Raiffeisen Bank International published the second edition of the CEE Fintech Atlas with an overview of 19 fintech ecosystems in the region of CEE including Bulgaria. The report includes data on the scale, the most important companies and the biggest investors in the sector in the countries as well as the readiness of the population to use mobile banking.
The Profiles of Sofia and Bulgaria in CEE Fintech Atlas 2019
According to the edition, descriptions of Sofia as “one of the fastest growing fintech destinations in the CEE region”, “an evolving fintech hub” and “the most vibrant fintech destination in the SEE region” are not an overstatement because they are backed up by concrete data and trends that position the capital as one of the hottest spots on the CEE map in this sector.
The report refers to the Global Innovation Index 2018, where Bulgaria is the world’s third most innovative upper-middle income country and a leader in the SEE region in terms of innovation efficiency and achievement. Furthermore, in its latest ranking of the fintech locations of the future, the Financial Times named Sofia as the number one city globally in terms of cost effectiveness.
The companies cover all segments in the sector, with payments and billing (30%), capital markets solutions (15%) and personal finance (12%) being the most popular. Between 2014 and 2018 the number of employees in the sector has risen twice and continues to grow constantly as a consequence of both the emergence of new players and the expansion of existing ones.
The total operating revenue in the sector in 2018 is over 200 million euro representing an annual increase of 33,5% and a doubling in just three years. Each year the sector expands its share in the GDP of the country. The total net profit in 2018 is of more than 59 million euros, which is more than twice the figure for 2017.
Fintech Scope and Development of the Sector Forecast
More than 65% of the population in the CEE market is expected to be using digital banking services by the end of 2020 as a result of which digital markets will grow across the CEE region.
Data shows a new peak in the level of fintech investment in many CEE markets. Compared to 2018, the markets in Lithuania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine showed a strong growth in investment. An
Biotech Atelier 2020 announced yet another satellite event – the online workshop Plant Biotechnology: Beyond that will be held on the 25th of September – https://biotech-atelier.com/ba2020/plant-biotechnology-beyond/. Scientists from leading academic and industrial institutions in Bulgaria and Germany will join the workshop.
Plant Biotechnology: Beyond will include the following sessions:
Our team will join the event as an institutional and communication partner. We kindly invite you to join us at Biotech Atelier 2020 – the annual conference for Eastern Europe, uniting futurists, entrepreneurs, business leaders and experts in Biotechnology, IT, Life Science, Healthcare and Pharma.
Biotech Atelier 2020 will take place on 24th and 25th September 2020, at Sofia Tech Park. The organisers expect 350+ guests, 120+ companies and plan 24+ panel discussions. In 2020, Biotech Atelier will feature a students’ poster exhibition and a startup pitch contest in front of investors, experts and international guests.
To register for the event, please visit: biotech-atelier.com
CESA (Central European Startup Awards) National Finale will be held for a 5th consecutive year in Bulgaria! This year it is The Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO) hosting the event (BESCO).
The nominations are now open.
Nominate yourself or a startup / ecosystem player in one or more of the following categories:
⭐️Startup of the Year
⭐️Founder of the Year
⭐️Best Social Impact Startup
⭐️Investor of the Year
⭐️Best Fintech Startup
⭐️Best Coworking Space
⭐️Best Accelerator/Incubator Program
⭐️Ecosystem Hero of the Year
⭐️Best Virtual Teamwork solution
Nominations are open until August 31 at the following link:
You can nominate anyone, including yourself. The finalists will be announced on 12 October and will take part in the National Finale – CESA Bulgaria. It will be held in Sofia in the middle of November. The winners will participate in the Regional Finals for Central- and Eastern Europe at the beginning of December with the finalists from Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
The EIC Fund, which will provide equity from €0.5m to €15m to breakthrough innovation companies selected for EIC Accelerator blended finance support (grant and equity), has become an official entity. This is the first time the European Commission will make such direct equity investments in companies, with ownership stakes expected to be in general from 10% to 25% in start-up companies. The European Investment Bank, as advisors of the EIC Fund on behalf of the European Commission, will manage the ownership stakes of the European Commission.
The EIC Fund fills the funding gap at the start-up stage where the EU venture capital market underperforms compared to the global venture capital market.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said:
“The EIC Fund – the first of its kind – will help our most innovative start-ups and SMEs rapidly bring their innovative products to European and global markets, while growing their companies and talent within the EU. Currently, so much economic growth and jobs potential are lost because these companies are seen as too high-risk for the private venture capital market.”
