Outsourcing Forum Indicates Bulgaria Can Be 'Silicon Valley' of Black Sea Region

Business | November 15, 2010, Monday // 21:05| Views: | Comments: 9
Bulgaria: Outsourcing Forum Indicates Bulgaria Can Be 'Silicon Valley' of Black Sea Region Bulgaria's Economy Minister Traikov (sitting) was among the participant in the Outsourcing conference in Sofia, sponsored by AmCham. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria has the potential to become a sort of a "Silicon Valley" of the Black Sea, according to participants in a conference on outsourcing and off-shoring, organized by AmCham, the InvestBulgaria Agency, and Colliers International.  

More than 300 international and local delegates attended the first "Realizing the Potential - Bulgaria on the Outsourcing and Off-shoring Map" conference in Sofia, an initiative of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria (AmCham) and the governmental InvestBulgaria Agency, in cooperation with Colliers International.

"The Conference turned into a truly engaging and successful industry exchange. The one-day event gathered more than 300 international and local delegates - high ranking governmental officials, prominent experts and senior executives, who shared valuable experience and engaged in a forward-looking discussion about Bulgaria's potential as an outsourcing and off-shoring location," AmCham said in a follow-up statement Monday.

"One of the key objectives of AmCham is to support the government in positioning Bulgaria as an attractive investment destination. The event was an excellent opportunity for international companies to meet and network with Bulgarian companies and to explore the potential of Bulgaria as an outsourcing and off-shoring location", commented Valentin Georgiev, Executive Director, American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria.

Keynote speakers and attendants of the event included Traycho Traykov, Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism; Rossen Plevneliev, Minister of the Regional Development and Public Works; Krassimir Popov, deputy-minister of Labor and Social Policy. Amongst the prominent speakers were senior representatives from McKinsey & Company, AES, Hewlett-Packard, TMF, Johnson Controls, OPI, Adecco, SAP Labs and Colliers International.

According to Borislav Stefanov, head of the InvestBulgaria Agency, Bulgaria has three major advantages as an outsourcing destination: the location and cultural proximity to key markets, its political and macroeconomic stability and the qualified human resources and talent. He believes it is the government's job to make sure that the perception of Bulgaria by investors reflects the benefits that it offers.

"Bulgaria has a great opportunity to become a niche player in Eastern Europe and to be known for specialized skills adding value to business operations and development", said Atanas S. Garov, Managing Director of Colliers International, Bulgaria, as quoted in the AmCham statement.

According to him, services with highest development potential include IT, engineering, research and development (R&D). He noted that employees in the outsourcing and off-shoring industry in Bulgaria which at present are some 10 000-15 000, could potentially reach 100 000 within five years if there are concentrated efforts to attract investors and major service users.

"The incremental growth for outsourcing companies from Eastern Europe within the next 10 years could increase 4 times up to USD 440 B... Bulgaria can become the Silicon Valley of the Black Sea with the united efforts of the business, the government and the academia. In order to become a leading outsourcing/off shoring (O&O) destination by 2020, the country needs targeted demand and talent development/attraction initiatives, such as raising funding from public and private sponsors; improving suitable talent availability; identification of focus areas for the local O&O players; structural changes to the educational system, setting up a Bulgarian expats regain program and assuring a highly reliable, cost-effective enabling infrastructure," believes Detlev Hoch, Senior Partner at McKinsey and Company.

"When choosing an outsouring/off-shoring provider, the financial offer is not always the most important decision factor but also the quality of the services, the infrastructure and communications, and the business environment. Local government's support is also crucial: developing university programs focused on outsourcing, providing incentives to business, sponsoring educational programs and helping local companies define the opportunities to leverage language skills and cost optimization," said in turn Elizabeth Hackenson, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, AES Corporation, USA.

"In order to be a country of preference for the outsourcing and off-shoring industry, Bulgaria needs to invest not only in infrastructure, quality of service and education but also to encourage innovative business projects and entrepreneurial skills, as well as ensure that there is a strong government commitment to this cause," believes Sasha Bezuhanova, Director, Public Sector CEE, Hewlett Packard.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, founded in 1994, unites over 300 American, Bulgarian and international companies operating in the country, collectively producing over half of the GDP in the country.

The Bulgarian Investment Agency (InvestBugaria) is a government organization under the supervision of the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism, whose mission is to promote Bulgaria as an investment destination and to assist companies with the successful implementation of their investment projects.

Colliers International is one of the largest commercial real estate services companies in the world with over 15 000 professionals operating out of more than 480 offices in 61 countries. The company has been active in Bulgaria since 1991.

