Atem Entertainment was founded in 2003 in Sweden. Established by Maria Avramova and Christer Hägglund, the company works with film, animation and illustration, it designs and produces award winning music videos and short films, as well as games and books. The team also collaborates with other artists to bring their vision to life.
Maria has over 14 years of experience in animation, film and advertising. She is a writer, director and creative producer at ATEM. Co-founder Christer has taken upon many roles over the years such as illustrator, 3D, 2D and stop-motion animator, editor and storyboard artist. At ATEM he is a game developer and producer.
A year ago ATEM Entertainment moved operations in Sofia. Co-founders Maria and Hägglund tell us what makes Sofia a place to further develop a successful business in the creative sector.
Please tell us briefly about your investments in Sofia? What does your company do in Bulgaria and outside?
Maria: We founded Atem in Sweden almost 15 years ago when we started to produce animation for commercials, feature films and music videos. Today, besides consulting on other projects, we create and produce our own Intellectual Properties such as films, games, books and more. We are specialized in animated films and board games.
Christer: Atem Entertainment is an IP creating company. Space Yoghurt is our latest creation and the tv-series is partly produced in Bulgaria. We operate in Sweden, Italy, USA and Germany at the moment.
What motivated you to invest in Sofia?
Maria: Being a Bulgarian myself was of course a door-opener in this region. Although I moved to Sweden 24 years ago I knew that there’s a lot of talent here. We found the right partners and produced the First Season of the show while I was directing from Stockholm. We clicked and that’s why we decided to take the next step and work on the spot for the Second Season. People here strive for quality and are very motivated. They take their job seriously.
Christer: Eastern Europe will go through a Golden Age soon and the road there will be very interesting. Having tried out a previous project with companies in Sofia we decided to continue with the larger project Season 2 of the tv-series.
Are there other local and foreign companies here doing business in your sector?
Maria: Yes, many. Our friends at Zographic films are working
The Sofia-based company Evrotrust Technologies is the first Bulgarian company to take advantage of the business cooperation City-to-City Agreement between Vienna and Sofia and will kick off its operations in the Austrian capital.
The agreement was signed on 22 October 2018 by the executive directors of the business agencies of the two cities – Mr. Gerhard Hirtsi, managing director of Vienna Business Agency and Mr. Vladimir Danailov, executive director of Sofia Investment Agency, following the official meeting in Vienna between Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova, mayor of Sofia, and Mr. Michael Ludwig, mayor of Vienna. Under the agreed cooperation, Vienna and Sofia collaborate in providing mutual support for companies willing to start business in the partner capital.
The first company to benefit successfully from this opportunity is the Bulgarian company Evrotrust Technology, which will also provide the Austrian market with its innovative and unique solution – a mobile application for remote electronic identification and remote signing of documents with a qualified e-signature.
As a result of the meetings with Austrian organizations and companies held by the Bulgarian delegation during the “25 hours in Vienna” event in October last year, Evrotrust was selected and invited by the largest multi-corporation accelerator in Europe – weExelerate in Vienna, to participate in the 4-month program for innovative startups. In the course of the program, Evrotrust will have the opportunity to have direct contact with corporate clients, which it can start a joint project with.
Sofia-based companies in all sectors interested in internationalization opportunities aiming at business expansion, may make inquiries to the Investment Analysis Department at Sofia Investment Agency at the contacts specified here.
The World Bank chose Sofia as its second global outsourcing centre. In the due diligence, Bulgaria competed with two other countries in the region – Serbia and Croatia.
The Investment Analysis Department of the Sofia Investment Agency was actively involved in the process. The business environment in Sofia and Bulgaria was discussed with representatives of the World Bank. Economic data about the country and Sofia, information on the human capital, the working conditions and life in the capital were presented.
The conditions in the three countries were assessed by cost of living, job opportunities in different time zones, availability of specialists and good IT infrastructure, etc. We are glad to report that Sofia won the World Bank’s investment because of the high level of the Bulgarian IT market, access to talented professionals, as well as the thriving business environment.
