Archive for April 20, 2009

Bulgaria is the Balkan tiger in the field of software

In the period just before the outburst of the financial crisis, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was updating its new strategy for telecommunications, media and technologies for 30 countries that the bank serves – from the borders of the Czech Republic to Mongolia.

Business division regrouped to focus a serious part of their investment in the media sector and in services. Investing in media and content providers who are often the first stage of development is particularly challenging because such investments are more appropriate for boutique institutions specializing in venture capital and equity investment.

EBRD’s investment team backed considerably from privatizations and major telecom operators of fixed telephone lines and advanced to investment opportunities applicable to generating of more traffic and service provision.

After the fall of communism Eastern Europe has faced serious problems with the brain drain towards the Silicon Valley because of the limited opportunities to professionals on their home markets. EBRD, however, provides a slight reversal in this trend, since the difference in wages reduces, and the standard of living and local roots of specialists play an important role in decisions related to career.

Separate areas of the world are known to the technology markets that are profiled in certain spheres. California, for example, is a world center for developing applications, India (Mumbai) is a magnet for call centers, and Bulgaria is becoming one of the major world centers for software development.

HP, CSC and many mobile operators around the world know what Bulgaria can offer, which as one of the newest EU members and a potential member of the European Community by 2010, appears to be moving backwards to the trend. The country is still investing, even during the last six months.

All this is happening despite the results of the survey of Economist Intelligence Unit published on February 18, 2009 showing that in the period November 2008 – February 2009, the share of companies in Central and Eastern Europe, planning to reduce their investment in the region, has increased from 16% to 21%.

Bulgaria also attracts more esoteric and creative companies to develop applications such as ViaOne, a U.S. company recently funded by the EBRD, which creates applications for saving resources by mobile roaming, and applications for mobile wallet and transfer funds as part of the larger set of applications such as Voice over Internet Protocol business market aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises.

Another example of intellectual property shifting to Bulgaria is Lightapp, a British high-tech company that has developed a method for delivering of applications for business and home computers to a digital television set, at part of the cost of a computer and traditional fee for licensing software.

Companies for software development, which are established in Bulgaria and currently conquering the world are such as Fadata, which serves the international insurance markets with its software for risk analysis, and Teracomm, which has developed a set of eight product lines – from applications for mobile TV and marketing to 3G connectivity and video streaming for global mobile operators.

However, the financial crisis that came afterwards became an opportunity to rethink the priorities of the EBRD while executing its investment program in 2009 and is close to defying its strategies for the next five years. The objectives of the EBRD for 2009 are needed and ambitious at the same time as the Bank plans to invest 7 billion euros. The flexibility of the EBRD in combating the effects of the financial crisis means that despite the financial problems Bulgaria can continue to build its global reputation as a global center for software development. “In these difficult times it is excellent to see a country like Bulgaria which clearly gives example of how to keep technology companies and investment and talents in the field of information and communication technologies. Watch out the “Balkan tiger Bulgaria,” said the senior banker at European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Jeffrey Nicholas.

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