The world will put nearly $124 billion into smart urban solutions in 2020, according to a recent analysis by the international consulting firm International Data Corporation (IDC). Thus, global costs for smart city initiatives will increase by nearly 20% compared to 2019.
Singapore is expected to remain the leader, followed by Tokyo, New York and London. According to the analysis, the top 100 cities in terms of costs account for nearly 30% of global spending. The prognosis that leading cities will continue to sustain growth in the short term is interesting, but overall the market is comprised of medium and small cities, which are also investing, albeit in relatively smaller projects.
The report looks at data on investment in smart solutions across 200 cities. About 80 of them invest more than $100 million a year. At the same time, around 70% of the opportunity lies within cities that are spending $1 million or less per year. There are great opportunities for solutions that draw on the experience of large projects and then adapt them in order to create affordable initiatives for small and medium-sized cities, the report’s authors comment.
Last year, one-third of the use cases were related to sustainable energy and infrastructure. Data-driven public safety and smart transportation accounted for 18% and 14% of total costs, respectively. The largest share of investment was attracted by smart grids.
Activities such as CCTV, public transport and intelligent traffic management demonstrate the greatest potential. The fastest growth of costs over the next five years is expected in the area of the so-called vehicle to everything (V2X) – the communication of vehicles with infrastructure, as well as in digital twins (digital copies of physical objects) and officer wearable devices.
By 2023, global spending on smart cities initiatives is expected to reach $ 189.5 billion, with the United States, Western Europe and China holding a 70% share.
Sofia is in the top 3 cities in the category European Cities and Regions of the Future 2020/2021 for the strategy for attracting foreign investment in fDi intelligence’s report European cities and regions of the future 2020-2021. The capital is in top positions in another 4 categories:
At an official ceremony in the middle of March in Cannes Sofia will receive a certificate for its good positions in the ratings. You can read more on the topic and find a link to the full article here.
Sofia remains the most economically developed region in the country with GDP per capita which is twice the average for the country (28 465 leva per capita compared to 13 206 per capita leva in the country). There is a drop in unemployment to 2,1%, and the employment rate reaches 74,6% which sets a record for both the capital and country. The data is taken from the latest survey “Regional Profiles: Measurements for Development” of the Institute for Market Economics.
The educational structure of the workforce has continued to improve in the last years. The share of people with higher education in the 25-64 age group is 51% (compared to 28% in the country).
The number of enterprises in the capital continues to grow steadily for a fifth consecutive year and has reached 88 per thousand people. Sofia also remains the region with the highest volume of output per capita.
Sofia attracts the highest number of FDI per capita. Foreign investments in the city are three times higher than in the country – 9 226 euro per capita compared to 3 310 euro per capita. The industry is characterized by high quality, especially in terms of access to high-speed internet.
Compared to the rest of the country, the city maintains relatively high local taxes, especially in retail and taxi services. Due to the high workload of the Sofia Court (the busiest in the country), Sofia has a relatively slow administration of justice process but remains among the regions with the highest ratings of transparency of the local self-government, the
The Deputy Mayor of Sofia for Digital Transformation, Innovation and Economic Development, Mr. Vladimir Danailov, presented the award in the Successful Bulgarian ICT Project/Service category at the 9th Annual Awards of the Bulgarian Association of Information Technologies (BAIT) to individuals and companies with contribution to the development of the information and communication technologies in Bulgaria. The award went to Transmetrics for their solution for forecasting and optimizing the logistics processes, based on AI algorithms.
As a Deputy Mayor and Representative of the city, I am well aware of the great importance of the city’s role as an incentive for the ecosystem of innovation. Sofia, as the 14th city in Europe, can make a contribution and be a real product destination. Our main priority is Sofia to act as a platform and incentive for the local companies and their innovations. We would like the city to be their ground for creating and validating decisions, as well as a place from where they can start their world expansion. This is why Sofia Municipality will work even more intensively with the local technology companies and startups, Vladimir Danailov said while presenting the award.
