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Interview with Dimitar Hristov by Via Expo

Interview with Dimitar Hristov by Via Expo

This is a shortened version of an interview with Dimitar Hristov, Executive Director of Cluster Sofia Knowledge City (CSKC), conducted by Desislava Nikolova - Marketing Manager at Via Expo. 

The interview is about the Cluster's participation in the 7th Exhibition & Conference for South-East Europe on 16-18 April 2019

D. Nikolova: Mr. Hristov, Cluster Sofia Knowledge City will participate for the first time in the 7th Exhibition & Conference for South-East Europe. Please, present your organization in short and its main objectives and priorities?


D. Hristov: Sofia Knowledge City is an innovative cluster, established on a territorial basis.

To date, this is an association consisting of 43 legal entities with a total of over 1,400 employees and over 100 million sales. There are 31 SMEs, 2 larger companies, 4 universities, 4 NGOs and 2 institutes of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The association also includes two "knowledge organizations" from Vienna and Amsterdam - two cities that are excellent in the use of new smart city technologies. Sofia Knowledge City is a non-profit organization, but at the same time it is a business initiative that consists of three separate, but also interlinked components:

  1. First of all, this is an innovative concept of joint actions of the business, the Sofia Municipality, public institutions, and scientific and educational organizations to transform our capital into a smart city.
  2. Secondly, this is a tool for realizing the Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization of the city of Sofia and an innovative platform for supporting the process of developing a common vision for the economic and urban development of the city.
  3. Third, but not the last in order, Sofia Knowledge City is a cluster organization, a coalition of universities, R & D organizations and knowledge-intensive enterprises to generate and implement projects supporting the transformation process of the city. A major priority in our work is the creation of an innovative ecosystem, generating in itself prerequisites for clever city management based on the latest technologies and business models.

D. Nikolova: The cluster participated in the elaboration of Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization of Sofia. What are the key moments and future applications of this strategy in the city?

D. Hristov: Sofia was the first city in Bulgaria to draw up such a strategy, but at the time of its adoption by the Municipality Board the cluster was not yet established. We are connected with this strategy because in the team that elaborated the document were also representatives of the cluster founders who are also members of its governing bodies. We are committed to helping the strategy to become an action plan and we have repeatedly declared it to the Mayor of Sofia. To achieve the strategic goals of smart city management on the basis of the latest ITC, the cluster is currently conducting a study of the state of the smart technology market in Sofia and its trends by 2025 and prepares an action plan with a road map and a model for turning Sofia into a smart city and a city of knowledge.

D. Nikolova: The CSKC is working on the creation of a Sofia Smart City Marketplace online platform - please describe its essence and what it will do for the process of smart technology penetration in the capital?

D. Hristov: By 2020 it is believed that the number of connected devices will exceed 50 billion globally. In the urban environment, these new technologies change city life and help create more sustainable development. New technologies that can be successfully used in the public sector are constantly emerging. The speed of emergence is fast enough and is a serious challenge to how the latest achievements can quickly reach the employees responsible for creating smart cities. The Sofia Smart City Marketplace will collect, validate and present hundreds of technologies, applications, products and systems relevant to managing the city's processes and assets. We will provide the municipal units and specialists with open access to the database so that they are well informed and facilitated in the search for "smart city solutions". We believe that this will simplify and make more effective the finding, validation, and implementation of the latest technologies and will encourage the process of choosing and implementing smart solutions for city development in areas such as ecology, cybersecurity, energy efficiency, urban mobility, e-government, and so on.

D. Nikolova: CSKC will participate in the forthcoming 7th Exhibition & Conference for South-East Europe edition. What are the highlights of the participation?

D. Hristov: The forthcoming exhibition is important to us because we intend to present the concept and the brand Sofia - a knowledge city through the achievements of our members and partners. Our aim is to focus, as much as possible, on the advancement of leading companies in the city of Sofia in the use of smart city technologies, the results of our science Institutes that can solve problems of the city and the educational organizations in attracting talents for the city through smart and innovative educational products. These are, in general, the highlights of our participation, and these are, in practice, the main elements of every city of knowledge. The conference, to be held on 17 April 2019 at the time and in parallel with the exhibition, will be somewhat a follow-up to the conference from 26 November 2018 but will be more pragmatic.

In conclusion, an important part of the above-mentioned objectives and initiatives, including the cluster's participation in the exhibition, are realized thanks to the Operational Program "Innovation and Competitiveness" and in particular the program "Cluster Development in Bulgaria". From November 2017 to April 2019, under this program, we are implementing a project under a grant agreement BG16RFOP002-2.009-0018-C01 and we hope that it will be completed successfully.



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