At an official ceremony in Sofia, the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce presented its annual German Economy Awards which highlights companies with a significant contribution to the development of Bulgarian-German economic relations for the previous year.
According to the data presented during the event, trade between Sofia and Berlin reached a record of 11 billion euros in 2022. Despite the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, Germany remains the main trade partner of our country with exported goods and services for 6,195 billion euros and imports for 4,932 billion euros. The Chamber believes that both countries should encourage projects and investments in areas such as energy, decarbonization, and sustainability.
AHK Bulgarien hands out statuettes in four categories – “Large Enterprise”, “Small and Medium Enterprise”, “Social Responsibility” and “Startup Company”. Among the evaluation criteria are: investments in Bulgaria, the number of created new jobs, increase in trade with Germany (import or export), initiatives towards increasing the qualifications of employees, environment and climate action projects, social impact, innovations, energy-saving and environmentally friendly technologies, etc.
We are glad that again Sofia-based companies have been awarded. Bosch Bulgaria received recognition for their activities in the “Large enterprise” category, Dronamics for “Small and medium-sized enterprise”, again Bosch Bulgaria in the “Social responsibility” category, and Varna’s Kinetik Automotive was awarded for a start-up company.
At the invitation of the Chamber, our CEO Dr. Maria Hristova joined the ceremony. Among the official guests were also the Minister of Innovation and Growth Stefan Savov, the ambassadors in both countries – H.E. Irene Plank and HE Elena Shekerletova, as well as representatives of AHK member companies.
On January 26, the hybrid event “Corporate Venturing in SEE for Sustainable Startups” was held in Sofia. The forum was initiated by Sofiyska voda, operated by Veolia, and The Recursive. At the invitation of the organizers, Maria Hristova the CEO of Invest Sofia and Kristin Dermendzhiev, Senior Expert at the Investment Analysis department of Invest Sofia, and our CEO Dr. Maria Hristova attended the event together with corporate innovation leaders, startup investors, and founders of startup companies that develop solutions for clever resource and waste management, clean environment, and climate change.
The event aimed to show what is the value of incubating cleantech, greentech, and sustainability-related technologies in a corporate context. Sofiyska voda, part of Veolia, presented best practices of regional cooperation between corporate innovators and venture capital investment funds. The panel discussions also highlighted opportunities for growth by connecting sustainable startups with relevant stakeholders and investment funds in South East Europe and beyond.
In addition to the discussion panels “How corporates work with startups” and “Financing opportunities for startups”, part of the event was a pitching session for startup clean and sustainable resource management solutions and successful collaboration with corporate innovation leaders. Two of the projects presented during the session are smart solutions developed by Sofia-based companies – Gridmetrics and SatGeo.
Gridmetrics offers a solution that optimizes industrial processes through digital twins and machine learning models to optimize and reduce energy consumption. The startup partners with Sofiyska voda for the optimization of the operation of pump stations according to the supply demand in periods of high and low consumption. As a result of the dynamic and automated control of the pumps’ activity, the project reports a nearly 30% average reduction in electricity consumption and 36% electricity savings in low-demand hours, when the pumps operate in a slower mode without disrupting the water supply needs.
SatGeo develops a technology based on satellite imagery that helps in the early detection and prevention of accidents on the water supply network.. In 2021, the project raised funding from a joint acceleration programme led by the innovation agency Innovation Starter and the French Veolia, owner of Sofiyska voda. The solution has been integrated into the company’s activities that ensure the water supply in Sofia. Over 50 accidents have been prevented, and hard-to-locate leaks have been detected, some of which are causing a water loss of 20 liters per second. On an annual basis, SatGeo’s
For a fourth consecutive year, the Bulgarian Fintech Association (BFA) published its Annual Fintech Report which highlights the achievements of the digital finance industry in Bulgaria and Southeastern Europe. Once again, the Report was created in partnership with Innovative Sofia, the digitalization and innovation unit of the Sofia Municipality, and more than 15 private and public key stakeholders.
The FinTech Mapping is a visual representation of the FinTech industry in Bulgaria. BFA’s data encompasses more than 95% of the industry in the country and all interested in the development of the sector parties, including the Entrepreneurial ecosystem, Regulators, FinTech supporting companies, and institutional players, among which Invest Sofia is also listed as a supporting the Bulgarian fintech sector organization.
Four of the Top 5 best performers by total revenue in this year’s Report are companies with main operating offices in Sofia. These are Datecs, Paysafe, Easy Payment Services, and Experian. myPOS, also part of the Top 5, has a main operating office in Bulgaria based in Varna and another one – in Sofia. In 2021, their revenue accounts for around 48% of the total annual revenue of the Bulgarian Fintech sector.
