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.



INTEGRA project team in Bulgaria co-organized a workshop together with the Balkan Youth Forum. The Balkan Youth Forum is a programme for informal civic education of young people aged 16 to 21. On July 20, 2018 the participants - 28 young people from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey worked together to identify ways to make Sofia a more welcoming place for third country nationals in terms of educational opportunities, access to services, visa procedures. Sofia Mayor Mrs Yordanka Fandakova was also in attendance to hear the proposals of the young people.







Balkan Youth become Positive Messengers

The Balkan Youth Forum participants organised a workshop for detecting hate speech and countering mistrust in this region of Europe. Thirty young people, aged 16 to 21, from twelve countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia, Turkey, Croatia and Montenegro developed together their skills how to recognise stereotypes and combat biases.

The change of what we say about each other is a change of the region”, “If we establish a culture of mutual respect, the Balkans will be a region people do not eat to flee from but see future in it”, “Individual societies thrive if the whole region is a realm of peace and tolerance” - these are among the hotlines of the young Balkan messengers joining the Coalition of Positive Messengers to Combat Online Hate Speech.

Balkan Youth Forum

Sofia Mayor Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova will host the final event of the Balkan Youth Forum on June 20, 2018, from 3 to 4 pm at the hall of Sofia Municipal Council. 28 young people from 12 countries, selected out of more than 300 candidates, have a week-long programme of meetings, lectures, debates, workshops, simulations and mutual sharing and learning. AT the final event they will present their ideas what could be done to have better connected and more cohesive Balkans, with more collaboration and youth empowerment.

The Balkan Youth Forum is an initiative of informal education of young people (16 – 18) from the Balkan countries, which is organized by a very young team of mentors (18 to 21) – alumni of the transatlantic exchange programme Benjamin Franklin. The project is a result of the 2017 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) competition, won by the Bulgarian participant Yana Voynova. It is therefore funded by U.S. State Department’s AIEF, the US Embassy in Bulgaria, and is implemented in partnership with Sofia Development Association.

Representatives of Balkan country embassies, NGOs and academia are invited to attend the final event. Mrs. Samantha Smith will also have a congratulatory address.

More information on the Balkan Youth Forum is available here:


Youth spaces and entrepreneurship are an important issue

Youth spaces and entrepreneurship are an important issue, which will be discussed in upcoming Sofia Youth Council meeting.

And the best place for this discussion would be the Youth Innovation Lab that will be opened in Sofia in September 2018 under the project New Generation Skills, co-financed by Interreg Danube Programme.

Sofia Development Association chaired the Sofia Youth Council on 12 July 2018 and also presented the Youth Innovation Lab and the Dynamic Learning Programme Call for Applications.

Sofia Innovation Potential Assessment

The teams that work to implement Sofia Smart Specialisation Strategy gathered together on July 12, 2018 to discuss its progress. The meeting was also a concrete occasion to present and discuss a new survey - the first Annual Sofia Innovation Potential Index, developed specifically for the purposes of Sofia RIS3 by The Institute for Market Economics in partnership with Sofia Development Association. 

The index showed that the innovation potential of Sofia doubled between 2008 and 2016. It also demonstrated very good developments in the area of human capital, scientific infrastructure and especially the multiplication of private investments in R&D&I. The challenges and threats are seen in the realm of relatively low quality of the scientific produce, low number of patents, low economic activity of young people. 

The research findings will be used for Sofia RIS3 evaluation and reporting and for setting up new measures for its implementation.  



Digital Cities Challenge Workshop

Sofia Development Association took part in the workshop under the Digital Cities Challenge on June 10, 2018, aimed at formulation of a Strategy for digital transformation and industrial modernization of Sofia. Together with representatives of ICT companies, local authority, municipal enterprises and public administration, innovation agencies, VC, business angels, technology park, incubators, we reviewed the existing policies and mainly Sofia Smart Specialization Strategy, and worked on developing scenarios for digital transformation in the domains of governance, transportation, utilities and start-ups.

The Digital Cities Challenge is a tailored programme of coaching and facilitation launched by the European Commission to help 15 cities, among which Sofia, develop and implement digital policies that can transform day to day life for residents, businesses, workers, and entrepreneurs. The project is coordinated locally by Sofia Investment Agency.

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