the construction of a modern logistics center near Sofia International Airport, scheduled to open in the
More than 40 calls for applications for funding from the European Union will be announced in 2018. The programs target the public, non-governmental and private sectors. The year begins with the “Encouraging Entrepreneurship” procedure under the Innovation and Competitiveness Operational Program. The program is aimed at start-ups and provides a very high rate of grants (80%), while the eligible activities are very broad. Funding is up to BGN 200,000. Costs for the purchase of equipment and specialized software, rental of premises, marketing activities, salaries for expert positions, etc. are eligible for funding.
Information on this and all open application procedures for EU programs can be found on the website of the Directorate-General for European Funds for Competitiveness.
If you are a non-governmental organization, you can check out the information portal for NGOs in Bulgaria, which publishes current funding opportunities from private initiatives, foundations and international programs. The portal’s address is here – https://www.ngobg.info
A Chinese investment intermediary is looking on behalf of a client for a Bulgarian partner interested in building a solar park or a wind farm on the territory of Bulgaria. The investment envisaged upon entering into an agreement with a suitable partner in Bulgaria amounts to EUR 100 million. If you are interested in this offer, you can contact the intermediary in China directly via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 months before the start of the events. The trade fairs listed below will take place in March and April, so you have the time necessary to prepare your application.
Internationale Handwerksmesse, Munich – Germany
7- 13 March, 2018 | Exhibition of handicrafts, furniture, energy, technology and home&garden
On the IHM (Internationale Handelsmesse) expert and private visitors are informed by well-known companies and vendors about current trends and latest technologies in terms of craft, equipment, energy, technology and home and garden. At the IHM exhibit system mechanics, covering bakers, artisans and automechanics, butchers and carpenters. Various trade organizations take place at the IHM annually.
The Internationale Handwerksmesse will take place on 7 days from Wednesday, March 7 to Tuesday, March 13 in Munich.
Trade Show Contact
Cosmoprof Worldwide, Bologna – Italy
16- 19 March, 2018 | Trade fair for the beauty industry
Cosmoprof Worldwide in Bologna is a trade fair for the beauty industry. It is intended for beauticians, hairdressers, owners of Nail Salons, beauty salons, shops for natural products and perfume. Buyers, wholesalers and manufacturers of beauty products are represented at the fair. This exhibition offers the companies the opportunity to present to an audience of experts. Visitors can find in depth and comprehensive information about the latest developments, trends, products and services in various fields.
The Cosmoprof Worldwide will take place on 4 days from Friday, March 16 to Monday, March 19 in Bologna.
Trade Show Contact
Construct Expo 2018, Bucharest – Romania
8-11 March, 2018 I Building and construction
Construct Expo stands out as a network of professionals, giving the participants the opportunity to become part of a network and expertise available to professionals.
Construct Expo 2018 is a leader on the construction market and also a trend setter for the world of constructors. Innovation, trends, quality materials, contemporary architecture, green technologies and solutions will be in the spotlight, during the 4 days of the fair. The event represents an opportunity to exchange ideas for all those interested in supplying quality products and services.
In the same period with Construct Expo will take place other 6 events with side exhibition sectors: AMBIENT EXPO
Opening ceremony for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU in Sofia, January 11, Ivan Vazov National Theatre
The official Opening ceremony for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU in Sofia will be held on January 11, at Ivan Vazov National Theatre. Calendar of all cultural, political and live streamed events during the Presidency is available at https://eu2018bg.bg/bg/events
Current opportunities for EU funding, January 16-17
The Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA) and the “European and National Development Programs” (BIA member) organize a two-day practical seminar “Current opportunities for EU funding”.
Detailed procedures for grants under Operational Programs and upcoming receptions in 2018 will be presented in two main directions:
Current and upcoming procedures under Operational Program “Innovation and Competitiveness”
Current Receipts under the Rural Development Program
The seminar will be held on January 16-17. Full program and registration link can be found here.
VISION2020 Network: A Gateway To Horizon 2020 ICT 2018 – 2020, January 24
In association with Applied Research Solutions, ICB Software Innovation and the Enterprise Europe Network, Vision 2020 will be holding an ICT event at the Microsoft Innovation Center in Sofia, Bulgaria. This event is a chance for members of Bulgarian industry and academia to meet and discuss their involvement in Horizon 2020 ICT calls during the 2018-2020 work programme.
The event will take place in Microsoft Innovation Center (Sofia Tech Park). Agenda is available here.
Registrations close not later than January 20th, 2018.
12th Annual Conference – Government Meets the Business, January 30
On January 30, 2018 will be held the 12th Annual Conference – Government meets the Business, organized by Economedia. The meeting is titled:
The Big Questions in 2018
Will Bulgaria achieve sustainable growth while losing human capital?
