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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Innovative Public Transport in Sofia

Thanks to this project, the city will test for the first time in Europe an innovative practice for "green public transport on demand"

Sofia is the first Bulgarian city to win an Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) project. The program is an initiative of the European Union that provides urban areas across Europe with resources to test new and unproven solutions to urban challenges. The INNOAIR project of Sofia Municipality and a wide coalition of partners was approved for funding after a serious competition with 220 projects from other European cities and regions.

Through this project, Sofia will test for the first time in Europe an innovative practice for "green public transport on demand". Instead of traveling on predetermined routes, the new electric buses will create a route map based on the demand of citizens submitted through a mobile application. The app will use artificial intelligence to refine data analysis in order to create the most efficient route for each trip by gathering as many passengers as possible. The project provides for big data analysis, the use of artificial intelligence and cloud technologies.
The innovation will be tested in one of the districts in Sofia. The project will be implemented over 3 years and is expected to start this fall.

The project budget is around 4.6 million euros, with 20% co-financing provided by each of the partners. The leading partner of the consortium is Sofia Municipality, and its members are: Sofia Development Association, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski ”, Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski”, “Center for Urban Mobility”, National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria, “Telelink” and National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology.

Action Learning Workshop


CONNECTION project partners, among who Sofia Development Association, led by EUROCITIES as a project leader, held an online workshop on action learning on July 7, 2020. The workshop was designed to equip cities, clustered in communities of practice, with the methodologies and skills for the mutual exchange of experiences and study visits on themes, related to the integration of migrants.

Sofia takes part of the community of practice dedicated to integration and labour market and employment together with the cities of Atwerp, Belgium, Tampere, Finland and Madrid, Spain. These cities will get acquainted with each other’s good practices and will develop together solutions to the pressing challenges, additionally made more acute by the COVID-19 imposed situation.

The project is co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

Competition for Social entrepreneurs with a prize of €10,000 – organized by SDA under the project Finance4SocialChange

#AIRCompetition is an international competition for social entrepreneurs, in which over 240 candidates from 12 countries in the Danube region are taking part. It is divided in several stages, and moving forward ensures an increase in funding opportunities and the establishment of meaningful, international contacts with experts and investors. SDA is the organizer for Bulgaria and is happy to share that the applications submitted by Bulgaria are 25.

The first stage of the evaluation of Bulgarian applications will end in July 2020. A jury composed of professionals in the field of entrepreneurship will select 10 candidates who will be invited for an online interview. After conducting the video interviews, the jury will select 3 organizations to proceed to the second stage of the competition.

The jury consists of Viki Blazheva, First Vice President at UniCredit Bulbank and Director of Communications; Elitsa Barakova, Executive Director of the BCause Foundation; Martina Grigorova, Head of Business Lending and International Projects at SIS credit; Nikolay Tsenkov, Manager of the Municipal Guarantee Fund of Sofia Municipality and Sevdalina Voynova, Program Director of Sofia Development Association. The criteria for evaluating the applications are developed by the German organization Fa-Se.

The second stage of the competition involves submitting a detailed business plan of the organization by October 31 and participating in a pitching session in Belgrade in November, in which selected Bulgarian organizations will compete with Serbian and Moldovan social entrepreneurs.

Based on the evaluation of the business plan and the presentation in Belgrade, a winner will be selected who will receive a 10,000 euro investment for his business and will have the opportunity to present at an international event in Budapest in January 2021 to investors, social entrepreneurs and European experts.

Sofia Development Association wishes success to all candidates!

The project "Finances4SocialChange" is co-financed by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI). You can follow the competition at https://www.facebook.com/sofialabsda/ and https://sofia-da.eu/.

Urban Agriculture in Sofia?


On July 2, 2020, Sofia Development Association hosted a roundtable discussion on the future of urban agriculture in Sofia. The event is part of the project Urban Agriculture as a strategy for improving the quality of life of urban communities, implemented by the Institute for Philosophy and Sociology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Representatives of Sofia Municipality and civil society organizations gathered to discuss the opportunities and perspectives for developing urban agriculture in Sofia, and its social, economic and ecological impacts on the quality of life of local communities.

Sofia Development Association presented its own experience and projects linked to the topic, e.g. the CICERONE project, funded by Horizon2020, which focuses on circular economy, including food production and supply chains in urban settings. Through such projects SDA has developed strong networks of local and international partners for further exchange and cooperation on the topic.

      

"How to raise happy digital children?" – SDA’s online campaign on media literacy

Parents face a number of challenges as they raise and educate their children. In recent years, they have to prepare them for the difficulties that lie ahead not only in the real but also in the virtual world. Presence in it is an integral part of the daily lives of youths and elders and knowledge of media and information literacy is vital for civic and political participation. Today's world requires certain digital skills, and if parents do not take part in their development, they risk being cut off from both modernity and their children.

To stimulate the development of media literacy skills, Sofia Development Association is conducting an online campaign under IN-EDU project. It consists of various message cards provoking parents to learn about different aspects of this competence, as well as to make sure that their children are aware of the dangers of the Internet. The messages cover topics such as confidentiality, misinformation, fake news, environmental pollution from internet clouds, cyberbullying and others.

You can view the cards on the online profiles of SDA and IN-EDU project.

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

SDA exchanged experience on the issue "How to communicate the topic of migration?" with representatives of local authorities from the Mediterranean

The way we communicate the topic of migration is crucial for the formation of public opinion. The media, social networks and other sources of information outline the attitudes and behavior of the local population towards migrants. When the reader is unfamiliar with impartial and proven facts, manipulation through such channels is easy. In this regard, the MC2CM project organized a 4-day online conference "Communication on Migration: Balancing the Story to Strengthen Local Governance", which took place between 15 and 18 June 2020 and involved over 40 pre-selected participants.

The Mediterranean City-to-City Migration Project (MC2CM) brings together experts and cities to contribute to improved migration governance at city level, including migrants' access to basic services and human rights.

SDA has many years of experience in EU-funded projects in the fields of integration, countering hate speech, media and information literacy and inclusive education. The successful work of SDA on the INTEGRA and CONNECTION projects (funded by the EU’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund), as well as the current media literacy campaign within IN-EDU project (funded by the EU’s programme Erasmus +) were the reasons why the organization was chosen to participate in the peer-learning webinar.

Among the speakers were experts in the field of media, communication, migration and integration, representatives of various international organizations and institutions, as well as representatives of local authorities from Seville (Spain), Oujda and Tangier (Morocco), Ajloun (Jordan), Sousse (Tunisia) and others.

During the event, several cities presented statistics on the attitudes of the local population towards migrants and the extent to which it has been formed by certain information channels. Various tactics to counter misinformation, disinformation and propaganda were discussed. The speakers gave examples of successful and unsuccessful campaigns and events, as well as advice on how to choose the right approach for your local community. In addition to exchanging practice, the webinar provided an opportunity to identify future partners. All participants left the online event with new knowledge and inspiration to put it into practice.

      

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