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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1st FOCUS GROUP, SOFIA

Sofia Development Association held the first focus group for qualitative analysis of Sofia policies and practices for integration of third country nationals (TCN) and migrants on May 10, 2018. Out of the none participants, seven were third country nationals and two – NGO experts in the area of integration. The main topics discussed were the presence of TCN in Sofia, the attitudes towards TCN, available services for them, challenges and difficulties they face.

The predominant attitude towards TCN is evaluated as neutral to positive. However, there are certain variables: it depends on the age of the host population, the younger generation being more tolerant than the elderly; it depends on the origin of the host population, people from Sofia being more tolerant than people from the countryside; and most of all it depends on the race.

TCN participants have some negative experiences with landlords who are not willing to rent to foreigners and oftentimes accuse them of stealing or terminate the contract unexpectedly, and also from the police because they are stopped, questioned and have their personal belongings searched more often than any Bulgarians they know.

Significant differences were observed with regards to services. TCN of Bulgarian origin (Bulgarian minorities abroad) – are in a privileged position, while the others claim they have no access to information and advise. The vast majority of TCN have no knowledge of the services provided by NGOs.

There is a lot of red tape for administrative and legal issues, mainly visas/permits. Fees are too high, it takes a lot of time to push papers, the requirements change very often, there is not translation from Bulgarian. Other challenges include limited access to health care, housing and employability, particularly issuing blue cards.

Recommendations what Sofia could do is to assist TCN integration included setting up an information center (public or CSR sourced), or developing/supporting a user friendly online information platform. Sofia can also work with employers and universities to explain and make information available on TCN education, work prospects, blue cards. It was recommended to have the local authority more engaged through appointing an ombudsman for TCN and migrants, a system for signals for racist graffiti, help line serviced volunteers, etc.
Sofia could also partner with Migration Directorate to service (voluntary) information desk and English interpretation, as well as CSR/voluntary legal aid to TCN.

SOfiaGREEN - Winner in the Annual Contest “Bulgaria’s Greenest Companies”


On 11 May 2018, the SOfiaGREEN project of Sofia Municipality was announced as the winner in the category “Public Organizations, Municipalities and State Structures”, in the eighth edition of the contest “Bulgaria’s Greenest Companies”, organized by b2b Media. The award distinguished the efforts of SOfiaGREEN in launching the NOWASTE platform. With the use of simplistic design and accessible language, the website http://www.waste.sofia.bg/ aims to educate the citizens of Sofia, how to properly dispose their of household waste and encourage them to recycle more. The project was implemented with the support of Lidl Bulgaria and CSR Bulgaria, the Center for Research and Design - UACEG, the Waste Management Directorate at Sofia Municipality and the Sofia Inspectorate.

SOfiaGREEN is a project of Sofia Municipality, executed by the Sofia Development Association.

SOFIA MUNICIPALITY IS THE FIRST MUNICIPALITY IN BULGARIA TO DEVELOP AN INNOVATION STRATEGY FOR SMART SPECIALIZATION

“Sofia Municipality is the first municipality in Bulgaria to develop, adopt, and currently implement an Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization of Sofia, The strategy lays out information and communication technologies and creative industries as priorities for the city,” said Mayor of Sofia Ms Yordanka Fandakova at the “Smart Specialization and Technology Transfer as Innovation Drivers for Regional Growth” conference, organized by the Joint Research Center and the European Commission. Taking part in the conference were EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, and President of the European Committee of the Regions Markku Markkula.

"In the last several years, Sofia Municipality is actively involved in supporting events connected to digital technologies and innovations, such as Webit.Festival and Innovation Explorer, and, in just a few weeks in June, Sofia will again be the host of Webit.Festival Europe. With the cooperation of of EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, Sofia will host the Digital Assembly, and as part of which is organizing the Balkan Hackathon,” said Fandakova.

In recent years, Sofia has been developing as the largest Municipal economy, outputting 40% of the country’s GDP, and is continuing to prove itself as an attractive place for investment.

Information technologies are among the fastest growing industries in Sofia. They comprise 5,7% of the economy and generate a growing part of Bulgaria’s exports. The IT sector employs 40 400 workers in Sofia, one third of whom are women.

Over 100 IT companies are currently working in Sofia, additionally developing highly qualified specialists. One of the primary stimuli for new investors in the capitol is a well-prepared work force, with over 50% of the active population carrying a university degree.

The Mayor also noted that Sofia is the first municipality in Bulgaria undertaking the process of opening its data. With the support of programme “Europe” and the cooperation of Sofia Development Association, an open data platform is developed, starting with the publication of the summary budget of Sofia Municipality, as well as the projects under programme “Culture” and public procurements. Currently, Sofia Municipality maintains 27 open datasets. 2018 forsees the opening of 23 more.

