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.



innoair challenge 2023 SDA 1engWe have great news for the upcoming INNOAIR hackathon! The European cultural institutes – EUNIC members, join to support the design of innovative ideas and prototypes with exciting prizes!

The best innovators will not only receive financial awards and be invited to Sofia municipal sandbox for further development but will also be able to improve their language skills in a variety of languages – choosing between Portuguese, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Hungarian! Each Institute will be able to provide one course, for one semester, starting in the Autumn of 2023:

          • Camões Institute (Portugal)
          • Cervantes Institute (Spain)
          • Goethe Institute (Germany)
          • Institut Français (France)
          • Italian Institute (Italy)
          • Liszt Institute (Hungary)

Registration to sign up your team for the hackathon is open by May 31, 2023.

If you are interested in sustainability technology and innovation, and if you have ideas that can improve our urban environment, do not miss this fabulous opportunity!

INNOAIR project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative. This is the first Bulgarian project selected for funding by UIA.



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Innovative Air Quality Project Fair was organized in the framework of the final international INNOAIR conference on May 18, 2023, in Sofia. The conference and the fair brought together over 100 policymakers and professionals from different countries to discuss sustainable urban mobility innovations.

The fair presented 10 innovative clean mobility projects Sofia is currently implementing. One of these projects is Aerosolfd. Sofia has been actively involved in the AeroSolfd project over the past 10 months, primarily on the use of metro stations as test site demonstrators for the air filtration devices and the support for the test/evaluation of brake particle measurements.

One of the initial activities was to gather information characterizing the metro stations, including air quality measurements. This information was used to evaluate the potential for improvement of air quality within the stations and select a pilot station.

In addition to station-based activities, Sofia Development Association and Sofia Metropolitan also supplied IUTA (Institut für Energie und Umwelttechnik e.V.) partner with detailed information about the train’s brake system, layout, and operational data, as well as opportunities to transport the brake system to be bench-tested.

In the autumn of 2023 the pilot testing of air purifiers in the selected Sofia metro station will be launched.

IMG 3797 IMG 3798


The project is funded under HORIZON Innovation Actions.


Today in Sofia was held the Final Conference of the InnoAir project. The event aimed to summarize the project's achievements and chart the way forward for urban mobility and green transition in the capital.

The conference was opened by Doncho Barbalov, Deputy Mayor of Sofia Municipality and Head of InnoAir, and Silvia Georgieva, Executive Director of the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria, project partner.

Mr. Barbalov told the audience that this type of innovations require a combination of expertise, policies and the support of citizens.

Silvia Georgieva confirmed the importance of projects like this.

"The future belongs to the brave, to those who make non-standard decisions. They will be the first," she said, adding that these projects are important because they can test innovative but risky ideas, also difficult and unpopular decisions need to be made, but the process of working with citizens is very important to understand the benefits of improving the environment in which we live.”

The moderator of the first panel was Gereon Meyer, an expert on the Innoair project to the program "Urban Innovative Actions". In it, Ivan Nikolov, Director of the Transport Directorate at Sofia Municipality, shared more about the success achieved in the launch of public transport on-demand in the southern neighborhoods of Sofia, as well as details about the introduction of the “congestion charge” fee.

"At the heart of these neighborhoods that we identified, there was no possibility of normal transport, and thanks to these small electric buses, we were able to launch public transport that can be used with and without a mobile app, which makes it difficult for some of the citizens," he said.

The Director of the Traffic Management and Analysis Directorate at Sofia Municipality Dimitar Petrov talked about the structuring of the low-emission zones in the city. The Director of the Strategies, Innovations and International Projects Directorate at the Urban Mobility Center Metodi Avramov presented the green corridors and the logic behind them.

The second panel was moderated by Sevdalina Voynova, Program Director of Sofia Development Association.

"This is a service that fits people like a gauntlet - thanks to outreach work with citizens and their formal and informal organizations," Mr. Voynova said about the already active service.

 Radoslav Rizov from the Faculty of Economics at Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" took part in the panel. Kliment Ohridski", prof. Dr. Stanimir Kabaivanov, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences at Plovdiv University "Paisii Hilendarski", prof. Dr. Dimitar Atanasov from the National Institute of Hydrology and Meteorology and Svetlana Lomeva, Executive Director of Sofia Development Association.

"At our last meeting in Manastirski Livadi we received "Thank you" from citizens of the neighborhood.  This "Bmidfielder" for us is very important because it means that we have managed to do something together, and now I hope we will be able to build on it," said Mrs. Lomeva.

During the conference breaks, the participants had the pleasure to see an exhibition entitled "Get out of the car". The works from the installation are the work of students from 37. Secondary School "Rayna Knyaginya", Sofia Sofia with teacher Mikeryam Ibysheva and director Tsvetomira Georgieva. During the breaks an exhibition of projects related to air purity and mobility was held. At the exhibition Sofia Municipality presented its project CLIMABOROUGH "Construction of green and climate-neutral urban centers", Green Sofia presented  "Shred Green Deal", "100KTREEs", Compair, "School Bus Lines", Sofia Development Association presented "AeroSolfd", a  The Urban Mobility Center presented its activities through various communication materials.

