Slovak Delegation to Bulgaria

Slovak Academic and Business Delegation to Bulgaria

10. - 11. december 2015

Slovak Delegation to Bulgaria

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Delegation members

President

Andrej Kiska
President of Slovak Republic

Entrepreneur and philanthropist with a degree in electrical engineering, founder of successful businesses like Triangel and Quatro, cofounder of Good Angel, the most successful non-corporate charity in Slovakia today.

Awarded manager of the year 2006 by Trend magazine and the Crystal Wing for philanthropy in 2011.

Elected 4th president of Slovak republic in March 2014.

The most trusted slovak official of 2015 according to survey conducted by Focus agency.

Academy

Štefan Mihina
National Agricultural and Food Center
Ján Dusza
Slovak Academy of Sciences
Albert Breier
Slovak Technical University
Oliver Moravčík
Slovak Technical University
Peter Bielik
Slovak university of agriculture in Nitra
Petra Lipnická
SOVVA
Vladimír Modrák
University of technology in Kosice
Jarčuška Pavol
UPJŠ

Business

Ayrumyan Grigor
Wezeo

Wezeo is a tech company offering professional services in creation of web as well as mobile applications and design of user interface focused on enhanced user satisfaction. We specialize in modern solutions with unique design and a rich user experience.

Our clients range from big corporations through public institutions to small enterprises and startups. With primary focus on front-end development and hundreds of successful projects we keep building a unique know-how and technological expertise.

Jakub Lunter
AlfaBio

ALFA BIO is an innovative company, producing and continuously evolving health food productions, providing its customers with the opportunity to eat healthy, colourful, yet balanced foods. ALFABIO has the ambition to become a leader in the development and production of vegetable protein /protein/ based products and to promote their consumption within the V4 region. They want to create and carry out a new concept in distribution to the GASTRO restaurant, HORECA (hotels & restaurants), and retail segments. they want to be a responsible partner to producers and the environment and realize vision in accordance with sustainable development.

Pavol Amena
Amena Display

Amena is young, dynamic company from Bratislava, for their modern products of ecological navigations were awarded the prize "Innovative entrepreneur 2014". Amena deals with the help to visitors of cultural, social and sporting events.

Robert Schochmann
Anima Technika

Anima Technika Ltd. is a company which is engaged in the development and production of autonomous flying machine. The uniqueness of its product is in conjunction of three major technologies: Encrypted digital transmission of HD, 3D new generation glasses with head-tracking and unlimited range via the mobile Internet. Róbert is seven years a team leader in Anima Technika.

Peter Benč
Bababucity

BababuCity App is dedicated to you if you seek an innovative, cost-effective and time-flexible method of learning English, without the need of attending on-line or address-based courses. Our progressive method of learning is based on experiencing real-world situations, where users communicate and practice speaking, listening and comprehension directly with other students. Users have an immediate feedback on grammar correctness and pronunciation.

Peter Kilian
Bioscience
Andrej Štefánik
CEIT

CEIT is an innovative group with a strong focus on research and development that brings practical solutions to promote competitiveness, efficiency and prosperity of industrial and non-industrial partners with a real application in practice.

Gayla Terzieva
dev net pro s.r.o.

dev net pro s.r.o. is a general business consultancy and service recruiting firm specialized on the donor funded sector. During the last 11 years our team has been directly involved in the implementation and coordination of projects on the Balkans, in Asia, South East Asia and Africa. dev net pro s.r.o. and our team is executing projects in close cooperation with local and international advisors. We are working on the principle of fair networking of firms and individual experts bringing technical and scientific knowledge and skills..

Stefan Kassay
IDC Holding

I.D.C. Holding, JSC is the largest Slovak producer of confectionary and pastry products with annual production and sale exceeding 31.000,00 tons of products and with annual turnover 98 million EUR. Company history is based on more than 100 years tradition of production in plant of Figaro Trnava and 60 years tradition of pastry products manufacture in plant of Pečivárne Sereď.

Robert Gašparík
KEY-VI

Key.vi is a comfortable, time-saving and secure door opening solution. It makes millions of door opening moments in our life more enjoyable. Key.vi fits every door type, with the exception of security doors.