This category received the greatest number of applications – a total of 23, and the companies that reached the final phase were ERP.bg with their cooperation program ERP.net Partnership Program and LogiSoft with their modular management system for intralogistics complexes.
Prizes were also awarded in another 6 categories – Education, Youth Award, Journalistic Contribution, Public Administration, STARTUP company, and Successful ICT Project Benefitting the Bulgarian Economy. You can see all the finalists here.
This year the number of submitted applications was over 100. The jury awarded the team of the teachers of TUES, part of Technical University-Sofia, for their special contributions to the technological ecosystem. The prize was awarded by the patron of the initiative – the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr. Rumen Radev.
Again, Sofia will host the local edition of Startup Europe Week (SEW) – the startup event which takes place simultaneously in different cities in Europe. The Bulgarian edition of SEW 2020 will take place on March 19-20, 2020 in the creative building of Campus X (31 Alexander Malinov Blvd.).
Sofa has been part of the SEW initiative since its creation in 2016. The programme of the format is practically oriented and reflects the situation in the local ecosystem. It aims to provide relevant and clear information to the new entrepreneurs, who are leaving the event “well-equipped” with new ideas and ready to start their own business.
Since 2016, Startup Europe Week – Sofia has been the scene for more than 50 speakers, including entrepreneurs, representatives of private and public entrepreneurship support programs, ministers, and investors. They share opportunities, experience, and valuable advice concerning hightech innovation, technology, social issues, legal, environmental benefits, funding, and support for business ideas and projects.
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, will inaugurate the event on the 19th of March at 05:00 pm with a video speech for the young entrepreneurs in Sofia. In addition to the exciting programme, workshops, and surprises, another accent of this year’s edition will be the co-founder of the global initiative Startup Europe Week – Igor Tasic, who will join the second day of the event via a real-time live connection.
Within the week of March 16-20, 2020, SEW will be a platform that opens up regional opportunities for entrepreneurs in more than 50 countries and will host more than 100 events.
Full agenda: startupeuropeweek.eu
21st CONFERENCE ON E-GOVERNMENT “EFFECTIVE AND SECURE E-GOVERNANCE”
05.03.2020, Sofia Hotel Balkan
What lies ahead of national e-governance until 2023, what is the current level of the public administration’s digitization, what are the good examples of technological solutions applicable to the sector, how will the institutions ensure information security and protection – these are some of the topics that will be discussed during the 21st edition of the National e-Government Conference.
Traditionally, the conference has been organized in cooperation with the National e-Government Agency, the National Association of the Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria, the Ministry of Transport, Information Technologies and Communications, the Network of Associations of Local Authorities in South-East Europe (NALAS).
The targeted audience of the event is as follows: ministers, deputy ministers, chief secretaries and IT directors of state agencies, district governors, mayors and deputy mayors, IT specialists of the Bulgarian administrations and representatives of leading international and Bulgarian companies in the ICT sector.
STRATEGIC INFRASTRUCTURE AND INVESTMENTS 2020
20.03.2020, Sofia Event Center
The fifteenth edition of the Strategic Infrastructure and Investment Annual Conference 2020 will focus on the priorities, strategies and financing models in Bulgaria and the Southeast European countries in the context of the European Green Deal, as well as on the current state of large-scale transport, energy and environmental infrastructure projects.
– Representatives of the European Commission, ministries in Bulgaria and the region, state agencies and commissions from Bulgaria and the region, foreign embassies and chambers of commerce in Bulgaria, mayors and representatives of municipalities
– Investors, investment funds, banks
– Leading companies in Construction, Manufacturing, Logistics, Architecture, Insurance services, Engineering
Full agenda and speakers: infrastructureconference.bg/en/
THE EMPLOYER BRANDING MOST WANTED
20.03.2020, Inter Expo Center
The Employer Branding Most Wanted Conference is the ninth of a series of employer branding events. The edition will bring together the most desirable global companies, and their professionals will share key and working techniques and methods in the area of employer branding.
