Funding of SMEs for Resource Efficiency
Small and medium-sized enterprises will have the opportunity to be granted funds for projects for reducing used raw materials and waste recovery. The funding is under Operational Program “Innovation and Competitiveness”. The budget totals BGN 71 644 656 and the projects shall be drafted and applications shall be submitted by April 23, 2018. The program aims to increase the resource efficiency of companies by introducing new solutions, techniques and methods.
The amount that companies can be granted is in the range of BGN 500 thousand to BGN 1.5 million. Projects should meet the following conditions:
– applicants should be traders within the meaning of the Commerce Act or the Cooperatives Act or be an equivalent person within the meaning of the legislation of a Member State of the European Economic Area;
– small and medium-sized enterprises;
– at least three closed financial years (2014, 2015 and 2016);
– to carry out activity in sector C “Manufacturing” according to NACE.BG-2008;
– projects should aim at the implementation of technological solutions and methods that are pilot for Bulgaria (applied for the first time) and which represent product (product or service) or manufacturing innovation;
– projects should lead to the improved resource efficiency of the company and have a positive impact on the environment
– projects should have the potential to be implemented on a multiple basis with multiple results
– projects should be based on a resource efficiency audit carried out under a template prepared for the purposes of the project selection procedure
Offers and Inquiries in the Enterprise Europe Network Database
The online database of the Enterprise Europe Network has over 10 000 offers from 600 businesses in more than 60 countries and is the largest business network in the world created by the European Commission in support of internationally oriented SMEs. The network enables searching through a filter for business offers, inquiries, proposals for project and technology partnerships, business missions and B2B meetings. You can also select by country if you are looking for opportunities in a particular region.
In Bulgaria, the Enterprise Europe Network is represented by 12 organizations located in Sofia, Plovdiv, Sandanski, Stara Zagora, Vratsa, Yambol, Dobrich and Ruse. Here you can find the partners in Sofia you can turn to for instructions, and the direct network tool with database of offers is available here.
The Institute for Market Economics published its sixth annual analysis of the economic and social development of the 28 districts in the country “Regional Profiles: Indicators of Development 2017”. The analysis includes 65 indicators in 12 categories: Income and Living Conditions, Labor Market, Investment, Infrastructure, Taxes and Fees, Administration, Demography, Education, Healthcare, Security and Justice, Environment, Culture.
The districts with the strongest economy this year are Sofia (capital), Gabrovo, Stara Zagora, Varna and Ruse due to significant investments, strong labor market and high income and standard of living. Once again, Sofia is the richest region with the country’s highest GDP per capita of BGN 26 690 or more than double the national average – BGN 12 339 per capita. In the light of considerable salary growth across the country, the pace in the capital is the most dynamic – since the start of the year Sofia is the only region with salaries higher than the average for the country and holds 50% of the high paid positions with remuneration exceeding BGN 1 000. The gross salary in the capital increases rapidly to reach BGN 14 531 per year, with BGN 10 535 for the country (according to data from 2015).
In addition, Sofia is also the region with the highest investment activity. The relative number of working enterprises reaches 85 per 1 000 people, with 55 per 1000 people in the country in 2015. At the same time, investments in tangible fixed assets (TFAs) record a slight decrease, but remain double the average for the country with a value of more than BGN 6 000 BGN per person, with less than BGN 3 000 per person for the country.
The capital is also the region with the highest Internet access and the largest share of population using it. In 2016 households with Internet access in Sofia were 69.4% (with 63.5% for the country), and the share of Internet users – 75.8% (with 62.6% for the country).
The capital is still the region with the highest burden of the main local taxes and fees in 2017. By contrast to the country’s trend, the tax burden has not increased in the last few years, which provides a stable and predictable tax environment.
The other criterion with weak assessment for Sofia is Security and Justice due to the low clearance crime rate and the growing number of pending criminal cases.
