One of the four innovation hubs of the MediaMotorEurope programme is based in Bulgaria. After its establishment in 2017, the now Cluster Sofia Knowledge City works towards digital transformation of the city together with the main key players in the tech scene.
So, what should you know about our cluster organization?
The cluster is an association consisting of more than 60 legal entities including SMEs, larger companies, startups, universities, NGOs, and scientific institutes. It is a non-profit association working to turn Sofia, Bulgaria, into a city of knowledge. But at the same time, it is a business initiative that supports the development, production and commercialization of product and technological innovations of its members, in the value chain. It is obvious that synergies are being sought between two goals: first, the birth and growth of the market for smart city technologies; and second, the attraction of investors in industries that create solutions and services, for a smart & knowledge city.
The aim is for the digital transformation of the city to take place through “market pull”, generated by the real needs of the citizens, with the active participation of the city authorities. The cluster operative team is usually created by the voluntary staff, taken from the cluster’s member organizations and companies.
The main tool for a cluster to achieve their goals and create impact for their members is usually the generation of cluster initiatives for a common interest here. In this perspective, we present you our three most important initiatives:
1) Innovation Hub
The first key initiative is the development of an Innovation Hub in Sofia. The main task of the hub is to manage an intensive mentoring programme for deeptech startups and scaleups, selected through the open calls under the MediaMotorEurope programme (MME). Subsequently, the task of the hub is to provide specialized services and support, to the members and target groups in the ecosystem of the cluster, in Sofia. As the cluster is able to perform such tasks with the help of stable partners, with experience in supporting businesses and developing the innovation ecosystem in Sofia, it has signed cooperation agreements with Sofia Tech Park, BICA, and the BCCI Investment Council.
The innovation hub is committed to the following activities:
- be a technology mediator – to act as an “antenna” and contact point in the ecosystem, to discover and open windows for innovation and to transfer knowledge about high technologies in the media and creative industries;
- organize innovation workshops – to inform about the technological trends and to generate partner innovation projects;
- make possible the access to training on open innovation management, in these industries;
- present startups and scales to industries and to the investment community;
- organize events to create professional networks and conditions for cooperation.
The innovation hub and the partnership on this initiative were presented at an open innovation inspiration journey, which was held in Sofia Tech Park on 21.10.2020.
2) Startups Accelerator
The second initiative is to put on the stage anAccelerator for startups and scaleups within the Innovation Hub in Sofia, based initially on the three mentoring cycles run in the MME programme. 15 startups that were successful MME open calls applicants, were included in the accelerator. Also, 5 other startups became members of the cluster, so that they could take advantage of the technical support within the accelerator. We have created a network of Bulgarian and internationalmentors (most of which are members of the cluster) on whom the Innovation Hub will be able to rely on its future work, as a service provider. To serve the hub we have developed and coordinated with our partners aprogramme of events and pieces of training, which the cluster can organize in 2021 in partnership with Sofia Tech Park and with the other stakeholders.
3) International Business School
The third initiative is together with the International Business School, to establish a Center for competencies and vocational training in the field of smart cities. Initially, this center will be a result of the Skills4Cities project implementation process, and then it will start operating as a training center, providing a certification scheme for professions related to the development, management and implementation of smart city projects.
To know more about CSKC, please go to www.knowledgesofia.eu/en