DSK Bank and the European Investment Fund have signed an agreement to lend funds totalling BGN 70 million, guaranteed under the European COSME program. Funding will be made available to small and medium-sized businesses in almost all sectors of the economy (except for activities related to alcohol, gambling, weapons, etc.) with a guarantee of 50% of the loan value, and a term of up to 10 years from its granting.
INNOWWIDE opens two funds to finance innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups focused on the markets of developing countries with large economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Mexico, etc.), as well as developed countries.
The projects should last up to 6 months. INNOWWIDE will provide a grant of € 60,000 for each project. The application deadline is March 31, 2020. More information can be found here.
The European Commission has launched a call for applications for the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2020. The awards highlight the work of exceptional women who drive research and innovation and inspire future generations of young girls. Apply here by April 21.
Fintech start-ups can join the second edition of Visa’s Innovation Program in partnership with the venture fund Eleven. The selected teams will undergo six months of training to accelerate the development and commercialisation of their product or service. The participants will have the opportunity to receive an investment of EUR 100,000.
The focus of the program will be on solutions with a focus on the future of commerce, banking transformation, improving customer experience, and more. This year’s initiative also encourages the participation of sustainable solutions, projects in the field of social entrepreneurship and the participation of more women in the sector. The deadline for applications is March 15. Participants are required to fill out this online form.
A new online platform for people who want to return to Bulgaria was officially launched in February. It’s called Guide to Bulgaria and was created by Tuk-Tam – the organisation of the Bulgarians with experience and education abroad.
Guide to Bulgaria collects useful information about life, education, and work in the country at one place. The platform is free and informs and helps you to remain connected to Bulgaria even from a distance through up-to-date and practical articles on the quality of life, career opportunities, economic environment and starting one’s own business, family, education, cultural events, leisure time and daily life, and even practical steps related to the whole process of moving or returning to Bulgaria.
In the Guide you will find:
– Over 90 articles on living in Bulgaria
– Job postings and detailed profiles of leading companies
– Calculator of the standard of life
– Selection of articles and interviews on topics like culture and travel, lifestyle, society, business, and health
– Opportunities for participation in career events or scholarship applications
The launch of Guide to Bulgaria was announced at a special event in Missia23 with the participation of Mrs. Denitsa Sacheva, Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Mrs. Rada Yosifova, Head of Human Resources Department at Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria, and Mr. Rosen Plevneliev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria (2012-2017).
We are glad that Sofia Investment Agency is a partner of Guide to Bulgaria in the process of creating useful content for the platform. Our team provided data and the latest information about the quality of life and the business opportunities in Sofia. On the platform you will find the articles The Outsourcing Industry in Bulgaria and Startup and the Innovation Community in Sofia.
During the second edition of the Bulgarian Tourist Awards, a jury from Bulgaria, the USA, and Switzerland named Sofia the Best Destination of the year in Bulgaria. The prize was awarded to the Mayor of Sofia, Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova, who announced the forthcoming opening of five 4- and 5-star hotels in Sofia and engaged with the development of the congress tourism in the capital. According to her, the number of accommodations in Sofia in the last ten years has increased with 141%, and the number of tourists in the categorised accommodation establishments – with 132%. More data about the sector in Sofia was presented at the 7th Meeting of the National Board of Tourism.
Google Maps launched Live View for Sofia in its navigation system. The Life View uses augmented reality and allows pedestrians to see the navigations overlaying the streets, as well as to find a mini map in the right down corner of their phones. The function is active for AR Kit/AR Core devices and in regions with good coverage of Street View. Google Maps Bulgaria also provides its users with the option to set and navigate through a chosen route. In addition to the standard navigation for pedestrians and cars, the navigation works for various types of transport, including rail, public transport, bicycles.
