Start-up Ecosystem in Sofia
startups and scaleups
operate in Bulgaria
are employed by those
Bulgaria’s Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization 2014-2020 (ISIS) deﬁnes four key economic sectors: mechatronics and clean technology, informatics & ICT, healthy living & biotechnology, and new technologies in the creative & recreational industries. Sofia has chosen to focus on two of those sector: Informatics & ICT and new technologies in the creative & recreational industries.
of the startups are deeptech
of the product companies
and 1/5 of the service firms
offer global innovations
in CEE in number of successful
financing rounds since 2013
With 70 enterprises Bulgaria has the highest number of ﬁntech companies in SEE
23 universities, 100 000+ students (42 000 in STEM), 63 research centers and independent software schools operate in the city. Over 20 private software academies offer short to mid-term educational programs (6 to 30 months). The courses are often developed in collaboration with local IT companies in accordance with their labour demands. 72% of the IT specialists in Bulgaria work in Soﬁa.
Sofia is characterized by high level of foreign language fluency. The most commonly spoken languages are English, German and Russian. 1/3 of the population between 19 and 34 years self-report that they speak more than one foreign language. Furthermore, over 27 000 students in Sofia, grades 1st to 12th currently take classes in entrepreneurship.
Bulgaria is 3rd in Europe and 10th worldwide in the absolute number of certiﬁed IT professionals
Some of the VC’s in Soﬁa and Bulgaria include (and are not limited to):
Sofia Tech Park
The first science and technology park in Bulgaria was opened in Sofia in 2015. Sofia Tech Park supports R&D, innovations and the increase of Bulgaria’s technological potential.
- 40 000 m2 area
- 11 high-tech labs
- Innovation forum with 1 000 seats and over 100 hosted events
- TechnoMagicLand: an interactive experimentarium for children with over 40 activities.
Accelerators & Incubators
- Startup Soﬁa Accelerator – a 3-month accelerator by Soﬁa Municipality. It provides mentoring, institutional support, access to shared workspace. Startups also get grants of up to 5000 euro per project and help in their process of preparing for application for funding from banks and investors.
- Start it Smart – 10-week pre-accelerator, oﬀering a mentorship program of over 40 trainings and a coworking space. Start It Smart has helped more than 300 start-ups.
- Founder Institute Soﬁa – a 3,5-month pre-seed start-up accelerator that has helped its startups raise over $700M.
- Climate-KIC Accelerator Bulgaria – Europe’s largest green tech accelerator for early stage start-ups. The programme has invested in 24 teams.
- Eleven Ventures
Accelerator Startup Sofia
Accelerator Startup Sofia is a collaborative project by Invest Sofia, the Municipal Guarantee Fund for SMEs and “Europe” Programme by Sofia Municipality. The Accelerator supports projects that develop innovative products and services or innovative processes.
The pilot round of the Accelerator ends in Fall 2019. For info on future rounds subscribe to our newsletter.
Soﬁa’s potential and development as a start-up hub of the Balkans already caught the attention of international investors, and the city has been developing its vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem by hosting events like the European Business Angels Network’s Annual Congress 2018 or the Central European Startup Awards 2017.
In addition to the daily meetups, knowledge-sharing events and highly specialised conferences, Soﬁa hosts two of the ﬂagship annual start-up events in South East Europe – DigitalK and WEBIT. In June 2018 the city welcomed the Digital Assembly – an event co-organised by the EU Commision and the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The ﬁrst Bulgarian exposition for start-up innovative companies Soﬁa Startup Expo also took place in 2018. Other notable innovation and start-up events include Innovation Explorer, JPrime, HackConf, and many others.