University of Finance, Business and Entrepreneurship (VUZF University) starts a new “Innovation Dialogue” masters programme which will cover the full cycle of management of innovation processes. The aim of the academic specialty is to meet the growing demand for skills in the field of public-private innovation partnerships.
The first class for the school year 2017-2018 will start with the partnership of Innovation Starter, Bulgaria’s first specialized agency for innovation. The management aspect will provide excellent training and an opportunity for a flexible professional career in the field of management and introduction of innovation, much needed in the dynamically changing labour market, where old professions disappear and new expertise emerges, standards, positions and sought after qualities change. Students will be trained in strategic planning of innovation; development of new products and services; financial management and human resource management with a focus on innovation; methods, tools and processes for innovation; application of methods such as systemic innovation, design thinking, lean startup; development of social innovation for the needs of society and partnerships with governmental, non-governmental and business organizations.
The teaching methodology will be “learning by doing and experimenting”. This will not only give students theoretical knowledge but also practical knowledge and skills. The future innovation specialists will be in direct contact with teacher-practitioners from the business and the public sphere in Bulgaria. The lecturers are proven experts in innovation and public-private innovation partnerships in Bulgaria, with over 15 years of business and academic experience. Among the lecturers are members of the Innovation Starter team – Krasen Hinkov, Leona Aslanova, Yana Avramova, Vyara Savova, as well as representatives of the public sphere with experience in international organizations such as Dr. Anna-Maria Vilamovska and Dr. Milen Lyubenov; representatives of the business – Assoc. Prof. Iya Petkova, Marketing Manager of the National Palace of Culture, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Stanislav Dimitrov, Executive Director of “Saglasie” EAD, Eleonora Carnasa, Consultant in Design Thinking and others.
The experts who will give the lectures in the first class, the curriculum and the conditions for admission can be found on the university’s site here, as well as on the website of the programme’s partner. Applications will be accepted by the end of September.
Danish Jysk and ECOPACK Bulgaria officially announced their investment plans in Sofia.
Within two years, Danish furniture chain Jysk will build a new logistics centre near Sofia. The investment exceeds 100 million euros. The contractor is a Sofia-based construction company – Mix-Construction. According to Allan Kjærgaard, Jysk’s Executive Vice President Logistics, the hub near Sofia will significantly speed up the delivery to customers, reduce transport costs to stock the stores and will serve the stores in seven neighbouring countries in southeastern Europe – Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sofia was chosen as a location for the investment due to the availability of enough free space as well as the geographical location of the country in the Balkan region.
The distribution centre will have an area of about 80,000 sq m and will create 300 jobs at the end of 2018. Two high-rise buildings will be commissioned next to the centre by the third quarter of 2019, where the work will be done entirely by machine automation.
Danish Jysk has more than 2,300 stores in 41 countries around the world. Its annual turnover is about 2.9 billion euros and the company employs almost 20,000. In Bulgaria, the chain had 12 outlets until recently, and the 13th store opened on June 1 at the entrance of Sofia on the Hemus highway. Another store is to open soon, also in Sofia.
Ecopack Bulgaria will invest 1.1 million levs in a new plant for sorting of plastics and paper in Sofia. Thereby, the company’s investments in Bulgaria exceeds 4 million levs
In 2016, Sofia-based Ecopack reported the recycling of 64% of the declared packagings /compared to a legally-set target of 60%/ of 1,226 companies operating in Bulgaria. This amounted to over 100,000 tonnes of waste last year.
On June 2, within the framework of the discussion “Historical cities – preservation and development”, organized jointly by the “24 chasa” newspaper and Sofia municipality, the establishment of the National Association for Development of Historic Sites in Bulgaria was signed. The Association will aim at legislative changes that will implement measures to protect cultural monuments.
There are 1400 tangible cultural monuments on the territory of Sofia alone. Sixty percent of them – about 840 sites, are situated around the center of the city. In a move to protect them, Sofia municipality has proposed a special credit line for the restoration of monument buildings to be granted by the Municipal Bank under a program called “A city with history”. The program will finance up to 70% of the value of the property under favorable conditions, so that the owners of cultural monument buildings will receive funds for reinforcement, conservation, restoration and repair activities.
Sofia’s Mayor Yordanka Fandakova announced that this is the first credit product of that kind.
In case of systematic refusal by the owners of local cultural monuments to restore them, we are ready to establish a mortgage on the property, as the municipality will carry out the restoration, Yordanka Fandakova added during the discussion.
