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.


Sofia Development Association supports integration through art

Sofia Development Association has been actively working on the topic of migration and integration for years and the current main projects are "UnionMigrantNet and Cities Together for Integration" (UMN) and "CONNECTION – CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration action”. As a continuation of the efforts made on the topic since 2020, SDA also supports the activities of the “STATUS” project.

In a year we managed to exchange experience not only with the team of the “STATUS” project, but also with the whole community of migrants and locals who attend our joint events. Last year we were together during two movement workshops in May and June, during which Bulgarian citizens and refugees got acquainted with their stories, interacted and recognized each other with different folklore motifs. The SDA team became part of the activity not only as a partner, providing the SofiaLab space for the event, but also as participants in the creative tasks.

During the discussion SDA presented its activities under the UMN and CONNECTION project, sharing in greater detail the trainings related to the inclusion of refugees and third-country nationals in the labor market, conducted under UMN, as well as information about the Bureau for Information and Services for third country nationals, which is implemented within CONNECTION project. The audience remained interested in both projects and after an exchange of contacts, horizons for new collaborations opened up.

At the beginning of September, the biggest event of the “STATUS” project took place - a dance performance based on the stories of refugees and migrants. The premiere of the event aroused great interest, and the subsequent discussion was beneficial for both SDA and the audience.

The STATUS project is funded by the Socially Engaged Arts Program of the National Culture Fund and is supported by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

CONNECTION project: CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration action, and UMN project are co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.




SDA developed Analysis of needs and selecting support services in relation with the establishment of a Citizen advice bureau for third-country nationals in Sofia

In relation with the implementation of the activities in the framework of CONNECTION project and the establishment of a Citizen advice bureau for third-country nationals in Sofia, Sofia Development Association conducted a report “Analysis of needs and selecting support services”. The analysis is based on a desk and field survey and presents analysis of needs the potential users, public and private service providers, as well as contains proposals for appropriate services and a concept for the establishment of the Bureau.

The full version of the analysis could be downloaded HERE.

CONNECTION: CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration action, is co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

Passenger behavior analysis on the basis of digital data provides an opportunity to improve the quality of transport services

Public transport has long been more than just a service - it is the face of modern cities, and the variety of mobility options is increasingly becoming a field for experimentation and innovation. Behind the visible part of this system, however, there is a significant amount of information, research and rules that allow the transport system to be structured in a way that satisfies its users.

The answer to the questions "Does the public transport currently meet the needs of passengers?" And "How could the available services be improved in the future?" lies in the behavior of the users. In this regard, the INNOAIR project partners from Plovdiv University "Paisii Hilendarski" conducted an "Passenger behavior analysis" towards existing services and opportunities to reflect it in the process of improving urban transport.

“A passenger behavior is the way that passenger think, feel, reason, make judgement and select different products and services, directly related to their travel.” All these components can be taken into account in the analysis of passenger behavior. As structured data can be used in a very large number of models, the analysis of Plovdiv University is based mainly on digital information available from historical databases and time series for the location of transport (GPS information), as well as ticket sales (information about tickets, as well as the preferred type of tickets).

The study combines information from different sources - data on the location of individual vehicles, preliminary schedules, traffic and passenger traffic at stops and time zones, analysis of traffic and congestion to provide integrated measures of the quality of services provided. Tracking these indicators and complying them with the schedules and timetables of urban transport is an opportunity to adapt the transport to the requirements of users and to better meet their needs. An important feature of the approach used is that each of the indicators changes according to the dynamic urban environment. This means that the dynamics of the selected indicators is as important as their absolute values, because it allows to act proactively and potential problems to be solved prematurely.

The passengers behaviour anlaysis shows that they have the greatest need for reliability and security when choosing transport. Uncertainty about the time of arrival, departure and duration of travel on the vehicle causes users to feel anxious.

A specific problem addressed in the study is the modeling of urban transport delays. The use of random processes that allow abrupt changes in the observed values allows to cover the critical cases in which due to unexpected events, such as accidents, incidents or sudden changes in traffic, the discrepancies with the preliminary schedule are drastically increased. The obtained models allow to identify the critical sections on the individual routes and to take preventive measures in cases when the probability of the next big delay increases. In addition, follow-up reactions help to accumulate information and enrich the models and allow for overall optimization of transport schemes.

