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.

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The Coalition of Positive Messengers gather in Perugia, Italy

Partners from 8 organizations from 7 European countries gather in Perugia, Italy in search for narratives to counter online hate speech. The meeting starts on 6 June with Piedibus: "walk-based learning" in the evening, when local stakeholders working in the area of integration will join the Coalition and will present the local context. The meeting will continue until 8 June with discussions on the country reports mapping the national contexts, planning interactive trainings and public HotLine campaign. The meeting is host by one the partners Forma.Azione.

The project is co-financed by Rights, Equality, Citizenship/Justice Programme of the European Union.

Sofia Innovation Advisory Group

Sofia Municipality established a Local Innovation Advisory Group to assist the city in developing more efficient policies for youth entrepreneurship and innovation. The Advisory Group was founded in the framework of the New Generation Skills project, INTERREG Danube Transnational Program, co-funded by the EU funds.

Sofia Municipality and Sofia Development Association are project partners, together with 10 other partners from 6 other countries. The Advisory Group includes diverse experts from the areas of social entrepreneurship (Yuriy Valkovski, Reach for Change Director), incubators and investment funds (Milen Hristov, Founder Institute), education, science and technology (Vasil Karaivanov, Sofia Tech Park Board of Directors Chairperson; Mariana Hamanova, Cleantech; Ivo Ivanov, 134 Secondacy School), Sofia municipal councilors Mihaela Ivanova and Botyo Botev, co-authors of Sofia Youth Strategy. The Advisory Group will stregthen the ability of Sofia to upgrade cooperation between administration, companies, educations, the youth and business support organizations and NGOs to nurture and retain young talent. The first meeting of the group took place on June 1st, 2017.

Further project activities include creating a dynamic learning program for entrepreneurial skills, coaching and mentoring provided through an Innovation Lab, youth policy development through peer learning.

More about the project here: http://www.interreg-danube.eu/approved-projects/newgenerationskills

An international conference "Culture for Social Inclusion, Social Innovation and Intercultural Dialogue" was held on May 19, 2017

An international conference of the Committee on Social policy, Education, Employment Research and Culture with the European Committee of the Regions (CR) was held in Sofia on May 19, 2017, in cooperation with Sofia Municipality. Over 40 local and regional politicians from the member states came to learn from the cultural policy and good practices of Sofia and to discuss the role of culture as a driver of social inclusion, social innovations and intercultural dialogue. Sofia applied and was selected to host the event upon the initiative of Malina Edreva, member of CR and Sofia municipal council.

The president of CR Markku Markkula and Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova outlined that the Bulgarian capital is among the first cities to establish innovative and bold models like the Fund for Innovations in Culture supporting creativity and culture in the city through public-private partnership, the Cultural management Academy, municipal hackathons and others. The European Year of Cultural Heritage, the European Urban Agenda in which Sofia is active in 3 out of 12 themes and coordinates the digital transition partnership, the new EU legislation regarding copy right were identified as factors facilitating the role of culture as a motor for inclusive growth.

Sofia deputy mayor Todor Chobanov, chief architect Zdravko Zdravkov, the MEP Eva Maidel, mayors and councilors from Sofia and Bulgaria, cultural operators, university professors, representatives of European embassies and cultural institutes also took part in the conference.

Sofia presented diverse good practices. The international participants were greatly impressed by the Roma social and educational center in Fakulteta, the supported by the municipality activities of Maria’s World Foundationa and Multi-Culti, the Volunteer Day held jointly by the business community and the Sofia Culture Directorate.

Sofia hosts a European conference on the role of culture for social inclusion

Over 40 local and regional politicians from EU member states will meet in Sofia on Friday 19 May to discuss the role of culture as a driver for social inclusion, social innovation and intercultural dialogue in Europe's cities and regions. The event is organised by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), the assembly of EU's local and regional representatives.

The seminar will be opened by the President of the European Committee of the Regions Markku Markkula, Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova and CoR member Malina Edreva, who is the chair of the Committee on Education and Culture in the Sofia Municipal Council. Representatives of the European Commission will present the ongoing preparations for the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018, which coincides with the Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU.