Jan Buza
LRJ Capital - Infinario

We believe world-class companies can be build from the CEE region and want to make it happen! LRJ is a private evergreen venture fund investing mainly into companies in early revenue generation phase with world-class founding team. We provide in-depth strategy review, help identify talent gaps and fill them in. We believe every great company is a result of combining 2-3 top founders with a great team. Our goal is to improve Slovak entrepreneurial ecosystem by helping create extraordinary companies and fund a not-for-profit cause with profits our investments generate. Both of these provide an intense meaning to what we do and help us sharpen our focus and persevere where others give up.

Ján Pavličko
Profifox

PROFIFOX is a software solution which provides a common platform for co-operation between employees, external partners and suppliers. The app allows teams to powerfully manage projects and to-do lists and to work systematically in order to resolve project development problems and improve efficiency.Clever way to increase productivity and team cooperation. Manage your action plans, problems and projects in one app accross desktop, mobile using Profifox.

Igor Pavelek
Pygmalios Analytics

Pygmalios Analytics enables store managers to improve store performance, customer experince and staff utilisation by better understanding the behaviour of their customers and employees. The company is based in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Martin Majerník
SciCurve

SciCurve - Life science search engine which allows you to visualize search results and see trends, networks and maps of your science area. SciCurve transforms the old indexed-search based method of systematic literature review into interactive and comprehensible environment. It allows you to study your subject in great detail, while still having the ability to look at the bigger picture. Explore new scientific trends. Watch the rise of emerging paradigms. Target the most relevant and productive authors in your field and the journals keenest on publishing your type of research.

Marián Skákala
Soitron

Soitron focuses on new technologies and innovative IT projects. It operates across Europe by providing clients with high-tech solutions by combining own expert services with hardware and software from well-known brands (i.e. Cisco, Microsoft, HP, Avaya, IBM etc.). Soitron’s main business lines are Systems Integration Services, Managed & Outsourcing Services and Special Solutions for selected verticals (Police, Air Traffic Control, Telco). Soitron story started in Slovakia in 1991, when a small company was founded to provide clients with expertise in the emerging world of networking technologies. In the course of next 10 years, the company grew in depth and breadth of knowledge, in number of clients and people. In 2005 Soitron Group opened its first branch outside SIovakia – in Czech Republic, followed by acquisition of two Czech companies Caiacom and Clarionet in 2009. In the same year, the biggest Cisco partner in Romania, Datanet Systems merged in Soitron Group. In 2012, the biggest acquisition so far was made, when Turkish Sekom became the part of Soitron Group. In 2013 Soitron Bulgaria was established thanks to opening outsourcing project for HP Bulgaria. 2014 marked the opening of Soitron sales office in the UK.

JUDr. Andrej Leontiev, LL.M
Taylor Wessing advokati
Jevgenij Sidorenko
The Respot

The RESPOT is the first smallest reminding device in the world. New view on world of tracking devices. Now you can forget about the words „search“ or „lose“ and your items will be always with you, because with RESPOT you will NEVER FORGET your most important stuff again. The gadget will make a revolution in the world of tracking devices.

Peter Nedeliak
Ultraplast

ULTRA PLAST is manufacturer of car roof boxes for 20 years. We achieve high quality of our products by choosing the best materials and production processes. We can offer you the best prices because of distribution of goods directly from our factory to your door, without any other intermediaries. Long term experiences in development and manufacture of our roof boxes are proven by attests and crash tests in practice. Our certified e-shop has high ratings from the agencies, and especially from our customers.

Richard Voda
VEZMA - Work in Field s.r.o.

Vezma is an integrated mobile in-vehicle GPS app and cloud service that is delivered as SaaS to worldwide customers. It makes it super easy to track vehicle mileage, locations & expenses and store these data online for easy editing, real-time visibility and report generation.

