Many Bulgarian (and Sofia-based) companies develop and produce protective and medical equipment which can be used during the fight against COVID-19. The EU has some specific requirements and regulations regarding these solutions, some of which you can find below.
The information is provided by the Bulgarian Industrial Association, which supports the businesses in Bulgaria and publishes up-to-date information on various economic and business-related issues.
Further information can be found in the Discussions section of the website of the Bulgarian Industrial Association.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact the BIA’s team:
International Economic Relations
Bulgarian Industrial Association
Tel.: 02 932 0954
Weekly Webinars by the Bulgarian Fintech Association
The Bulgarian Fintech Association started a series of weekly webinars featuring different topics and presenters every week. To take part in the upcoming webinars, just register below:
14.05 – Netcetera
21.05 – Port
You can find the recordings of the previous webinars here:
The Big Reset: From a Crisis Mode to Entrepreneurial Mindset
The Big Reset: From a Crisis Mode to Entrepreneurial Mindset by Trending Topics CEE plans to explore whether the current crisis can be an opportunity for Bulgaria, and if so – of what kind.
For four days in four major tracks, entrepreneurs, leaders, experts, community builders, and policy-makers will discuss and explore opportunities during webinars and roundtables, online keynotes and fireside chats, analytical articles. The event will also include video interviews and case studies, side events hosted by partners, and a virtual expo.
TRACK 1: OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE ECOSYSTEM
TRACK 2: BUSINESS INNOVATION
TRACK 3: THE FUTURE OF WORK
TRACK 4: THE CRISIS AS A CATALYST FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION
20 international online events aimed at startups
EU-Startups.com just created a short report introducing 20 of the coolest online events aimed at startups. The list focuses on online events that will take place between April and September. EU-Startups is one of the leading online media in Europe focused on startups. The website was founded in 2010 and provides its readers with latest information and reports on the startup ecosystem, data-driven analyses, interviews and startup-related news.
The Sofia-based company Evrotrust, an authorized electronic signature provider for Bulgaria, grants its services to Bulgarian citizens and small businesses for free during the state of emergency. Thus, the company further supports customers and businesses in their adaptation to the new environment which requires maximum mobilization in the digitization of processes to prevent the downfall of the business and the provision of services.
The documents with a qualified electronic signature have the same legal value as those signed on paper and bearing a hand-written signature.
Evrotrust is a technology that has been fully developed in Bulgaria and is used in 37 countries on three continents. In addition to operations between businesses, it also allows distance work with central, local, and regional administrations.
Just a year ago, the Sofia-based Evrotrust became the first Bulgarian company to take advantage of the City-to-City business cooperation agreement, which we signed with Vienna, and kicked off its operations in the Austrian capital.
This was possible after we organized a series of meetings of the Bulgarian delegation with Austrian organizations and companies during the 25 Hours in Vienna event. Evrotrust was then invited to participate in a 4-month programme for startups in innovation by weExelеrate – the largest multi-corporation accelerator in Europe.
Here is what you need in order to use Evrotrust’s electronic signature.
Sofia-based companies in all sectors interested in internationalization opportunities and aiming at business expansion can contact the Investment and Business Development Unit at Sofia Investment Agency here.
BESCO – The Bulgarian Startup Association published the results of a survey on the main problems which Bulgarian startups are currently facing and a list of measures for the economic rehabilitation of the industry. The analysis is based on the responses of 100 startups and/or innovative companies from 27 different industries with total annual revenue of 155 million leva.
One-third of the startups need a rescue capital of between 50 000 and 200 000 leva. Another 31% need between 20 000 and 50 000 leva to survive the crisis. The enterprises express a clear need for financing by the banks and the state and direct monetary easing through various financial instruments. 20% believe that the government should become a client of their products and services. As a potential step in this direction companies view changes in the public procurement and tender laws. Such refinement will allow startup and innovation companies to participate in public tenders of a smaller scale.
Another proposed measure is to ease the heavy procedures through which the allocated money from the Fund of Funds reaches the financial intermediaries and through them – the end beneficiary, the startups. The funding provided by VC funds becoming a higher governmental priority is also among the proposed concrete instruments in support of the business.
BESCO’s analysis is carried out in collaboration with Edit.bg – Economical Development Through Innovation and Technology, BVCA – the Bulgarian Venture Capital Association, Endeavor Bulgaria, ABLE – the Association of Bulgarian Leaders and Entrepreneurs and the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency with the Ministry of Economy.
The results and proposals have
The Bulgarian Development Bank, with the guarantee of the European Guarantee Fund, has launched programmes in support of the most severely affected businesses by COVID-19. The funds are intended for the hotels and restaurants sector, tourism, the congress- and exhibitions sector, retail, transportation, artistic and creative activities, sports, pre-school education in the private sector.
Working capital and credit lines up to a maximum of 48 000 leva will be granted for a grace period of up to two years. Credit requests can also be submitted online on the website of Micro Financing Institution Jobs – the subsidiary of BDB, which will manage the funds.
