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Six year aniversalry of the cluster

Six year aniversalry of the cluster

Dimitar Hristov - Chairman of the Board of Cluster Sofia Knowledge City

This month (December 2022) Cluster Sofia Knowledge City turns six years since its creation. On 25.10.2016, twenty five legal entities incl. companies, scientific institutes and a university signed a contract for the creation of a consortium under Trade Law with the aim of implementing a project to transform Sofia into a city of knowledge.

A little later, on 19.12.2016, a decision was made to re-register this consortium into an association under the Law of non-governmental organisations.

Today, the cluster has more than 60 members, successfully continues to pursue the goals for which it was created, and rightly celebrates its birthday.

The question arises, "What is Cluster Sofia Knowledge City and what interest does business have in creating a cluster?"

In short, the answer is this: It is a unique initiative to help transform a city, where businesses collaborate across the supply chain to accelerate the development of the city's "knowledge economy." We are talking about Sofia, where various "bundles" of competitive companies and organizations tend to cooperate for the development of the local innovation ecosystem are naturally created. Cluster Sofia Knowledge City is one of these "bundle/clusters", which, if it manages to reach its critical mass in terms of number of companies and connections between them, will inevitably have an impact on the growth of the knowledge and innovation market (technologies, models, products and services) in the city.

Doesn't sound very clear, does it!?

Obviously, more understandable for the audience would be the use of the term "smart city" or "intelligent city", an already established in practice concept of urban development based on the achievements of information and communication technologies. It is these innovations that most visibly transform the type, structure and use of urban assets and resources for the benefit of residents. In smart cities, these technologies are used to develop the city's critical infrastructure, including: smart transportation, smart water, smart construction, smart energy, smart security, smart education, smart healthcare, smart governance, etc.

However, the process of smart city management requires much more knowledge than to produce, integrate and use digital technologies. A city is a system of systems and implementing smart city projects requires a lot of knowledge and talent. Every smart city project (from the most basic smart applications to integrated city platforms) is a complex and multidimensional endeavor involving multiple stakeholders, including and the citizens themselves, which is why it is particularly sensitive to public opinion and requires a set of competences and knowledge at the highest high level. Therefore, this market for such "knowledge" is difficult to develop and even more difficult to exploit through standard business models based on direct business interest. I would say we need "knowledge-based" models. (interview with Investor.bg in 2017).

What would be the interest in creating a "knowledge cluster"?

The simplest and perhaps the most logical explanation is that the representatives of the "triple helix" - business, universities and academia with cooperation with the local government together are able to generate initiatives and projects with a direct effect on their own development as well - the companies with better access to scientific results, new markets and talents, universities with direct access to business laboratories and company good practices and science with direct access to an "environment" for the commercialization of scientific achievements turning them into innovations. All countries together are able to attract financial resources from national and European funds, from city development funds and from direct investors. This understandably creates another type of market demand for "knowledge" in the form of innovations directly integrated into urban development and transformation of the city into a smart and then a city of knowledge.

The processes of transforming cities into smart ones involve huge investments, and the global smart city market is reporting a compound annual growth rate of over 21%, according to Allied Market Research. Again, this agency estimates the size of this market in 2017 at approx. 518 billion US dollars, with a trend towards 2025 to reach over 2.4 trillion US dollars. In 2020, we did a study on the size of the smart city market in the city of Sofia and we were surprised to find out its great potential and at the same time its low level of maturity. Our calculations indicated the presence of a potential market of BGN 2-3 billion in 2018, and the demand for such technologies, products and services in Sofia in 2025 reaching BGN 3-4 billion. The "awakening" of this "dormant" market is precisely one of the goals and benefits of such knowledge clusters and is a priority in the activities of the Cluster Sofia Knowledge City.

Celebration of the anniversary of the founding of the Sofia City of Knowledge Cluster

Every member, friend and supporter of the Cluster Sofia Knowledge City could hear these judgments and share theirs on this issue during the small party that will take place on 12.12.2022 at Hotel Kitchen No. 59 on the occasion of six years since the establishment of our organization. The event is organized jointly with Electrical Vehicles Industrial Cluster (EVIC) and is sponsored by the company Legrand, one of the world leaders in electric and digital building infrastructures and related solutions. Our intention is to also use this event to publicize an initiative between CSKC and EVIC called "Intercluster Center for Innovation and Competences for Smart Cities".

 


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