"Sofia has become a city of cultural and creative industries. We have invested in cultural infrastructure and the city has benefitted from the creation of new museums. We have had the first long-term municipal strategy for culture, even before the state, and it was made together with the artists and the people who are involved in cultural activities", Mayor Fandakova said.

Local and regional leaders from other EU countries will learn from Sofia’s experience in the field of management of cultural processes, funding culture via innovative public-private partnerships and regenerating spaces for cultural production. Member of European Parliament Eva (Paunova) Maydell will participate in a debate on the potential of culture in digital society and the role of technologies for cultural and social inclusion, with particular focus on creating employment opportunities. It is estimated that cultural and creative sectors provide over 80 000 jobs in Bulgaria.

Culture can be a key factor to the social inclusion of migrants, Roma community and people with disabilities. The Sofia city administration is addressing the challenges faced by the Roma via an innovative model which includes professional orientation and entrepreneurship training for young people. Much of the work at grassroots level is done by civil society organisations such as MultiKulti Collective, which is helping migrants to integrate in the Bulgarian society and educating local people through immersion in the customs, food and traditions of others. This and other similar cases will be presented to the participants.

The seminar is organised by the CoR's commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC) in partnership with the city of Sofia.

#BG10xEU Hackathon, May 12-13, 2017

24 hours of incredible energy came to an end. Out of 49 registered teams with over 350 participants, 34 teams succeeded to achieve a minimum viable product and to present before the jury the demo versions or prototypes of their proposed technological solutions. There was a great variety of ideas: from applications for combating forest fire to internet based big data in the area of public procurement; from mechanism for establishing a Fame Lab in every school to applications for identifying the relevant open calls for projects; from a platform for training, job searching and recruitment of people with disabilities to technological solutions for professional orientation; from serious games to foster recycling to an application for popular robotics.

8 teams reached the final selection and presented their ideas before the jury and the audience: Brain Hub Lab, The Peach Door, GaidARi, 1D, Dzham vrata – vrata dzham, Prizma, Education 4.0 and PCVT. And here are the results and prizes:

The first prize of 10,000 BGN, provided by Mtel, and a 10,000 BGN voucher for presentation at Webit 2018, was awarded to Prizma. Dimo, Zlatko and Zlatka have developed an app prototype for direct translation of video recorded text into sign language, with the option of broadening towards recognizing and teaching sign language. Thus if a deaf person has difficulties to read a text, they can video record it with their phone or web camera and turn it into a sign language. Since the sign languages differ in different countries, the team has added the option to translate from one sign language into another, for instance to video record an English text and translate it into Bulgarian sign language.

The second prize of 5,000 BGN, provided by Sofia Municipal Council, was given to the start-up team of BrainHUB lab. The team presented the idea for an app translating sign language in real time. The app includes a platform for learning the sign language. The presented demo entitled “Velar” demonstrated successful visualization and recognition of basic signs/jestures. The team presented a prototype of a wrist bracelet needed for the translation.

The third prize of 3,000 BGN, also provided by Sofia Municipal Council, went to one of the youngest teams – Dzham vrata – vrata dzham. The team consisted of four 16-year old high school students from Technological School Electronic System, associated with the Technical University. Telerik, Martin, Antonio and Vladislav developed an internet site for urban problems and challenges and possibilities for their solution both by the municipal government and by the citizens. The young developeds received another award as well: the Mtel prize for best presentation.

The special award of Telelink Group of 10,000 BGN went to GaidARi. With the possibilities of augmented reality GuidARi plan to revive the ancient history of the capital city and of Bulgaria, inviting students, tourists and interested audiences to experience and interact with our cultural and historic heritage. Apart from an app, GuidARi aim to initiate the development of a digital archive with models and reproductions of Sofia and Bulgaria sites. Ivaylo and Martin, students at Sofia University and New Bulgarian University, received also the special award of Eva Paunova-Maidel, MEP – a trip to Brussels to participate in the European Code Week.

The special award of Sofia Municipality – “Green Sofia”, was awarded to 1D. Yordan, Desislava and Nedi developed a web-based and mobile game with augmented reality, in which players can plant and take care of virtual trees placed in the empty spots of missing trees in Sofia reality. At the same time players can share their achievements online. The aim of the game is raise awareness about the missing trees in the city. The project includes creating database with geo locations of empty spots allocated for trees, to assist the work of local government and voluntary groups.