In addition, the city is developing free public WiFi zones, including in public transport. The Sofia Metro has full free WiFi coverage. Sofia Municipality is also applying as part of project WiFi4EU for financing and assisting the installment of public WiFi hotspots.

Under the project “New Generation Skills,” Sofia Municipality is also working on creating a lab for innovation and ideas. Sofia Municipality will be unveiling a space for generating innovations and creative ideas in support of young people.

"Sofia is among the coordinators of the Urban Agenda for the EU, in which the EC and multiple European cities are in direct partnership. Sofia is coodrinator of the Digital Transition partnership along with Estonia and Oulu, Finland. The aim of the partnership is to identify and propose new measures and solutions for improving EU legislation, financing municipal policies and education programs for making a smooth digital transition in Europe,” added Fandakova.

 

SDA IS A PARTNER FOR THE “DIGITAL CITY AND I” HACKATHON / MAY 28-29, BURGAS

SDA IS A PARTNER FOR THE “DIGITAL CITY AND I” HACKATHON / MAY 28-29, BURGAS
Under the patronage of EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Ms Mariya Gabriel.
Burgas Free University
28-29 May 2018, Burgas

On the 28th and 29th of May, 2018, Burgas Free University successfully hosted the “Digital City and I” Hackathon under the patronage of the EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Ms Mariya Gabriel.

ABOUT THE “DIGITAL CITY AND I” HACKATHON

In May 2017, the BG10xEU Hackathon was successfully hosted by Sofia Municipality and Sofia Development Association, in partnership with Burgas Free University (BFU). In light of BFU’s considerable contribution and the program for the European Maritime Day in Burgas, it was decided that this year’s edition of the hackathon would be continued at Burgas Free University. Students, undergraduates, and graduates interested and ambitious came to prove their abilities on the topics of E-cology, E-tourism, E-debates and civic participation, E-payment and Fintech for all, E-sea and its opportunities, E-infrastructure for all, Digital Education, Digital Services for Public Administration, Smart E-nergy resources.

 

The “Big to Me” competition gathered students and their parents and gave them the opportunity to work together to counter online hate speech

Students and their parents from more than 10 schools from Sofia participated in the IT students’ competition “Big to Me”, which was organized for the 9th year in a row by the Sofia Development Association, Sofia Municipality and the Lauder-ORT School.

This year’s theme was “Creating Positive Messages to Counter Online Hate Speech.” As a result our Coalition grew by a hundred new people.

The student-parent teams from 5th grade had to create a colorful postcard that promoted tolerance. One of the participants said that the task made them think whether they are tolerant enough in their everyday lives or not.

The 6th grade teams had to solve a 20 question quiz on the topic of multiculturalism, celebrities who are also migrants and refugees, and so on. They also had to create posters on the topic of tolerance and Sofia as a multicultural city. One of the students said that this competition proved that a person can learn a lot of interesting stuff while having a lot of fun.

The 7th grade teams had the task of creating interactive presentations that had to answer the question “What is hate speech and how can we counter it?

It wasn’t an easy task, but it made me think a lot about how we communicate online.” said one of the participants.

       

NEW GENERATION SKILLS: STUDENT COMPETITION FOR INNOVATIVE MOBILE APPS@NSMNS

Sofia Development Association was a partner of the mobile app competition APPS@NSMNS, held for the third consecutive year at the National High School of Mathematics and Natural Science “Academician Lyubomir Chakalov.” The competition was part of the school’s Festival of the Sciences on April 28 and 29, 2018, as well as one of the events under the project “New Generation Skills,” co-funded by Interreg Danube. The participants at the Hackathon were informed about the upcoming unveiling of the Youth Innovation Lab and the services it will make available to young entrepreneurs.

The competition brough together 5 teams of students from 8 to 12 grade. They each developed a proprietary product under the mentorship of professionals, teachers, researchers, and others. The projects were complete and well-designed mobile apps.

This year’s winners were:
I place – Boyana Nikolova and Kristiyan Serafimov – project GroundHall – from NSMNS – Sofia – the project is a social platform for aiding school.

II place – Stanimir Velichkov – project Competitive Math – from NSMNS – Sofia – The app is a mathematics game that includes its own social network where individual users can share and solve the problems together.

III place – Ivaylo Atanassov – project Буквите – от SMNS “Geo Milev” – Stara Zagora – The app is an educational game for children in kindergarten for learning the alphabet.

IV place – Kardam Gergov – project Fruits – 134 School – Sofia – The app is targeted at students up to the age of 9 learning English. Users learn the pronounciation and spelling of commonly found fruits and vegetables using two types of games.

V place – Kristiyan Hadjikolev and Kalin Krastev – project IML – Improve My Learning – from FPMS – Sofia – The app is a learning assistant. It combines several key functions: notetaking and notifications and generating different quizzes based on user inputs.

        

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