Bulgaria’s innovation performance has been distinctly positive since 2015, driven by remarkable innovation efficiency. Much of this dynamism is attributable to the country’s capital, Sofia, and its bubbling innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem. EU funding has been one of the drivers for this process, but, unlike elsewhere in the region, the Sofia experiment has been very successful from its very first iteration.
Sofia’s strongest areas are its increasing employment in fast-growing innovative companies and its number of design and trademark applications. These achievements cannot offset its systemic challenges, the most urgent of which are related to the country’s demographic crisis, low total early stage entrepreneurial activity, small national and regional markets, and low buyer sophistication. The local ecosystem needs to broaden its entrepreneurial community, build collaboration at home and internationally—with the Bulgarian diaspora in particular—and implement a more soundly articulated national strategy for smart growth as part of the global knowledge economy.