The European Commission allocated additional 428 million Euro to two research and innovation programs, with the funds being intended for projects related to COVID-19.
328 million Euro have been allocated for individual scholarships under the Individual Fellowships Programme. It provides opportunities to researchers of any nationality to acquire and transfer new knowledge and to work on research and innovation in Europe (EU Member States and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries) and beyond. It also provides opportunity for training, international and intersectoral mobility.
100 million Euro will support the COFOUND grant scheme which aims to stimulate high achievements in the training of researchers, their mobility and career development. COFOUND will co-fund new or existing regional, national, and international programmes to open up to and provide for international, intersectoral, and interdisciplinary education in the sphere of scientific research, as well as transactional and cross-sectional mobility of researchers at all stages of their career. A detailed description and information on the conditions and the submissions process can be found here.
The Fund of Funds Mobilised BGN 400 million in Response to the Economic Consequences of the Crisis, which are intended to reach the target groups of final recipients via financial intermediaries and banks, in the form of guarantees, loans and equity investments, and to help companies face the economic consequences of the crisis.
A brand-new guarantee product will provide liquidity support to small and medium-sized enterprises operating in various sectors, including those most affected by the crisis, such as tourism, transport, wholesale and retail trade, etc. The enterprises will be provided with working capital in the form of long-term loans of up to 10 years, without any additional administrative burden for the loan applicants, under the most simplified conditions possible, negotiated with the bank institutions.
The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) introduces a fast-track application procedure for co-creation funding, specifically dedicated to COVID-19-related activities. The procedure aims at activities and actions that deploy open science methods and resources, and make use of the EOSC communities in order to address issues related to the coronavirus.
You can find the full call details and application form here.
OTB Ventures, a venture capital fund for CEE technology companies, has announced the launch of a new round for companies in an early growth stage. The total size of the fund is $100 million, which will be allocated to 16 companies by the end of 2022. The funds are intended for startups in the CEE region with a focus on cybersecurity, big data, artificial intelligence, fintech, the Internet of Things, robotics, as well as related cloud technologies and software-as-a-service (SaaS) products. The fund will allocate an average of €13.8 million per startup for a 10-15% stake in the individual company.
Innovation Norway has announced its second call for proposals for the Green Industry Innovation component. The total budget is just over € 10 million, targeted at projects supporting green innovation and sustainable business development for small, medium-sized and large enterprises.There are no requirements regarding the sector in which businesses operate.
The deadline for submission of project proposals is June 4, 2020. More information can be found here.
The European Commission has launched a call for expression of interest in jointly setting up “living labs” in two research centres for smart urban solutions – Ispra, Italy and Petten, the Netherlands. Applications are accepted for solutions related to shared rides, vehicle connectivity and communication, ICT infrastructure, robo-taxis, information systems and data analysis, interactive user interface and more. Proposals may be submitted at any time by the end of this year. More guidance can be found here.
Current proposals for project co-operation and grants can also be found in the bulletin of the Bulgarian Industrial Association (in Bulgarian).
The fourth edition of the EU Datathon, the European Commission’s open data competition, has been launched. It seeks applications that link and use databases of at least one of the thousands of EU institutions, agencies, and bodies, and can be integrated into business models or solutions of social importance. The total prize fund is EUR 100,000 and the aim of the Datathon is to demonstrate the potential of open data for today’s society.
New approaches and solutions through the use of open data are sought for the following important objectives set by the European Union:
Challenge 1: A European Green Deal
Challenge 2: An Economy That Works for People
Challenge 3: A New Push for European Democracy
Challenge 4: A Europe Fit For the Digital Age
Proposals and a brief description can be submitted by 3 May to https://op.europa.eu/en/web/eudatathon
Three solutions to each challenge (or a total of 12 solutions) will be further developed to be presented on 13-15 October at the 18th European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels – an event attracting over 9000 participants from all over the world. Then the winners will be announced. The participants in each category will receive the following prizes:
First place: EUR 12 000
Second place: EUR 8 000
Third place: EUR 5 000
The fourth edition of EU Datathon 2020 is organized by the Publications Office of the European Union, in close collaboration with the European Commission Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG Regio). Queries can be sent to OP-DATATHON@publications.europa.eu.
The Bulgarian Fintech Association invites you to take part in a series of Zoom webinars in the weeks ahead. Each week the Association will invite one of its members to share valuable insights, specific to the activities of the company.
The first webinar will take place on April 9, 14:00 h. (EEST)
Participants need to register in advance for this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with further information about joining the meeting.
Stay tuned for more events by following the Bulgarian Fintech Association facebook page.
To help businesses stay ahead during the COVID-19 outbreak, eCommerce Academy has started live streaming sessions on e-trade and digital marketing. You can join the sessions every day, at 15:00 h. on Facebook and YouTube.
DEV.bg, the largest IT community in Bulgaria, “relocated” its monthly meetings online. Every month, the network schedules 14 free-to-attend events. The topics and dates are being published in the monthly calendar here.
