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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Protecting Human and Labor Rights in COVID-19 Times

The 2nd Steering Committee meeting of the UnionMigrantNet and Cities Together for Integration project took place 20 May 2020. Project partners from municipalities, public authorities and trade unions from Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, and Slovenia convened online to share their experiences and critical information on the impacts of COVID-19 on labor markets, workers and citizens across Europe. As the project focus is on the integration of third-country nationals in the labor market, partners discussed the relief measures taken by member states and cities to aid companies and individuals. Special attention was placed on the need and the responsibilities of national and municipal authorities and employers to ensure that fundamental rights safeguards for refugees and migrants are in place when taking protective measures, including to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus, and addressing questions related to public order, public health, or national security challenges.

As the lockdown measures are gradually being lifted across Europe, the UMN partners look forward to the second half of the project year, ready to adjust the planned national and trans-border activities to the new realities. SDA and CITUB, the Bulgarian members of the UMN consortium are planning the organization of several workshops with employers and information campaigns on migrants integration to the labor market. More information and details will follow, so stay tuned and visit SDA’s website for updates and the project site, https://www.unionmigrantnet.eu/Pages/SelectLanguage.aspx?c=1

   

InnoBridge Project Ready to Share Its Results


High regional expenditure on R&D does not necessarily lead to innovation and increased regional competitiveness if the regional economy is hampered by insufficient exploitation of its own R&D results and from a lack of access to public R&D results. Increasing SMEs’ competitiveness is at the core of the InnoBridge project by improving the related policy instruments for SMEs. This would enable SMEs to better realize their innovation potential and to act as a catalyst for creating more high qualified jobs and regional growth.

After 3 years of intensive inter-regional learning and 18 months of Action Plan implementation that applied into practice actions aiming at improving their regional R&D and innovation performance and SME’s competitiveness, InnoBridge project 9 partners from 8 regions in 8 countries spread over Europe are ready to share their hands-on experience. On April 21, 2020, they met online to plan the final project conference in Sofia on September 30 – October 1st, 2020 that would bring together political figures, practitioners, academia, policy makers, business community, intermediary organizations, civil society, and would offer a platform to share best practices, to explore and discuss opportunities for streamlining public support for SME innovation.

InnoBridge is funded by the INTERREG EUROPE programme, cofunded by EU’s ERDF.

Support to social entrepreneurs in times of crisis

As the situation with COVID-19 unfolds around us, it is clear that in the coming weeks and months there will be a significant impact on social enterprises, many of whom work with the most vulnerable people. Finance4Social Change project partners convened online on April 14, 2020 to discuss how to best respond to the new challenges. 14 partners from 12 countries work together to deliver improved policy learning and develop practical solutions on impact investing to better shape the regulatory framework for the proper functioning of the social financing sector in the Danube region.

The project consortium decided to be flexible in the coming months, while continuing its support for social entrepreneurship. The partnership will continue its support in three main ways:

               1. Bring information, resources and learning opportunities through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) that will be launched in mid-May.
               2. Bring access to financial support through a competition for social entrepreneurs that will be launched very soon.
               3. Champion the voices of entrepreneurs and social investors and build on them a Danube region strategy for social investment.

The project Finances4SocialChange is co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI). More information about the project is available at http://www.interreg-danube.eu/approved-projects/finance4socialchange

 

Media and Information Literacy Matters Even More


In the context of unprecedented challenges and efforts of educational and information communities throughout Europe to tackle the current COVID-19 crisis, the IN-EDU project partners met virtually on April 8th and April 10th to evaluate, regroup and advance their media and information literacy activities targeting high-school students, teachers, parents and the community at large.

In all participating countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Italy and Slovenia – schools are closed and gathering of groups of people are not possible. Nevertheless, in the conditions of quarantine and distance e-learning media and information skills are vitally necessary. While students may be tech savvy, that doesn’t mean they are news savvy. Project partners decided to work intensively at present to outreach to parents who now spend more time at home with their children, to develop and disseminate more online resources for debunking misinformation, safe internet use and critical thinking.

