The leading investor in the Bulgarian energy sector, AES Bulgaria, opened its expanded Regional Shared Service Center in Sofia. The company has invested a total of BGN 2 million in the center so far, as part of its move to gradually expand its portfolio activities in Bulgaria. The center serves the company’s business in the areas of Finance, IT, Supply, Human resources and Communications for Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
At the opening, the President of AES Bulgaria Olivier Marquette said our country had proved to be a regional center that would be increasingly important for the company’s development and that highly qualified specialists and Bulgaria’s strategic position would have a decisive role in attracting investments in the future.
The company serves businesses in many different time zones from Ireland to Vietnam, and Sofia is located in the middle, making the operation easier. The decision to open a Shared Service Center in Bulgaria was also made based on the favorable investment environment as well as the political and macroeconomic stability of Bulgaria.
Currently, the Shared Service Center in Sofia employs more than 100 highly qualified employees and their number is expected to grow. The company launched its regional center in 2013 with 15 employees. It initially served the company’s business in the fields of Finance, IT, Supply and Delivery for Europe and the Middle East. In 2016 and 2017, the center was expanded significantly, by adding the Human resources and Communications functions. In 2017, the center is already working for the company’s businesses in 7 countries – Bulgaria, Jordan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Ireland, India, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Another major company, Coca-Cola, announced its intention to close its factory in Weimar, Germany, and move its Finance and Human resources departments to Bulgaria. The work will be transferred to Coca-Cola European Partner Services in Sofia. The decision to close the factory in Germany was based on declining sales of refillable PET bottles. That is why the production and administrative operations there will also be discontinued.
On October 4, the Architecture and Urban Development Department of Sofia municipality, presented the “Sofia – a city for the people” report, in the presence of the mayor Yordanka Fandakova.
The project, which started a year ago, aims at building and implementing a strategy for development of public spaces in Sofia. The presentation of the report was also attended by the well-known Danish town planner Jan Gehl, who is a consultant of Sofia municipality in the process of drawing up the report and implementing the targeted decisions.
Sofia is among cities such as Zurich, London, Stockholm, Copenhagen, New York, Istanbul, Moscow, Shanghai and Bern, which have also worked with Prof. Gehl in the last 10 years.
The report describes in details the challenges Sofia municipality has to deal with. “We are already working on some of the measures described,” the mayor Fandakova said, listing five measures which are currently being implemented:
The full text of the report is available here.
Events in Sofia by the end of October:
Global Tech Summit Events, October 17-19
All listed events, being part of the Global Tech Summit, will be held in Sofia Tech Park.
Java2Days is the 1st international Java conference in Eastern Europe established in 2009. During the years Java2Days took place as the premier Java event on the Balkans and now is a must-attend conference for anyone in the Java development area. CodeMonsters is the software development conference that offers latest trends, deep insights and endless networking. Attendees will improve expertise and get to know how to combine it with new technologies, to create amazing code. Technology4Business iprovides software engineers, managers and start-ups with the latest trends in the technological world so they can stay ahead of the curve. Tech4Business will provide access to technology & business pioneers in dynamic sectors such as Transport, Tourism, Services, Medicine, Technology, Trade, Manufacturing, Agriculture.
Detailed information is published on the website of the event.
INDUSTRY 4.0, October 18-19
The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry organizes the first time ever international technical conference “Industry 4.0”. The event is organized in cooperation with the Swedish company SECO and TLL Media. The event will focus on Industry 4.0, new market demands on lubricants, smart manufacturing, etc. Special guests on the event will be international partners from all over Europe in the machine building sector.
Full agenda and application form can be found here.
THE NEXT BIG THING, October 19
The conference THE NEXT BIG THINGS is organized for the second consecutive year by Bloomberg TV Bulgaria in partnership with Bloomberg. It covers the important topics that change the global and local markets. This year the conference is held under the motto “Business Transformers”. Top experts and analysts will present and discuss the leading trends that change the most important industries in the global economy.
Registration form and full agenda are all available @ http://tnbt.bloombergtv.bg/en/
Path to Positive Change, GEM Bulgaria Annual Conference, October 20
The launch of the second GEM report on entrepreneurship in Bulgaria, Q&A session along with discussion among key stakeholders and successful entrepreneurs. The event will end with GEM Awards for positive impact on the ecosystem in six categories.
