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The national contest "Best Youth Startup in Bulgaria 2024" final was held on May 31 in the Aula of Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski". This is the third edition of the competition, organized by the Fund of Funds and the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Sofia University. Nearly 300 participants, either as teams or individual competitors, took part. They had the opportunity to go through a 10-week training program to develop their ideas under the mentorship of experts from 40 partner organizations.

The event was opened by Krasimir Yakimov, Deputy Minister of Innovation and Growth, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Atanas Georgiev, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Sofia University, and Pavel Lisev, Executive Director of the Fund of Funds.


"The Ministry is committed to creating conditions for the development of young talents, providing the necessary support and resources so that each of you can realize your potential", Yakimov addressed the young participants in the competition. He also emphasized that the Fund of Funds is actively working on structuring an equity fund for innovation in enterprises, within which €32 million will also be allocated to early-stage companies.


"The competition this year brought together over 40 partners and more than 300 young people, making it the most significant initiative of its kind in the country. We are happy to gather young entrepreneurs, mentors from academia and business, as well as representatives of funding institutions for the third time to support innovative solutions to various societal challenges", said the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Assoc. Prof. Dr. Atanas Georgiev, wishing the young participants that one day they might also support other educational initiatives. "I hope that among today's young entrepreneurs are the future followers of our benefactors Evlogi and Hristo Georgiev", he shared.

"Ten weeks have passed during which you went through an intensive training and mentoring program to gain practical knowledge in entrepreneurship. Competing with nearly 160 teams from across the country, through several stages, to successfully reach the final makes you all winners", Pavel Lisev addressed the students, sharing with the young people in the hall that the "Education" Program 2021-2027 envisions support for student and doctoral startups to facilitate a focused transition from higher education to employment. He thanked all partners in the competition for the training and support provided to the participants. "Without your help, the competition would not have been so successful for three years in a row. Special thanks also to the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Sofia University for the exceptional partnership in organizing the competition", added Pavel Lisev.

The top three places in the competition were awarded to:

First place: BuddyGuard - a platform that connects trusted pet sitters with pet owners. The platform facilitates quick connections between parties with a clear schedule and timely, secure payments for services. The platform also received the Audience Award.


Second place: Truckspedia - a platform for automating and optimizing logistics processes in Europe. The startup uses AI algorithms to connect free loads with available trucks.


Third place: ReGrounded - an innovative, sustainable material made from a combination of coffee waste, wood waste, and other bio-products. The material is food-safe, bio-based, extremely strong, durable, sustainable, biodegradable, compostable, and can be recycled multiple times without losing its physical properties.


The "Best ESG" startup award was won by the team of GreenFilters, who are 11th-grade students at CHEG "Prof. Ivan Apostolov" in Sofia. The project involves recycling cigarette butts, which are a significant source of pollution due to the plastic in their filters, into activated carbon for water and air purification, among other uses.


The Fund of Funds awarded the winner, BuddyGuard, with a laptop, and Sofia University awarded the GreenFilters team with books.

This year's jury included representatives from the Faculty of Economics at Sofia University, Innovation Capital, Vitosha Venture Partners, Morningside Hill, Silverline Capital, Planet 9 Ventures, UBB, Sys Credit, the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, Sofia Tech Park, Founder Institute, BCCI (Investment Council and Innovation Council), Cleantech Bulgaria, Beyond, Bulgarian E-commerce Association, Cluster "Mechatronics and Automation", Foundation Because, and Ivan Yosifov - a mentor in the competition. The chairman of the jury was Assoc. Prof. Todor Yalamov from the Faculty of Economics.


Inspiration for the young people was provided by the finalists from the previous two editions of the "Best Youth Startup" contest, who are now successfully developing with investments and mentoring support from the competition's partners. The founders of Vodoraslo, Twisted Technology, Mentor the Young, Foodobox, Young Inventor, and AGRON shared their success.


In addition to the record number of submitted projects, this year's competition managed to attract twice as many supporting organizations. Over 40 partners from the entrepreneurial ecosystem and their experts were mentors in dozens of webinars, workshops, training sessions, gaming, tests, and competitions organized according to the individual needs of the participants and the stage of realization of their projects.

The third edition of "Best Youth Startup in Bulgaria" once again provided a national platform for the development of entrepreneurial skills among young people and gave students and young people up to 29 years old the opportunity to showcase their vision of which new technologies, key sectors, and latest scientific discoveries will play a key role in the modern world.