All teams-finalists received passes for Webit 2018, too.

The even was initiated by the representation of the EC in Bulgaria and Sofia Municipality, while Sofia Development Association, Software University, Webit Foundation, UPNETIX and British Council in Bulgaria are the main organizers. Hackathon partners are the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Education and Science, Sofia University – Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics and Faculty of Economy, University of Library studies and Information Technologies, Technical University – Gabrovo, Burgas Free University, Ruse University, Veliko Tarnovo university, Sofia Tech Park, Sofia Markets East, Coca Cola HBS, Nescafe Dolce Gusto, ONTOTEXT, Data Science Society, NGO Links, Imperia Online, DeaMix, Grazhdante.bg, Fund of Funds, Coworking Bansko, Idea Comm. General partners of the hackathon were Mtel and Telelink Group, and its media partner was BNT.

 

     

THE ROOFTOPS OF THE FUTURE IN SOFIA

The first architecture hackathon Elevated Habitat V1.0 ended with incredible success. The hackathon was part of Webit2017 programme and was held on the idea of Sofia’s Chief Architect Zravko Zdravkov and Plamen Rousev, founder of Webit. The initiative was organized by Sofia Development Association and DesignMorphine Studio. The hackathon was part of the events of the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria on the occasion of Bulgaria’s 10-year membership of the European Union.

On 26 April, architects with creative ideas worked for eight hours and offered their innovative concepts for the roof space of the Municipal Cultural Institute “Sredets”. Innovative and future-oriented ideas were developed to turn the building’s roof into an attractive place in this city area. The goal of Sofia Municipality was to turn the building into a stage that covered part of the needs of independent companies and artists to meet contemporary standards in the presentation of performing arts while preserving and improving its educational functions. It was essential for the participants’ concepts to emphasize the connection between the building and the Zaimov Park, whose reconstruction is due in the coming years too.

As part of its investment programme under Operational Programme “Regions in Growth” 2014-2020, Sofia Municipality plans to carry out the reconstruction and modernization of the Municipal Cultural Institute, turning it into a Centre of Contemporary Performing Arts and Education; with this respect, the site's architectural design is also to be updated. The ideas and innovative solutions, which were generated during Elevated Habitat V1.0, will be taken into account in the revised investment project.

All concept were presented to a selection panel comprised of:
Arch. Zdravko Zdravkov, Chief Architect of Sofia;
Malina Edreva, Chaiperson of a Standing Committee, Sofia Municipal Council;
Boyko Blagoev, Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria;
Svetlana Lomeva, Director, Sofia Development Association;
Arch. Orlin Davchev, Deputy Dean, University of Architecture, Civil Engineering, and Geodesy;
Arch. Vladimir Deyanov, Interior and Design Department , University of Structural Engineering and Architecture “Lyuben Karavelov”;
Plamen Rousev, President, Webit;
Tzvetelina Georgieva, Co-founder and President, DesignMorphine Association;
Vanya Barbalova, lawyer;
Ivan Velkov, Deputy Chairman of Sofia Municipal Council.

The task of the selection panel was extremely difficult. All of the presented concepts were innovative, created in support of the development of Sofia as an innovative and “green” city.

At an official ceremony of the National Register for New Construction and Reconstruction during Webit2017, the following teams and projects were awarded:

The first prize went to the Team:

 Hristo Hristov, Alexander Chernev, Tina Kovachka, Tania Nikolova, Radostn Vouchev
 Presentation

                The Selection Panel awarded two second prizes to:
                Anna Mitkova

                Presentation
               
                and the team of “EverGreen”: Alexander Kehayov, Dragostina Ivanova and Maria Ivanova
                Presentation

The awards (amounting to 2000 leva) were provided by Sofia Development Association.

Throughout the day, the participants were supported and encouraged by a mentoring team of DesignMorphine:Raul Shishkov – associated partner @ DesignMorphine; Georgi Kunchev – associated partner @ DesignMorphine; Zlatko Yanakiev - member @ DesignMorphine; Martin Petrov - member @ DesignMorphine.

                                           

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