Don’t miss out in Sofia in December:
Sofia International Book Fair, December 12-17, National Palace of Culture
The largest book forum in Bulgaria will take place on 12-17 December at the National Palace of Culture. This is the 45th edition of the festival, expected to involve over 200 exhibitors. The visitors will be able to enjoy a rich accompanying program during the five days of the event. Meetings with Bulgarian and foreign writers, a literary festival and more parallel initiatives have been scheduled at the event.
The program is available here.
Energy Managers’ Forum, December 14, Sofia Hotel Balkan
This is the third discussion of the Energy Managers’ Forum series and will present the current state of the natural gas market in Bulgaria. The discussion will include representatives of the public natural gas supplier Bulgargaz EAD, the gas transmission operator Bulgartransgaz EAD, the State Agency of Energy Regulation, natural gas traders, consumers, etc.
More details about the program and registration – here.
GDPR. Prepare for the new reality, December 14, Novotel Sofia
The one-day training is focused on implementing the mandatory for the business GDPR regulation. Top-level auditors and GDPR consultants will be lecturers at the event. They will provide specific technical solutions for regulatory compatibility and operational changes to companies. The training is appropriate for companies that develop businesses within the EU, as the new data protection regulation is mandatory and after May 2018 penalties for non-compliance are expected.
For more information and registration visit https://baselineit.eu/events/#what
Sales Leadership Workshop, December 19, No 28 Todor Aleksandrov Blvd – Office Center
The Sales Leadership Workshop Seminar for leaders and team managers is organized by the Bulgarian-British Business Association /BBBA/. The main topics at the event will include:
How to Build confidence in a new member of the team?
When is the right time and How to Challenge a person?
How is Coaching different and more effective than training?
The workshop will start with a 2 hour discussion and case solving and will end with a short cocktail and the opportunity to exchange business contacts.
Places are limited. Additional information about the seminar and a registration form can be found on the website of the event.
Vladimir Danailov, Chief Executive Officer of Sofia Investment Agency, attended the Economic Forum Investment and Business Opportunities in Bulgaria, in which more than 100 managers of Belgian companies took part. The event was held on 15 November in Brussels on the occasion of the forthcoming Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU. It took place under the patronage of the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in the Kingdom of Belgium and was organized by the Belgian banking-insurance group KBC Group, UBB and CIBANK.
The forum was opened by President Plevneliev (in office from 2012 to 2017), who outlined the macroeconomic framework. Stamen Yanev, Executive Director of Invest Bulgaria Agency, presented the priority areas of investment in the country in recent years. On the Belgian side, the event was opened by Luc Popelier, CEO of KBC’s International Markets and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of UBB and CIBANK.
Three Belgian companies with successful businesses in Bulgaria presented their viewpoints as active investors. They shared their experience in establishing and developing business here and emphasized that the strong advantages of the Bulgarian business were the favorable geographic location and the good price-quality ratio of the resources used. They pointed out that areas that needed further improvements were infrastructure, administrative procedures and brain drain from Bulgaria to foreign countries.
Within the framework of the forum, the Bulgarian delegation presented specific opportunities and areas for investment in attractive municipalities for foreign investment in the country. Participants from the Belgian business in Bulgaria agreed that in recent years the foreign business environment in Bulgaria has improved significantly.
Belgian Financial KBC Group initiated the Investment and Business Opportunities in Bulgaria Forum to attract foreign investors to Bulgaria as a continuation of its international customer service model. The bank is among the first partners that investors turn to on the local market, according to Frank Jansen, a member of the Management Board and Executive Director of SMEs and Corporate Banking of UBB and CIBANK. Belgian investors believe that an important advantage of Bulgaria as an investment destination is also the qualitative intermediation of the banks in providing opportunities for obtaining EU funds to finance the investments.
The annual Gepard ranking of Capital newspaper for the most dynamic small and medium enterprises in Bulgaria was released. The companies are ranked by revenue growth in 2016. The most dynamically developing SMEs in the publication total 1 409, based in 28 regions in the country, ranked by region and by sector. All companies in the ranking have nearly 88 000 employees in total and reported revenue of BGN 17 324 billion for the past year, or 18.8% of the GDP for 2016. Their net profit was almost BGN 1.2 billion. SMEs account for 99% of all companies in Bulgaria and provide two-thirds of the added value produced and over three quarters of the jobs. Over the past two years these companies have made a major contribution to continued economic growth, declining unemployment, increased employment and record exports of goods.
