Flanders Investment & Trade – the trade office of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Bulgaria, is organizing a trade mission to Bulgaria for multi-sectoral bilateral business meetings with Belgian companies from the Flanders region of the Kingdom of Belgium. The event will be hosted by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and will take place between May 31 and June 1, 2023, at the “Da Vinci 1&2” hall, “Grand Hotel Millennium” in Sofia.
On behalf of the organizers, we kindly invite companies based in Sofia to participate in the meetings as an opportunity for new partnerships and international business expansion.
On both days of the event, individual meetings between Flemish and Bulgarian companies are planned, with plenty of opportunities for networking and creating contacts. The profiles of registered companies that will be present from the Belgian side are published on the Flanders Investment & Trade website here.
Companies from Sofia and Bulgaria that wish to participate in the meetings should register no later than May 10, 2023, via the registration form here.
The Speed Match International Networking Event 2023 to be held on 24-25 May 2023. The event will focus on the aviation, rail and automotive sectors and all services and suppliers in the field. Large, small and medium-sized enterprises, chambers, clusters, investors, public institutions and associations will join the B2B event – a great platform to establish business and technological partnerships with pre-scheduled 1-1 meetings. Companies from nearly 30 countries have already registered. The event is free to participate. You can publish information about your products and services and schedule one-on-one meetings with partners on the event site here: https://speedmatch2023.b2match.io/
The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a co-organizer of the Forward Green (FG Expo) circular economy event. The forum will take place between June 8-10 in Thessaloniki and is aimed at companies, agencies, organizations active in adopting modern practices in the use of raw materials, construction materials, technology, energy, recycling and packaging and innovative solutions with a positive impact on the environment and increasing resilience. To register for participation, see the BCCI’s announcement here.
The European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP) has announced an open call to RE-CENTRE for financial support to small cross-sectoral partnerships that create or adopt new collaboration models incorporating digital and/or environmental innovations and/or technologies.
The project will support SMEs from the following three sectors: Traditional furniture and living sector, IT, and Green/Circular Economy. The vouchers for the projects that will be selected for support are worth 52,000 euros. Detailed information about the call is available on the ECCP website here. The deadline for submission of proposals is 27 June 2023.
Applications are now open for the 6-month EIT Food-funded TeamUp program at the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The program aims to connect leading technologists with entrepreneurs, providing them with tools and support for joint projects in the food industry. The call is looking for experts in the food industry, as well as people with entrepreneurial skills to build a successful startup in the sector. TeamUp includes team-matching process between industry professionals and entrepreneurs, training sessions and expert support, €2000 per team to develop their idea and business model. The best projects will have the chance to raise an investment from EIT Food of up to €40,000. Check out how to apply on the initiative’s website here.
At the invitation of Policy Dialogue with Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Maria Gabriel, Invest Sofia participated in the policy dialogue “Education and Innovation – Interactions and Challenges”. The meeting took place at the European Commission Representation in Bulgaria in Sofia, under the hostage of Commissioner Gabriel, and the active participation of school directors, university rectors, business representatives, associations, and students from all over the country.
The dialogue was organized on the occasion of Europe Day, May 9th. The focus was on innovation, education, entrepreneurship and regional innovation ecosystems. Challenges and opportunities were discussed, as well as key European initiatives and programmes in these areas.
Our CEO, Maria Hristova Ph.D., joined the discussions. Speakers, along with Commissioner Maria Gabriel, were the Rector of the Technical University of Sofia – Prof. Ivan Kralov, the Mayor of Gabrovo – Tanya Hristova, and the Executive Director of JA Bulgaria – Milena Stoycheva. Students and pupils also participated in the discussions.
Invest Sofia was an institutional partner of the ‘Present to Succeed Conference 2023’. Again, the event focused on presentation skills, public speaking, creating attractive presentations, and delivering complex information in a clear and engaging way. It is one of the largest conferences in the field that gathers over 3000 participants from more than 50 countries. This year it was held in a hybrid format – both in-person at the Sofia Event Center in Sofia and online, with the mixed format of hosting events being the main topic of the conference.