More highlights from the Report
Invest Sofia is on a visit to Poland as part of a business delegation organized by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry between 21-25 November 2022 in the capital Warsaw and in the Polish city of Bialystok.
The bilateral meetings and networking events are co-organised by the Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) of the city of Bialystok. The agenda includes meetings with local partners, including institutions and companies according to the areas of interest of the participants in the trade mission.
Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia, is part of the Bulgarian delegates. Experts from the BCCI, representatives of the Arbitration Court at BCCI, presidents of business associations, non-governmental organizations and Bulgarian companies interested in business opportunities with partners from Poland are also part of the mission to Poland.
According to the preliminary programme, during the four days in Poland, we’ll visit the University Cultural Center in Białystok, attend a seminar on the topic “Economic arbitration – a method of resolving disputes between entrepreneurs”, meetings with Polish companies organised by CCI in Bialystok, a discussion on the topic “Organization of the international Academy of Vocational Training to improve the professional competences of adults working in Polish and Bulgarian enterprises”, as well as meetings at the Polish Chamber of Commerce in Warsaw and the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Poland.
At an official reception at the Millennium Grand Hotel in Sofia, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Bulgaria, together with honorary guests from both Korea and Bulgaria, celebrated the National Foundation Day of the Republic of Korea. The meeting was attended by state institutions, business, academia and culture representatives, diplomats, Korean citizens living in Bulgaria and employees of Korean companies in our country. At the invitation of the Embassy of Korea in Bulgaria, the Executive Director of Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova attended the reception.
This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Bulgaria. In his welcoming speech, the ambassador of Korea to our country H.E. Jeong Jinkyu noted the successful development of bilateral relations between the two countries since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1990 and drew attention to the Korean government’s efforts to expand the cooperation in different areas, including politics, economy, society, culture.
According to data from the Ministry of Economy and Industry, among the leading goods in Bulgaria’s exports to Korea in 2021 are wheat and a mixture of wheat and rye; corn; copper strips and copper sheets; integrated circuits and electronic micro-assemblies; engines, etc.
The leading import goods for the same period are polyacetals, other polyethers and epoxy resins in primary forms; parts and accessories designed solely or generally for the machines and apparatus of NNs 8469 to 8472; synthetic staple fibers; acrylic polymers; pneumatic rubber tires, etc.
There are opportunities to expand Bulgaria’s export potential with products such as cereals, oil, wine, cosmetic/pharmaceutical products, and others. Bulgarian wines are unknown in the Republic of Korea and advertising is needed to impose the Bulgarian wines on the market in Korea.
According to BNB data, the total amount of Korean investments in Bulgaria at the end of 2021 was EUR 71.8 million.
Europe’s largest B2B trade fair for property and investment projects EXPO REAL 2022 started in Munich on October 4. The Invest Sofia team is part of the Bulgarian stand, organized by the Munich Fair. Together with us are the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the companies Business Park Sofia, East Ring LP, I&B REAL ESTATE, Raiffeisen Property Management Bulgaria, Real Estates BG, as well as the Municipality of Plovdiv.
Part of the event are our experts Viktor Goussev, head of the “Investment Analysis” department, as well as Kristin Dermendzhiev, chief expert in the department. Come and find us in Hall A1, Booth #247!
As part of the conference program on October 5, from 2:30 p.m. on the Exhibitor Stage, Hall C2.430, the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce is organizing the discussion panel “Bulgaria – Next eurozone country”. All companies and organizations from Bulgaria’s exhibition stand will take part in the presentations about Sofia and Bulgaria as investment destinations in the construction and real estate industry.
EXPO REAL is Europe’s largest exhibition in the industry and this year takes place between October 3-6. This is the 24th edition of the international trade fair which stands for business-oriented networking for cross-industry and transnational projects, investments and financing. Exhibitors and visitors include project developers and project managers, investors and financiers, consultants and agents, architects and planners, corporate real estate managers, expansion managers and also economic regions and cities reflecting the entire value chain of the real estate industry. With its indicative conference programme consisting of symposia, conferences and roundtables the fair acts as a communication and information platform for the latest trends, innovations and future prospects of the markets for real estate, investment and finance.
In 2018, Bulgaria and Sofia were present with their own stand at Expo Real for the first time in the history of the fair. Thus, Sofia became the first city to represent Bulgaria at an event at Messe München and the adjacent International Congress Center, where dozens of international forums, including EXPO REAL, are being held throughout the year. We are glad that this year our country is represented by one more Bulgarian city and colleagues from the Municipality of Plovdiv are with us at the forum.
Visit the Bulgarian booth at the largest European trade fair for property and investments EXPO REAL 2022 in Munich: Hall A1, Stand #247.
