Yordanka Fandakova


1,560,000 (2019)

Innovation Website
Lead Innovation Officer

Vladimir Danailov

Innovation is helping to:
  • Anticipate and manage future challenges

  • Simplify administrative procedures for firms and residents

  • Improve internal government operations

Critical success factors:
  • Focus on measurement

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Culture of innovation in city

  • Support from outside city administration

  • Engagement with partners

  • Leadership from Mayor

Spotlight on innovation in Sofia

More than a quarter of the 200 services provided by the city of Sofia have been transformed into e-services. This number is expected to triple for the period of 2020- 2021. Within the span of a few weeks, Sofia’s newly-created innovation team has managed to launch several Covid-19 related initiatives to inform residents about the pandemic situation, including a dedicated chatbot and a Viber communication channel with over 30,000 users. The team is currently planning to rebrand the channel when the need for pandemic-focused communications ends so they can continue to use it as a communication channel for the municipality.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 50% of cities surveyed, Sofia has an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to more than half of cities surveyed, Sofia approaches innovation capacity both from a holistic/macro level, as well as in specific policy areas.

Policy areas that Sofia is focused on

Digital governance

Digital governance: See examples in the Spotlight above.

Transport/mobility: There are over 200 smart intersections in Sofia equipped with sensors that detect every passing car, cameras that show the real-time situation in key locations, buttons to help pedestrians proceed faster, and controllers to collect all the information and manage part of the process automatically. The city is in the process of implementing a digital ticketing system that is going to replace paper tickets. Since February 2020, Sofia has been testing a car equipped with a computer and cameras that automatically detect vehicles that have not paid for their parking in the city center.

Policy areas by number of cities

Sofia utilizes 4 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Data scientist
Community engagement staff
Communication officer
Innovation roles by number of cities

The Digitalization, Innovation and Investments Unit (supporting new approaches and pilot projects) consists of 10 staff. The ICT Unit (responsible for e-government and system implementation) consists of 40 staff. Both units are led by the Deputy Mayor for Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development.

Terms Sofia most associates with innovation

Bold leadership

Sofia's most common innovation activities

Human-centered design
e.g. prioritizing the end-user at each stage of the design process
  1. 1

    Taking risks or testing new ideas

  2. 2

    Data-driven analytics/public data management

  3. 3

    Engaging residents in new ways

  4. 4

    Developing new solutions based on digital technologies

  5. 5

    Organizational change within the municipality

  6. 6

    Human-centered design

  7. 7

    Rethinking your city’s approach to financing partnerships

How is innovation funded here?

Like 81% of cities surveyed, Sofia has dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

International/multilateral institution budget
International/multilateral institution budget
This refers to resources from international and/or multilateral institutions’ budgets (i.e. European Union)
Municipal budget
Municipal budget
This could include, for instance, City Council approved funds; operating budget; a special funding process (bond, Mayoral special initiative funding, etc.); and participatory budgeting / citizen-selected budgeting.

Activities being funded

Investing in digital systems
Investing in physical infrastructure
Paying for services
47 cities
Launching or sustaining a project
79 cities
Idea generation & brainstorming
51 cities
Investing in digital systems
36 cities
Investing in physical infrastructure
30 cities
Paying for services

Similar to 61% of participating cities in the 2020 survey, Sofia's funding for innovation capacity is also directed towards training staff and building capacity*.

*"Training staff and building capacity" is not an option in the 2018 survey, while "Launching or sustaining a project" is not an option in the 2020 survey.

How is innovation measured?

Sofia has developed partnerships to promote innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms and not-for-profit organizations.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with the private sector, academia and think tanks to collect and analyze data.

Data availability by policy area


Insufficient data


Built environment



Digital governance

Economic Development



Policing and law enforcement


Government finance

Social inclusion and equity

Labour market and skills

Waste and sewage


Social welfare/social services

Land use

Public works

Environment and climate change