Joanna Dragneva, Senior Expert in the Investment Analysis Department of Invest Sofia, took part in the Present to Succeed Conference 2023. The organizers of the event are our partners from the presentation agency 356labs, who are part of our Sofia IS initiative that offers full range of integrated free services to investors in the city.
Hybrid is already the new way of working for many organizations and industries. Companies are now facing the challenge of how to prepare and deliver effective presentations in this new mixed reality. Presenting to an online audience and in person requires a different approach, and the requirements are even more challenging in a hybrid format. Present to Succeed Conference 2023 provided many useful resources and best practices on this topic, with over 20 keynote speakers and experts from different backgrounds and representatives from various industries sharing their knowledge and experience.
The Sofia Municipal Privatization & Investment Agency was awarded the “Successful Project Management, Application of Best Practices and Investments” award by K&P Advertising. The award was presented to the CEO of the Agency, Ph.D. Maria Hristova, at an official event dedicated to the release of the “Sofia and Sofia Region – Business, Culture, Tourism” handbook.
The media company K&P Advertising is the publisher of the magazine “Destination Bulgaria”, the handbook “Sofia – Business, Culture, Nature, Tourism” and other publications. Invest Sofia is part of the latest bilingual edition of the book, featuring its mission, activities, and the services we provide to investors, including business analyses, industry-specific opportunities, local legal requirements, and assistance in legislative procedures, among others.
The addition will be distributed both as a print and web version at www.destinationbulgaria.bg and provides information about the history, culture, tourism, and attractions of Sofia and the Sofia Region, making it a detailed tourist guide. The handbook is distributed for free to companies and diplomatic representations, in municipal centers, as well as at international exhibitions and congresses.
During the official presentation of the publication, mayors of municipalities and districts, managers, and partners were also awarded in categories for their successful policies and application of good practices in the areas of business, culture, and tourism.
The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Investment Council at BCCI hosted a business event on “Financing and Support for Business Development”. The forum was held in a hybrid format to provide an opportunity to engage companies from all over Bulgaria.
The forum showcased programmes, financial instruments and services that provide funding and support for business development. The presentations were also attended by the CEO of Invest Sofia, Ph.D. Maria Hristova. She presented the instruments applied by the Agency and the Sofia Municipality in support of companies and investors in the city, including the Green Card for administrative services, the integrated consulting services under the Sofia IS initiative, which brings together the expertise of dozens of Sofia-based companies to provide free services to investors in the city throughout the entire cycle – from market analyses to hiring a team, as well as the city’s pilot projects with local technology companies to resolve urban challenges.
The event presented the programme of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for businesses, products from the portfolio of the Bulgarian Development Bank, the Fund of Funds’ financial instruments for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as the services of the Investment Council of the BCCI. The advantages of engaging professional management consultants were presented by the Bulgarian Association of Management Consulting Organizations.
“Financing and Support for Business Development” gathered business representatives – companies, bilateral chambers of commerce, regional chambers, industry organizations and other interested stakeholders, who after the presentations joined the discussion sessions of the event to seek individual guidance on the most appropriate business opportunities for them, provided by the participating institutions.
The University of National and World Economy (UNWE) hosted a student scientific conference on Contemporary Concepts for the Development of Smart Cities. The event was held on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Regional Development Department at UNWE, led by Assoc. Prof. Georgi Nikolov PhD. At the invitation of the University our CEO Maria Hristova Ph.D. took part in the discussions.
Yes, a smart city is one that “uses digital technologies to improve the quality of life of its citizens, enhance sustainability and increase the city’s economic competitiveness”. But as someone who works every day with businesses and people here and for the development of the city, I know how crucial active citizen participation is. We need ongoing discussion, awareness and public support for all the issues important to the city. Particularly important is the role of young people and their involvement in city issues. To be considered sustainable, a city must meet the needs of its current inhabitants without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Only in this way can we create cities that are not only smart and efficient, but also liveable, inclusive and sustainable., Maria Hristova said during the conference.
