“Sofia has lately been successfully developing as an IT and outsourcing industry center. As you may know, Sofia has entered the top 3 of European cities by the number of start-up companies in the IT sector,” Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandakova said at a press conference with the Commissioner for Digital Economy and Digital Society Maria Gabriel and Webit Foundation Chairman Plamen Roussev on occasion of the EU Digital and Innovation week in Sofia. The event is emerging as one of Europe's most important 2018 digital technology, innovation and policy initiatives in every field.
Speaking about policies in the digital sphere Sofia will host the Digital Assembly from 25-29 June organized by the European Commission at the highest level.
The mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova, pointed out that the share of the IT sector in the capital’s economy has been increasing from 3.8% in 2011 to 5.7% in 2015. The number of the people employed in this sector in Sofia has increased by about 50% to 40.4 thousand between 2011 and 2015.
The outsourcing industry creates 10% of the value added of Sofia's economy. There are 92 classes with an “Information Technologies” profile in Sofia, with the most common special subject in the field being “Computer Equipment and Technologies” with 234 places for students, “System Programming” – 208 places and “Computer Networks” – 182 places. The main part of the IT staff is being trained at the universities in Sofia – over 11,000 students in recent years, and this has turned out not to be enough.
Mayor Fandakova announced that within the framework of the Assembly, Sofia Municipality was organizing a new Hackathon, which would be Balkan. So far, the municipality has successfully hosted two Hackathons with the participation of hundreds of young people from different universities.
Commissioner Maria Gabriel stated that Sofia has become the digital capital of Europe and continues to consolidate this position. In her words “the Digital Assembly will be my first as a Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society and the fact that it will take place in Sofia provides me with the opportunity to thank Mayor Fandakova for having turned the city into a digital technology leader and for contining to strengthen this position. Europe's digital skills and digital future will be among the topics of the Assembly since the lack of digital skills may pose a risk of isolation. Another issue will be cybersecurity because cyberattacks know no borders and it is important that Bulgaria be among the countries to declare, that Europe needs more cyber security specialists and that we can only overcome this phenomenon together, Maria Gabriel said.
The EU commissioner clarified that one of the biggest advantages of Bulgaria in the European digital scape was that our country ranked first in terms of the number of women in the IT sector – 27% against a European Union average of 16.1%.
“More than 6,000 people are expected to attend Webit and the Digital Assembly, 1500 of which are political leaders, commissioners, heads of state and government, mayors from all over Europe,” Plamen Rusev said. He also added that “Sofia ranks among cities such as Barcelona, London, Berlin, Helsinki and Lisbon, welcoming the global digital and technological elite in such massive technological events. Business Agreements are signed during Webit. The first company to announce its plans to open an office in Sofia was the founder of MariaDB and the world's most widely used database MySQL (> 85% of all Internet sites use MySQL as a database).”