SOFIA DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION was founded as non-profit organization with the decision 348
of the Sofia Municipal Council to work for the sustainable development of the capital.



Do you remember these floppy disks which were the main means of data transfer years ago? Well, if you have one of them, do not throw them away, because in Sweden they are already quite expensive. But there, they use them for badges. Only a few days ago, the “Digital Transition” partnership meeting of the European Agenda for Europe initiative, which was organized by the Municipality of Helsingborg, was completed. The previous such meeting took place in Sofia in June this year. Sofia together with Estonia and the Finnish city of Oulu are coordinators of the “Digital Transition” partnership.

Together with Veronika Manova (coordinator from Sofia), we participated in the discussions focusing on e-government; New skills and learning of the future; Database standardization and compatibility; Urban planning; Health and social care of the future; New business models accelerating urban growth; 5G and other key enabling technologies. The main objective is to propose specific initiatives to the European Commission for the next programming period in the field of education, legislation and European programs to facilitate the digital transition in Europe.

Our Partnership is in the process of drafting an Action Plan, which is due to be ready by the end of this year. After that, a discussion and deliberation process begins. Our ambition is to be able to test some pilot ideas in the second half of next year. The team of Sofia Development Association administers the participation of Sofia in this initiative and works on the topic of new skills and the training of the future.

Digital technologies and services are evolving so fast that one of the great challenges is the continuous increase in digital skills, especially for the people above middle age. When we received the antique diskettes, already offered for badges, we remembered that it was not long before they were widely used in Bulgaria and that some of our institutions still provide information on such devices. Well, there is a lot of work ahead and we are open to everyone with ideas and ready to partner.


This year, the first school day begins with a new challenge for students.

The “Smart School 4 Smart School Children” hackathon invites all students with creative ideas to offer technological solutions that will help our educational system to be more innovative, creative and digital.

Learn more at and boldly sign up!


How the capital will become a smart city - in the focus of the conference “Sofia Knowledge City”

International experts will share experience from Europe within the framework of the event on 28 September.

The future of the capital as a smart and more competitive city is the topic of the first international conference “Sofia Knowledge City”. It is organized by Investor Media Group and the “Sofia Knowledge City” cluster on 28 September in Capital Fort, 90 Tsarigradsko Shosse Blvd., and will be held under the patronage of Sofia Municipality. Access is free.

The purpose of the event is to attract the attention of citizens, business, scientific and educational institutions, and the administration to the advantages of digitalization, new technologies and resource optimization in the urban environment so as to improve the quality of life in the city. The participants will present concrete solutions for digital transformation and the transformation of the capital into a smart city, while foreign experts will share international experience in building and managing “knowledge cities”.

The panelists in “Sofia Knowledge City” will focus on the good interaction between the public and private sectors, the knowledge management to improve urban environment, the green economy and the overall image of the city, the potential of technologies to raise living standards and investments in the local economy.

Among the lecturers at the conference are Svetlana Lomeva, Director of Sofia Development Association; Dr. Andreas Brandner, Managing Director of Knowledge Management Associates, Austria; Dr. Stefan Veers, European Commission - representative of Digiresearch, Directorate-General for Science and Innovation; Michael Perrot, COST - European Science and Technology Co-operation; Luis Lapidaire, Knowledge4Innovation, etc. For the updated program, follow the site

The summary of the most important highlights, trends and solutions will take place on 29 September during the closing meeting of the participants - Sofia Knowledge Café in Capital Fort, about which you can read more here:


Working meeting of representatives of Bulgarian municipalities with experts from the European Investment Bank and the Jaspers programme.
13 September (Wednesday), 9:30 hrs. in Hotel COOP, 30 Iskar Str., Sofia

The event is organized jointly by the European Investment Bank (EIB), JASPERS, Sofia Municipality (through the Sofia Development Association), the National Association of Municipalities, and is part of the “Reflections on Europe” campaign announced by the European Committee of the Regions.
The seminar aims to discuss the technical issues related to the implementation of the EU's Urban Agenda. It will also give an overview of available European structural and investment funds for sustainable urban development. The participants will have the opportunity to learn more about how JASPERS can support the preparation of projects and programs in the fields of urban renewal, social housing, smart urban development, smart and sustainable urban mobility, waste management and energy efficiency.

The seminar program will provide opportunity to representatives of Bulgarian municipalities and other stakeholders involved in local activities to present and discuss key challenges of urban development. The EIB and JASPERS will provide information on the best use of EU funds allocated for urban development. During the city sessions, other stakeholders and JASPERS employees will have a more in-depth discussion on technical issues related to fundraising. Municipalities that have not yet benefited from JASPERS advisory support are encouraged to seek such support.