The first edition of the International Conference Spinoff Bulgaria was held in Burgas on September 1-2, 2022. Invest Sofia was a partner of the event and we took part in a panel session dedicated to the role of the Agency in the spinoff diaspora. At the invitation of the organizers, Victor Gusev, head of the Investment Analysis Department, presented within the session ‘The Governmental Perspective – Governmental Support for Spinoff Creation our activities and the instruments that could further boost the development of the ecosystem.
The event was the first of its kind in our country and aims to create a sustainable spin-off ecosystem and culture, which by 2030 will create 100 new technological startups originating from science universities or existing corporations – an environment where institutions and regulators also play a key role.
On stage, Viktor Gusev shared more about the activities of Invest Sofia such as how the city supports the pre-testing of innovative solutions in a real urban environment, how the city administration attracts new investors and companies, as well as more about the latest edition of Accelerator Startup Sofia – the program by Sofia Municipality that aims to promote accelerated access to finance for innovative, start-up and social entrepreneurs in Sofia.
Viktor Gusev presented our joint initiative with other Bulgarian cities for cooperation when a particular investor inquiry is more suitable for another region of Bulgaria, but the request has been submitted to the Bulgarian Investment Agency and Invest Sofia as the most recognizable units among investors from abroad. He also discussed the use case of a young Sofia-based company for utility cost measurement and optimization. The Sofia Municipality assisted the startup by providing access to municipal hospitals and kindergartens to help with the pre-testing of the product and its further development.
As said during the event, science-based tech solutions are attracting more and more attention, but additional support can bundle all available resources in academia, business, investors, and local and state institutions. The Spinoff Bulgaria initiative aims to gain visibility, both on a national and international level, and position Bulgaria on the European spinoff ecosystem map.
We would like to thank the organizers: Biotechnology and Health Cluster Bulgaria and Cluster Artificial Intelligence, supported by BRAIT (Bulgarian Employer Association for Innovative Technologies), and BSMEPA – Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises, for the invitation.
A video recording from the session The Governmental Perspective – Governmental Support for
The Sofia Municipal Privatization and Investment Agency (Invest Sofia) just signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the HR management company CTeam. The document was signed by Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia, and Georgi Parvanov, Managing Director at CTeam.
With this Memorandum, we continue our efforts to attract partners from different fields to our partner network under the Sofia IS initiative – the first city programme in the country for partnership between the local administration and established companies to provide integrated free services to entrepreneurs in the city. In case of investor inquiries, our organizations will cooperate in providing tailored and case-specific solutions in the field of human resources for local and international companies.
CTeam is a Bulgarian company with over 15 years of expertise in the development of human capital in the country. The company provides recruitment, training and talent development, compensation and incentive surveys, and payroll services. CTeam’s vision is in the next five years to become one of the largest independent HR companies in Central and Eastern Europe with a direct presence in 10 countries, offering tailor-made HR solutions to local and multinational clients.
This year’s edition of ViennaUp, the biggest startup and investment festival of its kind in Central Europe, took place between 27 May and 3 June in Vienna. The event is a one-week decentralized community-driven festival consisting of dozens of individual events put together by Vienna-based organisations and institutions, and their local and international partners.
The team of Invest Sofia became part of the festival by participating in the event “Salon Future Dealroom talks”. We joined the event following an invitation from the organisers Vienna Business Agency and the Dutch global provider of data and intelligence on startups and tech ecosystems Dealroom.
Viktor Gusev, Head of Investment Analysis Department at Invest Sofia, attended the event, which took place at the MuseumsQuartier Wien – an area in the heart of the Austrian capital with 60 cultural institutions and one of the largest districts for contemporary art and culture in the world. The meeting focused on a keynote with the latest European ecosystem report by Dealroom and a panel discussion with representatives of some of the most thriving startup ecosystems sharing their successes, and failures and discussing the possible local solutions for the current global challenges.
At the end of the event, a networking meeting took place, during which we managed to establish contacts with international experts and set the stage for future collaboration to support the development of our local ecosystems.
ViennaUp’22 brought together more than 60 events in its one-week programme with participants from over 40 countries. The festival attracted international and Austrian startups, organisations, and investors. Part of the event were the Startup World Cup Austria competition, the INiTS START: IP Matching Day event, aimed at early stage technologies and attracting the attention of investors and innovation managers to them, thematic events dedicated to FinTech, HealthTech, smart city solutions, and the two-day Lead. Shape Tomorrow event, dedicated to women entrepreneurs.
Invest Sofia took part in an expert discussion during a workshop that is part of the international project “RRI-LEADERS: Leveraging Leadership for Responsible Research and Innovation in Territories”, funded under the Horizon 2020 Programme. The discussion was hosted under the so-called world café methodology and was organized by the Sofia Development Association and the Applied Research and Communications Fund (ARC Fund) – Bulgaria – the local coordinators of the project. At the invitation of the organizers, Viktor Gusev, Head of the Investment Analysis Department at Invest Sofia, joined the discussions.