Public Sector

Zuzana Nehajová
MHSR
Peter Balík
MHSR
Andrea Uhrinová
MŠVVaŠ
Hajdušek Igor
MZVaEZ
Brocková Ingrid
MZVaEZ
Oto Pisoň
Sario
Svetlana Gavorová
SIEA
Eduard Jambor
SIEA

Startup

Milan Lopašovský
AIRNITE

AIRNITE is an ECOLOGICAL, EFFECTIVE liquid biofertilizer. This is an option to recover and save the soil and our fields together with savings. All the production is ECOLOGICAL/ORGANIC and all fruits and vegetables are ready to consume. AIRNITE is absorbing atmospheric nitrogen from the air directly to the plant roots (Stevenson, 1982) and is based on natural effective microorganisms (EMO) Azotobacter, Cellulomonas and others. This is leading to the improved microbiological life of the soil (Pandey et al.,1999). Application is done simultaneosly with the seeding with one drop of AIRNITE on the seed, 10 litres/hectar. By using AIRNITE we are ECONOMIC and we could save up to 70 percent of chemical nitrogen. This is an equivalent of 100 kg of urea and it means savings about 50 € /hectar including the cost for AIRNITE. AIRNITE is the product made by continued fermentation process on the machinery with patented process. Application is by tailor made applicators computer controled and adopted to the usual seeding machinery

Michal Maxian
BatSuite
Peter Strazovec
BeeSafe

BeeSafe is an app and next generation safety service. It is a personal safety mobile app with automatic call for help when you can't do it yourself and whitelabel security solution for security agencies and police. You can activate your contacts, define contacts residences and set up early unsafe notification. Your contacts will receive your current location and other relevant information in case of danger in real time automatically via sms, email and BeeSafe app message. Your friends, local security services and anyone who could help you will get information about your status with map and real time position including audio and video recordings. All they need is a smartphone with browser.

Tomáš Zaťko
Citadelo

Citadelo’s main aim is to find security vulnerabilities without harming business continuity. We help our clients test their information security. Challenge your IT environment and determine to what extent your sensitive data is secure.

Vladimir Vaculik
Connect Coworking

Connect a coworking center. It offers space and educational services for new entrepreneurs and designers. It seeks to create collaboration and networking of like-minded people from different areas and provide support through educational conferences and workshops aimed at developing entrepreneurial skills. It also provides office space for the realization of business ideas.

Marián Dandul
CropTech

CropTech is technology startup in the hydroponic cultivation of plants. This is a homemade hydroponic greenhouse, which should be part of the living room or kitchen as a functional accessory apartment. The plants are grown hydroponically, in an aqueous solution which is enriched with nutrients. The greenhouse can have different dimensions, from the size of the microwave to large hydroponic wall. Can grow ornamental plants, vegetables and herbs. The system is intelligent, has a built-in monitoring and management.

Jan Korecky
Datamolino
Marek Lavcak
Eastcubator

Eastcubator is the space in which we want to give the opportunity to work and at the same time meet the community of people who are similar that they are start-ups. We hope to provide members with quality mentors and contacts with experts from various areas. Startup community needs to know more, explore more, and inspire more business sector in Slovakia. Thanks to this initiative we want to lead and encourage skilled people in eastern Slovakia to success in business. We want to use our knowledge and foreign mentors for young people and to bring innovative ideas to them.

Igor Farinič
Evolveum

Evolveum is a company developing open-source software systems. It develops midPoint, a next-generation identity management product. Evolveum is a company committed to develop creative, open and - most importantly - working software. We strive to continually improve the software in a creative way. We challenge existing ways of software development and provide a new path to better and simpler software. We refine existing software, we capture its essence and evolve it in a new way. We improve where an improvement is needed.

Martin Zahuranec
Eyerim

Eyerim is e-shop that offers unmatched selection of branded sunglasses and prescription glasses at the lowest possible prices. Everything to be found under one roof everything from classics such as Ray-Ban, Carrera, Oakley and Prada, to the collection of small independent producers, and with free postage.

Jaroslav Hric
farmicka.sk

Farmička.sk is a non-profit Internet project of the civic association Gemerské Grúne. Its aim is to bring the products of small domestic producers in regions to consumers across the country. The project is based on the principle of civil advertising. The main objective of a message is to bring the entire portal of products, services and crafts of small domestic producers in regions to consumers across the country.

