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.


New Generation Skills

Young generations have the potential to be pro-active engines of innovation and become change-makers in their local communities. However, 62% of young people in Central and Eastern Europe are not interested in starting their own business, whereas one in five would like to, but consider it too difficult. That's the reason why Sofia Development Association and Sofia Municipality becames partner of the project New Generation Skills, funded by the Danube Transnational Program.

Between June 27 and 29, 2017, partners from Liberec (Czech Republic), Budapest (Hungary), Maribor (Slovenia), Cluj (Romania), Graz (Austria), Belgrade (Serbia) and Sofia met in Liberec to compare and discuss their local environments to support youth. The primary target of the joint efforts are young people (15-29). Cities and regions aim to engage SME's, NGO's, administrations, educational organisations and also mentors, lectors and coaches to build and test common initiatives supporting the young. The interregional workshop identified shared challenges, selected established good practices and outlined the next steps: developing local innovation agendas and transnational innovation lab.
More information on the project is available at



Bringing Innovation to SMEs

Eight European regions met in Gyor, Hungary, on June 19 – 21, 2017, to learn from each other on how to improve R&D utilization in SMEs. The meeting was the fifth interregional learning event of InnoBridge project funded by INTERREG EUROPE programme.

The regions of West Transdanubia, Hungary, and the autonomous region of Bolzano, Italy, presented their ecosystems and policy instruments in support of innovation and SMEs.

Györ, the centre of the Hungarian automotive industry, also demonstrated their good practices: Mobilitis Science Center and the Research Center of Vehicle Industry with the Széchenyi István University. Building on Győr’s technical and industrial heritage and high-tech automotive presence, Mobilis focuses on the scientific and technological concepts related to transport and vehicles, doing so to engage young visitors with the industry and draw attention to exciting potential (engineering and/or science) career paths in the industry. Mobilis (100% Győr City municipality owned non-profit organisation) operates out of a brand new building located on the campus of Széchenyi István University of Győr. The Research Center of Vehicle Industry aims at providing appropriate research and development cooperation between the automotive partners and higher education. Both organizations show that the joined efforts of industry, academia and local government produce proven results by Györ’s ranking second in Hungary in GDP.

The InnoBridge project is implemented in Sofia by Sofia Development Association of behalf of Sofia Municipality and ARC Foundation. More about the project is available here:


Sofia Supports #BG10xEU Hackathon Projects

Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova met today, June 13, with the winners of #BG10xEU Hackathon, initiated by the EC representation in Bulgaria and Sofia Municipality. The 5 awarded teams presented their projects to the mayor and representatives of Sofia Municipality directorates that can assist the projects realization. The meeting, organized by Sofia Development Association, was also attended by the partner companies Upnetix, Deamix, as well as the jury members Iliana Zaharieva, Mtel, Tsvetan Mutafchiev, Telelink, prof. Nikolay Denkov, Sofia University.

The teams-finalists apply the capacities of ICT to establish links between people and institutions, to address social challenges and to empower citizens. “Now comes the time for people like you, said Mrs. Fandakova to the winners, not just active citizens but productive citizens, who from the very start are part of solving urban problems.”

The mayor declared the willingness of the municipality to support the realization of the demo projects. “My appeal is to continue together. For me as a mayor these are not prizes for your 24-hour work but an investment in the city and its talent.”

The winners received the contracts for their awards from Mtel, Telelink, Sofia Municipality, Webit. Microsoft, also hackathon partner, awarded four of the teams with free services under the BizSpark programme, supporting start-ups with free Microsoft Azure services, software and support for one year. Mtel also provided a special award – mobile phones – for the team with best presentations, while the Bulgarian MEP Eva Paunova-Maydell invited one of the teams to take part in the European Code Week in Brussels.

#BG10xEU Hackathon was praised as a valuable opportunity to generate ideas and partnerships. “We are thankful to the organizers, the sponsors ans most of all to the other participants who helped us a lot with ideas, data and testing”, said Dimo Chortov with the winning team Prizma. “In certain applications our idea is better that that of the winning team, therefore the two teams decided to work together on those”, added Oleg Kamenshtik with BrainHub Lab team.