Here are the highlights of Gepard 2017:
The average revenue growth of the companies in the ranking was 30%. Their growth was due to increased consumption, low interest rates and taxes, as well as recovery of the local and global economy. The most dynamic sectors were Transport, Machine Building, Trade and Construction. Yet another year, the Trade sector registered the largest number of companies, which also were dependent on economic changes to the greatest extend. The existing or newly created companies that created high added value were fewer. The IT sector was an exception.
The three largest sectors in terms of revenue were Automotive Trade, Machinery Manufacturing and Trade, according to the analysis of the ranking of the 20 fastest growing companies by sector. The best performing companies in the Automotive Trade sector increased their revenues to BGN 319 million (an increase of 50% in 2016). The top 20 Machinery and Equipment manufacturers generated BGN 309 million and in the Trade sector the revenue of the leaders amounted to BGN 290 million. The Construction sector, although lagging behind the top five sectors by revenue, generated the highest profit and achieved the highest profitability among the other sectors. It is worth mentioning that a major role in the sector was the absorption of state funds under various programs and the assignment of major infrastructure projects, as well as the recovery of the residential property market across the country. The Technology sector came right after Construction in terms of profit and profitability. The revenue of the IT leaders amounted to nearly BGN
Sofia’s most famous shopping street, Vitosha Blvd, retains a stable position in the Cushman & Wakefield consultancy ranking on the world’s most expensive shopping streets Main Streets across the World 2017. Vitosha Blvd went down only one position, from 50th place last year to 51 in 2017, among a total of 68 countries around the world. This is the 29th annual edition of the ranking and tracks 451 of the largest retail streets across the world. The list of the world’s 68 most expensive streets includes the streets with the highest rent of commercial areas.
The average annual rental per sq. m. of commercial area on Vitosha Blvd is EUR 552 (or EUR 46 / sq m average monthly rent), according to ranking data. 5th Avenue, the most expensive street in the New York City, in comparison, has an annual average rent of EUR 28,262 / sq. m.
Europe’s most expensive street is New Bond Street in London with an average annual rent of EUR 16 200 / sq. m., which makes it nearly 30 times more expensive than Vitosha in Sofia.
The ranking’s page describes Vitosha Blvd. as a popular and wide pedestrian zone in the city, which makes it attractive for a variety of cafes, bars and restaurants. The commercial areas are occupied by fashion brands in the middle price range, sports and leisure equipment and multiple diverse stores for cosmetics, health and beauty products. According to Forton, Cushman & Wakefield’s strategic partner, the increased demand for areas in the shopping space will continue in the next months, which will also lead to a rent increase.
— Cushman & Wakefield (@CushWake) November 15, 2017
Top 5 in the European ranking are New Bond Street in London, Via Montenapoleone in Milan, Avenue des Champs Élysées in Paris, Via Condotti in Rome and Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich. New York’s 5th Avenue is again the leader in the global ranking, followed by Causeway Bay in Hong Kong. London’s New Bond Street climbed up one position, compared to last year. Fourth and new to the top five is Italy’s Via Montenapoleone, followed by Avenue des Champs Élysées. Of all 68 most expensive streets around the globe, the last in the ranking is again Windhoek in Namibia.
This year’s edition of Main Streets across
Bulgaria ranks 50th among 176 countries in the Measuring the Information Society 2017 Report released in November by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – the United Nations’ agency for information and communication technology (ICT). This is the ninth edition of the annual report which presents a quantitative analysis of the information society and highlight new and emerging trends. This year, for the first time, the report includes individual country profiles providing a snapshot of the latest ICT landscape and efforts made by each country to increase the ICT access, use and proficiency of its citizens.
According to the report, Bulgaria has a competitive mobile market with high mobile, cellular and mobile-broadband penetration rates, both exceeding the European average.