As of February, Spark has 80 new electric cars Hyundai Kona, which are already on the streets of Sofia and await their users. The total number of cars in the platform for shared use of electric cars reaches over 350, and the number of Hyundai Kona cars alone is 170. Another Spark rental and release zone has also been added, with a 24/7 access and two installed 22kw AC charging points.
More than 40% of the new ticket validators have already been installed in the public transport vehicles. The devices are part of the preparation for the launch of a new ticket system which will begin to operate at the end of the year. At the same time, a process is underway to remove the devices from which passengers are currently buying tickets, the Urban Mobility Centre announced. The new system is expected to save time and guarantee easier and more convenient ticket validation for the passengers in the public transport. The question of whether passengers should be charged based on the travelled distance or the duration of
In mid-February, the European Commission presented three important documents: Shaping Europe’s digital future, a European data strategy and a White Paper on artificial intelligence. Public consultations are ongoing on the last two.
The White Paper on Artificial Intelligence arises from Europe’s ambition to become a leader in artificial intelligence (AI) systems, lead the race within large data sets, and maintain technological sovereignty, industry leadership and economic competitiveness.
The Data Strategy focuses on how the union will make better use of data to support innovation and entrepreneurship while enhancing security. The development of a standalone data strategy is also dictated by the fact that one cannot speak of AI without clear data regulations.
Shaping Europe’s Digital Future is a document that integrates the two above mentioned topics and links them to Europe’s overall vision of digitalisation, aiming to play the role of a five-year roadmap for the policies in the field.
What Europe wants to achieve with the three documents
The Commission wants to develop clear regulations on artificial intelligence by the end of 2020, including the issues of accountability, security and data rights (including biometrics). Much of the legislation will depend on the feedback the Commission will receive from the industry, the public and the member state governments in the coming months.
In this way, institutions and citizens will have solutions on issues such as: responsibility in an accident with an autonomous car, whether AI technologies should be deployed in sensitive areas such as recruitment, healthcare, transportation, law enforcement, whether artificial intelligence conflicts with people’s rights and more.
The EU also wants to implement its plan to build a single data market by convincing industrial players to share their data with start-ups, the public sector or other stakeholders who would want to use it to develop new applications.
The first concrete policy that can be achieved in the data strategy is the framework for Common European Data Spaces to be published by the end of 2020. These “spaces” will be designed to encourage companies to consolidate their data, and a specific data law bill will introduce rules for business-to-business or business-to-government data sharing and potentially give people an enhanced ‘data portability’ or in other words the ability to transfer their data from one company to another.
The exchange of data
The latest edition of Sofia Game Jam, a one-week gaming forum, took place in Sofia between January 25 and 31. The event is organized by volunteers with the support of the Bulgarian community of game developers and is part of the international initiative Global Game Jam. The event ended with a 48-hour hackathon weekend.
At the invitation of the organizers, Sofia’s DeputyMayor of Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development Vladimir Danailov also participated in the opening event. On behalf of Sofia Municipality and Mayor Yordanka Fandakova, he wished inspiring days in Sofia to all gaming companies, developers and fans of games taking part in the local event.
“The capital is home to world-renowned Bulgarian gaming studios and a centre attracting affiliates of world leaders such as Ubisoft, Gameloft, Creative Assembly, SEGA. Undoubtedly, the sector is something Sofia can be proud of and its potential must be developed. My team and I will continue to work on this. Currently, our focus is on the gaming industry, creative visualization, video and film production. Recently, with the support of Game Dev Summit, we also published the document Sofia Gaming Studios – the first sector matrix mapping out companies and all other ecosystem parties in Sofia,” said Mr Danailov at the launch of the event at the French Cultural Institute in Sofia.
More about the creative sector in Sofia
The gaming industry in Sofia and Bulgaria
BULGARIA: PropTech Mapping Report 2020 is the 2nd edition initiated and issued by PropTech Bulgaria and PrEXCELerator Bulgaria, following the outstanding results achieved through the 1st edition released in 06/2019.