INclusion Communities through Media Inclusion and Critical Thinking EDUcation (IN-EDU) project is co-financed by the EU Erasmus + Programme. Sofia Development Association is the Bulgarian partner in it. See more here: http://in-eduproject.eu/; https://www.facebook.com/INEDUproject/.

     

 

SofiaLab and SlavConf. continue working together – now online

Despite the unusual situation that the society is currently facing, SofiaLab and SlavConf. continue working diligently and as team as they have been doing until now.

SofiaLab is a cozy, yet dynamic space where anyone can develop or shake skills; a place to meet interesting people, seeking or giving creative solutions putting them into practice. By managing the laboratory, Sofia Development Association contributes to the improvement of digital and entrepreneurial skills of young people, as well as of all Sofia citizens who are not afraid of lifelong learning.

SlavConf. is a series of events and initiatives that bring together people with an interest in culture, the arts, business and architecture. At the beginning of 2019 Sofia Development Association (SofiaLab) and SlavConf. established their partnership in order to support each other while achieving their common goal - to create a society and a supportive environment for young and capable people seeking opportunities for exchange of experience, career and creative development.

So far the two organizations have led together over 15 events in SofiaLab, attended by more than 200 participants. The events are aimed at all representatives of the creative industry, as well as high and university students, postgraduate students, professors, organizations, managers from different sectors and representatives of the educational sector. Included as sub-themes are the links between the arts, culture, the humanities, architecture, business, innovation and technology. If you would like to get a clearer idea of the creative industry, you may have a look at the Toolkit (https://slavconf.com/toolkit/), representing the scope of activities in this field, developed by SlavConf.
The main directions of the meetings are "Career with Philology", various workshops and interactive meetings for content creation (Content Creators Meetups (https://slavconf.com/contentcreators/). One of SlavConf's new initiatives is making podcasts with professionals from the creative industry, which you can listen to here. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgCfqdqgiskstmTkEa62Bjg).

On March 27, the first online event, part of Content Creators Meetups with lecturer Dr. Desislava Boshnakova, was held. The topic of the meeting was "The content of the content" and aroused great interest among the participants. The next event of the series is going to be held on April 10th with lecturer Angel Iskrev. Follow our page (https://www.facebook.com/sofialabsda) in order to stay tuned for future activities!

Sofia Development Association and SlavConf. invite you to make the most of your free time by attending our future joint events!

    

Sofia Development Association and its partnership with StartUpStage

Sofia Development Association works for stimulating the entrepreneurship in Sofia, and our partnership with StartUp Stage is one of the approaches to support the development of this field.

StartUp Stage is an online platform providing resources and mentoring to young startup startup companies developing innovative products and services. In addition, the organization holds events where entrepreneurs can present their business idea (Pitching Session). The events take place live, at SofiaLab, and online, allowing people from different cities to collaborate without requiring a travel resource.

The purpose of the presentations is to overcome the fear of public speaking; getting feedback from an audience that can help the entrepreneur ask questions critical to his business; contact with entrepreneurs, specialists and investors. Also, the ability to present your idea for a short period of time so that it is understood means that the entrepreneur has answered key questions such as - a consumer problem; proposed solution; product and plan for its development; business model; competition; competitive advantages, etc.

Sofia Development Association supports StartUp Stage's activities not only by providing the SofiaLab space for hosting the mentioned meetings, but also by sharing useful information regarding trainings, funding opportunities, ideas, contacts and any type of assistance for start-ups with the organizers and the participants in the events.

From December 2019 to present moment, during events organized in partnership with StartUp Stage over 15 ideas for startup companies have been presented to more than 200 people at SofiaLab. Sofia Development Association and StartUp Stage will continue their joint activities as well as the monthly meetings once the COVID-19 situation is overcomed.

    

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