YORDANKA FANDAKOVA, MAYOR OF SOFIA - CREATING THE CITY OF THE FUTURE
"Sofia aims to encourage projects in the fields of R&D, biotech, creative industries, high value-added manufacturing and tech for sustainable development."
In recent years, Sofia has become a very attractive place to invest. The pace of work we have set brought Sofia to leading positions in both national and international rankings in terms of employment, infrastructure security, quality of life, good education, successful business endeavors and tourist growth. Investors are attracted by Sofia’s location, good connectivity, but most of all, by the qualified and highly-educated population of the city.
Sofia provides the highest standard of living in the country. For the past 10 years, Sofia has been one of the European cities with the highest GDP per capita growth. The GDP of the city makes up 40% of the total GDP for Bulgaria. Sofia’s GDP per capita is twice the national average and is gradually approaching the EU average. By the end of 2018, Sofia attracted half of the foreign investments in Bulgaria, totaling EUR 12.4 billion, or EUR 9,800 per resident - three times the average for the country. A big share of the investment is directed towards high value-added sectors. Sofia aims to encourage projects in the fields of R&D, biotech, creative industries, high value-added manufacturing and tech for sustainable city development. The city is currently building 4 new industrial zones located in the northern territories, suitable for strategic investors.
The technology sector is one of the main engines of the city economy and 90% of the IT companies are located in Sofia. In 2019, fDi Intelligence placed Sofia in the Fintech Locations of the Future ranking. Financial Times declared Sofia an important part of Southeast Europe’s Silicon Valley. Sofia absorbed nearly 1/3 of the total amount of funds, allocated under various Operational Programs. Funds paid out in both program periods on the territory of Sofia amount to BGN 4.151 billion.
The average salary in Sofia exceeds the country’s average by 38%, approaching the EU average. Given the concentration of highly educated working-age population, Sofia has the highest employment rate in Bulgaria - 76% for 2018. Furthermore, the city has the lowest unemployment rate in country, 2.1%.
The city’s financial stability was affirmed by the Standard and Poor’s international rating agency, which in 2019 once again increased Sofia’s investment rating to BBB, with positive outlook.
Sofia is no longer only a business destination. Due to the many systematic investments in the city’s urban environment and cultural sites, Sofia is becoming an increasingly attractive tourist destination. The key to this success is the unveiling of the cultural and historical heritage in recent years. Sofia was among the five European cities with the highest growth of foreign tourists for the period 2009 – 2017, with an average growth of 9% per year.
Our efforts are focused on implementing innovative solutions in the city governance and urban development. Sofia is changing and the most important thing is that more and more citizens are taking part in this change. The city develops with a consistent focus on one strategic priority - the improvement of the quality of life of its citizens. In January 2020 we created a new municipal department for Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development that will facilitate the digitalisation and adoption of new technologies by the Municipality, as well as the process of "opening" the city to the technology companies.
Availability of financial resources and the strong traditions in education are our main strengths that will help us to further develop a favourable environment for technologies and innovation. We owe the achievements in these areas to the educated and enterprising people of Sofia – they are the city’s most valuable asset. The future of Sofia is to develop as a green and innovative city and to transform into a digital capital of new markets.
For more information about investment, doing business and innovation in Sofia please follow up with these partners:
SOFIA MUNICIPALITY DIGITALISATION, INNOVATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT.
The “Digitalisation, Innovation and Economic Development” department of Sofia Municipality was established in 2020 to support Sofia’s development as a smart, digital, innovative, and technologically advanced city. The new Department will consolidate and guide all of the city’s digital and smart city projects and will continue to support high-tech and R&D investors in Sofia. It will focus on increasing the number and quality of municipal e-services, open data and smart city projects implementation. www.innovativesofia.bg
Invest Sofia is the investment promotion and business development agency of Sofia. Our mission is to support local and foreign businesses in building their success story in Sofia. Invest Sofia is part of Sofia Municipality. Our services are free of charge. www.investsofia.com