In December, the Export Hub Bulgaria initiative was launched at the John Atanasoff Innovation Forum launched. The initiative aims to develop the export potential of Bulgarian companies. Twelve organisations signed the Agreement on the Establishment of Export Hub Bulgaria in the presence of the Minister of Economy Mr. Emil Karanikolov, ambassadors and trade attaches, the Executive Agency for Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises (BSMEPA) – initiator, the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria, CleanTech Bulgaria, Sofia Tech Park – host, Bulgarian Entrepreneurship & Startup Community (BESCO), SoftUni, the Association of Business Clusters, the Bulgarian Industrial Association.
The initiative will provide guidance on the steps that Bulgarian companies need to take in order to gain a foothold on international markets successfully. The initiative is hosted by Sofia Tech Park. A platform will be established that will facilitate businesses in their entry into foreign markets and provide them with access to information on the specifics and features of markets around the world such as regulatory frameworks, areas with high potential by country, practical advice.
In the beginning of 2020, Export Hub Bulgaria will organise an export program for 15 Bulgarian companies that have a product already on the market and will assist them to access foreign markets through mentoring, practical training and direct support.
Follow the BSMEPA website for additional information and the launch of the companies’ registration form.
The Fund of Funds selected Vitosha Venture Partners to manage the last of the three Acceleration and Initial Financing Funds (FUNF II) under the Operations Innovation and Competitiveness Program 2014-2020, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.
Vitosha Venture Partners will manage public funds amounting to BGN 35.6 million with an addition of at least 10% private equity. At least 76 companies will be financed with an investment amount of between BGN 30,000 and BGN 2 million. FUNF II’s investment period will continue until the end of 2023.
The new fund will support companies in the earliest stages of development with capital and know-how, in exchange for a minority stake in their capital. Part of the funding is also aimed at more advanced startups.
The Information Day of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) aiming to stimulate the application and participation of Central and Southeast European countries in various competitions and projects will take place in 2020. The first of two planned events will be held on January
Mr. Vladimir Danailov, CEO of Sofia Investment Agency, presented the business environment in the city, the conditions for starting a business, the fastest growing sectors, the human capital and the quality of life in Sofia in front of a German delegation. He also introduced the major German companies already present with their business in Sofia including Lufthansa Technik, Behr Hella, Kaufland, Bosch, DHL, ProSiebenSat.1, Festo, Lidl and others.
The delegation featured both companies planning to expand their business in Bulgaria, as well as those intending to invest in the country for the first time.
The representatives of the German business also met with the Minister of Economy Mr. Emil Karanikolov, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Mr. Boyko Borisov and the President Mr. Rumen Radev.
The delegation was organised by the Eastern Commission of the German Economy with the assistance of the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, which confirmed the news that Commerzbank AG plans to build a large IT centre in Bulgaria next year. Initially, 400 jobs will be created for highly qualified IT professionals, with the intention to increase their number to 600.
During the meetings in Sofia, it became clear that German investors are interested in the areas of transport infrastructure, water and waste management, mechanical engineering, e-health, the food and banking industries.
INNOVATIVE MEDICINES INITIATIVE INFORMATION DAY
17.01.2020, European Commission Representation in Bulgaria
The upcoming IMI2 information day aims to bring together representatives and key figures from the research and business sectors in Bulgaria and SEE in order to boost application and participation of CE and SEE countries in different IMI calls and projects. The first of two planned events will be held on the 17th of January 2020 in Sofia.
Along with the general information about IMI, a representative from the initiative will join the workshop and will present detailed information about the upcoming funding opportunities in 2020, as the focus will be on IMI2 – Call 20.
Access is free upon registration.
SOFIA GAME JAM
31.01 – 02.02.2020, Sofia Tech Park
Sofia Game Jam is a 48-hour hackathon where everyone is free to experiment with game mechanics, explore their imagination and try out new ideas. Everyone is welcome – from those who are really into game development to those who are gamers or just want to try making games.
