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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SCIENCE AND INNOVATION FOR TERRITORIAL GOVERNANCE

Since the beginning of this year, SDA and the Applied Research and Communications Fund are implementing the project RRI Leaders - Leveraging Leadership for Responsible Research and Innovation in Territories. Funded by Horizon 2020, the 3-year project aims to develop a strategy and action plan for integrating the principles of responsible research and innovation (RRI) in the development and management of the innovation ecosystem in the participating territories (Sofia, Talville (Switzerland), Sabadell (Spain), Western Macedonia in Greece).

The policies on which Sofia Municipality is focusing in RRI Leaders include support for innovations, digital transition and new skills, youth employment and entrepreneurship, sustainable urban development. The studies carried out so far in the project – in-depth interviews with experts, one focus group, a participatory workshop, have identified various issues related to the above policies, which can be improved through increased public engagement, more effective cooperation between the municipal authorities, academia, the private and the non-governmental sector, better use of the results of research and science in setting long-term priorities for sustainable urban development, etc. On July 15, SDA and the ARC Fund organized a workshop with representatives of the research and innovation ecosystem, businesses, the municipal administration and NGOs. Working in groups, the participants proposed strategic and practical measures to be included in relevant future strategic and policy documents in the policy areas referred to above. These proposals will become an integral part of the transformative outlook for the development of the city, which will be developed by the end of the project.

More information about the results of the research and upcoming activities can be found on the project website, https://www.rri-leaders.eu/, on the website of SDA and the ARC Fund.

      

SOFIA IS FINALIST FOR THE TITLE OF THE EUROPEAN GREEN CAPITAL 2023

Sofia is among the finalists in the European Green Capital competition for 2023 with a score of 44 points. Currently, the city ranks second among the four finalists from a total of 16 European cities, that have participated in the competition. This is the final step in the process of selecting a winner. Sofia will present in length its serious commitment to creating sustainable urban development to an international jury. The strategy for communication and engagement of the citizens of Sofia is one of the criteria by which the capital will be evaluated.

Sofia's candidacy for "European Green Capital" was prepared by the "Green Sofia" project of the Sofia Development Association. It describes in detail the steps to improve the situation with some of the most pressing issues - air quality, reducing acoustic pollution, and waste management. Among the projects with a high contribution to the evaluation is INNOAIR which aims to improve air quality through innovative approaches.

Sofia will compete for the first place in this year's "European Green Capital" with three other finalists: Helsingborg (Sweden), Krakow (Poland) and Tallinn (Estonia). The winner takes on the role of "ambassador of change", motivating and inspiring other cities in Europe and around the world by encouraging the sharing of knowledge and experience and stimulating innovation. The winner has the task to show that green cities perform better not only ecologically, but also economically and socially.

"I am delighted to see that, despite these challenging times, European cities are taking the lead in improving their urban environment," said Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. The winner of the European Green Capital 2023 title will be announced at the official award ceremony, which will take place on 9 September in Lahti, this year's European Green Capital.

SHARING OPPORTUNITIES AND PROSPECTS FOR BUSINESS IN THE TRANSITION TO A CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Sofia Development Association (SDA), Cleantech Bulgaria – Regional Hub Manager for Bulgaria of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology – Climate-KIC and the National Center for Public Health and Analysis at the Ministry of Health organized an event on “Circular Economy – Opportunities and Prospects for Business in Bulgaria”.

The event took place on July 7, 2021 in the Business Incubator building of Sofia Tech Park and was started by Mariana Hamanova - CEO of Cleantech. Snezhina Gabova from SDA presented the activities of the Association and in particular the work on projects INNOAIR, CICERONE, TRANSFROM and CityZen.

Experts on the relevant topics presented the circular economy through the prism of national priorities, the bioeconomy and the policies of the European Union. Mr. Zhelyaz Enev from the Ministry of Economy spoke about the place of the circular economy in the Strategy for SMEs 2021-2027 and presented the process of updating the new Strategy for Smart Specialization of the Republic of Bulgaria 2021-2027.

For her part, Prof. Krassimira Kaneva, Agricultural Academy, pointed out the development and trends in the bioeconomy and the agricultural sector in Bulgaria. As a finale, Dr. Bernard Gindros, N-Able - France, presented live online cohesion instruments and policies to support the European Union's transition to a circular economy.

This is the first in a series of events organized by the Regional Hub of Climate-KIC in Sofia. The next events are planned for September and October – keep an eye on our page for more information and how to join them.

