Sofia public-private fund for innovations matches public and private funds to provide on competitive basis seed funding for innovative cultural projects.
The practice presents an innovative matching local fund based on a public private partnership model to provide access to funding for innovative and risky cultural and creative projects.
The practice was introduced due to the following major considerations:
- all structural funds in Bulgaria (including those supporting innovations) are managed nationally and there is no local/regional support in this field;
- available public funding rarely supports risky initiatives/projects;
- the city of Sofia believes that local policy makers and intermediaries can do more to foster innovations.
Main objectives:
1. To develop local creative ecosystem and local philantropy;
2. To test models, alternative or additional to the measures supported by Structural Funds, for fostering innovation in Sofia.
The amount raised from the businesses annually is matched by the city and distributed via competitive calls for innovative projects in creative and cultural industries.
Target groups:
1. Businesses, RTOs, universities, NGOs, entrepreneurs;
2. Local and national authorities with competences in the area of innovations.

Resources needed

Annual budget in Euro: 50,000 to 100,000, plus 75,000 in-kind. Funding sources: Sofia private business raises funds annually, matched by Sofia Municipality.
Human resources are needed for fundraising, calls and grants administrations. Business is involved in the selection and overall management.

Evidence of success

- Sofia innovation performance annual improvement rate achieved of 2.5% (vs. 1.7% EU average);
- R&D spending in 2015 increased by 27.4% compared with 2014;
- Increase of the positive self-evaluation as an eventual entrepreneur of Sofia citizens from 27% in 2014 to 35.2% in 2015.
“I hope that the active urban leaders will set up a similar organisation as the Sofia Innovation Fund in our city. We are thinking about such fund for some time.” Deputy Mayor of Alytus City, Lithuania

Difficulties encountered

The biggest challenge was to trigger change in the relationships and responsibilities of the three sectors: public, private and civic – in terms of city development and fostering innovations.

Potential for learning or transfer

Below are quotes from participants in a EUROCITIES study visit focusing on Sofia Fund for Innovations, 2016
“We are now aiming to develop a new fund in collaboration with Arts and Business NI and hopefully Arts Council NI (Central Government) which will allow us to try to access additional financial contribution from private businesses, whilst also enhancing relationships between public/private/ arts bodies.” Director of Tourist Economy Directorate, Belfast
“I would like to consider ways that we could introduce an innovation fund in Lincoln – providing small grants to the creative sector.” Lincoln, UK
“Šilutė is a small city, but a similar fund for innovations could be useful creating cross-sector partnerships and involving private sector into decision making.” Šilutė, Lithuania

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Main institution
Sofia Development Association
Югозападен, Bulgaria (България)
Start Date
March 2018
End Date


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