SGJ Week is a completely non-profit event organized by volunteers with the support of the Bulgarian game dev community. The event is a proud member of the Global Game Jam family – one of the fastest growing initiatives in the world. In 2019, 47 200 participants from 860 sites in 113 countries around the globe created 9 010 games in 48 hours.
Sofia Game Jam Week 2020 is co-organized by ARC Academy and supported by Institut français de Bulgarie, Instytut Polski w Sofii, Sofia Tech Park, Incineration Productions JSC, V-Ray Chaos Group, Ubisoft Sofia, Creative Assembly – Sofia, SEGA, Black Sea Games, 11 bit studios, SUPERHOT, ChibiPhoenix, TELUS International Bulgaria, Global Game Jam.
Register to be a participant at the official SGJ page here.
The international rating agency S&P Global Ratings upgraded Sofia’s long-term credit rating from BBB- to BBB with a ‘positive’ outlook. The agency expects Sofia Municipality to continue to maintain the high level of own revenues as it has before, and the results of the local elections are considered a sign of continuity in governance and a basis for further financial stability and high liquidity.
According to Eurostat, 11.19% (or 3,059 in total) of the companies in Bulgaria are classified as high-growth enterprises. They provide employment to a staff of 276,880 people. The latest data available is for 2017 and includes active enterprises with at least 10 employees.
For the European Union, the total number of these companies is 190,000 with 16.4 million employees and an average EU-wide share of 11.3%.
High-growth enterprises dominate the service sector, with the highest share being held by Information and Communication (17%), Administrative and Support Services (15.3%), Transport and Storage (14%) and Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities (12.7%).
Bulgaria is among the countries with the highest English proficiency, according to the English Proficiency Index 2019 survey of the international education company EF Education First. One hundred countries around the world are ranked in five levels of proficiency – very high, high, medium, low and very low. Bulgaria is rated in the “very high proficiency” category alongside such countries as Hungary, Romania, Switzerland, Estonia, Greece, and Argentina.
The survey is based on online tests completed by 2.3 million volunteers worldwide. Out of the maximum 100 points, Bulgaria has a score of 58.97, which puts us in 24th place among the 100 countries or in the first 25% in terms of results.
The EF Education First index shows that in Europe, the best English is spoken in the Scandinavian countries and in the countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
Western Europe is lagging behind. The leaders in the index are the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway.
Bulgaria is the best country on the Balkan Peninsula for living and working as an expat and is ranked 11th among 64 countries worldwide in the sixth annual Expat Insider ranking.
The ranking takes into account the results of the surveys of a minimum of 75 respondents per country and includes criteria such as quality of life, working conditions, financial situation, family life, ease of settling in.
Our country is highly-placed in indicators such as
Bulgarian startups are developing solutions according to the latest global technological trends and almost half of them (47%) offer world-class innovation, according to data from the fourth annual InnovationShip report of the MOVE.BG Foundation’s open digital network EDIT. Compared to the previous year’s survey, there is an 18% increase of companies that believe they are innovating at a global level.
Another key finding from InnovationShip 2019 is that nearly 60% of startups consider their business as socially significant and contributing. According to the survey, the specialisation of Bulgarian companies in the spheres of automation systems, blockchain technology and the internet of things (IoT) is increasing significantly. This puts Bulgarian companies in line with global trends, the report concludes.
The study involved 233 innovative micro, small, medium and startup companies. They mainly focus on:
Key challenges for innovative digital enterprises include: timely access to funding (36%), qualified experts (33%), lack of institutional support (31%), and easy access to administrative services (25%).
A new US-Bulgarian Chamber will launch in January 2020 promoting and enhancing economic relations between the two countries. The newly formed chamber, founded by Eliz Nestorov & Plamen Krastev, will take the lead in providing comprehensive resources for the US-Bulgarian business community, attracting business investors and making each country more visible, popular and recognized in the other country’s business environment.
“Our goal is to collaborate and be a bridge for US companies with interests and business in Bulgaria, Bulgarian companies present on the American market, and individuals having stake in economic relations between the two countries,” said Eliz Nestorov. She also added that “The number one reason people join chambers of commerce is to get business and to do business and we will provide the necessary tools to make that happen”.