How can the Bulgarian economy be more attractive to those working abroad?
The annual meeting of businesses and the government will bring together key government officials and the owners of the largest companies in Bulgaria. They will discuss both government policies and business strategies that can help reverse this negative trend.
For more information and registration you can visit the website of the conference.
There are two more charging stations installed for electric cars in Sofia – at the parking lot on Shandor Petyofi St. and Vitosha Blvd. Each of the charging stations allows two electric cars to be charged at the same time. There are four parking spaces at the parking lot available for maximum access to them. The implementation of the project is part of the plans of Sofia Municipality for 2017 in line with the Air Quality Improvement Program by 2020.
Sofia municipality accepts applications from citizens who want to receive free composting containers to place in the yards of their houses or apartment buildings. The deadline for application is January 26. Applications may also be submitted by schools, kindergartens and nurseries. After the deadline, Sofia municipality will review the applications and will acquire and distribute the composting containers.
The initiative is part of the “Compost at Home” Campaign within the Waste Management Program of Sofia municipality 2015-2020. The plan is to purchase about 1 000 composting containers with a volume of 700 liters. The efficient and regular use of the composting containers and green waste loading (grasses, shrubs, branches) three times a year would result in reduction of final household waste by 550 tones / year.
The municipality has provided more than 8 000 composting containers free of charge since the start of the campaign in 2010.
A pilot project has been launched in Krasno Selo district in a move to better inform households where they can dispose of their waste separately. More than 100 of the standard waste containers have been provided with stickers with location maps, waste collection schedules and phone numbers to call when in need to dispose of specific waste – electronic, electrical, etc. If the project turns out to be a success it will be implemented in the remaining districts of Sofia municipality.
Here is an image of the map.
Large flower figures were planted at four key locations in Sofia on the occasion of the presidency of the Council of the European Union.
A figure with an area of 500 sq. m. with the logo of the Bulgarian presidency welcomes guests from Sofia Airport. Figures of different colors of tulips and Japanese cherry trees were planted near the cloverleaf interchange on Bulgaria Blvd. New arrangements have been made in the areas around the National Palace of Culture. Furthermore, the notes
In the last days of 2017 NSI published data on key economic indicators. Here is how Bulgaria starts 2018:
Manufacturing, as well as mining, reported growth of 5.5% and 4.3% respectively, while production and distribution of electricity, thermal energy and gas dropped by 8.8%. Construction output increased just over 10% compared to 2016 mainly due to building construction, while civil engineering registered a decrease. According to preliminary data, Bulgaria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) totaled BGN 26 990 million in the third quarter of 2017 at current prices. This corresponds to BGN 3 810 or EUR 1 948 of the value of the indicator per capita. Seasonally adjusted data show growth of 3.9% of the GDP in the third quarter of 2017.
Individual consumption of the population amounted to 61.7% of the GDP, recording an increase of 4.6% compared to last year.
Turnover in retail trade, estimated on a calendar-adjusted basis, went up by 3.8% compared to the corresponding month a year ago. The growth was mainly due to the retail trade of various goods – by 13.8%; retail trade of pharmaceutical and medical goods by 11.2%; retail trade of computers and communication equipment – by 8.8%, retail trade of household appliances, furniture and other household goods – by 6.8%; and retail trade of food, beverages and tobacco – by 5.8%. A decline was registered in the retail trade of automotive fuels and lubricants, textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods.
The relative share of employed persons aged 15+ was 53.2% (corresponding to 3 225.0 thousand men and women), an increase of 3.3% compared to last year. The unemployment rate was 5.8%, corresponding to a decrease by 12.6% of the number of unemployed persons.
Of the total number of unemployed persons 112.4 thousand (56.2%) were men and 87.8 thousand (43.8%) were women. According to preliminary data, the total costs of employers per hour worked increased by 10.7%. A major increase in costs was registered in industry – by 11.5%, in services – by 10.8%, and in construction – by 7.0%.
In September 2017 the average salary totaled BGN 1 064, going up by 11.5% over a one-year period.
The current account was positive and amounted to EUR 2 684 million (5.4% of GDP). The trade balance was negative and was in the amount of EUR 1 270.4 million (2.5% of GDP). Exports totaled EUR 21
Sofia Investment Agency published the Sofia – Outsourcing Services 2017 Report, prepared by Institute for Market Economics for Investment Analysis Department at the Agency. Find out below a summary of the report or download the full PDF version of the document.
Sofia BPO sector in figures
Company segmentation and demography
Nearly half of the employed in the BPO sector in Sofia work in micro-enterprises. However, with several major companies, entering or expanding their activities in Sofia, the sector is currently undergoing a consolidation. The number of companies with over 250 employees has increased from 11 in 2011 to 19 in 2016. For the same period, the number of employed in companies with 250+ employees increased from 9% to 18%.
