First Edition of IT Hub Connect Attracted Near 400 Participants

The first edition of the international conference IT Hub Connect was successful. For the two days there were

  • Registered 500 participants and nearly 400 attended the event
  • Who represented 20 countries from 3 continents
  • There were 50 speakers.

The discussions of the conference focused on the digital transformation of companies and organizations, IT regulation matters, cyber-security, the regional IT development of the Western Balkans, the organizational capacity of companies facing regulations, as well as the development of the startup eco-system in Bulgaria and in neighboring countries.

The audience was address by Mr. Borislav Boyanov, Chairman of the IBBC, who pointed out various data and facts of the digital economy of Bulgaria. The most significant one is that 20% of the Bulgarian export is digital services.

On behalf of the AmCham Bulgaria Dr. Krassimira Chemishanska pointed out that our country has unutilized potential despite the huge growth over the past decades.

The Minister of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of EU Ms. Lilyana Pavlova pointed out that Bulgaria works in three main directions: completion of the Common Digital Market in favour of both business and the users; cyber-security; and personal data protection – for securing public trust in online services and technologies. She emphasized on the role of Bulgaria to have leadership on these topics and works hardly the Balkans to become IT Hub of Europe.

“It is known that the IT sector is the fastest growing in Bulgaria: over 600% growth over the past 10 years, growth of the workplaces with more than 300% and it is expected till 2021 the sector will represent 4,5% of the Bulgarian Economy, and 90% of the people in IT Sector are up till 35 years old and 31% of them are women. This is more than 2 times bigger than the average level in EU (16%). In the industry work high-quality people thus having 4-times higher salaries than the average in Bulgaria.” – also she said.

„Bulgaria is on 4th place with regard innovation dynamics in the past five years, according the EU ranking. It shows that here we have intensive processes in realization of our innovation policy,” – said Mr. Emil Karanikolov, Minister of Economy of Bulgaria. He pointed out that near 1/3 of the enterprises in the country are evaluated as innovative, and 17% of them have realized technological innovations.

At the conference there were three delegations from countries from the Western Balkans – Serbia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Kosovo.

„Till 2007 Serbia exports less than 22% of IT services. In 2017 the trend is reversed and the total export of IT Services overlaps the agriculture. Our government has set digitalization as main priority in its term, up till know we have registered 10 start-up centers,” – Mr. Nenad Popovic, Minister of Innovations and Technological Development of Serbia pointed out.

“Western Balkans need of the next steps of unification in the digital economy era. We are ready to lead this process,” – said Mr. Damyan Manchevski, Minister of Information Society, Administration of FYR of Macedonia.

„Governments have to have legal and financial means to support the will for growth of the young people. Balkans have unique possibility to change their identity and to turn in the region who exports most IT services at world class quality,” – said Mr. Besim Begaj, Minister of Innovations and Entrepreneurship of Kosovo.

„For over 23 years the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria is a valuable partner which work lead to country’s prosperity. The U.S. Companies here do not only invest here but they bring new technologies and innovation,” emphasized H.E. Eric Rubin, Ambassador of the United States of America in Bulgaria.

“Today’s event represents an unique platform for building bridges from the present to the future. India represents third biggest economy in the world and it is the second biggest market with 1,3 bn people. Besides those numbers India is the fastest growing economy globally,” said H.E. Pooja Kapur, Ambassador of India in Bulgaria.

Messages to the audience was delivered by Mr. Rossen Plevneliev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria (2007 – 2012).

The EU Commissioner of Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel addressed the audience too. “Our main goal is to use the cooperation between the pillars of the digital economy: intelligent data infrastructure, cyber-security, AI, digital skills, and to apply then in the industry and the social life.“ She said. These ambitious goals must be supported with enough funds.

About the event

IT Hub Connect 2018 attended on Mar 26-27, 2018, Sofia Tech Park. It was organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria and the Indian-Bulgarian Business Chamber. The event was part of the agenda of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Among the main supporters of the conference are Software Group, Microsoft Bulgaria, Vivacom, EY Bulgaria, Unicredit Bulbank, Deloitte Bulgaria, IBM, PwC, Telelink, Feuji, and others.