The US-Bulgarian Chamber in America is already registered as a membership organization and has spoken with other bilateral business groups.
The US-Bulgarian Chamber in America will unveil on Friday, January 24th, 2020 at the Embassy of Bulgaria, located at 1621 22nd St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008.
For more information, please contact Eliz Nestorov, President/CEO at US-Bulgarian Chamber in America.
M: (212)600-7679 / (202) 600-7679
Over 30,000 professionals are employed in the sector, 35% of them are women
BASSCOM – the Bulgarian Association of Software Companies announced the results of its annual report on the state of the software sector in Bulgaria – Barometer. The analysis, prepared with the assistance of CBN Pannoff, Stoycheff & Co., is based on data gathered from nearly 4,100 companies and covers 2017, 2018, and a forecast for 2019.
According to the study, in 2018 the workplaces have increased by 2,400 or 9%. Compared to 2013 the increase in workplaces has reached 88%. According to the 2019 forecast, the growth will continue and will reach 10%, with an overall number of employees in the sector reaching 33,000.
Meanwhile, the number of companies with 250+ employees has increased by 90% compared to 2011. The number of experts employed in these companies had increased by 300%.
According to the data, in 2018 the revenue in the software sector had a record growth with close to BGN 600 million or 23%, surpassing the BGN 3 billion mark, making the total share of the GDP 2.9%. This is the highest growth in the history of the software industry. The main contributors to this are the companies operating predominantly in foreign markets. Meanwhile, domestic sales continue to see significantly lower growth, with no signs of this trend changing soon.
“In recent years the sector has been on the rise, and the dynamics of this development if becoming more and more evident. If it took 21 years to reach а total revenue of BGN 1 billion, it took only for years to reach BGN 2 billion. Reaching BGN 3 billion barely took 2 years. At the same time, the software industry is the number one employer in terms of employee compensation and offers an average of 3.5 times higher salaries than the national average. Adjusted for the standard of living, the average wage is far above that in the UK, and exceeds that in Germany”, said Dobroslav Dimitrov, Chairman of the Managing Board, BASSCOM.
The Bulgarian software industry is very attractive to foreign investors. Currently, over 50 offices of global software companies are operating in the country. The revenue from export oriented intellectual products has reached BGN 2.5 billion in 2018, a result only the software industry can claim.
According to CBN, in 2018, one workplace in the software sector in Bulgaria generated over BGN
GLOBAL TECH SUMMIT 2019
10-12.12.2019, National Palace of Culture
Global Tech Summit (GTS) provides software engineers, managers and start-ups with the latest trends in the technological world so they can stay ahead of the curve.
The Summit is composed of co-events and workshops including the international software development conferences Java2Days, CodeMonsters and AI & Smart_Tech along with the business forums Technology4Business and BusinessBooster.
GTS 2019 will host the Bulgarian regional competition for Startup World Cup. Startup World Cup is a global conference and competition with the goal of bridging startup ecosystems worldwide. It is organized by Pegasus Tech Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based multinational VC firm. As part of the program, Startup World Cup Bulgaria Regional judges will attend GTS and select a winner from the GTS Top 15, who represents Bulgaria at the Startup World Cup Grand Finale in San Francisco in May.
Startups interested in global exposure, mentorship from global investors, and significant prize money are encouraged to apply for the Bulgarian Startup World Cup regional competitions.
The final pitches will take place in Sofia on December 10 in the National Palace of Culture as a part of Global Tech Summit.
The application form will be open until the end of December 6, 2019. All startups can apply directly on the website Startup World Cup Sofia or by email at email@example.com.
CO-CHRISTMAS PARTY BY PUZL COWORKING & PARTNERS
18.12.2019, Club ЕХЕ
A Christmas party not to be missed!
The 4th edition of the CoChristmas party by Puzl CowOrKing & Partners invites friends and the good bunch of Sofia IT ecosystem on Wednesday, 18th of December to a next-gen office Christmas jamboree.
