Thomas Higgins, CEO, Empower United Services
Thomas Higgins is a professional investor, banker, economic development specialist and social entrepreneur, who has been living and working in Bulgaria since 1993. He was previously Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer of the Bulgarian-American Enterprise Fund (BAEF), where he worked for 12 years. Thereafter, he was Co-Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Balkan Accession Fund (Axxess Capital. Thomas is actively engaged in helping develop the Bulgarian business community and is currently a member on the Board of Trustees of the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) and member on the Advisory Committee of Teach for Bulgaria. He is also a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO).
Ivo Konstantinov, Commercial Attaché of the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in the US
His responsibilities include development of exports to the US and investment opportunities in Bulgaria, supporting the transfer of technology and cooperation in the field of IT and agriculture.
The department covers a broad range of activities to assist in all areas related to bilateral economic relations between Bulgaria and the United States and serves government institutions in both countries, private corporate sector in Bulgaria and the US, and institutions of civil society, non-governmental organizations, industry associations and think tanks.
Krassen Draganov, CEO and Co-Founder, Netage Solutions, Inc.
Founded in 1998, Netage Solutions, Inc. is a provider of CRM software and online reporting systems for the alternative assets industry, including private equity and venture capital firms, hedge funds, real estate investment firms, funds of funds, prime brokers, family offices, and institutional investors.
Mr. Draganov co-founded Netage Solutions, Inc. in 1998. As the company's Chief Executive Officer, he leads its management team and defines its vision and long-term strategy. In the years prior to Netage, Mr. Draganov was the Technology Director at Summit Partners, a leading global private equity and venture capital firm with offices in Boston, Palo Alto and London.
Krassimir Marchev, Presiden, Boston Science&Technologies
Krassimir Marchev e holds an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Materials Science and Solid State Chemistry from Northeastern University. Before moving into the world of automation and robotics, Dr. Marchev spent 12 years a Senior Scientist at the South Boston Innovation Center of P&G-Gillette. His expertise in materials nano-engineering, advanced product and technology development, physical metallurgy and surface science, were instrumental to the development of some of the most advanced Gillette blade edges such as the Fusion ProGlide.
Roman Vasilev, CEO, Majio
Majiowas founded In January 2014 by Roman Vasilev to match applicant CVs and job descriptions by extracting and matching contextual information. The startup idea, to resolve “Spray & Pray” among job applicants and employers, was funded by Eleven Accelerator Venture Fund. Majio built a working solution in April and started servicing its first paying customers. Majio is generating revenues and serving 9 clients in Europe. The company's mission has evolved to personalize occupation matches.
Nikolay Angelov, Chief Operating Officer for South East Europe, IBM
IBM is a global technology company leading in the development and creation of advanced information technologies, including computer systems, software, networking systems, storage arrays, microelectronics. Nikolay Angelov joined IBM Bulgaria in 2003 and up until the 2012 he held various positions related to financial management of the company in Bulgaria and Serbia. In 2012, he took over the operational management of IBM Bulgaria, and in 2013 - the operational management for Southeast Europe.
Valentin Georgiev, CEO, AmCham Bulgaria
The American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria unites over 300 American, Bulgarian, and multinational companies operating in the country. The Chamber is a leading business organization for initiating events covering topics in the following areas: economy, international and national policies, and social sphere.
The AmCham’s mission is to improve the business environment, investment climate, and living standards in the country by advocating to all stakeholders – government, business, NGO-s, and media - for productive dialogue and partnership.
AmCham Bulgaria is an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a member of the European Council of American Chambers of Commerce (AmChams in Europe).
Royal Sonesta Boston
The executive director of the InvestBulgaria Agency informs about a forum on investment in Bulgaria that took place in Boston on November 18, 2014
November 18, 2014, Hotel Royal Sonesta Boston, Riverfront Room
Mr. Mladenov, what are Bulgaria’s competitive advantages that would attract American businesses?
The InvestBulgaria Agency (IBA) hosteda forum presenting Bulgaria’s advantages as an investment destination. I believe that Bulgaria is among the most attractive countries for investors in Southeast Europe for a number of reasons. At 10 percent, we have the lowest corporate and personal income taxes in the EU. In regions with high unemployment, investors are entitled to reinvest up to a 100 percent of their corporate tax.
As an EU and NATO member, Bulgaria is a secure and stable country. It has the lowest budget deficit in the EU, while the presence of a currency board and a fixed exchange rate of the Lev against the Euro limit currency risk to a minimum. The relatively low cost of labor and the highly educated and qualified workers and staff are among the key factors. Low utilities costs and office space rents further contribute to its array of advantages. According to a Bloomberg rating, Bulgaria is eighth in the world in Internet speed, while, according to A.T. Kearney’s Global Services Location Index, it is the most preferred outsourcing destination in Europe.
Why do you focus your attention on electronics and electrical engineering, logistics, information technologies and business processes outsourcing and chemistry and related industries?
These sectors are among the fastest developing in Bulgaria and have a high potential for growth. IBA's efforts are targeted at attracting direct foreign investments in sectors with high added value, which have a positive influence on employment rates and the competitiveness of our economy. I believe that Americancompanies in these sectors would be interested in opening production facilities here.
What is IBA’s role in the success of foreign investors’ business?
IBA assists investors in realizing their projects. Legislative changes that reduce the administrative burden on investors applying for an investment class A certificate were recently introduced, with the number of documents required reduced from 12 to a single application. The thresholds for certification of investment projects in the manufacturing industry and the construction of industrial zones and technology parks have also been lowered. These measures are aimed at encouraging investment in priority sectors, and widen access to certification for small and medium businesses. A number of incentives supporting certified projects have also been planned.
What is your message to American businesses?
Bulgaria is the place for growing your business. Welcome to our beautiful country, with its rich history, beautiful scenery and spirited people. As well as the high potential for success in business, our country is also a popular tourist destination – I guarantee that you will fall in love with Bulgarian cuisine, Bulgarian music and the people you will meet here.