The market demonstrates strong technology-based competition and mobile operators are investing in fibre and cable networks. ITU estimates the country as an integral part of the European Digital Market with a number of ambitious goals being set up. As one of the most impactful government policies the report is stating, is the National Broadband Infrastructure Plan for Next Generation Access, which aims to achieve 100% broadband coverage with at least 30 Mbit/s by 2020 and 50% take-up rate for 100 Mbit/s. The strategy also aims to connect remote and less populated areas of Bulgaria by securing EU funds as well as private and state investments.
Currently 21% of the population is still using fixed-telephone subscriptions but the share is constantly decreasing, while 88% out of 100 consumers choose mobile-cellular subscriptions. The percentage of households with computer is 60.2% (Europe’s average – 79.6%; global average – 46.6%) and 63.5% of the households are using Internet (Europe’s average – 82.5%; global average – 51.%).
Bulgaria is considered as an overachieving country despite the lower levels of economic performance together with Estonia, Belarus, Serbia, Ukraine and Moldova, and is listed among the most dynamic countries in Europe region in 2016 and 2017.
With the liberalization of its telecommunication market and the advancements made in the sector, Bulgaria is becoming an increasingly connected country. Bulgaria’s ambitious goals for broadband access and usage underline its ambitions to further this development, states the conclusion in the country profile page for Bulgaria.
Measuring the Information Society Report uses the findings of the ICT Development Index (IDI) to analyze future trends and developments in the digital world. Here are some of the main
Nearly 63% of the surveyed Bulgarian companies expect an improved economic climate in 2018 and almost half of them predict higher sales abroad. The data are from a survey of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) comprising 602 companies from all sectors. The survey was conducted as part of the European Business Economics Survey – EES 2018, made for the 25th year in a row among 50,000 companies in 23 European countries.
The survey includes companies’ expectations in terms of 4 indicators – export and internal demand revenue, employment, investment and common business climate. They all have enhanced positive expectations for 2018, compared to 2017:
The main concerns of the companies include finding specialists with appropriate profiles. Given the expectations of the business for an increased demand in 2018, both in foreign markets and in the country, employers are worried that they will not be able to keep pace with the growth, bearing in mind the difficulties they encounter in finding enough and suitably qualified personnel. Qualified staff is the main concern for 60% of employers.
The second largest concern of the companies (42%) is the uncertainty of the domestic demand, which is becoming more and more important for the growth of the Bulgarian economy.
The results from the survey for Europe are quite similar. Among all 50,000 companies, a total of 53% consider the domestic demand as the first problem, followed by the lack of skilled labor force (46% of the respondents). Both in Bulgaria and Europe, the business places Brexit last as a factor that will affect business results the least in 2018.
Full data from both surveys can be found on the BCCI website here http://www.bcci.bg/resources/files/EES_2018.pdf
and on the EUrochambers website here: http://www.eurochambres.eu/content/default.asp?PageID=1&DocID=7753
This and the following issues of our monthly newsletter will provide 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 the events, so we will publish up-to-date and timely data, along with useful contact information, so that you have the time necessary to prepare your application.
Sofia Wine & Spirit Fest, Central Department Store (TZUM) – Exhibition Hall, Sofia / February 9-11, 2018
The fair is specialized for producers, importers and traders of wine, spirits and food. The eligible categories and terms of participation are available on the website of the fair here.
Amper, Professional International Trade Fair of Electrotechnics, Electronics and Automation, Brno, Czech Republic / March 20-23, 2018
Amper is a Professional Fair in the field of Electrotechnics, Electronics and Automation, and is the biggest in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in this field. A total of 600 exhibitors from 22 countries took part in Amper 2017, occupying an exhibition area of 30 800 sq.m. The Fair was attended by 44 000 visitors, and in the weeks around the fair’s day the site visits were over 122 000.
In 2018, the Fair will be held on March 20-23, at the Exhibition Center in the city of Brno, the Czech Republic. The Fair is held under the patronage of the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, the Chamber of Deputies, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Governor of South Moravia, Brno municipality, the Czech Chamber of Commerce and ČEPS (Czech Transmission System Operator). Many sector organizations as well as representatives of specialized media are invited as exhibitors and participants. Every year the Fair and its participants receive broad media coverage.