You can expect some 600+ like minded people. The CoChristmass event is coorganised by Association of the Bulgarian Leaders and Entrepreneurs – ABLE, BESCO – The Bulgarian Startup Association, BVCA – Bulgarian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, Bulgarian Fintech Association and Hobo.
The entrance is free, but pre-registration is mandatory. Follow the link to register.
The Enterprise Europe Network at BCCI invite you to participate in a B2B brokerage event within the largest mobile industry exhibition.
The MWC Brokerage Event 2020 is the best way to offer or find products, services or technologies and meet potential business partners from around the world. The meetings will take place on February 25, 26 and 27.
Why attend the bilateral business meetings within MWC 2020?
– an opportunity to find international partners and new clients;
– get familiar with the latest trends in the ICT sector;
– personalised appointments schedule;
– new international business contacts with investors, corporations, clusters, startups and research centres.
In addition, for the second year in a row, the organisers offer an opportunity for a FREE 4-day pass available at a first-come first-served basis. Registration is open until 10.12.2019 at https://mwc2020.b2match.io/
The regular price of the pass is €799, but the organisers will provide 25 passes for ICT companies, with a maximum of five participants per country (maximum of one representative per company).
How to get involved:
There is also a special program for corporations investing in new technologies.
Companies that participate in the brokerage event will receive special support through the program CORPORATES BUYING OR INVESTING IN TECHNOLOGY to select startups/ SMEs to meet, as well as a free 4-day pass.
In 2019, 27 corporations were involved, including: IBM, L’Oréal, Zurich Insurance, Xiaomi, Nissan and others. You can view their profiles here. You can also look at the profiles of the startup companies to find out which businesses you may encounter during the event.
For startups, the organisers offer participation in the 4YFN Startup event
The event helps connect startup companies, investors and entrepreneurs. The 4YFN Startup event pass is priced at €239 (excluding VAT), and the ticket is valid for free entry on the last day of Mobile World Congress and participation in the b2b meetings on February 27th.
For questions, registration assistance, or need for additional information, please contact:
Enterprise Europe Network
Bulgarian Chamber of
The fifth afforestation season of the New Forest of Sofia campaign has ended. In this afforestation campaign, the forest grew by another 50 acres with the help of nearly 1 000 volunteers.
The New Forest of Sofia is part of the Think Clean initiative.
In just four afforestation seasons, nearly 60 000 trees were planted in the New Forest of Sofia with the participation of 6 500 volunteers and 50 companies. The trees, as well as the trees and supplies, were provided by Sofia Municipality. A special bus provided access to the location.
The Green Filter of Sofia is located in Suhodol neighbourhood, close to the reclaimed landfill. The goal is to plant 225 acres of broad-leaved forest with 125 000 trees within the next several years.
Seven well-known architectural studios from Italy, France, Russia and Bulgaria entered the second stage of the international competition of Sofia Municipality for the reconstruction of St. Nedelya Square along with an exhibit of the archaeological site discovered.
The jury for the final selection of the contractor includes the chief architects of Moscow and Warsaw, architects from Rotterdam, Athens, Tirana, as well as representatives of the Chamber of Architects in Bulgaria, the Union of Architects, the Regional Museum of History – Sofia, the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy Construction, and others.
Sofia Municipality will commission the author of the winning project with the development of projects for the renovation of St. Nedelya Square.
KvARTal, the area between Dondukov, Maria Louisa, Levski and Slivnitsa boulevards, will host a series of Christmas exhibitions, bazaars, workshops, concerts and food tastings in the period between December 13 and 15. Check out the event page for more information.
Polish GTC Group celebrated the opening of the first building of its new investment in Sofia – the business complex Advance Business Center. The center is located at the entrance of Business Park Sofia in the Mladost neighbourhood.
The investment totals €60 million. The newly opened office building has an area of 33 500 sq m with nine floors of office space, a ground floor and three underground levels with 284 parking spaces. The building has a capacity of 5 000 working places and already houses two companies in the IT sector – global provider of outsourcing services Соnсеntrіх, and Modis – global leader in advanced IT, engineering, and healthcare solutions.