The scientific conference Contemporary Concepts for the Development of Smart Cities was held under the patronage of the Rector of the UNWE Dr Dimitar Dimitrov MD PhD and brought together students from different majors, university teachers, business experts and organizations whose activities contribute to the development of Sofia as a green and smart European entrepreneurial center.
Invest Sofia took part in a series of meetings as part of the launch of ‘Bulgarian, Belgian, Luxemburg Economic Forum’ – a non-governmental organization that aims at supporting the economic, trade and investment relations between the three countries. The Agency joined the project at the invitation of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), which is the initiator and partner of the project along with organizations from the two Central European countries.
The expert meeting was attended by the Chief Executive Officer of Invest Sofia, Ph.D. Maria Hristova, as well as Victor Gusev, Head of Investment Analysis Department at the Agency. We had a fruitful discussion with Willy Van Impe, Honorary Consul General of Bulgaria in the Kingdom of Belgium (Flanders region), Luc Sougne, Honorary Consul of our country in the Kingdom of Belgium (Wallonia region), Philippe Beke, former Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to Bulgaria, Dimitrios Zois, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Bulgaria in Luxembourg, and Gabriela Dimitrova from the International Cooperation and International Organizations Directorate at BCCI. We discussed the opportunities for economic cooperation, the priority industries in our countries, and how we can link businesses and support further B2B activities.
In addition to our joint meeting, members of the initiative group will have discussions with experts from the Ministry of Economy and Industry and the BCCI, after which they will visit the city of Vratsa for meetings with the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry and businesses from the city and the region.
Between March 27 and April 1, Sofia hosted the pilot edition of the Accelerator Program for Startups in the Field of Agriculture between China and the CEE Countries. Invest Sofia was an institutional partner of the event and at the invitation of the organizers from the Center for the Promotion of Cooperation in the Field of Agriculture between China and the CEE Countries the Chief Executive Director, Ph.D. Maria Hristova joined as a member of the jury that voted for the winners of the accelerator.
42 companies from 11 countries applied for the program, and 20 startups hit the final competition on April 1 to present their innovative solutions in agriculture in Sofia Tech Park to the jury members, investors, representatives of academia and business, experts, media, and diplomats from CEE and China. The projects covered areas such as beekeeping, food waste reduction, farmer-to-end-user chain solutions, soil enrichment for vineyards, biodegradable packaging, air quality control and energy efficiency of buildings, plant protection technologies, and controlled release of bioactive components, smart irrigation systems, AI and IoT application in agriculture and much more.
For the accelerator program, Sofia welcomed startup founders from China, Hungary, Greece, and other CEE countries. At the finals in Sofia Tech Park, the Hungarian startup bioreaction.net won third place and €10,000 in funding. Second place and a €15,000 prize went to the Greek startup farm-b.com and their smart platform for visualization and analyses of agro-data for production flow, crop status, machinery routine, meteo data, and many more. We are glad that the big winner of 1st place and a prize of 25,000 euros went to a company based in Sofia. This is the biodegradable laminate packaging startup LAM’ON. A few days ago, the company received yet another prestigious award – for the most innovative startup during the Innovation Awards by the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“We appreciate the exceptional and timely assistance regarding the pilot edition of the “Accelerator Program for Agricultural Startups between China and Central and Eastern European Countries”. Thank you for your support in this event, and we will be happy to continue our partnership in the future”, the Managing Director of the Center for the Promotion of Cooperation in the Field of Agriculture between China and the CEE Countries, Ph.D. Momchil Stanishev wrote in an official letter to Invest Sofia.
The final competition was broadcast live on YouTube. We invite everyone who
The CEO of Invest Sofia, Maria Hristova, Ph.D. took part in the opening ceremony of the 22nd edition of the largest career event in the country. The National Career Days started in Sofia on April 1 and will take place in 6 cities in the country up until April 11.