Rastislav Hlaváč
Gradient ECM

GRADIENT believe in enabling people the flexibility, ease, and right to transform not only their everyday document-centric needs, but also their business processes with process mining, to create automated business process discovery with actionable insights, using today’s most modern technologies. GRADIENT helps enterprises smash the scan & capture barrier making a more efficient paperless office. We believe in a more social, environmentally proactive, and economically sustainable approach to people facing challenges in today’s modern and fast-paced society, by making our products advanced in functionality, simple to use, beautifully designed, and user-friendly.

Martina Drahošová
Ixworx

ixworx brings product experience and navigation to the 21st century. The company develops GUIDE, a cross-platform software tool providing the user with hi-end 3D interactive product visualization, simulation and guidance. ixworx a.s. is a Slovakia based technology development and implementation studio creating cross-platform solutions for interactive product presentations, e-manuals, communication and e-learning. Behind the ixworx team is a founder with almost 20 years of experience in IT and video games development industry. It comprises current permanent team of 12 and is rapidly growing.

Michael Thomas Jurkovič
Jablčnô s.r.o

Jablčnô company produces sparkling, alcoholic apple cider. Self-made by four friends, from Slovak apples with honest recipe. Slovak product made out of pure apple juice from Slovak producers.

Aneta Orosi
Jem iné

Jem iné prepares healthy catering, recipes for peace and fights against poor quality fast food. It inspires people, trying to revive them again cooking tradition, educating in nutrition and brings more creativity in the kitchen. A sign that other Jem iné obtained the status of ambassadors and official representatives of the world community luncheon Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Foundation.

Peter Kulich
Max Sport Nutrition

Our company was established in 2005 with the aim to develop and produce nutritional supplements in Slovakia. We specialize in developing, manufacturing and distributing of high quality nutrition for active people. In conjunction with technologists, physiologists, athletes and nutritionists, we have set a goal - high quality and yet affordable products for everyone. Our products will help you in keeping a healthy lifestyle, will supply you with nutritionalin gredients, vitamins&minerals, accelerate recovery and prepare youfor new challenges.

Jakub Minárik
Max Sport Nutrition

Our company was established in 2005 with the aim to develop and produce nutritional supplements in Slovakia. We specialize in developing, manufacturing and distributing of high quality nutrition for active people. In conjunction with technologists, physiologists, athletes and nutritionists, we have set a goal - high quality and yet affordable products for everyone. Our products will help you in keeping a healthy lifestyle, will supply you with nutritionalin gredients, vitamins&minerals, accelerate recovery and prepare youfor new challenges.

Marek Vavrečan
Mentegram

The Mentegram platform helps build and quantify mental health insights, that are often lost, between therapy sessions. As a result, both parties are better prepared for therapy. Because less in-session time is required for understanding issues, more can be devoted to addressing them. Our software closely adheres to the responsibilities of HIPAA compliance. It consists of a centralized dashboard, which interacts with our mobile app, used by clients to respond to tailored questionnaires. Our mobile app is available for iPhone and Android devices.

Filip Francisty
Platform

Plat4M is a design-focused agency. Our list of clients includes some of the most widely respected agencies in the world.

Dušan Duffek
RubixLab

Central European based Innovation Center, focusing on building and developing the entrepreneurial eco-system both within and surrounding slovakia. With a strong focus on internationalism and sourcing of top talent, both entrepreneurs and mentors, we seek to constantly grow the startup environment. A team of young enterprenuers with startup experience in Europe, Southeast Asia and USA with invaluable network of many influential entrepreneurs and funds across the world.

Michal Káčerík
SaferPass

SaferPass Password Manager makes life easy. No need to remember your passwords for every site. SaferPass can automatically log you in, fill in form information, and help backup your passwords for simple searching. And with the SaferCloud, you can even sync your passwords securely and easily among multiple machines.