The important sites for which it is extremely important to apply the whole set of measures for the protection of cultural monuments under the Cultural Heritage Act in Sofia, include emblematic sites such as Yavorov’s house, Fingov’s house, Sugar factory, the Bulgarian Industrialists’ Union at “Tsar Ivan Shishman” str., buildings at “Hristo Botev” blvd.,”6 Septemvri” str.,”Patriarh Evtimii” blvd., etc. Some of the sites are with acts of immediate action. In the last years more than 110 facades of old buildings in the central districts of Sredets and Vazrazhdane have been restored by the owners, also thanks to the active work of the mayors of the districts. A total of 8 cultural monument buildings have been restored only in the “Vazrazhdane” district, 4 more are under repair and another 5 are in a process of project approval.
A fine will be imposed in case the owners refuse to restore and repair the buildings. The municipality has imposed sanctions amounting to more than BGN 600 000 so far. Currently, Sofia’s Planning and Construction Act allows the imposition of fines amounting to BGN 100 000. A major problem is that these acts are appealed and long
The Bulgarian business has a lasting interest in the vast Chinese market and is constantly looking for growth opportunities. This is the reason why China has traditionally held a leading spot in the list of Bulgaria’s trading partners outside the EU.
This article aims at giving you initial information for the opportunities and concrete steps for taking up business contacts with Chinese partners.
In the period January-March 2017, Bulgaria’s export to countries outside the EU increased by more than 20% YOY to BGN 4.243 billion. Bulgaria’s main exporting destinations were Turkey, China, Egypt, Serbia, Macedonia and Russia, which accounted for almost 53% of exports outside the EU. Electronics, electrical engineering and machinery products, metals and plastic products increased their share.
In recent years, China has made a number of reforms and launched regular initiatives to attract investment partners from Europe after EU investment in the Asian country had been declining for two years in a row.
Such a step is the 16+1 initiative, which aims to develop the economic, political and cultural exchange between Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and China through a series of meetings between heads of state and government, business forums and other events dedicated to topics such as tourism, education, agriculture, energy and infrastructure. China has a strong motive for stabilizing the partnership with Europe also because of the volatile tone of the relations with the United States.
Where to do your first research and make contacts
Information sources and facilitation services for business cooperation with Chinese partners are offered by:
Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency (SIA), participated in the international event Global Project Plaza 2017, organized by Korea’s Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) in Seoul, Korea. The event was organized by the Ministry of Industry and Energy of the Republic of Korea and aims to connect the largest Korean companies and institutions in the field of infrastructure and industry with potential partners around the world.
This year’s edition of GLOBAL PROJECT PLAZA was attended by about 450 companies from 40 countries. The programme also featured presentations of the investment and business climate in the capitals and cities of the respective countries, overview discussions and thematic round tables.
Mr Danailov’s visit to the forum followed a special programme of planned meetings with state and municipal institutions as well as companies interested in Sofia as an investment destination.
SIA’s chief executive met with a number of Korean companies: DOHWA Engineering Co. Ltd, working in the field of engineering design, SK Engineering & Construction – developer and contractor of infrastructure projects, the engineering consultants from Yooshin Engineering Corporation, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction – which constructs nuclear power plants, turbines and generators, desalination plants, etc., Seojeon Valmac, focusing on flow control solutions, TOTAL ENGINEERING CO. – a leader in the valve industry, Hyundai Engineering & Construction, Seoul Metropolitan Government, and others.
The Korean enterprises showed interest in Bulgaria and Sofia, and in investmenting in the country.
Additional meetings took place at the request of other local organizations such as POSCO E & C, Hansol SeenTes and others.
Mr Danailov also presented the advantages of the Bulgarian capital as a desirable and promising investment destination to representatives of Seoul Municipality and discusses future cooperation between the two cities to help Korean companies invest in Sofia, along with INVEST SEOUL and KOTRA.
The second phase of the initiative “Sofia Meets Oslo – Oslo meets Sofia” took place on May 2-5, organized jointly by the team of Sofia Investment Agency (SIA) and Norwegian state agency Innovation Norway, which supports financially companies focusing on innovative business, and United Partners. The initiative aimed at providing opportunities for bilateral business contacts and getting to know the conditions for development within specific industries in both countries in connection with the forthcoming opening of the new grant period 2017-2021. Under this program, the Norwegian financial facility Norway Grants will allocate € 28.5 million to support Bulgarian projects. The Norwegian participation is part of Norway’s policy to award grants to EU member states for projects that are in line with its strategy of linking its economy to investment and development in new sectors, in order to reduce its dependence on the oil industry.
— EEA & Norway Grants (@EEANorwayGrants) May 2, 2017
Norwegian companies and organizations showed strong interest in our ICT sector and actively sought partnerships among the Bulgarian delegation. On the Bulgarian side, 12 companies and 2
branch organizations presented their business and the conditions for doing business in Sofia and Bulgaria. BASCOM and BAIT, and the companies Cleantech Bulgaria, Code Runners, Accedia, Atlantic Way, Nexpur, Stemo, Predistic, Melon, ICB – InterConsult, and D Consult joined the phase “Oslo meets Sofia”. For three consecutive days in two Norwegian cities – Oslo and Skien, Telemark region, companies and organizations from both countries presented projects, potential opportunities for development and ideas.