The forum gathers leading employers, their open positions, and career opportunities. Nearly 100 companies have registered for this year’s edition. In partnership with BESCO and AIBEST, the forum also sets up a Startup zone with a focus on the startup ecosystem in the country and the opportunities for developing and attracting young entrepreneurs. In a dedicated area, visitors will meet representatives of some of the most interesting and fast-growing young companies. The organizer of the event is the HR services company JobTiger. To date, more than 53,000 people have started their career path from the National Career Days.
Find out more information about the event here: https://careerdays.bg/bg/national-careerdays
The Bulgarian Investment Agency (BIA) presented the seventeenth Investor of the Year awards. At the invitation of BIA, Maria Hristova Ph.D., CEO at Invest Sofia, and Viktor Gusev, Head of the Investment Analysis Department, joined the official award ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Sofia.
The competition once again featured the most significant investment projects implemented in Bulgaria in 2022. The applications were assessed according to a number of criteria, such as the volume of the investment, the number of new jobs created, the region where a new production unit was created or an existing enterprise was expanded, etc. The nominations of over 50 Bulgarian companies from all sectors of the economy were considered.
Three Sofia-based companies grabbed Investor of the Year 2022 awards. Robert Bosch got the award for Investment in Human Capital. The Green Investment prize went to the Sofia-based company for the production of armored vehicles International Armored Group. In the Best Startup category, the award was presented to Ampeco – the Sofia software company that develops a platform for charging stations for e-vehicles.
Ruse-based Vitte Automotive Bulgaria received the award for Investment in Business Expansion. In the category Investment in Innovative Business won Intuitive Surgical Bulgaria – the Bulgarian entity of the Swiss company for medical equipment Intuitive Surgical Sarl. Three companies were awarded in the Sustainable Business category – Carlsberg Bulgaria, Libher Hausgerete Maritsa, and Teclas Bulgaria. This year the Burgas Municipality won the award in the category “Municipality in Bulgaria with the most investments for 2022.
For the first time in the annual BIA awards, awards for Awakener and National Cause were presented. In the Awakener category, the prize received Prof. Martin Vechev from the INSAIT Institute – the first institute in Eastern Europe for computer science, artificial intelligence, and technology, structured as a special unit at SU “St. Kliment Ohridski” in partnership with the two largest tech universities of Switzerland – ETH Zurich and EPFL. In the National Cause category, the award went to Andrey Arnaudov, co-founder of Bulgaria Wants You initiative.
Alcomet – Shumen became Investor of the Year for 2022. The award was presented by President Rumen Radev.
The Sofia Municipal Privatization & Investment Agency (Invest Sofia), the Sofia Development Association and the Sofia Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs (MGFSME) hosted a meeting with companies and employers to discuss issues related to the integration of refugees into the labor market in our city.
The event was organized under a project led by the Sofia Development Association, funded by UNHCR, and focused on improving the conditions for the integration of refugees in Sofia. Companies that already employ refugees and those that would like to employ but need more information and guidance took part in the meeting.
The CEO of Invest Sofia presented to the participants the dedicated website, which was created with the support of the Sofia Municipality just a week after the start of the war in Ukraine. The website aims at supporting the process of hiring Ukrainian refugees. Almost 30% of all job seekers registered on the platform have already managed to find a job.
Rukia Abdul Aziz, UNHCR Integration Associate, and Nikolay Tsenkov, Manager at MGFSME presented various financial and non-financial incentives and instruments to help employers.
The Sofia Development Association is planning a series of similar events during 2023. The project “Support for the development of integration policies and services for refugees in Sofia” is implemented with the financial support of UNHCR.
UNHCR Bulgaria and SofiaLab presented the initiative “Socially responsible for integration: Measures to support employers and access of refugees to the labor market in Sofia”.
Maria Hristova, CEO of Invest Sofia presented data on the labor market in Sofia and the new platform for bringing together employers and refugees looking for work. UNHCR Bulgaria presented initiatives and instruments for the integration of refugees in Bulgaria.
It is a common misconception that refugees have a low level of education, live on handouts, and can be a social burden. In fact, refugees may have had to leave everything behind, but what they bring with them is a wealth of skills and experience and a strong motivation to work and contribute to the well-being of their new communities.