The second building
Innovation Accelerator Bulgaria is collecting ideas to support with an investment. Startups in the early stages of development will be supported with between € 25 000 and € 50 000 and the more advanced – with € 50 000 to € 1 million.
This it the second fund, part of the Fund of Funds’ program aiming to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Bulgaria. He Fund is looking for ideas in the healthcare, light industry, transportation and logistics sectors, digital projects, as well as developments in the media and corporate sectors.
All requirements and a link to the application form can be found on the fund’s website here.
The Executive Agency for Promotion of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises is organising the participation of Bulgarian companies in the International Exhibition for Innovation and Technology in Education BETT 2020, which will take place on January 22-25, 2020 in London.
The agency covers the bulk of costs for rent of exhibition space, equipment and furniture, registration, fees, services, supplies and more.
For more information, documents and contacts for assistance, see the information here.
In 2019, over 800 exhibitors and 300 presenters participated in the exhibition, and more than 34,000 specialists from 146 countries with experience and interest in technology in education visited the event. Many representatives of ministries and government organisations around the world also join in BETT.
The European Commission’s Digital Innovation Challenge initiative invites small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups to submit ideas on a concept level for services or solutions that could be integrated into their company’s business. The approved proposals will be further developed with experts of the program and will be presented at a special ceremony with the opportunity to win a € 50,000 award.
There is a condition for the concepts to be based on the EC Portfolio for open and reusable solutions.
The application period is open until February 28, 2020.
You can find all about the Digital Innovation Challenge and how to apply on the initiative’s website here.
BrightCap Ventures partners with Rolls-Royce’s R2 Data Labs in identifying Bulgarian teams for a 6-month mentoring programme that will help them finalize their MVPs and potentially pilot with Rolls-Royce. The selected companies will receive funding up to €200K as part of BrightCap Ventures’ accelerator programme.
Until December 18, you may apply in the open call for partners from
The collaboration aims to provide new opportunities for startup companies
LAUNCHub Ventures has joined Campus X’s ecosystem of tech startups, established companies and investors. For the first time ever, the two leading Bulgarian VC funds – LAUNCHub Ventures and Eleven – will be based under one roof – at Campus X. The collaboration between the three organizations aims to further support and grow the local startup ecosystem.
“We’re excited to welcome LAUNCHub Ventures at Campus X. By joining forces with them and Eleven, who are among our first members, we’ll augment the positive impact of our efforts. Thus, shifting the venture of launching companies – that turn into global leaders in their industries – from being a lucky coincidence to a tested, sustainable, and replicable process,” comments Boyko Iaramov, co-founder and CEO of Campus X.
Benefits to the startup ecosystem
The main goal of this collaboration is to create additional opportunities and benefits for the local tech startups, including:
– A longer financing path – by focusing on different company growth stages, Eleven and LAUNCHub Ventures may foster startups’ long-term development.
– Access to leading experts – even when working with just one of the organizations (LAUNCHub Ventures, Eleven, or Campus X), startups will have access to their combined network of seasoned entrepreneurs and experts, including the VCs’ partners and Campus X’s founders.
– Shared know-how – specially curated events, which are open to the entire ecosystem will help accelerate the companies’ growth.
– Bridge to international funds – all companies based at Campus X will have access to a wide network of international investment funds and business angels.
Strategy for long-term development
The three organizations not only share a common vision for the future of the local tech ecosystem but also have complementing business strategies.
Eleven invests in early-stage startups with validated products and real customers. Their initial investments vary between 100,000 and 300,000 еuro (pre-seed). The VC fund has so far invested in more than 115 startups from Southeast Europe, including the Campus X members Payhawk, Gtmhub, Dronamix, CourseDot, Havelock and Rebellious Software.
“The close proximity between Campus X, Eleven and LAUNCHub Ventures will leverage a platform for greater collaboration and know-how sharing, taking our efforts to grow the local startup ecosystem to the next level,” commented Vasil Terziev, co-founder of Campus X and a partner at Eleven.
LAUNCHub Ventures funds