•   The number and share of jobs in highly knowledge-intensive companies in Bulgaria decreased in 2020, but in 2021 Bulgaria returned to its long-term trend of growth of brain business jobs.
  •   Sofia remains a strong knowledge-region of Europe, ahead of cities such as Vienna and Brussels.

The Geography of Europe’s Brain Business Jobs: 2022 Index, from ECEPR, with support from Nordic Capital, measures the share of the working age population across Europe employed in highly knowledge-intensive enterprises, in 31 countries and 284 regions.

Bulgaria has had a long-term growth of brain business jobs

Between 2014 and 2021, the concentration of brain business jobs in Bulgaria increased from 3.6% to 4.7%. With the importance these jobs play in the modern economy, this was a good sign for the economic future of Bulgaria. But in 2020 the number of brain business jobs of Bulgaria decreased, which could have been worrying. However, the new edition of the report shows that this was only a pandemic effect, as the concentration of brain business jobs once again has increased in Bulgaria.

Brain business jobs are important to fight unemployment

“We measure what percentage of the population in each European region is employed in brain business jobs, manufacturing industries, and professional services. These three parts of the economy are highly value-creating sectors. Our finding is that a region where 10 percentage points or more of the population, compared to the European average, work in these parts of the economy, on average have 2.2 percent lower unemployment”, explains Dr. Nima Sanandaji, director of ECEPR.

Knowledge jobs are resilient to crisis

“Knowledge is the foundation for attracting investments and creating value in a long- term sustainable way. Through the annual brain business jobs index, we keep an eye on the knowledge-intensive jobs of Europe. We find that these jobs are resilient against crises, and that regions with many brain business jobs tend to have considerably lower unemployment”, says Klas Tikkanen, Chief Operating Officer at Nordic Capital Advisors.

Sofia among leading knowledge regions of Europe

With a concentration of 12.4 percent of its working-age population employed in knowledge-intensive firms, Sofia is part of a cluster of brain business hubs of Eastern Europe.

Examples of novel innovation firms, founded in 2016 in the region in, include Ambire, a wallet developer, Credefi, which connects crypto lenders with small business borrowers, and Nasekomo, which produces animal feed from organic waste using bioconverting insects.

Bulgaria’s weaknesses and strengths

Compared to the rest of Europe, Bulgaria has strengths in design & other creative professions, as well as in IT services. Telecommunications is also a relative strength. The country lags behind the rest of Europe in head office & management, engineering & architecture, as well as research & development.