Dear Partners and Friends,
With 2020 around the corner, it’s important for us to spotlight some of this year’s achievements and to set some of our future goals. It was a year full of challenges, success stories, community building events and initiatives that aimed to put Sofia on the international map and to build a stronger, more recognizable brand for the city.
Here are some of the 2019 highlights.
Sofia’s business environment had another year of growth. The city remains the biggest regional economy in the country with about 40% of Bulgaria’s GDP. Sofia had attracted €13 billion of foreign investments or about € 9 800 per capita or nearly three times the average for the country.
Overall, the prospects for the development of Sofia are positive. The city will most likely continue to concentrate an increasing share of the economic activity in the country due to its positive demographics and its leadership in the development of the fastest growing sectors such as the IT industry, outsourcing of business services and some manufacturing activities with relatively high added value.
Sofia is well-positioned to develop some new forms of economic relations such as digital and shared economy services due to both the appropriate IT infrastructure and the abundance of IT companies and specialists. The so-called Creative Industries have also been experiencing a rapid growth and development in recent years, and the creative companies and talent in the sector are mainly concentrated in Sofia. Trade, Transport, Storage and Tourism also have good development potential.
More detailed data, charts, analyses and trends can be found in our latest report ‘Sofia: Economic and Investment Profile 2019’.
Again, we did our best to make the information about Sofia as a business destination and a wonderful place to live available in one place, to make it easily accessible and pleasing to the eye. We published our second edition of the Sofia Business Guide, new reports with current data on the development of the Start-up and Innovation Ecosystem in Sofia, the Manufacturing Industry, the Tourism and Air Transport Market, the Labor Market, the latest Sofia Economic and Investment Profile, and the first version of our first sub-sector matrix, dedicated to Sofia’s Gaming Studios.More reports and guides will be released next year to help entrepreneurs and investors interested in Sofia, as well as the fastest growing sectors in Sofia with the highest growth potential take shape and find the resources available to help them grow further. Creative industries, Retail, Biotech, and Aerospace will be among the sectors that we will further explore in 2020.
Sofia is no longer an outsourcing destination and has come a long way to develop into a place that not only provides high-quality products and services, but develops and invents them here. We see this change happening, and Sofia’s 2019 success stories prove this.
Financial Times, Coursera, AtScale, Bosch, Hitachi Solutions, ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE are just some of the international leaders that established their R&D centers in Sofia in 2019. Many Sofia-based companies got recognised for their locally developed but with global impact solutions – StorPool Storage, Klear, Imperia Online, Evrotrust technologies, Rhyme Softworks, Black Sea Studios, to name a few.
Not by chance, Sofia was named ‘one corner of South-Eastern Europe’s ‘Silicon Valley”‘ by the Financial Times in Bulgaria attracts record tech investment article, ‘the growing fintech destinations in the CEE Region’ by the Austrian Trending Topics and ‘a thriving startup region in Europe’ by the German national TV ZDF in its documentary series PlanB (Sofia starts at 16:30 min).
We tried not to miss a success story from Sofia. You can find news about setting up, expansions, investments, acquisitions and awards on our dedicated webpage.
We value Sofia’s huge potential and that’s why, for yet another year in a row, we were telling the city’s success stories abroad and were connecting with other communities and cities. We organised a number of business networking events, accepted invitations to present the strengths of our city during many local and international conferences and supported the companies that participated in Accelerator Startup Sofia – the pilot edition of the first municipal startup program.
Click on the pictures from the gallery below to see some of the key “Sofia in the spotlights moments”.
Probably one of our greatest achievements for the year 2019 is the finalization of the Digital Transformation Strategy for the City of Sofia – an important step toward the digitalization as a process, encompassing not only Sofia Municipality and its services, but the entire urban environment.
The mission of the Strategy is: to turn Sofia into a market for digital products and services created by Sofia-based companies, and a platform for innovation; to open the public administration towards the citizens and the businesses; to improve services and quality of life.
Our team worked on the development of the Strategy together with over 100 experts, companies and organisations from Sofia and under the mentorship of European experts within the European Commission’s Digital Cities Challenge program. As a result, Sofia, with the support of the Fund of Funds, signed a contract with the European Investment Bank for a grant of consultancy support for the development of the conceptual projects identified in the Strategy, as well as for the development of a methodology for the evaluation of projects related to digitalization and smart cities.
In 2020, we’ll continue to expand our partner network involved in Sofia’s digital transformation process. And we will work on the need to develop a city-wide data policy and to open certain datasets as a tool to foster innovation, avoid vendor-locking and involve Bulgarian start-ups and IT businesses in the city’s digital transformation, using solutions created by Sofia-based companies.
Make sure to stay up to date on all industry, startup and business community news with our monthly newsletters, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn if you haven’t already. Sofia has great stories to tell and we’d be glad to share them with you!
We would like to thank all of you who have been supporting us throughout the year! You helped us make this year just great! Let’s make the next one even better!