One of the most important characteristics of the sector in Sofia is the fact that the majority of the companies provide consulting services, which enables compact teams and using freelancers, making employment statistics more flexible.
The outsourcing industry in Sofia is also characterized by the significant growth in the number of enterprises. For the reported period, the growth in the number of outsourcing enterprises in Sofia is about 16% (compared to 7% on a national level). In 2016, the number of enterprises in the BPO sector reached 20% of total companies in Sofia or about 24 000 companies.
Investment activity and export of services from the BPO industry
The share of investment made in the outsourcing industry in Sofia has been growing for the past several years. At the end of 2016, foreign direct investments have reached 1 billion euro, cumulative for the period 2000-2016. the biggest growth in foreign direct investments – 170%, was registered in the sub-sector of Administrative office activities, and additional market services, which includes call centers.
The Bulgarian unit of Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (HBC) announced it will invest 20 million euro by the end of 2018 to expand its factory operations located 15 km away from Sofia, in Kostinbrod. The company plans to make a water main to the town in order to improve the factory’s working process and its production capacity. Svetoslav Atanasov. CEO of Coca-Cola HBC Bulgaria said in a statement that the investment will increase the working capacity by 30%.
The investment comes shortly after the company made the decision to relocate all its Finance and HR working places from Weimar, Germany to Bulgaria. The conglomerate celebrates its 25th Anniversary on the Bulgarian market, but the soft drink has been manufactured in Bulgaria since 1965, being the first communist country to produce Coca-Cola. Last year the company released Bulgarian embroidery design for one of its bottle collections. The 750 ml glass bottle is fully designed by the Bulgarian team of the company and the production of cyrillic bottles range of the soft drink is a complete precedent.
The HBC investment for the 25 years of presence on the local market is close to 550 million euro. Currently the company employs some 2000 people. Annually, Coca-Cola HBC produces over 320 million liters in its factory near Sofia. The aim of the new investment is to make the Sofia-based manufacturing plant a regional center and to export production to other countries in the region and to more distant countries.
Sofia Investment Agency just published the Labor Market in Sofia 2017 Report, prepared by SeeNews for Investment Analysis Department at the Agency. Find out below a summary of the report or download the full PDF version of the document.
Sofia labor force in figures
General characteristics of the labor market in Bulgaria
In Q2 of 2017, the number of employed people in Sofia is 701,300. A total of 50.3%, or 352,800, are men and 49.7%, or 348,600, are women. The highest is the number of people with higher education – 360 300. There is a trend towards increasing the relative share of the people with tertiary education driven by the overall improvement of the educational structure of the population in Sofia.
For the period 2012 – 2016, the number of the employed who had a tertiary education went up by 29%, while the employed with completed secondary education decreased by 10%, and those with primary or lower level of education – by over 30%. The key factors for this include the easier access to higher education in Sofia, the restructuring of the economy, and the fact that the major job creating sectors in Sofia require secondary or higher education – ICT, Business Service Outsourcing and the high-value added manufacturing activities typical for the region of Sofia.
Almost 99% of the labor force in Sofia aged
Seven Bulgarian teams and individuals have been listed in the New Europe 100 Challengers 2017. For a fourth year in a row the edition acknowledges the brightest and best citizens of central and eastern Europe’s – those who are changing the region’s societies, politics and business environments and displaying fresh approaches to prevailing problems.
The teams and individuals from 14 countries were selected by Google, the Financial Times, Res Publica (the Warsaw-based journal), and the state-supported Visegrad Fund promoting integration within central Europe.
Here are the challengers from Bulgaria
Anita Klasanova – co-founder and chief technologist of Roo Brands, which makes energy bars and cookies from dried fruits, raw nuts and superfoods. The inspiration for the company came from Ms Klasanova’s search for healthier snacks for her own children.
Dimitar Dimitrov – CEO of Tickey, an app that makes it easier for people to use public transport.
Zanni Sabev, Blagovest Dimitrov, Lyubomir Yanchev – co-founders of MClimate – IoT company which helps users control cooling and heating systems in their homes.
Joana Koleva, Iva Tsolova, Anton Gavrailov – co-founders of Jamba, an online platform providing training and career assistance for disabled people.
Rossi Mitova – founder and CEO of Farmhopping, an internet shopping platform connecting farmers and consumers.
Alexander Naydenov – co-founder of PaperHive, an online hub where scholars can collaborate in reading complex texts.
Neven Boyanov – a digital entrepreneur recently involved with creating DivaCare, a platform that helps women recover from breast cancer treatment through a cloud-based mobile platform that connects patients with their doctors, physical therapy providers, and support groups.
For more details of the New Europe 100 list see www.ne100.org