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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SDA WITH A KEY NOTE SPEAKER AT TECHNOLOGY FORUM THESSALONIKI


The 11th edition of Thessaloniki signature innovation event – the Technology Forum – was held on April 25, 2024. It is a joint effort of 24 Greek institutions, universities and businesses and aims to present cutting-edge technologies to enterprises that could be used to produce innovative products and services, to bridge the gap between research and industry, to foster the start-up environment and the global links and presence.

This year one of the key note speakers was Sevdalina Voynova with Sofia Development Association. Sevdalina share the experience of Sofia over the last decade in working with data and AI, start-up and innovation ecosystem support, the need of social innovation toguarantee just transition.

The Technology Forum was accompanied by BEYOND - the largest meeting for digital transformation, technology and innovation in Greece, with the participation of world leaders in the technology and innovation, the largest AI congress in Greece, numerous business meetings, career days, and a wealth of conferences, colloquiums, and workshops.

      

LEAD PARTNER SEMINAR FOR THE INTERREG DANUBE PROGRAM


The Serbian Chamber of Commerce hosted in Belgrade the lead partner seminar for the Interreg Danube Program April 23-25, 2024. As the coordinator of the Be Ready Project, SDA also took part in the event. The seminar brought together over 120 representatives of project consortia, funded under the 1st call of DTP Interreg in 2023. The 2-day event was an opportunity to meet with the management of the program, to learn the do’s and don’ts of successful project management, and to network with sister projects and organizations from the partner countries in DTP.

SDA has already started the implementation of its project, Be Ready, which addresses the climate mitigation capacities of local authorities in 12 countries of the Danube region, with a special focus on urban heat islands. Follow the project’s Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to find out more about the project activities and how to get involved.


      

This project is supported by the Interreg Danube Region Programme co-funded by the European Union.

ON EARTH DAY, WE PRESENT A PROJECT CONTRIBUTING TO CLIMATE RESILIENCE

On Earth Day (April 22), let's acknowledge the efforts and contributions of projects in our city that help preserve both the city and the planet for future generations.

In the face of growing global climate change, the need to respond to its impacts has never been more urgent. The Danube Transnational Programme (DTP) promotes economic, social, and territorial cohesion in the Danube River region, enabling partners from 14 countries to test innovative solutions for climate resilience.

The first call of the Interreg Danube Region Programme attracted 290 concepts, of which 89 passed to the second stage, and 60 reached the stage of financing agreements. Twenty of these projects fall under the priority "A greener, low-carbon Danube Region."

One innovative project from this selection is Be Ready (UrBan hEat islands REsilience, prepAreDness and mitigation strategy). The project aims to provide local and regional authorities with tools to identify urban heat islands and understand their causes and consequences on human health, productivity, energy consumption, and biodiversity. The project brings together 19 partners from 12 countries jointly developing solutions to mitigate the effects of heat islands in urban environments. Partner cities, including Sofia, will develop action plans to overcome urban heat islands through data analysis, urban planning solutions, regulations, increased awareness, and infrastructure measures.

A key aspect of the project's approach is the concept of "urban acupuncture" - specific small interventions with a large effect. Urban pilot activities will explore solutions in three areas: "green acupuncture," using vegetation; "white acupuncture," using innovative surfaces and materials; and "blue acupuncture," related to new ways of using water resources.

You can get involved and support actions fighting climate change in Sofia, and make the world more sustainable for everyone. Find more information about the project on our social media pages on Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as on the project website: https://www.interreg-danube.eu/projects/beready.

This project is supported by the Interreg Danube Region Programme co-funded by the European Union.

SDA JOINS THE EU PACT OF SKILLS

SDA is a proud member of the Pact for Skills community which aims to mobilise a concerted effort for quality investment in up- and reskilling Europe’s workforce.  

The Pact for Skills was launched on 10 November 2020. It aims to support public and private organisations with maximising the impact of their investment in upskilling and reskilling, so they can thrive through the green and digital transitions.

The Pact for Skills calls on national, regional and local authorities; companies; social partners; cross-industry and sectoral organisations; chambers of commerce; education and training providers; and employment services to work together and make a clear commitment to invest in training for all people of working age in the EU.

The Pact is the first of the flagship actions under the European Skills Agenda. It is firmly anchored in the European Pillar of Social Rights and supports the ambitions of the EU Industrial and SME Strategies.

Membership in the Pact is a new opportunity for SDA to adopt good EU practices for upskilling and reskilling, as well as to network with European organizations on a variety of topics. Currently, SDA is a consortium member of the SYNCLUSIVE project which is focused on helping vulnerable women 55+ improve their chances for sideward or upward mobility in the labor market. Taking part in initiatives of the PACT opens up possibilities to scale social innovations for the future of employment in Bulgaria.

 

   
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094526

THE 2ND ANNUAL SYNCLUSIVE MEETING

The highly anticipated annual meeting for the SYNCLUSIVE research project took place from 21st to 22nd March 2024 in Helsinki, Finland, and it was a resounding success!

The meeting brought together a significant number of participants, exceeding 25 attendees from various esteemed institutions and organisations - research partners, living lab implementers, reflective partners and advisory board members. Throughout the event, the participants engaged in vibrant discussions, presented research findings, and exchanged valuable insights related to the labour market and the vulnerable groups, the realist evaluation method, the ENGINE model and the Living Labs in Sofia, Kokkola, Amersfoort and Portugal. The diverse range of perspectives and expertise contributed to the richness of the discussions, igniting new ideas and potential avenues for further exploration.

As we reflect on the success of this annual meeting, we are grateful for the dedication and hard work of everyone involved, including the host team of FIOH, speakers, presenters, and attendees. Their commitment and contributions played a crucial role in making this event such a success.

Moving forward, we are excited about the potential outcomes of the research that will materialise during the remaining nearly 3 years of the project and potential collaborations that may emerge. The next annual meeting is planned for March 2025 in Sofia, followed by the midterm workshop in Brussels in June 2025.

Stay informed about more news via our website, X, and LinkedIn channels!

   
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094526

LEARNINGS FROM PEERS: AVOIDING COMMON MISTAKES

After several intensive learning sessions, the first drafts of the business plans of the participants (refugees) in the Business Accelerator program under the PLOUTOS project are finally ready. Ideas for service businesses such as culinary experiences, community hairdressing, and music schools were thoroughly discussed.

One highlight was a session featuring a special guest mentor, Milad, a Syrian refugee who successfully established his own small business. On March 6th, participants had the opportunity to meet Milad face-to-face. He graciously shared his journey and the challenges he overcame to set up a thriving restaurant in downtown Sofia. From licensing to initial investments, access to banking and credit, hiring practices, and even attitudes towards refugees, Milad provided invaluable insights.

Among the key lessons shared were:

          “Investing in your employees pays off: it helps retain trained staff and is also a way to support the refugee community"

          "The location is crucial. I chose a spot in the downtown area, close to schools and offices, which naturally attracted clients."

          "Local clients appreciate it when you speak their language."

          "Consistently delivering high-quality products keeps customers coming back."

          "Regularly analyzing sales data allows for adjustments in recipes, pricing, and promotions."

The participants in the Business Acceleration program greatly valued the opportunity to learn directly from peers. This firsthand knowledge not only enriches their understanding but also equips them to avoid common pitfalls.

Don't miss the chance to watch the video featuring Milad as he shares his inspiring story and valuable insights:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5i1M6nYzaU&t=1s

      

PLOUTOS is implemented with the support of the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

 

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