The second partnership meeting under the Coalition of Positive Messengers captures the interest of the local stakeholders in Perugia

The second partnership meeting under the Coalition of Positive Messengers took place in Perugia, Italy on 6-8 June and was hosted by our partner Forma.Azione. In the meeting framework we organized a joint discussion with presentation of the findings of the national framework mapping reports developed by the partners from 7 project countries with local stakeholders. The local stakeholders who joined the meeting were representatives of the following organizations ARCI Perugia (the most important Umbria first and second refugees and asylum seekers welcome services operator), CPIA (a structure of the Ministry of Education that provides a training offer for adults and young adults from socially excluded groups who have not completed the compulsory education), Young Muslims of Italy Association -“GMI”( a national social, free, independent and apartheid association), Department for the immigration, international protection, promotion of the culture of peace, young people of the Region of Umbria and Università degli Studi di Perugia. They joined our Coalition of Positive Messengers and assured us that they will be actively involved in further project activities such as trainings and public campaign.

The full national reports describing the national contexts, societal responses to online hate speech with policy recommendations will be published on the project websites July 2017.

Positive Messengers spread the project messages during the Piedibus del Benessere in Perugia

During the Coalition of Positive Messengers project meeting in Perugia, Italy, the host oraganisation Forma.Azione initiated a joint Multicultural Walk Based Learning with the “Piedibus del Benessere”. This is an initiative promoted by the Local Health Agency USL Umbria with the patronage of the Municipality of Perugia. Its aim is to raise awareness on a healthy lifestyle among the community and integrate socially excluded people.

The Positive Messengers project partners presented the project and exchanged experiences with around 50 representatives of the local community on the creative ways of engaging communities in meaningful social causes.


On 7 and 8 June, Sofia Municipality (Sofia Development Association) hosted a working meeting of the Digital Transition Partnership. Sofia coordinates this partnership together with Estonia and the Finish City of Oulu.

The initiative is part of the Urban Agenda for the EU, implemented through an innovative method of broad partnerships between representatives of member states, city authorities, the European Commission, the managing authorities of operational programs, the European Investment Bank, experts, non-governmental organizations and representatives of the private sector.

Its main objective is to improve existing policies in the fields of legislation, education and European funding policies and to increase their effectiveness by introducing new measures.
The Urban Agenda for the EU will create new forms of interaction, focusing on urban issues and challenges with a European dimension.
Thematic partnerships are the main mechanism for implementing the Urban Agenda. Within these partnerships, the European Commission, member states and European cities will work together to strengthen the urban dimension of European policies.

The partnerships will work on 12 priority themes, defined in the Urban Agenda for the EU.

Sofia had applied and was selected, together with Estonia and Oulu, Finland, as coordinator of the Digital Transition Partnership.

The objective of the Digital Transition Partnership is to improve public services for citizens and to create new business opportunities.

The main panel discussions in Sofia are:
• E-government;
• New skills and learning of the future;
• Standardization of databases and compatibility;
• Urban planning;
• Health and social care of the future;
• New business models, accelerating urban growth;
• 5G and other key base technologies.

Elen Gerdjikov, Chairman of Sofia Municipal Council and Chairman of the Managing Board of Sofia Development Association, gave the start of the international meeting: 
“We talked about smart cities, now we are talking about a smart society. Cities have the responsibility to play a decisive role in creating a smart society, not only by using and implementing technological solutions and related new services, but also as strong partners and intermediaries of the digital transition.”

More than 40 representatives of local and national authorities from European cities and countries gathered in Sofia to develop an action plan and policy change recommendations to assist and support the process of digital transition in Europe.

Inspiring speech by Plamen Roussev (founder of Webit) to the participants in the Digital Transition Partnership:
“If we talk about the future, we must think about empowering young people because they believe they can change the world.” Plamen Rusev highlighted the enormous potential in Sofia, Bulgaria and Eastern Europe, potential in the field of digital innovations and technologies. “It is not accidental that Sofia is one of the coordinators of the Digital Transition Partnership, because our city has already won recognition as SOFIA - DIGITAL CAPITAL.”


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