The Sofia office of the World Bank will be located in Sofia Tech Park and there will be hired around 200 specialists who will work on the technology services and the business processes for the Bank’s internal corporate and IT operations.
The centre in Bulgaria will be the second in the world after the one in Chennai, India, which employs about 2,000 people in accounting, human resources, and more. While analysing where to deploy its second centre, the World Bank was guided by the ability to continue the working day after the one in India ends.
Additional info about the new centre can be found in the interview by Bloomberg TV Bulgaria with Iliya Krastev, Member of the Management Board of the Bulgarian Outsourcing Association.
New year, new launch. In early January, the Austrian Trending Topics, the first journopreneurial platform in CEE, officially launched operations in Sofia as the first step of its strategy to expand in Eastern Europe. The local team aims at building a new generation community-based media for the new economy in Bulgaria.
Trending Topics Story:
Trending Topics started in 2016 as an Austrian tech & startup blog. Today it is a separate venture led by Jakob Steinschaden and Bastian Kellhofer and a digital platform for news and analysis from the startup and digital ecosystem with a continuously growing audience. Trending Topics has around 120K unique monthly readers mostly from Austria and Germany, and recently from Bulgaria. The new-generation digital media also works on different communication products and strategies with well-known brands like Erste Group, Raiffeisen, Kapsch, T-Mobile, Verbund, WKO (The Austrian Chambers of Commerce), among others.
The media company has managed to attract €170K by some of the most credible and prominent VCs in Austria: Speedinvest, startup300, Russmedia, Puls4 and Business Angels Hansi Hansmann, Michael Altrichter and Martin Giesswein. Having established and proven the model in Austria, Steinschaden and Kellhofer made the strategic decision to expand into a new region.
Eastern Europe as a rising tech ecosystem lacking media coverage was a logical choice. The expansion was supported by the Vienna Business Agency.
The local team wants to fill the innovation journalism gap on the Bulgarian and Eastern European market. On one hand, Trending Topics aims to provide high-quality coverage of the startup, tech and innovation processes in the respective market. On the other, it aims at scouting and training a new generation of tech and business journalists who think and report within an innovation paradigm.
The journopreneurial platform hopes to find the support and partners to launch a journalism academy by the end of 2019.
The local team is led by two Bulgarian ladies with professional background in Vienna – Irina Obushtarova and Alexandra Kozbunarova.
Irina Obushtarova, who has been a supporter in the founding process of Trending Topics in Austria, will lead the operations in Sofia. Obushtarova has spent the past 11 years in Vienna where she started her career as Head of Sales at the Viennese magazine Biber. She later worked for Kobza Media Group and later switched to the
The US IT company AtScale, focused on big data management, has formed its own team in Sofia – the first for the company outside the USA.
АtЅсаlе is based in California and its clients include organizations like JPMorgan Chase, Toyota, Visa, Groupon, GlaxoSmithKline, CNN, Bloomberg. The company was established in 2013 by experts from Yahoo!, Google, Netezza, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, Cisco and Oracle.
The team was formed in a move to develop a successful solution to help companies convert big datasets into business intelligence and intelligent analytics tool. Thus, the company develops a flexible platform that combines access to data from different locations where they are stored, as well as offers visualization and management of datasets.
Sofia was chosen to be the first location in Europe also because of the Bulgarian connection in the company – Momchil Mihaylov, vice president and general manager for Europe.
AtScale is already recruiting a team of programmers. The available positions can be seen here.
In mid-January, the company announced it has successfully completed the latest round of its funding talks in the amount of USD 50 million led by Morgan Stanley. New investments will help AtScale to enhance its global leadership in the Data Warehouse Virtualization market and to expand its business in Europe and Asia.
i5invest, an Austrian-based Corporate Development and M&A advisory, is expanding to Bulgaria, now reaching 5 locations across Europe and the US. Following 4 years of rapid development and multiple successful cross-border investments and exits, establishing presence in Bulgaria is a strategic step for solidifying exposure to IT and Tech companies from the region.