The results of the analysis will contribute to the decision-making on the introduction of "on-demand green public transportation" and to the testing of the "congestion" charge model - measures that aim to improve air quality and will be implemented within the INNOAIR project.

The full analysis can be found in English here.

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


Since the beginning of this year, SDA and the Applied Research and Communications Fund are implementing the project RRI Leaders - Leveraging Leadership for Responsible Research and Innovation in Territories. Funded by Horizon 2020, the 3-year project aims to develop a strategy and action plan for integrating the principles of responsible research and innovation (RRI) in the development and management of the innovation ecosystem in the participating territories (Sofia, Talville (Switzerland), Sabadell (Spain), Western Macedonia in Greece).

The policies on which Sofia Municipality is focusing in RRI Leaders include support for innovations, digital transition and new skills, youth employment and entrepreneurship, sustainable urban development. The studies carried out so far in the project – in-depth interviews with experts, one focus group, a participatory workshop, have identified various issues related to the above policies, which can be improved through increased public engagement, more effective cooperation between the municipal authorities, academia, the private and the non-governmental sector, better use of the results of research and science in setting long-term priorities for sustainable urban development, etc. On July 15, SDA and the ARC Fund organized a workshop with representatives of the research and innovation ecosystem, businesses, the municipal administration and NGOs. Working in groups, the participants proposed strategic and practical measures to be included in relevant future strategic and policy documents in the policy areas referred to above. These proposals will become an integral part of the transformative outlook for the development of the city, which will be developed by the end of the project.

More information about the results of the research and upcoming activities can be found on the project website,, on the website of SDA and the ARC Fund.



Sofia is among the finalists in the European Green Capital competition for 2023 with a score of 44 points. Currently, the city ranks second among the four finalists from a total of 16 European cities, that have participated in the competition. This is the final step in the process of selecting a winner. Sofia will present in length its serious commitment to creating sustainable urban development to an international jury. The strategy for communication and engagement of the citizens of Sofia is one of the criteria by which the capital will be evaluated.

Sofia's candidacy for "European Green Capital" was prepared by the "Green Sofia" project of the Sofia Development Association. It describes in detail the steps to improve the situation with some of the most pressing issues - air quality, reducing acoustic pollution, and waste management. Among the projects with a high contribution to the evaluation is INNOAIR which aims to improve air quality through innovative approaches.

Sofia will compete for the first place in this year's "European Green Capital" with three other finalists: Helsingborg (Sweden), Krakow (Poland) and Tallinn (Estonia). The winner takes on the role of "ambassador of change", motivating and inspiring other cities in Europe and around the world by encouraging the sharing of knowledge and experience and stimulating innovation. The winner has the task to show that green cities perform better not only ecologically, but also economically and socially.

"I am delighted to see that, despite these challenging times, European cities are taking the lead in improving their urban environment," said Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. The winner of the European Green Capital 2023 title will be announced at the official award ceremony, which will take place on 9 September in Lahti, this year's European Green Capital.


Sofia Development Association (SDA), Cleantech Bulgaria – Regional Hub Manager for Bulgaria of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology – Climate-KIC and the National Center for Public Health and Analysis at the Ministry of Health organized an event on “Circular Economy – Opportunities and Prospects for Business in Bulgaria”.

The event took place on July 7, 2021 in the Business Incubator building of Sofia Tech Park and was started by Mariana Hamanova - CEO of Cleantech. Snezhina Gabova from SDA presented the activities of the Association and in particular the work on projects INNOAIR, CICERONE, TRANSFROM and CityZen.

Experts on the relevant topics presented the circular economy through the prism of national priorities, the bioeconomy and the policies of the European Union. Mr. Zhelyaz Enev from the Ministry of Economy spoke about the place of the circular economy in the Strategy for SMEs 2021-2027 and presented the process of updating the new Strategy for Smart Specialization of the Republic of Bulgaria 2021-2027.

For her part, Prof. Krassimira Kaneva, Agricultural Academy, pointed out the development and trends in the bioeconomy and the agricultural sector in Bulgaria. As a finale, Dr. Bernard Gindros, N-Able - France, presented live online cohesion instruments and policies to support the European Union's transition to a circular economy.

This is the first in a series of events organized by the Regional Hub of Climate-KIC in Sofia. The next events are planned for September and October – keep an eye on our page for more information and how to join them.

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