The event is held in Sofia at the invitation of Ms Malina Edreva in her capacity of Deputy Chairperson of the Committee of the Regions Bureau.

You can see the seminar program HERE.

What does “hate speech” mean and why is it so important to know how to end it?

In 1997 the Council of Europe defines hate speech as “all forms of expressions that spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance”.

Why do we provide you with this definition? Because we believe that the first step towards defeating a certain problem is to pinpoint what that problem is. So now we know what hate speech is, but what does it look like?

The answer is simple. We see it every day. We read about it on social media, we pass by it on the streets. Hate speech is the article you read yesterday about the young man from Iraq, Syria or Egypt, who beat a child on the streets, the article which turns out to be a lie, targeting you as the next victim of its popularization. Hate speech is the man who is offending another person on the streets because of the language he speaks or his skin colour. Hate speech is everywhere. It doesn’t have a day off or a curfew, it goes beyond business hours.

So we now know what it looks like, but why does hate speech exist? It exists because we allow it to exist. It exists because we agree to listen to it, read it and see it everywhere. It exists because we don’t take action.

So how do we stop it? We, from the Sofia Development Association, start from where the modern world meets its fastest development – the internet.
Alongside 7 other organizations from 6 other countries - Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione IULM - IUL and Associazione FORMA.Azione from Italy, the Languages Company from the UK, Center for Peace from Croatia, People in Need from the Czech Republic, Asociația Divers from Romania and the Municipality of Agii Anargiri-Kamatero from Greece – and with the financial help of the European Commission we started working on the “Coalition of Positive Messengers to Counter Online Hate Speech” project.

We began our work on 1 October 2016 and we hope to achieve our goals until 30 September 2018.

Our initiative addresses the need for a more effective answer to hate speech from our society. The project focuses on two main goals – establishing a coalition of many people and organizations which works towards demolishing hate speech online and spreading positive messages by creating campaigns aiming towards educating and informing people about what it is like to be an immigrant and the challenges you face when you have very few choices in your life.

Our main goal is to create a working mechanism for pushing back hate speech and stopping xenophobia from developing and spreading in our society.
We also aim towards providing new data about the essence, range and impact of hate speech online, so we can help local and national authorities to develop more effective ways of combating hate speech and encourage communication and tolerance between the European society and the most vulnerable people groups – immigrants and refugees.

So how can YOU help?

Take action when you see a display of xenophobia and lack of tolerance, don’t allow yourself to get used to them. Spread positive messages in your community and together with the people around you create an environment of tolerance and understanding.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page and website for more news and information on our campaigns and how you can join our cause.


European and local cultural policies and future scenarios for cultural management

Open call for papers
in the framework of the
Cultural Management Academy - Sofia, Thessaloniki and Bucharest 2017

The Goethe-Institutes in Sofia, Bucharest and Thessaloniki, the City of Sofia and the Sofia Development Association are glad to announce an open call for papers in the framework of their joint project – the Cultural Management Academy, which is certified by the St. Kliment Ohridski University in Sofia and the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki.

Тheoreticians and practitioners from Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania can submit papers proposing innovative approaches and new perspectives on cultural management and cultural policies on European, national and local level.

The editorial board consisting of experts from the field of cultural management from Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Germany will select papers to be presented and discussed at the international conference of the same name on 29 September 2017 in Sofia and to be published in a print and digital publication later on.


1. Requirements
2. Submission
3. Editorial board
4. Who can apply?
5. Why to apply?
6. About the Cultural Management Academy (CMA)

1. Requirements

1.1. Content

What innovation in culture do we need if we take into consideration the current state of things and the cultural policies? How can cultural management contribute to such an innovation in culture? What is the future of cultural management? What are possible new approaches and tools? How can cultural policies on European, national and local level be more responsive to the needs of culture? What is the role of the cultural manager in the field of policy?

Theoreticians and practitioners from the field of cultural management are invited to propose possible answers and solutions, but also to ask more questions about the cultural context in Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Europe in general.

Through the open call the organisers look for various positions and points of view on European, national and local cultural policies, comments, critiques, reflections and recommendations based on examples from the practice and the practical experience of the applicants. The organisers aim at mapping possible solutions and suggestions for changes, development and innovation through new approaches in culture and through stimulating the dialogue between policy and practice in the field of cultural management. Argumentation through examples and study cases from the practice will be highly appreciated.

Furthermore, the papers can be developed in the context of the European Agenda for Culture:

The Commission Communication ‘Towards an EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations’ presented by the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in mid-2016 is aimed at encouraging cultural cooperation between the EU and its partner countries and promoting a global order based on peace, the rule of law, freedom of expression, mutual understanding and respect for fundamental values.