“Bulgaria is a market we have been watching already for some years and we decided to put a foot on the ground with a local presence, join the emerging local ecosystem and support tech companies in the growth phase”, Herwig Springer, CEO of i5invest
“Bulgaria has excellent IT specialists and a vibrant tech cluster. Both tech transactions and foreign investments in R&D point towards intense Tech activity and we at i5invest are very happy to work more with the region”, Georgi Natchev, Bulgaria lead i5invest
The Bulgarian office
i5invest launches in Bulgaria in cooperation with Simbula, a leading corporate finance consultancy. Simbula is the perfect partner for i5invest thanks to the well-established practice, extensive corporate finance experience, exposure to digital businesses and its global mindset. The role of Simbula is to make possible a smooth and efficient integration within the local ecosystem, leverage expertise and help IT and Tech companies go global.
Why Sofia, Bulgaria
According to the official news release, the recent years Bulgaria has been marked by great leaps in Startups, IT, and Tech in line with increasing foreign investments and expenditure. Many big-name global players are showing increasing interest in setting up sizeable IT R&D and Development centers. Further, multiple business accelerators, investment bodies, and coworking spaces have emerged, while the local community is growing thanks to increasing number of conferences, events, and educational initiatives. The Bulgarian and regional IT and Tech ecosystem is experiencing great leaps and growing quickly. Many companies need or will need additional capital and strategic international partnerships to accelerate growth or expand in Europe and the US.
i5invest is a group of serial entrepreneurs, business angels and corporate development experts in the tech space in Europe and the US committed to long-term partnerships with vast experience in scaling and exiting international tech companies. The company helps IT and Tech companies in the scale-up phase to find the right investors and strategic partners globally. With offices in Silicon Valley, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland and now Bulgaria, i5invest features an excellent network spanning from Europe to the USA
The innovation allows real-time data transfer from playground facilities and outdoor gyms
The Sofia-based Playground Energy is working on a new technology that will send data on child activity on playgrounds to a server that visualizes the data directly on the location in Google Maps.
The innovation is another motive for children to play more in the open because it introduces a competitive element. For urban institutions, the new technology is another step towards building a smart urban environment. The up-to-date and completely objective information from the facilities will be accessible at any time and will facilitate urban planning and decisions on where more playgrounds or site maintenance are needed.
The new technology allows information to be sent through a built-in GSM device that requires neither batteries nor external power supply, but only the physical activity of children that playground facilities transform from kinetic energy into electrical. The innovation passed the initial tests and is to be developed in a real environment.
Playground Energy was founded in 2012 as it patented the implementation of its first innovation for Europe and the United States – a kinetic generator built in playground facilities, park equipment and outdoor fitness facilities that the company produces entirely in Bulgaria. The generator is present as an invisible addition to the design of the seat, step, or other part of the facility and transforms the physical energy into electrical energy. In turn, it can activate other installations on the playground, including light, sound, fountains, etc. For example, while a child is swinging, the swing can light up, trigger a fountain, or turn on a loudspeaker that plays a favorite song through a cell phone via a Bluetooth connection.
Six years after its establishment, the team introduced its second innovation – the use of the energy from the kinetic generator to transfer data. The innovation has been developed by an engineer from Bulgaria and does not require a mobile phone or download of a specific application and no personal data is collected. Data access is possible without registration from any device to a direct web address where data is visualized on the playground’s location in Google maps as a number of “Lumi points” (named after the flagship product of the company – the Lumi Plus spring toy).
The Lumi points aim to stimulate collective play or use of the competitive element as an
Micar Innovation is a “factory” for discovering new drug molecules. The company has found a niche to create big public impact by improving the quality of people’s lives through new blockbuster drug molecules for a large range of medical issues. Micar Innovation is focused on non-clinical Proof-of-Concepts (PoCs) in preclinical R&D field and Hit-to-Lead (H2L) achievements in fields such as neurology, oncology, the cardio-vascular system, dermatology, rare diseases, etc. Micar21 is the main platform for new small molecule drug candidates. The business model is based on patenting the newly discovered molecules, where licenses are then licensed to commercial partners (big pharma companies). The other model is setting up new spin-out companies to further develop the new drug molecule until the clinical PoC and the follow-up sale/licensing of the patent.
