The Bulgarian and Austrian municipalities have officially entered into a partnership this Monday. Gerhard Hirczi, Managing Director of Vienna Business Agency and Vladimir Danailov, Managing Director of Sofia Invest, have signed the agreement in Vienna. It was presented by Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig and his colleague from Sofia Jordanka Fandakova in the town hall. Sofia is the second City-to-City for Vienna after the one with London. Sofia also has such a similar agreement with London signed.
Competing with Silicon Valley
“Europe has been competing with Silicon Valley and other startup centers for a long time. That’s why it’s so important that European cities see themselves not as competitors but as partners with common interests”, said Ludwig. The aim of the agreement is to strengthen the relations between the cities.
On a more practical level, the goal of the partnership is to make it easier for Bulgarian startups to get know-how and gain valuable contacts within the Viennese ecosystem and vice versa. The Agreement aims to facilitate business cooperation between the two cities and to offer information and access to contacts and support that will help Sofia-based entrepreneurs in growing their business in Vienna and support entrepreneurs from Vienna to establish an office in Sofia.
As a first attempt to facilitate the the exchange between the ecosystems, the delegation of the Sofia major Fandakova is accompanied by twelve Bulgarian fintech and biotech companies.
Focus on Fintechs
Fintech is a special focus of the partnership. There are numerous fintech startups in Austria and especially in Vienna, which are on their way to implement new solutions in the B2C as well as in the B2B area. The partnership would allow those companies to expand into other markets, including the CEE region. On the other hand, Bulgaria and Sofia seem to be the right partner in this domain. Indeed, a recent report of UniCredit Group showed that Bulgaria is leading the countries of Southeast Europe (SEE) in terms of the number of fintech companies. With around 70 companies, identified in the study, the country ranks third in Central and Eastern Europe.
The city of Vienna is already a member of “Start Alliance” and benefits from a network in Tel Aviv, New York City, Shanghai, Paris, London, Warsaw, Dubai, Beijing and Berlin. The new partnership also aims to catalyze the exchange of knowledge, know-how and contacts in order to support the ecosystems in their maturation.