After the end of the two discussion panels, the guests of the event were divided into three groups and had the opportunity to get acquainted with transport on request, the Traffic Management Center, the analytical system for urban transport and low-emission zones in a real environment.




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


"Urban Agriculture - Policies and Practices for Sustainable Cities and Regions" was the theme of the final conference of project CityZen Under the INTERREG Europe program, which focused on its benefits among local authorities and the public for the last three years. 

The two-day event that take part in 11.05.-12.05.23 brought together CityZen team members, local authorities and stakeholders from the 8 organizations from the 5 project regions (Bulgaria, Greece, Germany, Spain and Portugal) to present their work and achievements in support of urban agriculture policies and good practices. Local hosts were ARC Fund, Sofia Development Association and Sofia Green from Sofia Municipality.

The Mayor of Sofia, Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova, also welcomed the guests and shared her vision of the many benefits of urban agriculture, which provides innovative and resourceful ideas for the use and restoration of unusable urban land.

Sofia Municipality, in its turn, supports schools and kindergartens in their desire to develop agriculture. Educational gardens for growing herbs and vegetables have been set up in 30 kindergartens in the capital, and 5 vertical gardens for growing plants have been installed within the framework of the CityZen project and the My Green School, My Green Kindergarten programme. This year is also the 4th year of the Compost at Home initiative through which 2000 composters will be distributed. The first "green island" is now operating in Sofia, which is a separate space for herbs and flowers, containers for separate collection of waste, including food waste. It is located at the University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy and is planned to be made in other universities as there is a great interest in the initiative.

It is the commitment of the municipality to create conditions and support, and through such community building projects, spaces can be improved through the own contribution of citizens and adolescents. "In addition to the successes, big cities have big challenges ahead in terms of green policies. So we need more support from citizens and to find ways to encourage their participation. High community spirit is the greatest value of urban agriculture," said Ms Fandakova.

In the continuation of the conference, inspiring practices implemented within the CityZen project were presented, such as DIY prototypes for mini vertical gardens developed in Sofia, roof gardens, landscaping of unused or neglected sites in Castilla y Leon, Thessaloniki and Sofia, examples of multifunctional use of urban infrastructure sites such as urban gardens in schools in Castile and Leon, an urban vegetable garden of the University of Thessaloniki, an Agro Social Enterprise in Thessaloniki that successfully created a therapeutic programme based on urban agriculture for drug addicts.

More about the project and the good practices can be found on the CityZen project website.

On the second day a visit to a farm near Sofia was realised, which puts into practice the principles of sustainable agriculture and shows that living close to nature is possible in the city.


The CityZen project is funded by the INTERREG EUROPE programme, cofunded by EU’s ERDF.           


The Citizen Review Panel of the RRI-LEADERS project in Sofia took place on 15 May 2023. The project partners SDA and ARC Fund gathered together over 25 citizens from all walks of life to deliberate on key policy priorities and actions of Sofia Municipality. The citizen review panels are a valuable channel of public engagement, in which citizens and stakeholders act as both producers and end-users of innovation in urban development. Whether young or old, experienced or first-timers, everyone engaged actively in the full-day discussions of four policy areas proposed for implementation in Sofia: support for innovation, sustainable urban development, youth employment and entrepreneurship, digital transition and new skills. The event completed the series of co-creation events with local stakeholders within the project and delivered important input to policymakers on how citizens see the future of the city and its transformation into a modern place of living and working. It is the politicians’ turn now to make this transformation a reality, with and for the citizens.








After almost three years of research, data generation and analytics, programming, co-creation with citizens, testing, updating and new testing, on May 11, 2023, the innovative urban on-demand transport service for Bulgaria and the EU was officially presented to the public.

"In three metropolitan districts – "Manastirski livadi – East", "Manastirski livadi – West", "Pavlovo", the citizens of Sofia, with whom we have been working since the very beginning of the INNOAIR project, can benefit from a new type of public transport on request. The buses were purchased with European funds. The inclusion of transport "on demand" in the traditional public transport services of passengers is an important part of our overall policy for modernization of urban transport," said the Chairman of the Sofia Municipal Council Georgi Georgiev.  

Doncho Barbalov, Deputy Mayor of Sofia Municipality and INNOAIR project manager, thanked the citizens of Manastirski Livadi for their active participation in the creation and testing of the service so that it best meets the needs of the residents of the neighborhood. Zafir Zdravkov, Sofia municipal councilor, emphasized that the new service not only creates new comfortable and accessible travel options for the citizens but also for the transport operators because dispatchers can electronically monitor buses, their occupancy, citizens' satisfaction.

"I would like to thank the Transport Directorate and the Sofia Development Association for including us. Involving citizens takes time, but it is the only way to do something innovative and effective, and to build trust between the municipality and the people," said Veselin Krastev from the Initiative Committee "Manastirski Livadi - West".

The new buses will run every weekday from 6:07 to 22:40. The service can be used with all passenger documents for public transport.

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



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