From 2021, the EIC Fund will be financed by the EIC to be established under Horizon Europe – the EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme (2021-2027). Depending on the demand and quality of proposals, it is expected that at least one third of the EIC budget, currently proposed at €10bn, will be in the form of equity managed by the EIC Fund. Furthermore, the EIC Fund will increase financing for high-impact innovation by crowding-in private investment, co-investing with venture capital funds, national promotional banks, corporate venture funds and other private investors.
In addition to equity funding, EIC Accelerator-supported companies receive grant funding of up to €2.5 million and have access to mentoring, business coaching and matchmaking with investors, corporates and likeminded entrepreneurs.
For more information on how can you get involved, a list of the companies in EIC Accelerator programme and facts about the EIC Fund, please follow the link https://ec.europa.eu/research/eic/index.cfm?pg=investing
STRATEGIC INFRASTRUCTURE AND INVESTMENT ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2020
The fifteenth edition of the annual Strategic Infrastructure and Investment Conference 2020 will focus on the priorities, strategies and financing models in Bulgaria and Southeast European countries, as well as on the current state of large-scale transport, energy and environmental infrastructure projects.
SMART CITIES – URBAN TECH SOLUTIONS TO SHORTEN THE ROAD TO RECOVERY
Experts from Sofia Municipality were invited to take part in the Smart cities – urban tech solutions to shorten the road to recovery webinar to be held on July 9, 15:00 – 15:45 BST / 16:00 – 16:45 CEST.
In the upcoming meeting together with Manchester-UK represented by MIDAS Manchester’s Inward Investment Agency, we are going to discuss:
11th NATIONAL CONFERENCE WITH INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPATION ELECTRONICA 2020
ELECTRONICA 2020 will continue the discussion on the state and prospects for the development of Bulgarian electronics research, education, and industry in the globalized international economy and considering Bulgaria’s EU membership. During the event, papers discussing theoretical and applied electronics submitted by Bulgarian and foreign specialists will be presented. Bulgarian and foreign companies are planned to participate in ELECTRONICA 2020, incl. in the round table and the expo part to be organized.
– Biometrical Engineering
– Circuits and Systems
– Education and Learning technologies
– Instrumentation and Measurement
– Industrial Electronics
– Information and Communication Technologies
– Microelectronics and Nanoelectronics
– Power Electronics
– Mechatronic Systems
– Advanced Materials
GLOBAL AZURE BULGARIA 2020
Global Azure Bulgaria 2020 is the Bulgarian edition of Global Windows Azure – a global community event for the public cloud platform Windows Azure. The sixth local edition of the event will take place on August 29, 2020 at Sofia Tech Park.
The event will be focused on technical sessions in several tracks. In addition to this great learning
The five outdoor swimming pools with water slides and the SPA area of Vazrazhdane Park in Sofia are already open for visitors. The complex has mineral pools and fountains for pouring mineral water. You can view all offered services of the Aqua Zone on its official website.
Sofia Municipality invested BGN 9.5 million of municipal funds and a low-interest loan under the Regions in Growth Operational Programme through the Sustainable Cities Fund so that Vazrazhdane Park could include an aqua park and an indoor pool for Sofia’s citizens of all ages.
Ten new Siemens metro trains have been purchased for Line 3 of the Sofia metro and 10 new trams have been provided to replace old ones and renew Sofia’s public transport. The procedure for the delivery of 30 new Skoda Solaris trolleys with a rechargeable battery system has been completed as well. The procedures for another 25 new trams and 30 electric buses are currently under evaluation. The funding for the new vehicles comes from the Environment Operational Programme as part of the activities of the Sofia Municipality to improve air quality.
Sofia Municipality’s “Vacation” Programme organizes for another year in a row sports and opendoor activities with free access for children and young people. Games and sports opportunities will be available throughout the whole summer. You can find detailed information about the “Vacation” Programme of Sofia Municipality here .
Regional administrations also join the Programme with a variety of activities. The schedule is published here.
In its effort to help during these difficult times, Ernst & Young are delighted to let you know that the EY Finance Navigator team are offering three months free access to ‘EY Finance Navigator’, an online financial planning software designed specifically for startups and scale-ups to help them build professional financing models and detailed cash flow projections. In this way, the consulting company would like to support startups in a moment when they are most vulnerable.