Rasto Kulich
SAPIE

THE SLOVAK ALLIANCE FOR THE INTERNET ECONOMY (SAPIE) aims to develop technical and creative talent and support the Slovak business environment, through fostering the global ambitions of companies, and connecting, enabling and retaining highly knowledgeable business leaders to accelerate growth. Our goal is to create initiatives on a public and private level that will support the use of the Internet in existing and future business enterprises. These initiatives aim to transform Slovakia and the region into a technological cluster stimulating global innovation, fast information change and its future development. This will create a basis for long-term sustainable growth as well as new employment opportunities with attractive remuneration based on the high added value of technologically minded employees.

Radoslav Mizera
Solved

Solvedis a cleantech advisoryserviceand collaboration platform. Solved tackles the world's environmental challenges in an amazing way and lets you easily cooperate with the best cleantech experts.Solved brings together leading experts,environmental challenges and newways of working in order to cocreate appealing solutions. Solved was launched as a Cleantech Finland's online service in 2012 and established as a separate company in May 2013. Solved has offices in Helsinki,Bratislava and Oulu.

Végh Jozef
Tech-Arrow

We are a team of IT professionals that work closely for over a decade in a solid team spirit. We don’t think little of ourselves. We take pride in the efforts we’ve made so far to meet the market never-ending demand on quality products, regardless if they are out of the box or tailored to feed particular business projects and needs. We’ve developed so far landmark data archiving products from platforms like E-mail servers, MS SharePoint and NTFS and File servers. But we’ve also built unique bridge solutions between diverse business content systems, being able to migrate, classify and consolidate data between DMS, legacy archive, all flavors of E-mail systems and MS SharePoint platforms. We are TECH-ARROW and we aim to help you reach your targets by using the latest technology and analytical expertise.

Vincent Touquet
Vestigen

Vestigen's mission is to promote health through truly personal diagnostics anywhere, as often as needed. Vestigen develops technologies for ultraportable point of care diagnostic devices and sensors. Our interdisciplinary, agile team is investigating sensors for liquids, such as saliva, urine, blood and water. Typical customers include pharmaceutical industry, life sciences, mobile and digital health. We cover multiple stages of research and product development in our fully compliant biochemical laboratories. Our interdisciplinary biochemical and electronic prototyping workflow enables rapid turnovers and iterations from idea to pre-clinical FDA prototypes in small and medium batch series in unprecedented quality and performance.

Radoslav Bonk
Youstice

Youstice is an award-winning web application that helps resolve customer complaints and make shopping trouble-free. With Youstice, companies can seamlessly communicate and handle customer complaints within a matter of minutes. Similarly, disgruntled customers can get prompt assistance with their issues and save valuable time. Companies and customers are able to communicate, negotiate directly, and resolve issues, all in just a few clicks. Youstice’s application launched in mid-2014.

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Official Schedule

Day 1: 10.12.2015

12:00 - 13:30
Panel 1: Business Innovation

Luis Sanz, General Manager at the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP) Simon Kaluza, Managing Director, SAP Central and Eastern Europe Vesselin Arnaudov, Manager for Innovations at VMWare Bulgaria Marcin Olender, Google Public Policy and Government Relations Manager for Central and Eastern Europe Artur Turemka, General Manager for The Balkans for MasterCard Petеr Mitev, Founder of Chaos Group Representative from HP Bulgaria Representative from VISA

13:30 - 14:30
Lunch
14:30 - 16:30
ICT and Cyber Security

(Hall 1 – ground floor) Main presenter: MGEN Koen Gijsbers, General Manager, NATO Communications and Information Agency Company presentations: Tunio Zafer, pCloud Slovak side: ESET, SOITRON, ANASOFT, universities, etc. Bulgarian side: STP Cyber Security Lab, NATO Center of Excellence for Crisis Management and Disaster Response, European Software Institute – Center Eastern Europe, HP Bulgaria, MasterCard, Musala Soft, Orelsoft, BASSCOM and BAIT companies, ICT Cluster, etc.

14:30 - 16:30
Food, Life Sciences and Biotechnologies

(Hall 2 – ground floor) Main presenter: Kiril Petkov, Proviotic Company presentations: Slovak side: Food center NITRA, agricultural companies, biotech companies, universities. Bulgarian side: STP Biopharmaceutical Lab Complex, STP Bioinformatics Lab, Joint Genomic Center, Agrobioinstitute, agricultural companies, biotech companies, universities, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, etc.