TNW X marks that Sofia has turned into a major technology center in Europe by publishing a matrix with over 170 participants, which represent the tech startup environment in the capital.
TNW X, together with fDi Intelligence, is celebrating successful European startup ecosystems by mapping out their key players, analyzing where their greatest potential lies and ranking them to find out what makes them strong. During the last months, TNW X has published matrices for other key locations such as Riga, Vilnius, Dublin, and Munich.
With the publication of the matrix for Sofia, TNW X points out that in recent years the city has become a major tech hub in Europe with a highly skilled digital workforce. Furthermore, major software companies have their global R&D departments in Sofia and foreign investment in the Bulgarian software and ICT industry has tripled since 2015.
X is TNW’s digital transformation and innovation consultancy label, including online media (thenextweb.com), The Next Web technological festival in Amsterdam, a global database of startups, an international platform for cooperation between co-working spaces, and much more. The organization connects businesses, institutions, investors, and startups with a global mission to give impetus to digital transformation and innovations.
COVID-19 led to the biggest hackathon in Bulgaria so far with over 1000 participants and 110 solutions. Hack the crisis @Bulgaria gave birth to ideas, new business models and technological solutions that not only resolve the issues of today, but also have the potential to become part of our new post-pandemic daily life, adding impetus to the local economy and its various fields.
The three topics covered during the 48-hour online hackathon were: Save lives, Save communities and groups of people, and Save businesses. On behalf of Sofia Municipality, Vladimir Danailov, Deputy Mayor of Sofia for Digital Transformation, Innovation and Economic Development, was also part of the jury of the event.
Sofia Municipality in collaboration with the Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO) challenged the participants with specific cases from the everyday life of the city during the crisis related to: how to help citizens from vulnerable groups, how to achieve maximum efficiency of the voluntary initiatives, and ways to avoid the severe consequences for the small and medium businesses.
It is truly encouraging to see how the crisis mobilizes the collective determination to find a way out, Vladimir Danailov commented on his being part of the jury. Congratulations to all participants and especially to Arya Delivery – the winner in the ‘Save Businesses’ category, in which I was part of the jury. They were my best choice, too. Their SmallMag platform aims to integrate small retail outlets in a unified online shopping platform and addresses small and niche businesses that are not in the habit of marketing themselves. They are hit extremely hard by the current situation, yet now is the time for them to adapt to the increased online demand.
You can watch a recording of the live streaming of the final of the hackathon here.
The Umni.co chatbot agency announced that it will provide free development, implementation, and maintenance of a basic hotel chatbot to help hotelkeepers remain in touch with clients after the collapse in the tourism industry because of COVID-19. The company will be providing its product free of charge until 1 September 2020 to all new clients of the basic virtual assistant, both in Bulgarian and in English.
The CEO of Umni is Elitsa Hristova, who has over 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. The company commented that competition for customers, markets and qualified staff after the crisis will be fierce and businesses that are mobile, online, flexible and always available when needed will recover faster after the downturn.
This is how Elitsa Stoilova commented on the company’s decision:
Someone has to work, to receive clients’ requests 24/7 even when there is no one in the office when the business is temporarily closed. This can be done by a chatbot. We hope that the free service until the end of summer will help hotels keep in touch with clients without burdening them financially. The crisis will pass and clients will come back. Domestic tourism will be the first to recover but the speed of recovery will not allow the business to return to pre-crisis work levels immediately. The Chatbot can take on some of the tasks and communication and help the hotel optimize the working process of available staff for the benefit of both the business and its customers.
You can find more about the features of the hotel chatbot and the way it works on the company’s website. New clients can request access to the virtual assistant by sending an email to email@example.com or by using the registration form here.
Founded in 2018, Umni.co is a chatbot agency that provides virtual assistants to a number of sectors such as hotel accommodation, recreational activities, healthcare. In the very year of its launch, Umni.co received its first investment by the Canadian fund Loyal VC to further develop its “bot-as-service”.
GAMEHIRED launches its career board to help creative professionals, who want to make games for a living, land their dream job.
GAMEHIRED announced the official kick-off of its career website for game creators, which has been in development for over a year, with the clear goal of improving the current hiring experience for all parties.
GAMEHIRED’s platform makes decision-making easy by giving candidates detailed information about job opportunities, courses and the game studios and academies behind them. It also delivers industry insights and actionable advice to help its users improve their skill set. Georgi Mihaylov, GAMEHIRED’s CEO, said: “We want to help the people, who make the lives of billions more enjoyable, by giving them the necessary tools to find an exciting way of life, not just another job.”
The platform’s intended audience are game developers, 2D and 3D artists, engineers, testers, producers, e-sports professionals and students in the field of game design. It also helps game studios and higher education institutions to stand out and attract exceptional talent by showcasing their unique traits, culture, games, teams, perks, way of teaching, curriculum and many more.
The Platform’s product roadmap for 2020 includes the possibility to participate in online classes on digital art and game development.
All those who want to make their first steps in the industry, begin an interesting game design course or pursue their dream job, can do so by registering at gamehired.com.