1.2. Format

Papers can be in English, Bulgarian, Greek or Romanian, but preferably in English.

Papers must contain:

- Title and subtitle of the paper
- Author's name and information about the author (position, working place, academic title)
- Key words
- Bibliography
- Figures, tables and images (if applicable)


- In English
- Up to 1500 characters

Final versions of the papers

- In English, Bulgarian, Greek or Romanian, but preferably in English.
- 6 to 10 A4 pages, incl. figures and tables, images and literature (images to be gathered on 2 pages)
- Times New Roman, 12 pt.
- 2 cm margins on all sides

2. Submission and deadlines

First phase of the call for papers:
Applicants submit a summary of the paper and a short autobiography until 10th September 2017 (extended) in digital form (.doc, .docx) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Selected applicants will be informed until 17th September 2017 (extended).

Second phase of the call for papers:
The summaries of the selected applicants will be presented and discussed in working groups during the international conference of the CMA 2017 on 29th September.

Third phase of the call for papers:
Selected applicants submit their final papers until 31st October in digital form (.doc, .docx) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In the spring of the 2018 the final publication consisting of all selected papers and commissioned articles/papers and impressions of the Cultural Management Academy 2017 to be published in print and digital form.

3. Editorial board

The editorial board selects the papers to be included in the publication based on the submitted summaries. Members of the editorial board:

- Argyro Barata (CMA Greece)
- Miki Braniste (CMA Bucharest)
- Stefka Tsaneva (CMA Sofia, Goethe-Institute Bulgaria)
- Enzio Wetzel (director of Goethe-Institut Bulgaria)
- Petya Koleva (Interkultura Consult)
- Vladiya Mihaylova (curator, Vaska Emanuilova Gallery Sofia, branch of the Sofia City Art Gallery)
- Malina Edreva (chair of the commission for culture and education of the City of Sofia)
- Svetlana Lomeva (director of Sofia Development Association)
- Dr. Nelly Stoeva (Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”)
- Dr. Georgi Valchev (deputy rector of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”)

4. Who can apply?

- Participants in all editions of the Cultural Management Academy 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
- Theoreticians and practitioners in the field of cultural management and cultural policies from Bulgaria, Greece and Romania.

5. Why to apply with a paper?

Selected applicants have:

- The opportunity to publish a paper in a professional publication on cultural management which will be distributed digitally and in print form in Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Germany and other European countries through the communication channels of all organisers and partners of the Cultural Management Academy: the Goethe-Institutes in Sofia, Bucharest and Thessaloniki as well as other Goethe-Institutes in Europe, the City of Sofia and the Sofia Development Association, the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” and the Aristotle University, the foreign cultural institutes from the EUNIC-clusters in the three countries.
- Possibility for exchange and mentorship with the members of the editorial board.
- Possibility for professional exchange and discussion of the papers during the international conference.
- Selected participants (who have not participated in the CMA before) become part of the CMA network.
- Selected participants (who have not participated in the CMA before) get a 50% discount on the participation fee in future editions of the CMA.

6. About the Cultural Management Academy (CMA)

The CMA started as a project by the Sofia Development Association in cooperation with the Sofia University „St. Kliment Ohridski“ in 2014 as part of the city´s application for the title European Capital of Culture. The main goal of the project is to build capacity and to increase the competences of the cultural operators in Sofia and the region regarding the challenges of a large-scale initiative that the European Capital of Culture is. In 2015 the Goethe-Institut and its partners in Bulgaria, i.e. Instituto Cervantes, Czech Center, Polish Institute, Institut Français, British Council and Austrian Embassy got also involved in the project and the scope of the CMA was extended - there were participants from all around Bulgaria and lecturers from Germany, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Austria and France. The CMA has included so far lectures, workshops and seminars, additional (public) events and discussions, network meetings and learning journeys to Berlin and Warsaw.

After two successful editions of the CMA realised by the Goethe-Institut Bulgaria in partnership with Sofia Municipality (Sofia Development Association) and with regard to the achieved results and the effect on the local cultural scene, the Goethe-Instituts in Bucharest and Thessaloniki got also involved and decided to apply the good example in their cities as well. In 2017, the CMA has three branches - in Sofia, Bucharest and Thessaloniki. In each of the cities has been already formed a group of local participants who took part in an intensive 1-week-course in the respective city in June-July.

The international conference on cultural management in Sofia on 29th September is embedded into internal network meetings and working groups between the participants of the CMA. The main goal of the meetings is to stimulate cooperation and the development of joint projects, which can financed by the fund for projects of the Cultural Management Academy.


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