Sofia – With an Award for Smart City of the Year for Southeast Europe

This year’s Smart City Award goes to Sofia.

Bulgaria’s capital has been recognized in several other initiatives since the beginning of this year.

First, it was selected together with Brussels, Dublin, and Tirana to develop the European Union’s Digital Rights Management Framework.

It is one of the leaders in the European Mission for Carbon-Neutral and Smart Cities until 2030. The initiative unites the 100 most climate-friendly cities in Europe. This status opens broad possibilities for investment not only for the capital city but also unlocks ways for additional EU funding to other projects in Bulgaria.

Also, Emerging Europe, one of Europe’s most famous competitions for sustainable, social, economic, and democratic development, has chosen Sofia as a participant.

Now, the biggest tech event of the year, SEE Innovation, Technology, and Sourcing Summit, which took place on June 3rd, awarded Sofia the Smart City of the Year in Southeast Europe.

The Association for Innovation, Business Services and Technologies (AIBEST), the Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO), the Ministry of E-Government, and the Sofia Municipality organized the event. The financial services organization InvestSofia was an honorary partner of the event. Ms. Roberta Coco, Chief Adviser to the Minister of Innovation and Digital Transition of Italy and former Deputy Mayor for Digitalisation of Milan, attended the event as a special guest.

Sofia Municipality delegated the Deputy Mayor for Digitalization, Innovation, and Economic Development, Gencho Kerezov, to receive the award on behalf of the city.

Kerezov thanked the award: “It is a great honor for Sofia to receive this award, especially when it comes from business. This gives us a clear idea that our daily work with our partners at the international level is fruitful and resultful and gives businesses even more reasons to continue to choose Sofia as a preferred place for innovations and further development. The hard work continues: now is the time to fully realize the opportunities before us and not to stop creating better conditions together.

The forum aimed to bring together the leading top technology from any business analysis services to start-ups from Southeast Europe to define the ways of future development of the region and its transformation as a provider of high-value business services.

Yet, this year, discussing new ways to attract funding to the region wasn’t the forum’s primary objective. Instead, the speakers and the audience spoke about the importance of developing top talents and skills and attracting specialists from other parts of the world. Expanding education and driving innovation and talent were the main objectives of the region’s development.

Other discussion topics were the transformation needed for the region’s further development. The speakers discussed the need for flexibility in government, municipalities, and business relations. When discussing the necessity of transformations, Iliya Krastev, chairman of AIBEST said: “We can no longer talk about moving forward in small steps. We need giant leaps.

The businessman also stressed the importance of collaboration between people, governments, and businesses to achieve the needed transformations on the national and regional levels and invited the state administrations to become an integral part of this process.