An important conference with very good discussion, useful materials and a 16 GB drive, what more can you ask for?

Create & Grow conference highlighted important topics in the creative industries

On Friday I had the privilege to moderate a panel at the Create & Grow conference, an initiative organized by Invest Sofia and Vienna Business Agency. This was one of the first events, after the two cities signed a partnership agreement last October. The main goal of the two day conference was to present successful stories from Sofia and Vienna and the call for €150K funding program, which is open since January 1 and supports innovative businesses to open shop in Vienna. More than a hundred people registered and over 80 attended.

I want to thank the organizers for the outstanding effort to bring awareness to the creative sector, which almost drowned in a sea of blockchains, AI’s, chatbots and other mambo-jambo tech stuff. True creativity became almost a thing of the past in Bulgaria, much to the lack of reform. Many people in Sofia prioritize digital and tech and hardly imagine that animation, VFX, film, games and architecture live and breathe that for the past 20+ years. After all, big Sofia success stories like Walltopia and Chaos Group have their teeth deep in tech, but they wouldn’t be global market leaders unless they had a very creative idea at their core with a solid culture and leadership.

The panel was very important for me for three reasons — credibility, setting a tone to discuss pressing issues about the industry and a personal test if I could lead an awesome panel of creatives. Still, I was very conflicted to moderate it, as it also coincided with the end of the “Angels in Action” crowdfunding campaign, a personal priority. Two weeks ago, when Ana Georgieva from Invest Sofia proposed the moderator spot, I knew that would require considerable additional preparation. However, I’ve decided to go for it, because after all many of the issues we’ve faced with the campaign are closely related to the topics I wished to discuss on the panel — branding, funding and awareness.

On the branding side, it was the first event that I presented officially that I’m part of the Creative Industries Foundation (more to come in the following months). Part of our mission is to bring light to the many success stories that exist in Bulgaria. As for funding, one of the key topic on the panel revolved around cash rebates, tax incentives and private funds for the industry, something we need to address ASAP. Bulgaria is seriously lacking behind even from the former eastern block. Raising awareness in the society, especially how we can attract and retain the next generation of talent in primary education was my third objective. I’m very glad that my fellow panelists made such excellent presentations and we had a really valuable discussion after that, hitting spot on all my goals.

As Dessy Todorova, the Sales and Marketing manager for messaged me shortly after “it was nice and valuable, I found many things for myself, the new contacts were priceless”.

I’m looking forward to present the discussions further and continue the conversation in future events.