The deadline for registering is 31 July 2020 and the 3 months free access starts from the registration date. Request your three months of free Finance Navigator access here. Please make sure that you enter “COVID19FN” in the field, “How did you hear about us”, which will enable the free membership.
At this link, you will find detailed product instructions, including a 37-minute webinar with complete instructions on how to use the tool.
Once you register and receive your Finance Navigator account, you will also receive a short guide explaining how to get started with the software.
Fund of Funds has signed a contract for new BGN 35.6 million, which will be managed by Vitosha Venture Partners OOD. Between BGN 30,000 and 2 million will support over 100 Bulgarian startups. About half of the companies will participate in the Fund Manager’s acceleration programme, the rest of the investments will be in companies at a more advanced stage of development.
United Bulgarian Bank (UBB) is the first financial institution to offer the new guarantee programme COSME COVID-19 of the European Investment Fund. BGN 245 million will be directed to micro, small-, and medium-sized enterprises to overcome the financial consequences of COVID-19. Under the program, 80% of the loans, bank guarantees, and the total limits for working capital and issuance of bank guarantees in BGN and EUR will be guaranteed free of charge. The maximum loan amount is 150 000 Euro, and the financing period is from one to five years, with an option to extend this period up to 10 years.
The programme is open until the end of 2020. The conditions for participation have been eased to the fullest, with no need for complicated documentation to prove the impact of COVID-19 on the business.
MediaMotor Europe’s new project, under Horizon 2020, is administering a procedure for raising applications from technology
On 25th of Sep 2020, Pharmalex is preparing a series of in-depth workshop sessions on ATMPs, where a number of experts in the field will share best practices, discuss and provoke the audience’s imagination around current challenges and future potential of Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs).
ATMPs have emerged as a novel class of biological products offering huge potential for the treatment of cancer and rare diseases where limited or no alternative treatment options exist.
Despite the unique possibilities that these products illustrate, there are some key challenges associated with the development of these innovative and promising therapies including regulatory, scientific, manufacturing, and commercialization ones.
Some of the topics covered:
Biotech Atelier 2020 goes entirely VIRTUAL for an immersive experience, the usual bespoke speaker lineup and much greater international reach.
Find out more.
The Tuk-Tam platform takes on a new direction with updated functionalities and design and a more intuitive interface. The global network of Bulgarians here and anywhere else in the world will merge the platforms Guide to Bulgaria, Career Hive, and the current one Tuk-Tam. Thus, users of all of Tuk-Tam’s projects will now be able to connect and receive access to a wide range of functionalities and network opportunities, regardless of their location.
Depending on the reason that led them to the platform – education abroad, returning to Bulgaria, career opportunities, users will have access to the following functionalities:
– Life – latest news about life in Bulgaria, living standards, economic development, and more.
– Work – access to profiles of leading companies, current job postings, career events
– Education – opportunities for master’s degrees abroad, useful articles for those admitted to study abroad, and more.
– Community – inspiring stories of Tuk-Tam-ers, as well as a real opportunity for people to connect, exchange experiences, information, advice, or to become part of one of the Alumni Clubs on the platform.
The Tuk-Tam team is making the change because it believes that even while being far from Bulgaria, all Bulgarians can still stay connected, participate in the life here, and get involved in meaningful community initiatives.
If you want to be part of the community, sign up at Tuk-Tam wherever you are.
Tuk-Tam supports Bulgarians with experience and education abroad. It organizes career events, manages a donation fund for students abroad who return to make a career in Bulgaria.
The project started in 2008 at the initiative of 7 people who returned to Bulgaria after several years of living and working abroad. Initially, Tuk-Tam was an offline focused NGO with local activities. Gradually, over the years, more and larger projects were added, including the current goal – to re-engage Bulgarians abroad with their native country.
Sofia is included in the Tech Cities of the Future 2020/21 debut ranking of fDi Magazine and TNW.
We are delighted to announce that out of 76 surveyed locations in Europe, 25 of which included in the report, Sofia has ranked:
– 20th in the overall ranking of Tech Cities of the Future 2020/21
– 7th in the Cost Effectiveness category
– 17th in the FDI Strategy category
For its ranking, fDi evaluates cities under five categories: Economic Potential, Innovation and Attractiveness, FDI Performance, Cost Effectiveness, and Start-up Environment. In addition, surveys were collected under a sixth category – FDI Strategy. Locations that ranked in the top 20 in this category were given bonus points, which were added to their overall score for the final ranking.
Read more about Sofia’s ranking in Tech Cities of the Future 2020/21 here.
