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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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.

                                           

NEW MEDIA TO BE CREATED AT WEBIT2017!


The guests of Webit2017 will face the microphone and the Sofia School Media (SSM) camera. The 134th High School Initiative is expanding and, together with a team of NPMG (National High School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics), supported by Sofia Municipality (Sofia Development Association), will make news feeds from Webit2017. Expect each day (April 25-26) 4 issues in English and one summary in Bulgarian at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLR_vY8weZlP4lsWjpwahA7AbmciKE82k2

The initiative started with Mr. Ivaylo Ivanov, a teacher at 134th High School, and the school principal, Mrs. Vesela Paldamova. The idea was to make a platform for school media, which students from NPMG developed. In this platform, each school will be able to publish news on school life in an interesting and attractive way. Sofia Municipality (SDA) was committed to supporting and developing the initiative because it develops the media and communication skills of students. We thank Plamen Rousev and Aniela Rouseva for their support of Sofia School Media, to be promoted at Webit2017.

35 TEAMS PARTICIPATED IN THIS YEAR’S EDITION OF “BIG TO ME”

On 22 April, the traditional information technology contest “Big to Me” took place at 134th High School “Dimcho Debelyanov”, where children of 5th, 6th and 7th grade from different schools in Sofia, together with an older relative or friend, worked on a specific task.

The competition has been held every year since 2010, with the support of Sofia Municipality, Sofia Development Association. The idea of the competition is for children to learn to work in a team on a joint project, to bring together students with their parents and relatives, the organizers explained.

Each year the tasks have a different theme. This year it was “Green Sofia”.

For a consecutive year, our partnership with “Big to Me” produces results: incredible ideas for posters promoting the upcoming release of shared bicycles in Sofia - “Around Sofia on a Bike”, rich presentations with little-known information about “Sofia Parks and the Birds in Them”.

The 5th grade students had to make a logo for a “green” event, the 6th grade students - to collect information online and make a poster, and the 7th grade students - to make presentations about the nature parks and the birds that inhabit them.

Thirty-five teams participated this year in the contest; most participants were in the 5th grade - 25 teams. For the first time since the beginning of the competition, more fathers had participated than mothers. There were 15 dads. For the first year, there was an old participant in the competition - a 73-year-old grandfather.

Detailed information about the award-winning teams and their projects can be found at www.bigtome.info.

       

“YOUR SOFIA“ HAS ALREADY BEEN IMPLEMENTED AND WILL BE PRESENTED AT WEBIT 2017

The Mobile Application Project “Your Sofia”, which last year won the big prize of the first 24-hour Sofia Municipality Innovation Hackathon, already has a developed prototype. It will be presented in Sofia at the largest digital economy forum in Europe - Webit Festival /25-26 April/.

The team that created the mobile application is comprised of Bulgarian young people who live in different places around the world and in Bulgaria. Their idea is for the mobile application to take every guest of Sofia to as many sights as possible, to give information about different tourist sites and how to reach them. In addition, addresses and telephones of embassies, hospitals, stations, restaurants, hotels, prices, etc. are included. In short, everything a native of Sofia can provide as information in order to be useful to his friend from abroad when he/she wants to see the Bulgarian capital.

“The implementation of the idea for the application was realized with the active assistance of Sofia Development Association, Municipal Enterprise "Tourism", SK “Public Transport” and a lot of enthusiasm”, Ilian Dimitrov and Elitza Stefanova, winning team members said yesterday.

“Our capital is superb, so long that someone shows you around and guides you through - where, what, when and how you can see and experience", added Elitza, who otherwise lives in London.

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