16:30 - 17:30
B2B Meetings

(Hall 1 – ground floor) (Hall 2 – ground floor)

18:00 - 20:00
Science and Technology Park Opening Reception

(by invitation only)

Day 2: 11.12.2015

10:00 - 10:30
Registration and welcome coffee
10:30 - 12:00
Panel 1: Public Policies and Funds in Support of Innovation

Mrs. Daniela Vezieva, Deputy Minister of Economy of Bulgaria Mr. Vazil Hudak, Minister of Economy of Slovakia Mr. Juraj Draxler, Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sports of Slovakia Mr. Evgeny Angelov, Economic Advisor to the President of the Republic of Bulgaria Mrs Karina Karaivanova, Deputy Minister of Finance of Bulgaria Prof. Nikolay Denkov, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Bulgaria

12:00 - 13:00
Lunch for the participants in the conference
12:00 - 12:30
Official Opening Ceremony

President of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr. Rossen Plevneliev President of the Slovak Republic Mr. Andrej Kiska EC Commissioner Corina Crețu EC Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska (tbc) Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr. Boyko Borrisov Deputy Prime Minister for EU Funds and Economic Policies Mr. Tomislav Donchev Minister of Economy of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr. Bojidar Loukarsky Mayor of Sofia Municipality, Mrs. Yordanka Fandakova (tbc) Executive Director of Sofia Tech Park JSC Mrs. Elitsa Panayotova

12:30 - 12:55
Official opening of the science and technology park (STP) facilities

Naming an alley at the STP named after the Slovak inventor Jozef Murgas. Naming the Innovation Forum after the inventor of the first computer – prof. John Atanassov Opening of the Junior Achievement Bulgaria Hall in the Incubator at STP by the Minister of Economy of Bulgaria

13:10 - 13:40
Plenary speeches from HE Rosen Plevneliev, President of Bulgaria and HE Andrej Kiska, President of Slovakia on innovations and technology
13:45 - 14:40
Panel 2: The role of Science & Technology Parks

Hardy Schmidt, CEO Adlershof (Germany) Paris Kokorotsikos, Thessaloniki Technology Park (Greece) Eric Leguay, Member of the Executive Board, Cap Digital (France) Benedikt Herrmann, Institute for Health and Consumer Protection of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission Presentation of the STP’s facilities by Ms. Elitsa Panayotova Discussion

14:40 - 14:50
Coffee break
14:50 - 15:50
Panel 3: R&D and Technology Transfer

Moderator: Kiril Petkov, Proviotic Martin Hinoul, KU Leuven Ludo Deferm, IMEC Dr. Ilian Todorov, Hartree Centre UK Presentation of the Laboratory Complex within the STP by Ms. Elitsa Panayotova Discussion

15:50 - 16:00
Coffee break
16:00 - 17:00
Panel 4: Incubators

Moderator: Stephane Gantchev (Launchub) The Bulgarian start-up ecosystem – presentations by Eleven, Launchub, Neveq Shared experiences – presentation by: Ricardo Marvão, Co-Founder & Board Member of Beta-i Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Portugal) Google Campus Warsaw (Poland) – tbc Presentation of the Incubator within the STP by Ms. Elitsa Panayotova Discussion with Hardy Schmidt and Paris Kokorotsikos

17:00 - 17:15
Official opening of the science and technology park exhibition
17:15 - 19:00
Networking Cocktail

Bulgaria’s startup scene: curtains up

Source: www.inventures.eu

Do the low cost of doing business, strategic location, access to markets, and human resources help or hinder Bulgaria’s entrepreneurial efforts? We look at the startup scene at it currently stands.

Last year Bulgaria ranked 44th out of 130 countries in the Global Entrepreneurship Index. The index positioned Bulgaria just ahead of Hungary but behind Slovakia, suggesting that Bulgarians have a good attitude towards startups and entrepreneurship, compared to other EU states.