With the support of:

      

AGORA WORKSHOP "TRANSFORMING SPACES FOR CULTURAL PURPOSES"

The state of play AGORA workshop "Transforming spaces for cultural purposes" brought together 38 participants, of which 25 were present on site at SofiaLab, and 13 participated in the meeting online. On June 29, the participants discussed Sofia's needs for new cultural spaces - such as lack of key infrastructure, e.g. large-scale exhibition halls for visual arts, as well as new needs for more coworking spaces and meeting places for communities after COVID-19. Appropriate buildings that are not in use and could meet these needs were also discussed.

The reconstructions and the creation of new functionality of industrial heritage have their challenges: high cost, long terms, difficult return on investment, divergent interests and lack of clear focus, the need for a very effective management team. That is why cultural operators and experts suggested testing other, more flexible models, such as a regulated public subsidy to encourage private investment in such renovations, the creation of management teams to help cultural operators, new partnership regulations and more. The Program for Integrated Development of Sofia, which is currently being developed, and the forthcoming new Strategy for Culture are appropriate strategic tools to encourage the transformation of cultural spaces. Another conclusion that the participants agreed on is that in order for the municipal policy in this area to be sustainable and successful, it must be in line with national priorities, and a national strategy for culture is still lacking.

The participants in the workshop supported the creation of an informal community and a network of like-minded people who want to contribute together to the future transformations of spaces in Sofia.

You may learn more about the project and the upcoming activities at http://www.interreg-danube.eu/approved-projects/agora and https://www.facebook.com/InterregAGORA.

The AGORA project is implemented under the INTERREG Danube program and is co-financed by the European Union funds (ERDF, IPA II).

      

      

FINAL CONFERENCE OF THE IN-EDU PROJECT - RESULTS AND LONG-TERM EFFECT

After 2 years of hard and fruitful work, the Sofia Development Association (SDA) team presented remarkable results during the final conference of the IN-EDU project, which took place in Perugia on June 22.

The aim of the IN-EDU project is to contribute to increasing media literacy and critical thinking among students, teachers and parents. The project contributes to the development of skills such as recognizing fake news, counteracting hate speech, controlling information chaos, protecting personal data and more.

Sofia Development Association fulfilled these goals through numerous activities. In February 2020, SDA, in partnership with DZZD Obuchenie, organized a training by experts for almost 40 teachers from over 15 schools on the topic of media literacy, and provided resources and ideas on how to teach more interactively and effectively. The training proved to be very beneficial given the recent immersion in an entirely online environment.

Between May and July of the same year, SDA conducted an online information campaign titled "How to raise happy digital children?" - a provocative but thought-provoking campaign involving over 50,000 people and challenging a large number of parents to help their children develop the necessary digital skills to cope with today's digital world.

In early February 2021, SDA together with DZZD Training within IN-EDU project, organized a student hackathon for media and information literacy, which involved almost 100 students - all of them received support from experienced mentors and participated with enthusiasm in the competition. Their efforts were rewarded - 6 teams received funding for their campaigns, and later the best of the best received additional awards.

Some of these teams also took part in the international student camp, which took place in May and brought together 60 participants from the 5 partner countries. In the matter of 2 days, all students had the opportunity to work on a real social cause, set by representatives of the business or NGO sector. Their campaigns are already beneficial to the activities of the organizations.

The implementation of the project objectives guarantees its effect even after its completion. Inspiring and meaningful, the events are a prerequisite for long-term positive changes – Internet users that are more informed and better oriented in the digital world.

The project INclusion Communities through Media Inclusion and Critical Thinking EDUcation (IN-EDU) is co-financed by the EU Erasmus + Programme.

    

    

KICK-OFF MEETING OF THE SOCIAL INNOVATION PLUS – CENTERS FOR COMPETENCE (SI PLUS) PROJECT


The kick-off meeting of the project took place online on 23 June 2021, with the participation of the partners from Austria (coordinator), Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, and associated partners from Germany, Croatia, and Slovenia. Discussions focused on the need to identify new opportunities for the development of social innovations by defining more clearly the objectives, intervention strategies and long-term impact of such initiatives. The project partners will work to create a new model of competence centers for social innovation, which are expected to support public authorities, the non-governmental sector, and the private sector in each of the partner countries in seeking long-term solutions to systemic socio-economic and environmental problems, to overcome inequalities and to achieve just social progress.

 

   

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