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.


Research Infrastructure Role in Innovation – the Case of Krakow

Solaris – the first large scale research infrastructure in Poland, appeared in Krakow very recently. Synchrotron radiation (also called synchrotron light) is produced in a synchrotron, and then directed to beamlines with experimental end-stations. The infrastructure allows performing multiple experiments at the same time, in many areas of science, processing 3 billion samples per second. Examples of research vary from the study of ribosome to the optimal temperature to form ice cream crystals. Solaris already has 320 contracts with users, turning it into a major driver of innovation and development in the Malopolske Region. 

Partner regions visited Solaris from March 20-22, 2018 and met with other key innovation ecosystem players like representatives of Krakow Tech Park, of the Regional Operational Program for Innovations, Jagiellonian University, start ups, to discuss the main drivers for innovation development and draft scenarios for the future. The interregional learning event will contribute also to the innovation policy development in Sofia, Castilla y Leon, Evora, Lower Austria, Tampere, Gyor and Bolzano. The workshop and study visit were part of the InnoBridge project, funded by INTERREG Europe, and Sofia Development Association is a partner in it.


The Coalition of Positive Messengers to Counter Online Hate Speech has grown bigger once again

A class of students from the National High School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences "Academician Lyubomir Chakalov" in Sofia led by their teacher Neli Georgieva just became a part of Sofia Development Association’s “Positive Messengers – HOT LINE” campaign.

On 16th March 2018 both the students and the experts from SDA looked for answers to questions like “What does hate speech mean?”, “”Where is it most commonly found?”, “”Who are hate speech’s most common victims?”, “”How can we counter online hate speech?”, “Is there a point in creating mechanisms to report online hate speech and its sources?” and “Should new mechanisms be created or will this be taken as a hit on the idea of a free speech Internet space?”.

The group of young people joined the Coalition and shared their positive messages like “Don’t judge a book by its cover – get to know somebody before you make assumptions.”, “Nobody is born a racist!”, “Words matter. Choose them carefully. They can be a source of true love, or pointless arguments.” and “To all the gamers out there – Don’t hate – play the game!”

Nadya Obretenova – a leading journalist from the Bulgarian National Television and author of the book “Who Sits Against You on the Net?” – was a special guest of the event. She warned the new Coalition members that everything that is once said on the net stays there forever and can be used against you after time.

Coming soon: new YOUTH INNOVATION LAB in Sofia

During the award ceremony in competitions for youth initiatives “Youth World and Volunteering" and "Our School Sports Holiday", hosted by Irena Dimitrova, Sport&Youth Direction in Sofia in the presence of Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova and more than 70 students from Sofia schools and their teachers, we briefed the participants on the New Generations Skills project actualities.

They were among the first to learn that the Sofia Youth Innovation Lab is to be set in couple of months and that in April the Dynamic Learning Training Program will be announced and open for applications.

We believe the young people who already started developing winning project ideas we were with will be among the entrepreneurs that will make the Sofia Lab alive and kicking.

Partners from 5 EU cities meet to discuss TCN integration

The EU faces significant labour shortages in certain sectors, which have the potential to limit growth and competitiveness – a challenge to become more pressing due to Europe’s aging demographic profile. While legal channels for skilled migrants offer a solution, attracting them to come and settle in the EU goes hand in hand with tackling the challenges of the refugee crisis. More efforts are needed to integrate the 20 million non-EU nationals residing legally in the EU.

The new INTEGRA project, the lead partner of which is of Sofia Development Association, aims to help the process of long-term integration of third country nationals in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy and Slovakia through city-to-city knowledge and experience sharing.

The project partners SDA, Riskmonitor Foundation - Sofia, Integration Center Prague, Research Center on Security and Crime – Italy, Center for Peace, Non-violence and Human Rights – Osijek, Croatia and ETP – Kosice, Slovakia met in Sofia from February 21 to 23rd, 2018, for their first project meeting. The consortium team combines vast expertise: in research (RISSC and RiskMonitor), in minority and TCN integration (IPC, ETP), in human rights and campaigns (Center for Peace), in urban policies (SDA). The partners agreed on how to work together effectively, on the approach, roles and their shared idea of success. The methodologies for the innovative City Integration Audits as a participative tool for city integration performance were also discussed.

The INTEGRA project has received funding from EU’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.


The Positive Messengers’ “HOT LINE” continues to connect young people from all over Bulgaria

On 9th February 2018 the Coalition of Positive Messengers to Counter Online Hate Speech grew a little bit bigger with 30 new young people joining in. Representatives from the Sofia Development Association presented the project infront of 30 young Bulgarians from all over the country, who were participants in the “Be the Change” training, which is part of the Multi Kulti Collective “European Community Empowerment” project.

The participants got to learn about the reports, which all of the organizations participating in the project issued in the first year of its implementation. They also got to see the three informational videos about online hate speech – “How to Recognize Online Hate Speech”, “How to Report Online Hate Speech” and “Creating Positive Narratives in Response to Online Hate Speech”.

The SDA representatives also informed the participants about the new addition to the Positive Messengers’ website – “Positive Mesengers – HOT LINE” which includes three interesting and informational quizzes about the refugees’ way of living and opportunities to post a picture or video of yourself with a positive messages. The “HOT LINE” aims at making the coalition even bigger.

After the presentation every participant in the training got to write a note with positive messages, with which to counter online hate speech. A huge part of them wanted to be a part of the coalition by sending in their pictures or videos and participating in the project’s future events.

One of the participants wrote down “Positive messages have to lead to an internet environment which makes every user feel safe.” in reference to the Safer Internet Day which is celebrated on 6th February every year.

SDA launches a new project - INTEGRA

Sofia Development Association started working on a new project INTEGRA, funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. INTEGRA seeks to improve the process of long-term integration of third country nationals in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy and Slovakia, through city-to-city knowledge and experience sharing. The project will promote deeper mutual understanding between migrant communities and the host society, against the rising political discourse of securitization which paints migrants and refugees as a major security threat in Europe. The project partners will develop concrete actions to tackle local integration problems: local and cross-border networks, city audits, city integration agendas with future scenarios for each city developed through citizens’ integration labs.

Sofia Development Association is the lead partner and in 2018 and 2019 will lead the project consortium of ETP – Slovakia, RISSC – Italy, ICP – Czech Republic, Centar za mir – Croatia and RiskMonitor – Bulgaria.

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