— OREEC (@OREECnorge) May 3, 2017
That’s what the program was in the three-day event:
Oslo, May 2
Mr Knut Ringstad of Innovation Norway presented the program and objectives of the new programming period for funding under the EEA grants and Norway Grants. Mrs Nadya Soultanova, head of Investment Department at SIA, gave a presentation about Bulgaria’s capital, data on priority industries and the rapidly growing ICT sector, as well as specific opportunities for investment in the city. BASCOM also presented detailed data on the development of the ICT sector in Bulgaria. There were presentations of a number of Norwegian companies, among
Sofia’s cultural and business calendar can offer interesting events in the coming weeks. You can choose which to join.
„The Psychology of Selling“ with Brian Tracy
An intensive training with Brian Tracy – one of the best business speakers in the world. The training will focus in the psychological side of the sales process, why buyers buy, how to overcome price resistance, relationship selling and more. The event will take place in Inter Expo Center on May 31. More about the event can be found here.
Business Conference “Impossible Markets”
The fourth edition of the conference, organized by the British-Bulgarian Business Association, will raise the question whether the integration between start-up culture and conservative corporations is possible. The event will take place on June 2, more information can be found here.
Investment Forum Hospitality and Tourism
Presentations and panel discussions on topics related to investment in hospitality and tourism in eastern European countries. The forum is a full-day event and will take place on June 8. Full information can be found on the event’s website.
One of the most influential events for digital technologies in Southeast Europe. It will take place in the Sofia Event Center on two consecutive days – June 8 and 9. The program will be delivered by more than 60 lecturers, see the presentations and the themes here.
The seventh edition of the Sofia Science Festival took place from May 11 to 14. The festival is also part of the Sofia Municipality Calendar of Cultural Events.
Created in 2011 by the British Council and the Forum Democrit, and under the patronage of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science, from its very first year, the festival has attracted a large number of supporters. Due to its continued growth, the event moved to Sofia Tech Park this year, where it had bigger space for events and lectures and even more areas for interactive zones and demonstration spots.
Screenings and presentations for children and adults were held in the building of innovation forum “John Atanassoff”. The Exploratorium zone held all the demonstration corners, where young and old lovers of science and technology could play the piano but not with keys, but with eight oranges connected in an electric circuit; control a robot, watch with VR glasses, draw with a 3D pen, monitor the work of a 3D printer, and more. In the open area in front of the Expertarium, noisy and colorful chemistry experiments began every two hours, entertaining the youngest visitors of the festival.
The spectacular “Fame lab of Famelab” with nine young stars of science was a fabulous finale of the festival. Each participant had three minutes to impress the jury and win the right to present Bulgaria at the championship of Famelab in London. Stories with explosives, how to break a hologram, how scientists interfere with gene control were amongst the tales of young mathematicians, chemists and biologists. The jury awarded a visit to London to Veronika Koleva, a chemistry student at Sofia University, for her three-minute story about the hairs on the gecko’s feet, which have the ability to increase their surface in such a way as to help the gecko stick better when climbing. Three years ago, a fantastic material with the same ability was chemically created – a polyurethane elastomer that can help NASA astronauts in their space walks in the absence of gravity.
Bulgaria hosted the first technology marathon in Europe, TOM Makeathon, which brings together engineers, designers, innovators and people with special needs in creating solutions for a better life. The event was held on April 20-23 in Sofia at the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy (UACEG), which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The participants had 72 hours to design and produce 6 working prototypes to help people with special needs. The budget for each team totaled BGN 200.
What kind of problems have been solved during TOM Bulgaria?
Rado is a student in first grade, suffering from Spinal Muscular Atrophy, but is full of energy and extremely active. He uses two electric wheelchairs, one to sit in and the other to drive in an upright position. What has been invented for Rado is a combined wheelchair for the two positions, with which he can change his position from sitting to upright position.
Every day Milena uses a particular route to go to work. She chooses sloped sidewalks, avoids stairs and high curbs, because she cannot keep her balance and is afraid of falling. Using a virtual reality, the team has developed an assistant training device to complement her rehabilitation practices for keeping balance and weight center control.
Silvia and Anita are blind. They find it difficult to distinguish the value of different banknotes. The special sign for the visually impaired people is barely distinguishable, especially after being touched by thousands of hands after long use. For them, a portable device has been invented to pronounce the banknote’s value when touched.
Vanya uses an electric wheelchair and because of the fact that she needs to be seated for most of the day, she suffers from discomfort and pain due to the posture. For her, a seat cushion has been created, which has options for various degrees of softness and hardness, which are easy to change depending on the particular need.