The event is supported by the European Commission in Bulgaria. The conference is invite-only and will be broadcast via live feed. Please follow GEM’s event for news and updates.
By the end of 2017 the construction of the Ellipse Center will be completed – the distinctive elliptical shaped building is located on “Tsarigradsko shose” blvd. Its construction started in 2008 and was frozen in 2010 at the stage of Act 14, due to the global economic crisis. At the end of 2017, the investor resumed construction due to the positive trends at the office market in Sofia.
The opening of the building will add another 18 763 square meters of business space to the business map of Sofia. Out of them, 13,785 sq. m. are leasable class A office areas, distributed in the low and high body of the building. “Ellipse Center” has a total of 15 floors – 13 overground and 2 underground. A restaurant and office space of 1526 sq. m. are planned at the ground floor. The remaining floors are almost identical, with an area of 932 sq. m. and each allows flexible distribution as a single office or up to 4 separate ones. The building has 134 parking places and additional 20 for guests on the ground floor. A bike park and a charging station for electric cars are also provided.
The investment in “Ellipse Center” amounts to EUR 22 million, the building and the land are owned by “Ilpa Development” EOOD and the construction of the building is the leading project of the company. Among the main advantages of the new office center are the flexibility in the layout of the floor areas and the excellent location: there is quick access to the downtown, airport and nearby districts both by public and private transport. The building is next to Capital Fort and Inter Expo Center – in the emerging technological center of the capital city. The building is conceived as a high energy efficient construction; it has a stand-by diesel generator, a decentralized heating and cooling scheme with individual temperature control, lots of green areas, loggias on each floor, a full-window design providing an amazing view in all directions and excellent natural light for the offices.
At the moment the demand for Class A office space exceeds the supply and the trend of expansion of existing tech companies, as well as the entry of new ones is expected to continue. This makes the conditions extremely favorable for investors who expect to attract international and local technology, outsourcing and startup companies.
The “National Representation of the Bulgarian Entrepreneurial Community” Association was established and hosted by the initiative of the Ministry of Economy. The aim of the initiative is to represent the interests of startups and help them gain more publicity and protection. The new Association will be an active participant in different consultative and governing structures of the Executive authorities.
The founding meeting was attended by Lyubomir Ganchev, Advisor to the Ministry of Economy, Stamen Yanev, Executive Director of the Bulgarian Investment Agency, Natanail Stefanov, Member of the Initiative Committee of the Association and a representative of the startup community and another 35 representatives of over 20 entrepreneurial organizations – NGOs, coworking spaces, investment funds, etc.
Lyubomir Ganchev pointed out that one of the most serious challenges for the startups is the access to funding and presented the current funding opportunities, currently managed by the Ministry of Economy – Operational Program “Innovation and Competitiveness” /OPIC/ and the resources of the Bulgarian Development Bank.
Stamen Yanev from the BIA stated that the Agency recognizes startups as projects of crucial importance, which are looking for their big investors and are the driving force for boosting investments in the country. On behalf of the startup business, Natanail Stefanov stressed on the need for unification of startup organizations in the country and explained that the main goal of the newly established association is to represent the entrepreneurial community and to serve as an efficient communication channel between state institutions and entrepreneurs.
The founders emphasized their intention to attract a maximum number of participants in the newly founded association, so that entrepreneurial organizations and startups have a broad representation.
Coursedot is the Bulgarian “Startup of the Year”. The prize was awarded on September 25 at the official ceremony of the Central European Startup Awards (CESAwards) in Bulgaria, organized by the Association of Bulgarian Leaders and Entrepreneurs (ABLE). Another 11 companies received awards in the national round of the competition. The winners of all 12 categories will compete at the regional round for Central and Eastern Europe, which will also be held in Sofia on November 23, gathering a number of entrepreneurs and investors from all 10 countries in the CEE region.
Here are the winners by category:
Startup of the Year – Coursedot
The startup offers an online platform that connects corporate and individual customers looking for IT training for their employees, provided by training companies and instructors.