RRI-LEADERS represents a partnership of 9 organisations, of which five are methodological partners and four are territorial partners, collectively coming from 5 countries – Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Spain (Catalonia) and Switzerland. It examines the applicability of the principles of Responsible research and innovation in the territorial governance of four European territories – Western Macedonia in Greece, the Sofia Municipality in Bulgaria, the Municipality of Talville in Switzerland and the Municipality of Sabadell in Spain.
During the meeting, the results of a 3-month Delphi survey among over 40 experts – representatives of local authorities, academia, business, NGOs, in four areas were presented: Support for Innovation, Digital Transition, Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship, and Sustainable Urban Development. Over 190 individual responses were collected in the study and were summarized according to several criteria.
The purpose of the world café expert discussion was to gather different opinions on the assessed statements and practices related to the development of long-term policies in the Sofia Municipality and the integration of the principles of responsible research and innovation (RRI) paradigm within territorial innovation systems. In the conversation, the participants gave their ideas on which priorities and measures should be included in the transformative vision of the four policies for the long-term development of the Sofia Municipality in the next ten years. Stay tuned for more news about the project.
Startup companies are the primary driving force for a sustainable business environment in Sofia and the country. Partnership opportunities, the city as a testbed, as well as access to funding for innovative products were presented during the event “Investors, Startups, City Administration: Effective Collaboration” event.
The meeting organised by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and Invest Sofia was attended by Tsvetan Simeonov, Chairman of the BCCI, Dr. Maria Hristova, CEO at Invest Sofia, Vladimir Tomov, President of the BCCI Investment Council, Nikolay Tsenkov, Manager of the Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs (MGFSME) and Dimitar Stoilov, Chief Expert at the Bulgarian Development Bank.
“Startups’ development is a priority topic. We had a meeting with businesses delegates from Italy who first asked about the innovative companies and startups in Sofia. Our Italian partners demonstrated great interest in cooperation opportunities with these companies,” Tsvetan Simeonov, Chairman of the BCCI said during the event. He emphasized the strong cooperation with the Sofia Municipality and Invest Sofia in this direction.
“Our mission is to stay close to the business in the city and to support it. We are a one-stop-shop service for foreign companies and entrepreneurs. Startups need financing and among our activities is to provide information about funding opportunities. We also know how important it is for a startup company to have a test field for its products, and a reliable partner in its portfolio. That is why we initiated campaigns that aim to meet the startups with different structures of the Sofia Municipality, which can allow them the opportunity to test and implement their projects,” Dr. Histova said. During the event, Nikolay Tsenkov, Manager at MGFSME presented the opportunities for the financial support provided by the Fund. Financial instruments were presented by Vladimir Tomov from the BCCI Investment Council and Dimitar Stoilov from the Bulgarian Development Bank.
Four startup companies presented their products that can be tested by the Sofia Municipality administration. National Archives is a company that provides outsourcing solutions for archiving, storing and digitizing documents. To date, the team of 35 people has gained experience with 250 clients. Cloud Office has more than a decade of combined experience with various Google Cloud products and is committed to providing the right solutions through Google technologies. SAT HELT is a company that provides patient assistance solutions, medical and social care, consulting services, and tech solutions in the pharmaceutical industry. Serenity
The Bulgarian Investment Agency (BIA) presented its traditional Investor of the Year awards. Three Sofia-based companies received the Golden Bull statuettes. The aerospace company “EnduroSat” received the award for Innovative Business Investment. Angry Building condominium management platform won the Startup of the Year prize, and Payhawk, the first Bulgarian unicorn, was awarded a special prize for innovation and growth.
Investor of the Year for 2021 became the pharmaceutical Balkanpharma Dupnitsa. In the category Green Investment of the Year, the award went to the German electric car manufacturer Next.e Go Bulgaria. Solvay Sodi, one of Europe’s biggest soda ash producers, was awarded for Business Expansion Investment, and the companies Interlink Group and Profilink were awarded for Human Capital Investment.
The sixteenth edition of the Investor of the Year Awards evaluated over 40 submissions for the competition from all sectors of the economy. As every year, the leading criteria in determining the winners were the amount of the investment made, the number of jobs created, as well as the area where a new production facility was opened, or an existing enterprise was expanded. The official award ceremony was attended by the Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer, the Executive Director of the Bulgarian Investment Agency Stamen Yanev, the Deputy Minister of Innovation and Growth Karina Angelieva, the Minister of Social Affairs Georgi Gokov, among others.
At the invitation of IBA, our team joined the award ceremony, which took place on March 31 at Hyatt Regency Sofia. Invest Sofia congratulates all winning companies from Sofia and the country for their noteworthy investment projects in 2021.