Fandakova: “Information technologies are among the fastest growing industries in Sofia”
Sofia Municipality is the first municipality in Bulgaria to develop, adopt and implement a Strategy for Smart Specialization of Sofia. “Information and communication technologies and creative industries are the strategy’s priorities for Sofia”, said the Mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova at the conference "Intelligent Specialization and Technologies Transfer as Innovative Drivers for Regional Growth", organized by the Joint Research Centre and the European Commission. The EU Commissioner, Maria Gabriel, Deputy Prime Minister, Tomislav Donchev and Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of Regions (CoR) attended the conference.
In the recent years, Sofia Municipality actively participates and supports events related to digital technologies and innovations, such as Webit, Innovation Explorer, and in June - in a few weeks - Sofia will again host the Webit Festival. “With the assistance of EU Commissioner Maria Gabriel, in Sofia we will hold a Digital Assembly, within which we organize a Balkan hackathon”, said Fandakova.
In recent years, Sofia has been developing as the largest regional economy and has more and more convincingly demonstrated to be an attractive place to invest. Sofia produces 40% of the country's GDP.
Information technologies are among the fastest growing industries in Sofia. They account for 5.7% of the economy and generate an increasing share of Bulgaria's exports. More than 40 400 people work in the IT sector in Sofia, one third of whom are women.
Over 100 IT companies operate in Sofia, developing highly qualified specialists. Well-trained labour force is one of the main incentives for new investors to come to the capital, where over 50% of the active population have higher education.
The Mayor also pointed out that Sofia Municipality was the first municipality in Bulgaria to start the data opening up process. With the support of the Programme Europe and with the cooperation of the Sofia Development Association was developed a platform, where the opening up of data of the municipal administration started with the publication of the consolidated budget of Sofia Municipality, as well as the projects under the Programme Culture and Public Procurement. At present, 27 data sets are published and maintained up-to-date for Sofia Municipality. In 2018, another 23 data sets are planned to be published.
We also develop public areas with free access to the Internet as well as public transport. The Sofia subway provides full coverage of free Internet.
Sofia Municipality also applies for a WiFi4EU project - a financing scheme to promote free Wi-Fi connectivity for citizens and visitors in public spaces.
Sofia Municipality is also working on a specific project for the creation of Laboratory for Innovation and Generation of Ideas. This is the NewGenerationSkills Project. Within it, Sofia Municipality is setting up a laboratory for innovation and generation of creative ideas in support of young people.
Sofia is one of the coordinators of the Urban Agenda for the EU, where the European Commission and a number of European cities collaborate directly. “Sofia is coordinator of the Digital Transition Partnership along with Tallinn, Estonia and Oulu, Finland. The aim of the partnership is to identify and propose new measures and solutions for improving European legislation, funding urban policies and training programs to facilitate digital transition in Europe”, said also Fandakova.