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.
The hybrid event aims to bring together representatives of startup companies and municipal experts. Current funding opportunities and support instruments for startups to be presented. Projects for sustainable solutions to urban challenges developed by local startup companies will also be presented during the meeting. Watch “Investors, Startups, City Administration: Effective Collaboration” live on April 6, 2022, at 15:00 on the Facebook page of Invest Sofia. To join us online, please fill out the registration form here to receive your link for online access via Zoom.
On February 24, Innovation Explorer 2022 gathered over 600 guests from 12 countries. The annual innovation forum took place at Sofia Event Center. The event was hosted by Innovation Starter Agency in partnership with Capital.bg. At the invitation of the organizers, Invest Sofia was part of the event with the participation of the Chief Executive Officer Dr. Maria Hristova during the opening session. “The team of Invest Sofia aims to support local and foreign companies and help them set up and grow, here in Sofia. One of our missions is to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the city. We know that every startup team needs not only funding, although it is very important, but also expert assistance, project management support, and perhaps most of all it needs personal attitude”, Dr. Hristova said.
Innovation Explorer 2022 was held under the “Think Further!” motto that refers to John M. Keynes’s essay titled “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren”. Keynotes and discussions this year focused on the different perspectives on the consequences and results that today’s societies bequeath to future generations. The forum addressed the advanced knowledge on innovation and the latest breakthroughs in technology. As part of the agenda of the event, early-stage companies in the field of climate action presented their innovative developments.
The technology sector has tripled growth in recent years and currently is the most rapidly developing sector in Sofia. The country shows promising signs to become leader in SEE due to several local strengths, including strong institutional support toward access to funding mechanisms and know-how. For example, in Bulgaria there are 17 private equity and venture capital funds, as well as incubator / accelerator programmes, covering all stages of the business life-cycle.
These are some of the key findings of a study by the global entrepreneurial network Endeavor, which examines the Sofia’s tech sector and snapshots the main challenges and opportunities for its development.
The study was funded by Invest Sofia, the Fund of Funds, the Bulgarian Development Bank and was supported by BESCO.
Tech entrepreneurs give an extremely positive assessment of the development of the sector in Sofia. Nearly 96% of them state that they have positive expectations for the future of the sector in the capital. Along with established fintech and outsourcing companies, Sofia has been chosen by companies that develop cloud and blockchain technologies. At the presentation of the study, Minister of Innovation and Growth Daniel Lorer said that there is no doubt that innovation is the most powerful engine for growth in the country. He stressed the importance of active and useful dialogue between institutions and business representatives.
“As a city with a strong focus in the tech industry, we are working to further help, support and maintain a friendly business environment. That is why we established the municipal investment agency Invest Sofia. Together with the team of the Agency, we have developed several instruments aimed to support both large companies and smaller start-up companies”, Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said.
“Recently, the Invest Sofia Agency presented its new service called “Green Card for administrative services”. Soon, we plan to launch yet another initiative for start-up companies, that aims to challenge them to find smart solutions related to urban issues. The results from such direct assignments will be useful not only for Sofia Municipality and the municipal companies but also for the young companies”, Invest Sofia CEO Dr. Maria Christova said.
According to Endeavor’s study, Bulgaria has a chance to position itself as a pillar of innovation in Southeast Europe. Its good positioning is due to several local strengths, including a strong ecosystem, well-functioning structures, and strong founder-to-founder connectivity. “A very important factor is the consistent policy of
On December 2, Invest Sofia presented its new initiative Sofia IS. This is the first of its kind city initiative that aims to unite the efforts of the city administration and Sofia-based companies towards integrated services for investor inquiries and free assistance in the process of establishing business operations in Sofia.
Sofia IS gathers independent international consulting companies operating in our city whose expertise covers the full range of necessary initial steps and activities such as research and data on the business environment, opportunities of Sofia as an investment destination, consultations on finding the best talents for the local team, among others.
The Executive Director of Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova and the Head of the Public Relations and Marketing Department Aneta Petkova welcomed the guests and partners of the Sofia IS launch event. “The expertise of our partners so far forms a rich portfolio of over 80 local and international companies from all sectors of the economy,” Dr. Hristova said and presented the step-by-step process of the implementation of the new initiative. She also outlined the short and long-term goals of the programme in the coming months. During the discussion, various future initiatives emerged related to how Sofia IS tools could better and faster reach and support future potential investors.
Dr. Lilyana Zagorcheva from InfoGraffiti , the most recently joined partner of the initiative, presented digital marketing opportunities for promoting the work of the new programme, as well as pro bono services that can be provided to new investors. Dr. Zagorcheva has over 20 years of international experience in the field of corporate, crisis and institutional communications.
Dr. Georgi Georgiev, a leading expert in the field of EU programmes for innovation in education and urban environment, presented the opportunities that he and his company can provide to each of the participants and partners in the programme. Dr. Georgiev is also part of the external partners of the Agency.
During the discussion, specific next steps were outlined for the communication of the programme. The head of the Investment Analysis Department of the Agency Viktor Gusev shared best practice examples of joint projects between the city administration and the local business.
The team of Invest Sofia would like to thank all our partners: ADECCO BULGARIA, ARS Bulgaria, Cushman & Wakefield Forton, Coworking, Easy Consult, EuRA, PWC, RIR and HRS, for being part of the
OSM International Group is a global management consulting company offering unique analysis and support tools for human development and human potential. In Sofia, the company presented a comprehensive personality testing tool, the I-Profile Analysis. The test contains 242 questions designed to review the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate’s personality and is like an “X-ray” of a person’s behavior and potential.
The I-Profile Analysis was developed by OSM and certified in the USA with one of the highest reliability coefficients. It can reveal previously unsuspected talents in an employee, whether a person is suitable for his position or predict great potential for another position in the company.
In addition, the tool identifies the real reasons for having underperforming employees and whether this is due to mismanagement by the company’s leaders or problematic issues stem from personal reasons. It also shows whether employees have reached their limit and no longer contribute to the development of the company or department.
The participants in the event had the chance to take advantage of OSM’s I-Profile analysis free of charge. “We believe that OSM International Group can be a reliable partner for small and medium entrepreneurs in Bulgaria in helping them further develop their business and optimise the most important resource in the company – the people”, CEO of Invest Sofia Dr. Maria Hristova said.
Web Summit 2021, Europe’s biggest tech conference, was held in Lisbon, Portugal from 1 to 4 November. The event was attended by over 1,000 speakers, 1,250 startups and more than 40,000 people. The conference gathered representatives from Bulgaria, Ukraine, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Portugal, USA, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and experts from various fields and industries, including IT, software, digital and marketing companies, government organizations. Strutting the main stage were the likes of Amazon Vice President Werner Vogels, Chief Marketing Officer of Mars Inc. Jane Wakeley, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement Ayo Tometi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi, Microsoft president Brad Smith and many more.
During the roundtable discussion, we had the opportunity to discuss the most complex and challenging tech, business and social issues. The masterclasses gave us the opportunity to exchange contacts and acquire new knowledge from leading global companies and organisations such as Siemens, Shell, Boston Consulting Group, the European Commission, and many more.
Invest Sofia plays a key role in promoting and developing investment opportunities in Sofia and improving the city’s business environment. Web Summit 2021 gave us the opportunity to establish new contacts for close cooperation with institutional and corporate representatives from different countries and sectors. Our goal is to support Sofia to develop as a modern, innovative and sustainable city; an attractive and preferred place to start and grow.