Financially friendly environment

Low labour costs and rent prices, coupled with highly-skilled people have been just some of the incentives for big companies to invest in Bulgaria. This is spiced up by a 10% corporate income tax (the lowest in the EU), a stable currency and great competitive costs of labour. This environment has helped Bulgaria rank third in the number of investments in startups, according to Elitsa Panayotova, Sofia Tech Park CEO.

This trend is relatively new for a small country in CEE, but investments have been flowing through funds like LAUNCHub, Eleven and NEVEQ. As part of the JEREMIE EU funds programme, Eleven and LAUNCHub have 21 million euro to distribute among hundreds of companies. Over 9 million euros have already been invested in the past two years.

Recent developments

Back in 2011, the Bulgarian startup scene was just waking up. Fast forward to 2015 and the place is abuzz with events, money, and initiatives around the country. In just a few years, the ecosystem grew, prompting some to speculate early on that this was another IT bubble waiting to burst. It scaled up fast with funding from LAUNCHub and Eleven, and venture funds like NEVEQ, with the help of some additional accelerator programs (Start it Smart, StartUP).

Since the beginning of the year, 12 startup teams have won a spot in the third round of the Start it Smart program. LAUNCHub and Eleven have already geared up for a fresh batch of startups in their last rounds, before both funds refocus.

Sofia is busy with events almost every week and the scene is expanding to other cities. Since the beginning of the year, Sofia has hosted four separate StartUp talks, organised by StartUp, and a Demo Day for the Start It Smart pre-accelerator program. Not to mention the casual meet-and-greets like Silicon DrinkAbout and Open Coffee. One of the biggest events of the year, DititalK, has just passed and co-organiser LAUNCHub is already bracing for next year.

Success stories

Bulgaria’s startup scene has already had its success stories. Flipps and Emailio have already set up shop in Silicon Valley. Flipps reached $10 million in market value in just over two years.

Telerik made the biggest exit in 2014 through a $263 million acquisition from Progress Software. Walltopia, founded in 1998, now has offices around the world, a 10,000-square-meter factory and is currently building its own headquarters in Sofia Tech Park.

Chaos Group, which started as a two-man gig, now has offices in Europe, US, Japan and Korea. And PCloud, Auxionize, and Siteground are about to hit it big.

Challenges

There is still hunger for investment capital. LAUNCHub and Eleven started simultaneously, but funding is insufficient. The segmentation of the EU market allows for many investments, but they are scattered across borders and are usually small-sized.

Another issue is government involvement. For Emiliyan Stanev, founder of Infozone, the Bulgarian government plays no active, positive role for developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem, especially when it comes to fast-growing companies. “The environment is underdeveloped, it does not provide stimulus for those crazy enough to make business with their own money, effort and resources,” he says.

Laszlo Gulyas of EIT ICT Labs sees market size as the biggest challenge for Bulgarian startups. “Companies target their local market first, it is their natural instinct, but they are soon limited and even good ideas get killed,” Gulyas says.

The lack of sales, marketing and business development skills is another challenge, according to Stephane Gantchev from LAUNCHub. Just like Stanev, he thinks the government could make more efforts to support initiatives.

Strengths

The sheer volume of untapped tech potential means there is a solid ground for further growth. “We are a tech nation, we have lots of talent, but it is not inexhaustible. We are a nation of geeks, tech people. Nevertheless, we need serial entrepreneurs to up the ante,” Gantchev says. “[Bulgarians] are fresh. They try to prove their excellence, that’s a good thing,” Gulyas adds.

As far as MoveBG founder and former HP exec Sasha Bezuhanova is concerned, Bulgaria “has already been recognized as one of the most promising startup destinations in the world.”

Zoom in on DigitalK

More than 60 startups joined a competition on the sidelines of the DigitalK event, held 21-22 May by Capital newspaper, LAUNCHub and NEVEQ. An investor jury from Point Nine Capital, Microsoft Ventures, Connect Ventures, Seedcamp, Day One Capital and Index Ventures selected four startups, who then pitched their ideas to the attending crowd. Snapwise won the competition with a live demo of their uCiC app and left Bee Smart second.