Several seminars, conferences, forums and other professional meetings are held as part of the Fair program. The Fair focuses on several main topics, giving special attention to startups and smart-city solutions.
Part of the Fair is the traditional Golden Amper competition, where items of the exhibitors are presented and evaluated. Participation in the competition should be booked additionally.
For more information, please click the banner or contact Ms. Ing. Mgr. Šárka ŠTOSKOVÁ by email: email@example.com for questions
The Government adopted changes to the procedure of obtaining an EU Blue Card, helping employers in Bulgaria to attract highly qualified specialists from non-EU countries. Under the new terms, the cards will have a longer period of validity and will be issued under a simplified procedure and lower fees.
The main changes include:
The amendments are part of the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act and the Labor Migration and Labor Mobility Act and concern employers who want to hire employees with a higher education diploma, who are specialists in a certain area. In 2016, a total of 195 EU blue cards were issued, mainly for positions in the IT sector, engineers and managers. Most of the cards were issued to citizens of Ukraine, Russia, Macedonia, India, China and the USA.
Bulgarian companies won three of the 12 categories in the international competition of Central European Startup Awards, competing with 10 other countries in the region. Bulgarian start-up company Bee Smart Technologies, the LAUNCHub Ventures investment fund and the Puzl CowOrKing co-working space won awards in the fourth edition of the European start-up competition for Central and Eastern Europe. For the first time Sofia hosted the regional final. The finalists from the region gathered in the hall of “John Atanasov” building in Sofia Tech Park.
Winners from Bulgaria
Investor of the Year: LAUNCHub Ventures
Founded in 2012, the first LAUNCHub fund of EUR 9M, was actively investing until the end of 2015 and has been deployed in pre-seed tickets up to EUR 200K. The former fund backed 62 startups which have attracted more than EUR 20M in follow-up funding. They are currently investing with a ticket that normally ranges between EUR 300K and EUR 700K but they are ready to invest up to EUR 1.5 million in the right startup.
Best Co-working Space: Puzl CowOrKing
Puzl CowOrKing areas are designed around the IT community needs – a hybrid between co-working, event and chill spaces. Laced with the social buzz of a neighborhood and designed with the digital folk in mind. They opened their doors in 2015, and since then over 400 people have joined to their community. They have been expanding since and have plans to open several new offices across the CEE region.
Best IoT Startup: Bee Smart Technologies
Bee Smart is a remote diagnostic and monitoring station for any bee hive. The software is based on proprietary bio-based AI algorithms that translates the collected data into actionable statistics and notifications on an intuitive dashboard.
All winners by category:
Best Acceleration – ABC Accelerator from Slovenia
Investor of the Year – LAUNCHub Ventures from Bulgaria
Best Co-working Space – Puzl Coworking from Bulgaria
Best AI Startup – Turbine.AI from Hungary
Best Social Impact Startup – SOWAT from Romania
Best Biotech Startup – Turbine.AI from Hungary
Best FinTech Startup – Bitpanda from Austria
Best IoT Startup – Bee Smart Technologies from Bulgaria
Best Smart City Solution – Symvaro – Smart City Apps from Austria
Best Newcomer – EVA – Extended Visual Assistant from Hungary
People’s Choice – Billon Group from Poland
Startup of the Year – Turbine.AI from
The software industry continues its double-digit growth, according to Barometer 2017 – the annual survey of the Bulgarian Association of Software Companies (BASSCOM) on the development of the sector. The sector is expected to close the year with revenue of BGN 2.3 billion, which is an increase of 12% compared to last year. More than 90% of the surveyed 3 400 companies expect over 10% growth next year.
Here are the main figures and conclusions by Barometer 2017:
On the back of these results, the software industry has emerged as a powerful determinant of a competitive, high value added economy, as well as the industry that brings young people back to Bulgaria. If it keeps the same growth rates, software industry revenue in the country could reach 3.0% of the GDP by 2020. This would not only rank the IT business among the most