The award was received by Teodor Panayotov, and the certificate was presented by the special guest of the event – Mr. Alexander Manolev, Deputy Minister of the Economy.
Best Newcomer – Claimcompass
The category distinguishes companies with up to two-year history that have shown biggest progress in terms of growth, innovation and impact over the past year in the business sector they operate in. The awarded Claimcompass provides legal assistance to help passengers get compensation for delayed, overbooked or cancelled flights.
Best Social Impact Startup – EuroPATC
EuroPATC was awarded for an innovative, high-tech solution that provides more reliable protection for children with autism.
The Internet of Things – Bee Smart Technologies
The company is developing a radically new and entirely digital approach to beekeeping
with embedded devices inside an apiary.
Best Biotech Startup – Micar Innovation
The awarded product is an innovation in the pharmacy field as it shortens the time and resources needed to identify market and consumer needs and thus reducing the time and cost needed to develop prescriptive and medical cosmetics until they enter the market.
Best AI Startup – Maj.io
The team of the company won for its development of a technological revolution in the selection of personnel for the business.
Best FinTec Startup – Klear Lending
The product of the company offers lending and investment competing directly with bank services. The team has created an environment that directly connects people in need of credit with those looking for better returns on their savings.
Best Smart City Solution – Narcine
The company was the only nominee in this category. The award is for the electric tricycle
Sofia Investment Agency published the “Tourism and Air Transport in Sofia” report, prepared by the Investment Department at the Agency. The report contains data, analysis and conclusions on the tourism sector in the capital as of September 2017. The document presents an overview of the main indicators of the dynamic growth in the sector – number of tourists by country of origin, accommodation capacity, traffic at Sofia Airport, opportunities for development of congress tourism in the city and trends in the industry.
Here are some of the main highlights of the report:
Tourists in Sofia
In 2016, the number of visitors in Sofia went up to 1 197 654. A total of 458 867 of them came from other places in Bulgaria and 738 697 or 61.7% came from abroad.
According to the report, the highest number of tourists came from Germany, Greece and Great Britain with 49 982, 48 102 and 44 227 respectively.
Sofia was among the top 3 cities in Europe with the highest growth of international visitors for the period 2009 – 2016, with an average increase of 9.4%, according to Mastercard report “Global Destination Cities Index”, published in September 2017.
Most of the visits, or 87.2%, were for holiday, and the remaining 12.8% for business. Along with the development of congress tourism in the capital and the forthcoming presidency of the Council of the EU, it is expected that the number of business visits will grow significantly.
Accommodations in Sofia
The hotel market in Sofia is demonstrating a stable growth in number of arrivals, number of nights spent and revenue from nights spent. The trend continues since 2009 but was especially visible in 2016 and is expected to continue in 2017.
Increased occupancy drove an increase in RevPAR, though it remained one of the lowest among the European capitals.
The average daily rate (ADR) in Sofia for 4 and 5 star hotels was EUR 46 and occupancy reached 45%, continuing the trend for consistent growth.
For the period 2013 – 2016 ADR in 4 and 5 star hotels increased with a steady rate of approximately one Euro per year and occupancy grew from 37% to 45%. The revenue in 2016 was EUR 49.5 mln. However, both ADR and occupancy rate in Sofia remained one of the lowest on the continent.
In 2016, Bulgaria was the country with the
Fourteen percent of the Bulgarian companies plan to hire more people in Q4 of 2017 according to a study by the human resources company “Manpower Bulgaria”. The study was conducted among 620 Bulgarian employers in 10 different industries who answered the question “How do you expect the total employment in your company to change in the last quarter of the year, compared to the current quarter?”
A total of 14% of the respondents said they planned to increase the labor force in the fourth quarter of 2017, thus increasing the net employment forecast by 3% compared to the corresponding period a year earlier. A total of 80% of the companies said they did not plan any change in terms of hiring, only 5% had plans to reduce their staff, 1% did not respond.
The trend is evenly distributed among the ten industries studied. The forecast for the Construction sector is the most positive, where an increase in demand by 24% is expected. There will also be greater demand for employees in Mining (+ 20%) and Manufacturing (+ 15%). The sectors of Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Business Services and Transport, Storage and Communications ranks next in terms of employee demand. A growth in demand is also expected in the Public and Social sectors as well as in Wholesale and Retail trade – + 11%. The lowest recruitment rate is seen in Electricity, Gas and Water, Agriculture, Forestry, Hunting and Fishing and Wholesale and Retail. These three sectors reported an expected decrease in the demand for people.