Micar Innovation received the CIDIC/European Diplomatic, Economic & Academic Centre/ award for its well-chosen positioning in a complex and long value chain, where it can create key-value contributions by delivering no-clinical PoCs. The company can be described as a fountain of intellectual property and an IP broker for new pharma startups and the big pharma industry.
Micar Innovation is winner of the Best Biotech Startup 2017 award by the 4th CEE Startup Awards.
We talked to Dimitar Dimitrov, Micar Innovation co-founder, CEO and Business Development Manager, about the company’s operations in Sofia and the biotech industry potential in Bulgaria’s capital.
Mr. Dimitrov, what does your company do here in Sofia and abroad?
Micar Innovation’s main operations are focused on discovering new small drug molecules. Currently, the company manages a portfolio of 10 different new drug molecules at a different PoC stage. The leading new drug molecules for treating chronic pain, pancreas cancer and melasma are in the most advanced stage of development, they are now entering preclinical trials.
We have launched a brand new project to study 100 new drug molecules of a given class to find treatment for rare and ultra-rare diseases (60% of these rare diseases affect mainly children and are related to gene mutations).
How long does it take for the new drug molecule to reach the patient?
This is a regulated and difficult scientific process, requiring big investments. What we create now will be available on the market in at least three-to-five years.
What is the good news that validates you and helps you stand out on a global scale?
The good news is that
Cargill’s Business Services Centre in Sofia has grown to over 1,000 people this month, making it one of the largest in Bulgaria and significantly changing the footprint of Cargill’s operations in the country. Overall more than 1,100 people now work in one of three offices in Bulgaria dedicating their time and expertise to business services, ocean transportation and agricultural supply chain activities.
The company celebrated this significant success in Bulgaria with a special event for the employees of the Shared Business Services Center in Sofia, hosted by Metodi Georgiev – Executive Director of Cargill Bulgaria and Center Lead of the CBS Sofia.
An important part of the event was the address of Kim Skanson, Global Leader for Cargill’s Shared Service Centre. “The heart of Cargill Business Services is our team. It takes each and every one of our people to make an impact for Cargill. I say this often, but there is no better time to be part of Cargill Business Services because we are driving a major change within Cargill. Hitting the milestone of a thousand employees is a big one and one that I am very proud to celebrate today with our team,” she said in her welcoming address.
In his speech during the event, Metodi Georgiev said: “Cargill has a long history of over 150 years and our people and the experience that they bring is a major part of the company’s success. I have always shared and stood behind one of the company’s key values – “people first”. Today, this value is the reason to stand here and celebrate this very important milestone for Cargill Business Services in Sofia. For some companies, hiring its 1000th employee is just growth. For us it is much more – it is a proof of our success.”
Zlatomir Kovachev, Manager for Cargill’s agricultural supply chain business in Bulgaria, and Stanislav Mateev, Manager of Cargill’s ocean transportation business in Varna, Bulgaria,, also expressed their joy at the achievement of this success and congratulated the Center in Sofia: “As a representative of Cargill’s oldest operations in Bulgaria, for me the expansion from seven people when we started in 2006 to over 1100 this year is an excellent indicator not only of the company’s commitment to its business in our country, but especially for the talent of our employees in the three operations in Bulgaria,” said Zlatomir Kovachev.
“It is very inspiring for
The News UK media group will form a technology team in Sofia in partnership with Questers’ office in Bulgaria. The partnership will accelerate the strategic growth of the group behind some of the most powerful media brands in the English-speaking world, such as The Times, The Sun and The Sunday Times.
With the rapid increase in digital consumption, the technology division of News UK undertakes a major programme to build a new, flexible and efficient platform that will accelerate the process of digital transformation of the company and will meet today’s readers need for rich and interactive content across multiple platforms.
