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What is Innovative Sofia?

What is Innovative Sofia?

Metodiyka Tarlyovska, the representative of Innovative Sofia will participate as a speaker in the webinar "Mapping technologies and design thinking for smart cities" with information about good practices of the Sandbox for Innovative Solutions initiative. Below she shares with us information about her organization and its projects. 

Innovative Sofia is the Digitalization, Innovation, and Economic Development department of the Sofia Municipality, headed by the Deputy Mayor for Digitalisation, Innovation, and Economic Development. It was established in 2020 to support the development of Sofia as an intelligent, digital, innovative, and tech city.

The goal of Innovative Sofia is to lead and engine of the digital transformation of Sofia – to initiate and coordinate digital transformation policies and to consolidate and guide the city’s digital and smart city projects; to facilitate the development of the high-tech and R&D sector, the establishment of international partnerships and the attraction of investments; as well as to support the development of a recognizable international brand of Sofia and the local ecosystem.

 The Digital Transformation Strategy for Sofia

The Strategy was developed under the Digital Cities Challenge (DCC) project of the European Commission by Innovative Sofia together with EU experts, the team of Invest Sofia, and over 100 local stakeholders. The strategy aims to encourage the development of innovative solutions for the digital transformation of the city and to support the innovation system enabling the development and absorption of new digital services and smart solutions. In 2020, the Strategy and the Action Plan for its implementation were unanimously approved by the Sofia City Council.

Participation in International Initiatives

Innovative Sofia, on behalf of Sofia Municipality, won a place and is currently coordinating the participation of the city in three international innovation and digital transformation programs:

  • PolicyCLOUD – a 3-year-long project of the European Commission under Horizon 2020, aiming to create cloud-based tools for effective policy modeling, testing, and management through data analysis and visualization. Being part of the project, the City of Sofia will be able to perform simulations, tests, and analyses of potential initiatives and policies by using different categories and types of data.
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies' Digital Innovation Initiative 2020-2022 – an international program on urban digital transformation management with participants from 21 European cities. Under the Initiative, Sofia receives consultancy and technical support for the optimization and redesign of municipal administrative services in order to improve residents’ awareness of, access to, and overall experience of using them.
  • Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) - the 2,5-year follow-up project of the Digital Cities Challenge program of the European Commission involving 126 cities. Under the project, Sofia receives personalized expert consulting support to develop a concrete project, instrument or process together with the local system to further foster and facilitate the city’s development in the area of e-government and citizen participation.

 Work on Digital and Innovative Projects

  • The innovative Sofia is working on a Sandbox for Innovative Solutions to test innovative technological solutions and identify scalable pilot projects related to various urban challenges on topics such as environment, education, transport, e-government, entrepreneurship, and innovation. The projects will be evaluated via an approved methodology developed by Deloitte in a joint project with the European Investment Bank. It is important that the solutions can be implemented in a short time - with a quick test and low financial risk.
  • Sofia Municipality is a co-founder of the European Digital Innovation Hub (EDIH) for big data, high-speed computing, and artificial intelligence, created at the end of 2020 to increase the competitiveness and business potential of SMEs, industry, and society in the Southwest region of Bulgaria by supporting the digital transformation and integration of the existing infrastructure, know-how, technologies and expertise in the field. The hub will offer one-stop-shop services, tailored to the region's economy, the specifics of the ecosystem, and the needs of the business and the society.
  • Sofia Municipality is working together with the GATE Institute on the creation of the first digital twin of Sofia. It will be developed on the territory of the Lozenets district and will be validated in three pilot scenarios, related to urban planning, air quality, and public transport.
  • Over 200 Teachers from 16 schools in Sofia joined the “School in the Cloud” pilot project of Sofia Municipality for digital skills development and work in an online environment, as well as the integration of the “One-to-One” model for managing the learning process via a device for each teacher and student aiming to facilitate the overall digital transformation of schools.



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