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Tags: Syllicon Valley, AES, Mckinsey, Detlev Hoch, Atanas Garov, Colliers International, Borislav Stefanov, Valentin Georgiev, InvestBulgaria Agency, American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, AmCham, Sasha Bezuhanova, HP
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» To the forumComments (9)
Honterus - 17 Nov 2010 // 20:10:29

Dr Faust:

"Moldova is indeed landlocked"

That's thanks to Stalin's "genius" to dismantle peoples and countries. He gave Budjak to Ukraine and "Transdnistria" to the Moldovan SSR. Or rather the other way around, because "Moldovan SSR" was created in 1924 solely on Transdnistria as a reminder of Russia's claim on Bessarabia.

Once ( on the XV-th century ) Moldova had a small comercial fleet harboured in Dniester's estuary - the "blue "finger" pointing towards the Moldovan border " as A. Nother put it. At that time the Russian border was about as far from Moldova as it is now.

However Moldova has a naval terminal on the Danube at Giurgiulesti. Moldova's opening on the Danube has some 500 meters. For that they had to exchange some land with the Ukraine...

DrFaust - 17 Nov 2010 // 07:08:10


Moldova is indeed landlocked, but the article refers to the 'Black Sea Region'. Moldova is a member of all relevant Black Sea Region organizations and there is no doubt that it is part of that region even when it doesn't directly border the Black Sea.

DrFaust - 17 Nov 2010 // 06:55:49


they have already the 'Bulgarian FBI', the 'Bulgarian Louvre', the 'New Jerusalem' - why shouldn't they have also the 'Bulgarian Silicon Valley'? LOL

A.Nother - 16 Nov 2010 // 14:40:17


>>> Is Odessa aware of this development ??? ;-)

Probably not, but bloody Google Maps should make that a bit clearer else someone might start WW3 down there!


You see that little blue "finger" pointing towards the Moldovan border - just under the O of Odessa on that link? I took that to be a part of the Black Sea. Of course zooming in it becomes clear it is not... my bad.

BULERICAN - 16 Nov 2010 // 13:04:33


Agree with your commentary.

However when did the southwestern portion of the Ukraine sink into the sea allowing Moldova to be a Black Sea country >>> Is Odessa aware of this development ??? ;-)

A.Nother - 16 Nov 2010 // 11:47:11

First of all they are not saying Balkan, they are saying Balck Sea. Now a guick check on Google Maps shows the competition in that region to be:

- Romania (fair enough, but they are more industrial than IT I believe)
- Moldova (nuff said)
- Ukraine
- Russia
- Georgia
- Turkey

Of these only Russia and Ukraine are serious IT outsourcing destinations. And neither are politically anywhere near as stable as Bulgaria, which hardly has stable politics itself. On top which BG is in the EU, which counts for a lot.

In fact MANY big IT companies (and even more smaller ones) have made Sofia there regional support and development center. The number of foreign language (eg German, French, Swedish) IT support jobs advertised in Sofia is significant.

So don't diss this idea too much. BG is strong in IT.

Now, as for the matter of a "Silicon Valley of the Black Sea". Well if there is to be such a thing BG might well be it. But lets face it, none of the countries around the Black Sea have policies and administration that are particularaly supportive of IT startups and entrepreneurship. So the joke for me is not Bulgaria, but the very concept of a "Black Sea Silicone Valley".

Outsourced IT support does not a Silicon Valley make!

Buddy - 16 Nov 2010 // 11:40:35

Wow. Who ever writes those rows does not know obviously that Bulgaria has been indeed already silicon valley, but people like the recent EU ambassador to Georgia, his gang, Zhelyu Zhelev, Mr 10 percent and pretty many, many others r destroyed it. Know it will be difficult, but probably an good orientation to open doors for new things... Why repeat something like Silicon Valley..... The guys ruling the country should start thinking to develop something new---- which later will again come into science and History Books as the rebirth of the Thracian, Sofia or the Danube valleys of Bulgaria... There are so many revolutionary things going on including in the field of energy where Bulgarian scientist have always been in the forefront... so lets hope.....

pk - 16 Nov 2010 // 06:42:35

They must be joking...

Borislav Stefanov left out the ONLY reason why Foreign companies open up here:

The humilating low & cheap salary they offer their employee's!!!

dianneh - 15 Nov 2010 // 22:34:21

Do these people who come out with this shit say this stuff because they really believe it or is it just to make themselves look important. Bulgaria has as much chance of becoming the Balkan Silicone Valley as they do of winning the next (or any) world cup.

Its getting rather tiresome all this misinformation, false hope, and pure crap. Who are they trying to convince, themselves ?

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