“The expansion of News UK into Bulgaria in partnership with Questers demonstrates the value of the Bulgarian market for UK digital innovation and continues to strengthen UK-Bulgarian bilateral ties,” Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Bulgaria Emma Hopkins OBE said in the official news release.
News Corp UK & Ireland Limited is a British newspaper publisher and a wholly owned subsidiary of the American mass media conglomerate News Corp.
Career opportunities within NewsUK’s team in Sofia are listed here.
Questers announced yet another partnership with the fast growing FinTech company PremFina – a digital SaaS platform allowing flexible premium finance solution for insurance brokers, helping them to maximise control over customer relationships and increase revenue. As a result of an increase in demand for their solutions and services, PremFina is expanding its operations into Sofia, Bulgaria. The local team will bolster the development and test side of the company’s software application, including but not limited to the API layer and the core web services technology.
Questers is a British IT company with an office in Sofia, mainly active in the formation of highly efficient teams of technology specialists for companies in Europe and the United States.
Cobuilder is an international company set up in Norway that develops innovative software products for the construction industry. In 2013, Cobuilder chose Sofia to establish its first subsidiary – Cobuilder International. With its initial team of two employees, the operations in Bulgaria were mainly related to data entry into information systems serving the Norwegian market.
In 2014, the team in Sofia expanded to 20 employees and was engaged in more and more key activities for the company. In 2015, the company started developing new products in Bulgaria and in the meantime opened offices in the UK and France. In 2017, Cobuilder International had more than 80 employees, and the company won the “IT Product of the Year” award of the Bulgarian Outsourcing Association (BOA) and BASSCOM. The award was bestowed for the company’s first software product, which was completely designed and developed in Bulgaria.
In 2018, with the 5th anniversary of Cobuilder International’s establishment, a rebranding project is being implemented, and the new visual and brand identity will be applied to the entire international group.
Lars Christian Fredenlund, CEO at Cobuilder, tells us what makes Sofia a place to launch and develop a successful business.
Please tell us briefly about your investments in Sofia? What does your company do in Bulgaria and abroad?
The Sofia-based company,Cobuilder International LTD, is part of the Cobuilder AS family – an international organisation based in Oslo, Norway. For over 20 years, Cobuilder has become a name in delivering innovative software solutions for the Norwegian and European construction industries. Since it was founded in 2013, Cobuilder International has been responsible for developing, improving and maintaining Cobuilder’s core products aimed at catering for the specific data needs of construction industry actors.
Cobuilder is focused on the development of comprehensive software solutions aimed at fast tracking of the digital transformation that will make big ideas such as Industry 4.0, Internet of Things and digital twins relevant to the reality of our client’s businesses.
Today, Cobuilder International is in the Top 5 most dynamic IT companies in Bulgaria*. We are set on a mission to revolutionise the ways construction data is handled worldwide and we have found the right resources to fulfil this mission, here in Sofia.
What made you choose Sofia as the place to invest?
First and foremost the talented and skilled people. We had some experience
DHL Express invested a total of EUR 10 million to open a new logistics center in Sofia. The facility covers an area of 10 000 sq. m. and is located close to Terminal 2 of Sofia Airport.
The hub is equipped with high-tech automatic sorting system that will boost the processing capacity to 3000 parcels per hour. Loads will go through three courier channels for direct vehicle loading. Furthermore, the center has the latest generation of streaming lines, automatic weight and size verification systems, barcode readers and X-ray machines providing the highest level of security.
Currently, DHL invests in similar facilities in more than 40 countries around the globe. The largest automated logistics centers of the company are located in its main distribution hubs in Germany, Belgium, UK, Italy, USA (in Cincinnati) and China. The investment in Bulgaria aims to meet the growing volume of shipments processed by DHL Express in Bulgaria. DHL Express Bulgaria has over 300 employees working in the centers in Plovdiv, Burgas, Veliko Tarnovo and Montana.
Globally, DHL runs a business with courier and cargo shipments in over 220 countries and employs over 360,000 people. In Bulgaria, the company has been active since 1981 and currently has 50 offices throughout the country.