Milena has problems with her lower and upper limbs. She needs a 24/7 assistance when moving. An aid facility (a type of exoskeleton) with lockable joint has been created for her, allowing her to walk unassisted. The amount of the facility is not more than BGN 120.
The sixth solution is related to a technological solution, which allows deaf parents to know if their children need them when they are in another room.
All these solutions will be published
“Sofia Green & Tech City” –that’s the name of the new video business card, shot and produced by B2Y Productions especially for the opening of this year’s edition of Webit.Festival Europe 2017 which took place on April 25 and 26, in Sofia. Traditionally, the welcome words in the opening ceremony are accompanied by video moments from previous editions of the prestigious forum, but this year Sofia Municipality, as a host, initiated a bit different greeting of the guests at the festival. The result – a 68-second video portraying the city as a place where dynamics and tranquillity, the traditional and the new, the different people and styles combine into a common shape of a lively and attractive place to live and do business.
The video footage was filmed in early April, days before the opening of Webit, at some of the key locations in the city – Vitosha Metro Station, the National Theatre, Sofia City Gallery, Sofia City Library, Moskovska Street, Sofia Tech Park and others. The video was broadcast for the first time as part of the welcome speech of the Mayor of Sofia, Mrs Yordanka Fandakova, when opening the two-day festival.
Watch the “Sofia Green & Tech City” video on Sofia Investment Agency’s YouTube channel here.
On April 7-8 the annual specialized Startup Camp 2017 conference was held at the Humboldt University in Berlin and Bulgaria became a partner country at the event for the first time. Startup Camp is the largest specialized international conference that brings together entrepreneurs, investors, potential partners and students. This year a total of 150 international lecturers and more than 1000 international participants, including representatives of venture capital and private equity funds, startups, business angels and others took part at the event.
Bulgaria participated at the conference with 25 Bulgarian companies, of which 20 were supported by the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency and 5 participated independently. The participation of the Bulgarian companies was implemented with project funds under Operational Program “Innovation and Competitiveness” 2014-2020. The participants showed innovative solutions in the fields of education, social activities and the IT sector.
The Bulgarian participants at the specialized international conference were accompanied by the Minister of Economy of Bulgaria, Teodor Sedlarski. Minister Sedlarski opened the event together with Florian Noell, Chairman of the board of the German Startups Association. Sedlarski stressed on the advantages of our country as an attractive place for work and development of innovative businesses by talents from Europe and around the world. The Minister of Economy also pointed out that our country is already known to the youth entrepreneurial ecosystem in Europe, which has already been successfully developing its business models here.
Startup Camp 2017 is organized by the German Startup Federation (Bundesverband Deutsche Startups e.V.). The association brings together a total of 650 members, including startups, student entrepreneurs and large corporations.
On May 12 -13, 2017, the #BG10xEU Hackathon took place in Sofia Tech Park on the occasion of the 10-year anniversary of Bulgaria’s membership in the EU. The event was initiated by the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria and Sofia Municipality; and Sofia Development Association, Software University, Webit Foundation, UPNETIX and the British Council in Bulgaria formed the core of the organizing team.
The Hackathon lasted 24 hours with 49 registered teams counting more than 350 participants interested in IT, programming, design, multimedia and marketing. Of all the starting teams, 34 managed to develop a minimum viable product and presented demo versions or prototypes of their solutions to the jury. Eight teams made it to the final and presented their ideas to the jury and the public.
The first prize in #BG10xEU Hackathon – 10,000 lv. and a voucher for presentation at Webit 2018 – was won by team Prizma for a prototype of an application for direct translation of camera-captured text to sign language with the possibility of recognition and translation of different languages. Because sign languages are different in different countries, contestants have provided the possibility of translating text from one language to a different sign language.
The second prize – 5,000 lv., provided by the Sofia City Council, was awarded to the team of the startup BrainHUB lab for the development of an application for real-time speech translation, including an educational platform for the learning of the sign language. The demo of the application called “Velar” showed successful visualization and recognition of basic gestures. The contestants also presented a wrist bracelet prototype, capable of solving this problem.
The third prize in #BG10xEU Hackathon – 3,000 lv., provided by the Sofia City Council, was awarded to one of the youngest teams – Dzham vrata – vrata dzham for an Internet platform for sharing problems in the urban environment in Sofia and opportunities for solving them both by the municipality and the citizens.
Sofia City’s Special Prize “Green Sofia” of 5,000 lv. was awarded to the 1Tree team for an augmented-reality (AR) game for web and mobile in which users can plant and take care of virtual trees at the place of trees that are actually missing from the streets of Sofia. The objective is to raise awareness about places where once have been or should be trees, but they are not planted yet. The project involves