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.


Responsible Research and Innovation in Territorial Governance and Leadership

What does it mean to integrate the principles of responsible research and innovation (RRI) in long-term strategic visions for territorial development? How can public bodies, research organizations, civil society actors ensure that local and regional development policies are inclusive, anticipative, and responsive? The importance of leadership in territorial governance innovation and taking responsibility for future policies, tackling existing challenges and consolidating societal actors’ knowledge towards a shared policy goal and a coherent action plan, and much more, is at the center of the new project RRI Leaders, which SDA will be implementing in the next three years. Sofia is one of four “territorial partners,” together with cities from Greece, Spain, and Switzerland.

The 2-day kick-off meeting of the project took place online on Jan. 26-27, 2020. RRI Leaders is funded by Horizon2020, and is implemented by a consortium of 9 partners from five countries, led by the ARC Fund in Bulgaria.


What other advantages will bring you the participation in the Bulgarian Hackathon for Media literacy?

In addition to the opportunity for your team to win a prize fund of 9,000 euros, to implement a campaign and to help more people become information and media literate, each of you will receive another opportunity that is not to be missed. By participating in the Hackathon, you will become part of a mentoring program with well-known experts on the subject. And what is more important and useful than acquiring new knowledge and skills?

The hackathon will be officially opened on January 28, 2021, by the famous in Hollywood Bulgarian actor – Dimiter Marinov. He is going to share his opinion on the importance of media literacy nowadays. The next days we continue with mentorship program with experts on the topic.

Ana Aleksieva from Fine Acts is going to give you advice on how to create truly creative campaign and what resources to use. Nadya Obretenova – a journalist from the Bulgarian National Television is about to inform you how to detect and fight fake news and propaganda. Yavor Gochev from Rinker center for entrepreneurship and training is going to help you develop pitching skills, which you may use not only for the hackathon, but later on in your daily life. Georgi Apostolov, a specialist from SafeNet is going to present you the dangers in the network and how to overcome them. Last, but not least – you are going to learn how to make technologies work for you while supporting a social cause by Natanail Stefanov, Deputy Chairman of the Management Board of Sofia Tech Park.

The big final is coming. After 4 days of training, on the last day of the hackathon (February 2, 2021) the 14 teams, consisting of 94 participants from 7 towns in Bulgaria are going to present their projects to the jury and compete for the awards.

In order for the evaluation of the projects to be most accurate, they are going to be evaluated by a jury consisting of the trainers from the mentorship program.

The full program of the hackathon you may find HERE.

We wish you luck!

The hackathon is organized by Sofia Development Association and DZZD Obuchenie.


A Look into the Future – INNOAIR and Innovative Public Transport

On January 14, 2021 an exhibition of vehicles was held on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of public transport in Sofia. Along with the stories about the transport from the past, the audience also got acquainted with the innovations planned for the future. The Deputy Mayor for Transport of Sofia Municipality Kristian Krastev introduced the attendees with the INNOAIR project and the activities that will be carried out within its implementation.

The most impressive among the activities is the provision of the service for an environmentally friendly public transport "on request". Instead of driving on pre-defined routes, the new e-buses will create route map based on citizen demand submitted via mobile application. The app will leverage machine learning and advanced data analytics to create the most efficient path for each ride, collecting as much passengers as possible.

This urban transport service will be tested for the first time in Europe and will be implemented together with a wide range of initiatives: low emission zones, green corridors, congestion charge, promotion of active mobility. This coordinated effort of the city administration, scientists, business and citizens will form a holistic approach to reducing air pollution and will change the way our public transport looks today.

INNOAIR project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative.


European and global experience with on-demand transport, low emission zonez and congestion charges

The INNOAIR team has produced an innovative research paper and it is pleased to share it with the public. The Best practice analysis on common global initiatives is now published and can be downloaded here. The analysis evaluates on-demand transportation initiatives and “transport as a service” approach in Europe and on a global scale to provide project partners and the general public with guidance on lessons learned and help them avoid mistakes during the project implementation.

This document, prepared by the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria (NAMRB), contains a review of the trends in mobility solutions, related to the main innovation of INNOAIR, namely on-demand transport (with electric minibuses) combined with “mobility as a service” like technologies, low emission zones and congestion charging model. The analysis provides guidance for tested solutions, the challenges they address, main findings and results. That way interested parties could avoid past mistakes and use the information provided for further guidance and enhancement of the INNOAIR model.

The analysis starts by giving an overview of the general trends related to the main innovation of INNOAIR and continues by providing concrete examples of already established such innovations mainly in cities in Europe and around the world. The document ends by giving the main findings and lessons learned based on the already processed information in the previous sections.

For more information on INNOAIR’s outputs, including the recent publication of the Guidebook on air pollution interdependencies for various stakeholders, please check the project website

INNOAIR is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative.


The INNOAIR team is pleased to announce that the Guidebook on air pollution interdependencies for various stakeholders is now published. You can download the guidebook here.

The guidebook, prepared by the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (NIMH) and Sofia Development Association, is a free tool for policy, research, education, industry and environmental bodies to understand the processes leading to undesired high levels of pollution in urban areas. The document tries, in an understandable way, to summarize what factors influence the levels of various pollutants in the atmosphere and how their adverse influence can be eliminated or limited in order to improve air quality in cities in a short- and long-term time horizon.

The guidebook starts by giving a general overview of what the meteorological conditions in urban areas can be, what the major air pollutants in the air are, the air quality standards by the European Union and World Health Organization (WHO) and how air pollution can impact the human health, ecosystems and biodiversity, climate change and cultural heritage. This general information provides the reader with the background information on the subject needed to better understand the case of Sofia. This sets up perfectly for the next section, which explains the monitoring of air pollution in Sofia.

An important part of the guidebook is the air quality management strategies and good practices, which outlines the best strategies and practices that can be seen around the globe. The guidebook finishes off with an overview of the specific interdependencies.

For more information on INNOAIR’s outputs, including the recent publication of the Multi-stakeholder dialogue on air pollution interdependencies, please check the project website

INNOAIR is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative.


The InnoBridge project partners had their final project meeting on December 18, 2020. After 3 years of mutual learning and nearly 2 years of Action plan implementation to improve their policies and practices to support SME competitiveness and innovation, the partners from 8 European regions, among whom Sofia through SDA, met virtually to prepare for the project closure, to assess its scope and deliverables, to analyze project success and identify stories to be told and disseminated.

SDA took part in the project with the Sofia Public-private Fund for Innovations as a local instrument for innovation support. In the framework of the project a number of good practices from other regions influenced the programming, the management and the focus of the Fund. Collectively, over one million euro have been influenced so far, varying from financial support to entrepreneurs to mentoring, from training to showcasing, from challenges to SofiaLab refurbishment. The InnoBridge Sofia team is proud that our Fund has been recognized as a good European practice and shared with all other regions for replication and scaling up.

Project partners discussed areas of common interest for future exchange and learning in the new multi-annual framework period. These areas include the development of regional RIS3 strategies for the next period, the European Green deal, digital transition, social economy, innovation in general.

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


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