All five regions studied, Sofia, Plovdiv, Rousse, Burgas and Varna, enjoy positive employment forecasts. Broken down by regions, the most optimistic expectations are for Plovdiv, where an increase of 18% is expected. This constitutes a four-percentage-points increase, compared to Q3 of 2017 and 5 percentage points year-on-year. The estimates for Sofia and Varna are for growth of 13% and for Burgas – of 12%. The region of Ruse expects an increase of just 8%.
Broken down by company size, the large companies with more than 250 employees reveal the boldest plans, with an expected increase of 32%. Medium-sized companies see a stable hiring rate with a forecast of + 13%. Small and micro-sized enterprises expect a growth of 9% and 8% respectively. Improvement is reported for all four enterprise categories, compared to the previous quarter. Even medium and small-sized employers face relatively stable employment
The Bulgarian Parliament has drafted legislative changes to simplify the procedure for the issuing of EU Blue Card – https://visaguide.world/europe/eu-blue-card/ the approved EU-wide work permit that allows specialists from outside the EU to live and work in Bulgaria.
The main amendment refers to the cancellation of the list of specific professions for which the employers are currently allowed to hire foreign specialists. Currently, 10 professions are on the list of occupations for which the blue card is issued, while according to the expected changes, the companies will be able to attract highly qualified foreign professionals for any occupation their business might need. Currently, the EU Blue Card for highly qualified employees is issued mainly to IT specialists.
According to the new rules, the validity of the EU Blue Card to increase to 4 years with no need of annual renewal of the card. The fee of BGN 400 to be reduced to BGN 100. The fee to the Ministry of Interior Affairs to be reduced as well, thus decreasing the overall administrative expenses to 245 leva. The market test for employers will no longer be part of the application procedure and the Blue Card to be issued within 40 days.
This article provides information on current financing opportunities and business partnerships. Information was provided to Sofia Investment Agency by organizers of initiatives and investment intermediaries. The presented opportunities concern small and medium-sized enterprises in all sectors. Links to organizations are available below to explore specific opportunities for expanding your business.
Business offers from companies in China
If you are interested in the presented offers, you can contact our team for more information and directly contact our partners in China by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
|No.||Company description||Business request||Company|
|1||Chinese ICT company focused on software outsourcing and online shopping platforms, also run an incubator for start-ups and SME..||1. Looking for cooperation with an European partner in areas such as smart city, i-clouding and artificial intelligence;
2. They wish to be the distributor for European food/beverage/cosmetics producer through their online shopping platform
|Qingdao Edge ICT Co,Ltd|
|2||A Chinese CAE (computer aided engineering) company, with a leading position in east China, experienced in industry simulation and design.||1. Looking for clients and partners for CAE projects
2. Looking for European partners in CAE sector for technology cooperation on industry simulation
|Qingdao CEPC ICT Company|
|3||A Chinese electric vehicle producer, with a proven brand in the Chinese market.||1. Looking for a distributor or dealer for their electric vehicles
2. Looking for a good technology on EV product for cooperation
|Beijing EV Industrial Manufacturing Company|
|4||A Chinese tourism firm with own large membership network for travelling, they already have organized groups to travel in Africa, North Europe and South Asia, the travel route can be personalized to meet different requests.||They wish to find tourist firm to do personalized travel in Europe.||Qingdao New Orient Tourism Firm|
|5||A Chinese fashion company, with independent fashion designer for cloth and accessory and a resource for promoting fashion goods such as bags, purse, perfume, jewelry etc.||Looking for an independent fashion designer for cooperation, also wish to find European fashion brands for marketing cooperation||Qingdao Irgeen Fashion Design Company|
|6||AChinese photovoltaic company which can supply all the equipments and components for PV station, also they have rich experience for building PV station overseas.||1. Wish to find European PV station projects to export their equipments.