EIT ICT Labs also hosted a side-event for startups, where they announced their Idea Challenge contest with a prize fund of 40,000 euros. The event invited startups that are looking for media exposure but don't know how to do it. Colette Ballou, Ballou PR and and Robin Wauters from Tech.eu, gave pointers on how to pitch to journalists. Wauters stressed that startups should "do their homework first," before reaching out to a journalist and Colette Ballou reminded startup founders that not everything that happens to a startup is newsworthy.


This story is brought to you in partnership with EIT ICT Labs.

Sofia Tech Park

"Sofia Tech Park" JSC is a state-owned company.

The main goal of the company is to boost the development of research, innovation and technological capabilities of Bulgaria through implementing different projects. For this purpose, “Sofia Tech Park” will partner with private and public institutions in order to create and manage a unique environment for innovation, build and implement educational programs and provide support to the commercialization of new technologies, products and services.

The most fundamental project of the company is creating the first science and technology park in Bulgaria. The park is expected to become a prestigious location for national, regional and global researchers and innovative companies, showing examples of a knowledge – based economy in Bulgaria and the Balkans region.

The objective of this project is to accelerate the competitiveness of science and entrepreneurship in Bulgaria by improving the knowledge exchange between academia and business, supporting startups and innovative ideas and thus catalyzing the process of commercialization of research.

For the realization of the project, “Sofia Tech Park” already has established partnerships with leading universities, the Bulgarian Academy of Science (BAS), business clusters and large international companies, Sofia Municipality, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labor and Social Politics, NGOs and other institutions. The company will be responsible for the overall project development and support of all additional activities – marketing, financing, leasing, construction, etc.

As a result of the project within the next three years “Sofia Tech Park” will provide a working scientific infrastructure for over BGN 20 million in support of the Bulgarian innovative business. Creating a 40 000 square meters of new and renovated building space to accommodate applied research laboratories, general incubator, innovative lecture /training/ discussion forum, space for demonstration of new technology, office space and car parking.

The Park

“Sofia Tech Park” Ltd. will build the first science and technology park in Bulgaria.

Mission

The mission of the park is:

Objectives of the park

Mechanisms

“Sofia Tech Park” Ltd will develop and manage the park through partnership with private and public clients. The company has already established cooperation with leading universities, Bulgarian Academy of Science (BAS) , business clusters, large international companies, Sofia Municipality, Ministry of Education, labor, NGOs and others institutions. “Sofia Tech Park” Ltd will manage the overall organization by developing, marketing, financing, leasing, construction and other activities.

Basic Facts

“Sofia Tech Park” Ltd is founded in early June 2012. It is entirely owned by the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism and managed by Elitsa Panayotova – Executive Director. Between 2012 and 2015 the company will develop a scientific research infrastructure for about 20 million leva in support of the Bulgarian innovative business and will create around 40, 000 sq. m. new and renovated building spaces to accommodate applied research laboratories, general incubator, innovative lecture, education, discussion forums, places to demonstrate new technology office space, car parking and pedestrian green spaces.

More information at
www.sofiatech.bg

Important contacts

Slovak embassy

Tomáš Bičan
Deputy head of mission
phone: + 359 8 883 04 424
e-mail: tomas.bican@mzv.sk

Hotels

Grand Hotel Sofia
1 Gurko Street
1000 Sofia, Bulgaria
phone: + 359 8 844 00 848

Crystal Palace Hotel
Shipka Street 14
1504 Sofia, Bulgaria
phone: + 359 2 948 9489

Sofia Tech Park

Address
Sofia Tech Park JSC
86 Tintyava Str., fl. 3
Izgrev District
1113 Sofia

Contacts
phone: +359 2 447 2880
fax: +359 2 447 2898
e-mail: office@sofiatech.bg

international dialing code of Sofia

+359 (2)

Important phone numbers

Fire department: 160

Police: 166

Ambulance: 150

Traffic police: 165

Traffic accidents: 9827

Taxi

OK SuperTrans: +359 2 973 21 21

Yellow 333 Taxi: +359 2 931 19 52

Omega Trans: +359 2 91142