Sofia ranks 1st in the Smart City Development category and 7th in the overall ranking of Emerging Europe’s Business-Friendly Cities Perception Ranking 2020 of the best cities for doing business in Central and Eastern Europe. Sofia also ranks in Top 10 in the Quality of Life category, sharing the 5th place with Gdynia, Poland, and Bratislava, Slovakia. For the ranking, Emerging Europe researched 75 cities in the region of developing Europe – capitals and cities with over 200,000 inhabitants.
The Business-Friendly Cities Perception Ranking 2020 is part of the Emerging Europe Awards 2020 – the third edition of a programme that presents the best of Europe’s emerging economies and honors the achievements of individuals, public and private organizations, projects, and initiatives.
Budapest has been named the most business-friendly city. The Hungarian capital also tops two of the eight categories taken into account in the ranking – Brand, and Local Authority Support. Sofia, along with Tallinn, is the winner in the Smart City Development category. Tbilisi leads in Economic Potential, Łódź in Business Climate, Bucharest in Pool of Talent, Warsaw in Infrastructure and Connectivity, and Prague in Quality of Life. Budapest, Prague, and Warsaw lead the overall ranks, where Sofia ranks 7th.
Due to the restrictive measures related to COVID-19, this year, the ranking was presented online. In its publication, Emerging Europe quoted the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova on the occasion of Sofia’s recognition as one of the two leading cities in the Smart City Development category .
Our team took part in the special edition of ВаlRЕасt #Асtіоn in Crіѕіѕ organized by the City Media Group. The conference took place on June 16 with studio discussions and live online broadcasts.
The Deputy Mayor for Digitalization, Innovation, and Economic Development of Sofia Mr. Vladimir Danailov joined the opening session: Macro Trend Bulgaria and the Economic Challenges. The panel was also attended by experts from the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, the Bulgarian Outsourcing Association (AIBEST), the Bulgarian Association of Software Companies (BASSCOM), and UniCredit Bulbank.
Our wish and what the business ecosystem would strive to do is sustain what we have achieved in the last 6-8 years. In our dialogue with the companies in recent months, we reached a joint agreement to work together in different industries, to attract and keep the talent pool, to retain most of the investors and companies considering relocation, said Vladimir Danailov in the opening session.
The event provided an opportunity for analysis of the current social, economic, financial, and market challenges. It allowed for forecasts about what lies ahead in the housing and office space market and what the future of workspaces is.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the ВаlRЕасt #Асtіоn in Crіѕіѕ conference:
Due to the timely measures, Bulgaria remained on the periphery of the pandemic and met the lockdown of economic activities with a strong fiscal position and without accumulating economic imbalances. We expect a deep but short-lived recession this year. UniCredit Bulbank forecasts a serious decline in the economy in the second half of the year – a 7.2% annual drop in GDP in Bulgaria, followed by a relatively fast recovery in 2021.
The IT sector was not severely affected and given its strong export orientation towards Western Europe and the USA, the effect will depend on the state of the foreign markets. Bulgaria already positioned itself in a higher segment like Israel and Ireland, unlike India and Vietnam, but there are risks concerning the insufficient human resource and the eventual changes in the tax framework, said Georgi Brashnarov from BASSCOM.
Bulgaria has the unique chance to position itself as a stable location at a time when alternatives to Asia are on the agenda. More than 70% of the employed in IT and outsourcing companies wish for workplace flexibility, so the role of office spaces will be redefined, emphasized Iliya Krastev from AIBEST.
A year after Bosch opened a software engineering center for the automotive industry in Sofia Tech Park, Bosch will also have a hardware department in Sofia to work on the engineering of key automotive control components.
According to the interview for Capital of Thomas Metz, Managing Director of Bosch Engineering Center Sofia, as a first step, the Sofia team will develop hardware for a central communication module (Automotive Gateways). Modules play an important role as a central hub for the communication of the electronic control units in an automobile.
The Sofia-based team is also a part of over 40 projects together with the company’s development units in Germany, USA, Hungary, and Romania. Projects include driver assistance systems (AI monitoring and evaluation of the behavior of drivers to prevent accidents), automated driving, electric mobility, a front-facing video camera tracking the road conditions, intelligent headlight control, and even software for electric bicycles.
Despite the COVID-19 crisis, the German company plans to expand further and continues to expand its team in Sofia. The office opened with 120 employees, and today the Sofia-based team exceeds 250 people.