The Official Presentation of the results will be held on February 27, 2020, 18:30-20:00 at Cosmos.camp, 3 Angel Kanchev Str, Sofia.
The entrance is free upon registration. You can reserve your seat by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org not later than 18.02.2020.
2020 Mapping Report analyses:
(1) 64 Bulgarian tech solutions along with the Construction industry vertical, including real estate tech, innovative construction materials and building approaches, geospatial, etc.;
(2) How Bulgarian PropTech solutions perform in terms of the 35 technologies applied in the Construction industry vertical;
(3) 11 organizations that comprise the ecosystem players that support externally the PropTech development in Bulgaria;
(4) Focus particularly on all Bulgarian Construction industry tech solutions (ConTech), urbanization and life- & work-style (Smart Cities, Smart Buildings, Smart Home) solutions, and Real estate Tech solutions (CRE and other Real Estate Tech subsectors);
(5) Impact Ventures in PropTech;
(6) overlapping areas between PropTech and other technology sectors, and the respective exemplary tech solutions.
BULGARIA: PropTech Mapping Report 2020 analyses how all these PropTech solutions meet international market criteria for high competitiveness, how resilient they are, as well as the innovativeness of their business models. The Mapping excludes any companies with copycat services, as well as those which do not operate actively.
Highlights from the report are already available on proptechbulgaria.eu/bulgaria-proptech-mapping-report-2020/
The full document will be accessible for free download after the official presentation of the results on 20.02.2020.
BULGARIA: PropTech Mapping Report 2020 is prepared by PropTech Bulgaria and PrEXCELerator Bulgaria in Strategic partnership with:
> EU PropTech House
> Unissu, UK
> FUTURE PropTech, London
> NEXTFLOOR Venture Capital Services, Austria
> Ruttensteiner Consulting, Austria.
Strategic Partners in Bulgaria:
> TEZ – Trakia Economic Zone
> BBBA – British-Bulgarian Business Association
Community Partner: SofiaLab
Eight years after its founding, Automotive Cluster Bulgaria presented its first awards honouring contribution and investment in the automotive sector in Bulgaria within its annual Gala Meeting. The ceremony was held in Sofia Tech Park, the John Atanasoff Innovation Forum, in the presence of Mr. Rosen Plevneliev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria (2012-2017) and Member of the Cluster Board, Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Tomislav Donchev, Minister of Labour and Social Policy Ms. Denitsa Sacheva, Deputy Minister of Economy Mr. Lachezar Borisov, and others.
At the invitation of the Cluster, the Annual Gala was also attended by Mr. Vladimir Danailov, Deputy Mayor of Sofia for Digitalisation, Innovation, and Economic Development. He presented the prize in the “Special Award of the Automotive Cluster Bulgaria”category .
The automotive industry expects continued growth and record results in 2020. The latest industry figures were noted at the ceremony:
– 65,000 are employed in the automotive industry in our country (up from 9,000 in 2012 when the Cluster was created)
– BGN 10 billion industry turnover (BGN 2 billion in 2012)
– The Cluster started with 20 companies, today there are over 250 organisations, including all technical universities in Bulgaria and the technical universities of Vienna and Stuttgart
Here is a list of all winning companies in the different categories:
– Investment of the year – ETEM Gestamp plant
– Industrial Development Investment – BOSCH Engineering Center in Sofia
– High-tech product – Melexis (micro-electronic semiconductor solutions)
– Best HR Practice of the Year – Festo
– R&D Solution of the Year – Visteon (Active Drive Assist)
– Automotive Support Company – EY Bulgaria
– Local Investment – RAIS
– Special award of the Board of Automotive Cluster Bulgaria – Manpower Bulgaria
– Educational institution with the largest contribution to the industry – Technical University Sofia
A video recording of the ceremony is available here.