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Vienna and Sofia to Work on Projects for Development of Companies from the Creative Sector



Creative industries and their importance for urban economies were the focus of the Create&Grow: Creative Sofia Meets Creative Vienna event, which took place on February 22 as part of the Conference of the cities of Vienna and Sofia. The meeting was chaired by the business agencies of the two capitals – Vienna Business Agency and Sofia Investment Agency – and is part of the common policy of the cities for fostering knowledge sharing and internationalization of companies from the sectors that have high potential to drive the economies of modern cities.

A total of 65 Sofia-based companies from the fields of film production, video games, animation, fashion, design, architecture and creative sector marketing took part in Create&Grow. Six of them shared their successful stories in Bulgaria and their experience on the Austrian market and participated in the discussion panels to launch a discussion on important topics such as: the importance of knowledge sharing programs and funding; creating an environment for internationalization of the business as the only opportunity for continued growth in a small internal market; evaluating the creative idea in creating new technological developments; the image of the Bulgarian companies that outpaced the outsourcing model and has already demonstrated their potential in creating and developing local products and services, etc.  

The key topics for the sector discussed at the meeting can be found in the publication of Nikolay Mihaylov, member of the board of directors of Creative Industries Foundation, who moderated the panel “Creative Sofia: success stories and opportunities for cooperation with Vienna “.

The creative industries sector in Sofia in figures

  • Between 5% and 8% is the share of those employed in creative companies in Sofia, which is above the EU average
  • Creative industries have a 6% share in the economy of Sofia (not too far as a contribution in comparison to other priority sectors such as production and outsourcing, which contribute with 10% each)
  • The sector is diverse, fragmented and difficult to fit in clear statistics
  • Until recently there was no sector organization to represent it
  • Large part of the companies are export-oriented, so they stay away from the local creative ecosystem
  • Globally, the importance of creative activities for economies is increasing, their contribution to local economies is growing, including as part of the process of creating high-tech products
  • In recent years, the market for cultural and creative goods and services has doubled globally

‘Big cities are aware of the power of the creative industries. This is valid for our two capitals – Vienna and Sofia as well’, Nadia Sultanova, Head of Investment and Business Development at Sofia Investment Agency said in her greetings to the participants of Create&Grow. ‘I believe we have a lot to learn from Vienna, which is a valuable partner of Sofia in a number of areas’, she added, giving as an example the City-to City business cooperation agreement between the two cities and the fact that several Sofia companies have already applied for the program. One of these companies became the first Sofia-based company to start operations in Vienna under the agreement.

During the meeting Alena Schmuck, Project Coordinator of Vienna Business Agency, presented policies and programs with which the Municipality of Vienna supports the development of the gaming industry in the city. Ute Stadlbauer, “Finance” coordinator at Vienna Business Agency presented the Vienna: Calling Creatives program, which funds Austrian and foreign companies in the sector of creative industries. The competition is open until June 30, and the winning companies will be able to receive funding of up to EUR 150 000.


Our team would like to express its gratitude to all 65 companies that have accepted our invitation to meet us and Vienna Business Agency. With our colleagues from Vienna, we share the common goal of setting up initiatives in the future that bring together the sector representatives of the two cities in a common network, which will be a forum for cooperation and joint projects. The cooperation of Sofia-based companies with external partners will lead to new ideas and projects for the Bulgarian teams, will enable them to improve the level of performance, to develop the staff in the sector in our country and to increase the number of jobs in the capital for specialists within the creative sector.

The conference provided valuable insights into the vibrant Bulgarian creative-industry ecosystem. I think it was a very fruitful conference for both cities and believe some very exciting projects will emerge, Ute Stadlbauer said after the meeting with the capital companies.

The next step is to discuss the possible formats for future initiatives that will become a platform for business contacts between the creative companies of the two capitals. We are convinced that many Sofia-based companies will join us again, driven by their desire for growth. More information on upcoming initiatives is to be provided soon.

Photos from the Conference of the cities of Vienna and Sofia can be found here.

They can be published free of charge with copyright notice: © Eurocomm-PR / Toni Tonchev