Utilizing city advertising infrastructure outdoors and in public transport to promote start-up innovations and social entrepreneurship.
Public and media outreach and promotion are costly and difficult to get for SMEs and entrepreneurs though much needed. This is therefore a soft service offered to the grantees of the Sofia Fund for Innovations (SFI). The Fund provides targeted support for prototyping and demonstration activities of start-ups, micro enterprises, NGOs, informal groups and individual artists in Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI). CCI are among the national priorities for smart specialization of Bulgaria and top priority within Sofia S3.
The main objectives of the practice:
1. To create conditions of maximum use of the opportunities to visualize the innovative ideas, projects and products of the Fund grantees;
2. To promote innovative actors of the city and support them to reach their potential customers, audiences, users and/or investors.
The service operates thanks to the public-private partnership model of SFI. SFI has agreements with private companies for outdoor advertisement (billboards, citylights, etc.) and access to the city facilities (metro stations led screens, tramway screens) and also its social media and web communication channels.
Main stakeholders involved are:
1. Fund beneficiaries: entrepreneurs, start-ups and NGOs working in the area of CCIs and social entrepreneurship;
2. VC and RC, potential procurers/clients, general public
3. Sofia municipality, diverse private entities acting as donors, mentors or in-kind contributors to the grantees.

Resources needed

The service is provided as in-kind support. Its monetisation amount to 250 000 EUR per year and 4 000 EUR per project, decided annually by the Fund board.
Funding sources: Sofia Municipality, advertising companies, municipal public transportation enterprises, Sofia Fund for Innovations.

Evidence of success

- Profiling innovative start-ups and SMEs and strengthening their market position: 10 start-ups presented at WebIt festival; 5 had pilot product implementation; 12 incubated or attracted VC.
- Visibility of innovation and fostering entrepreneurships: the 110 digital screens reach 350 000 persons daily. Social media publications reach between 15 000 and 20 000 users.
- Institutional impacts: lchanges in organisational culture and linking grants to city reality, increased number of donors.

Difficulties encountered

Adequate and stable outdoor, media and social media infrastructure is necessary. It requires good collaboration between the practice owner and public or private companies that contribute with in-kind advertisement facilities as a pre-requisite for the successful implementation of the service.

Potential for learning or transfer

The practice contributes to creating a cross-fertilising city-level community for targeted use of the advertisement infrastructure in the city. It both aims at and contributes to achieving tailored integration of public and private resources for common good, based on understanding of both innovators’ and city needs. It is very cost efficient since it utilizes only vacant outdoor advertisement spaces or limited amount of time on digital screens. It does not require anything additional, simply better and more efficient coordination between all involved: vendors, transport operators, local government, etc. It is a win-win situation: innovators have limited budgets for marketing, outdoor advertisement companies cannot secure contracts for the entire year, the city needs to boost its image as a home to innovations. The public outreach effect is enormous.

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Main institution
Sofia Development Association
Югозападен, Bulgaria (България)
Start Date
March 2013
End Date
December 2016


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