2. They can invest directly to build PV station in Europe
|Singye Solar Group|
|7||A Chinese ICT company from the|
Sofia Investment Agency (SIA) is in the run-up to the second “Sofia Meets” Project which is going to meet Sofia-based companies with companies from Denmark. The project will be held in two stages – Danish companies and partners will visit Sofia in November 27-28, 2017 and Sofia-based companies will visit Denmark in February 2018. The project is called Sofia meets Denmark / Denmark meets Sofia.
The “Sofia meets” series aim to promote the Bulgarian ICT, Cleantech and Fintech sectors, as well as to encourage collaboration with partners from Europe and beyond. The first event under this project – Sofia meets Oslo / Oslo Meets Sofia, took place in January-May 2017 in collaboration with organizations from Norway.
The project’s next destination is Denmark.
Sofia meets Denmark / Denmark meets Sofia, will meet experts, investors and entrepreneurs from the High Tech industry in Denmark and Sofia, Bulgaria. Attendees of the meetings from both countries will be Tech companies and organizations demanding next-generation technologies to navigate the future, CleanTech organizations investing in scalable, green technologies for eco-friendly business and society, as well as companies striving to power manufacturing via adapting innovative automation and intelligent tools. Part of the B2B meetings and the matchmaking events will also be organizations focused on business and investment promotion and companies looking for long-term partnerships and joint projects between Scandinavia and South-East Europe.
The event is organized by the Sofia Investment Agency and Invise Ltd. INVISE is a dynamic management consulting company, providing solutions in the area of management, strategy, EU projects, marketing and cluster development. The company has proven experience on the international market working with companies from Europe to the Pacific.
The B2B and networking meetings in Sofia will take place at Microsoft Innovation Center – Bulgaria in Sofia Tech Park. Microsoft Innovation Center is one of the 100 local hubs that provide resources and support for students and entrepreneurs, helping to accelerate the creation of new companies, jobs and growth of the local ecosystem.
If you are interested in joining the B2B meetings and the matchmaking events in Sofia and Denmark, please visit the project dedicated page and apply for participation.
The number of Bulgarian companies included in the annual Coface CEE Top 500, an annual publication on the biggest companies in the CEE region is 18. The state-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding is the top ranking Bulgarian company and is the 25th ranking company in the index.
Traditionally the index is dominated by companies in the Energy, Automotive and Oil sectors. For another year, the Polish oil giant PKN Orlen is the leader in the ranking.
The revenue generated by the TOP 500 in 2016 was EUR 580 billion, a decrease of 0.6% from 2015. There was also a small decline in net profit – by 3.1% to EUR 26.3 billion, attributed to the drop in fuel prices.
The employment generated by the TOP 500 companies is rising sharply. The companies of the CEE Top 500 employed 4.5% of the total labor force in the region and significantly increased their workforce by +3.9% to 2.24 million people in the last year.
It is worth mentioning that most countries in the region recorded a steady decline in unemployment with some CEE countries reaching unemployment levels below that of most countries in Western European.
Eighteen Bulgarian companies are in Coface CEE Top 500 in 2016.
The Bulgarian Energy Holding is the top listed Bulgarian company at 25th place, followed by Lukoil Neftochim Burgas (45th) and Aurubis (78th). The other Bulgarian companies by order of ranking are: NEK, Lukoil Bulgaria, Kaufland Bulgaria, CEZ Elektro, Advance Properties, Express Logistics and Distribution, Bulgargaz, Daphne Group, OMV Bulgaria, Sopharma, BTC, Kozloduy NPP, Saksa, and the new participants Huvepharma and Astra Bioplant.
The total turnover of the 18 Bulgarian companies in the ranking was EUR 16 656 million. Most of them, including the first four, recorded a slight decline in turnover, which was typical for the whole region. The number of employees increased, which was also in line with the trend across the CEE.
Coface Bulgaria commented that the assessment of the economic situation in Bulgaria was favorable with a growth in consumption and net export, as well as in employment recorded. Some sectors of the Bulgarian economy, however, remained overly dependent on European funding, according to the international group.
Overall conclusions from the ranking
There was a labor market boom, while the turnover and profits of the largest companies went down by 0.6% and 3.1%, respectively. Poland remained the biggest player with