Plovdiv is the industrial leader of Bulgaria and the Plovdiv Region is home to the largest industrial zones in the country and one of the largest in Southeast Europe – Trakia economic zone, with an area of 10,700,000 m2, with over 180 Bulgarian and international companies currently operating there. The manufacturing sector in Plovdiv and the region contributes about 40% of the GDP of the local economy and has more than 74,000 people employed in the sector. In recent years there has been a steady growth in the fields of mechanical engineering and the manufacture of machine components and parts.
The development of these sectors, and of production in general, is supported by a well-developed educational system:
– 34,000 students in 8 universities;
– over 12,000 students in vocational high schools in the region;
– for the academic year 2019/2020 there are 460 students in 24 dual classes, financed by 31 companies;
– 5540 students in technical specialties, half of which are engineering.
BPO and FAO
Plovdiv is the second largest outsourcing destination in Bulgaria with over 7,000 employees in the sector, which are expected to double in the next 3-5 years. The city has 34,000 students at 8 universities, such as Plovdiv University and Technical University Sofia – Plovdiv branch, which have traditions in mathematics, finance and programming training. In 2019/2020, more than 10,900 students studied in IT&BPO-related specialties, 3,200 of whom were in the field of finance and accounting. The talent pool development for the sector begins from high school level, where for 2019/2020 over 3050 students were in “Computer Science” programs and 2420 students in finance, accounting and business administration.
High schools play an important role in language learning on the territory of the Municipality of Plovdiv, where over 16,700 students study languages (4,200 of them – intensively), as well as universities, where over 1,500 students are in language specialties. Among the most common language profiles at both high school and university level are: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish. Rare languages such as Chinese, Polish, Serbian, Croatian and others can also be studied at the local Plovdiv University.
There are 10 research centers and laboratories in Plovdiv in different fields of science. In recent years, the city has seen a steady growth of research in the sectors of agriculture, food and machinery, which the Municipality of Plovdiv actively supports and encourages. The Municipality strives – through close cooperation with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the business sector and universities, to ensure and support the development of the local ecosystem.
Of great importance for Plovdiv and Bulgaria as a whole is the successful initiative of the first of its kind project funded by the Horizon 2020 Program of the EC – Center for Plant Biology and Biotechnology – PlantaSyst, worth over 30 million euros, direct funding from Brussels and the Bulgarian state. In 2020, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences opened the first of its kind for Bulgaria – Center for Mechatronics and Nanotechnology – worth 5.5 million euros with main focus on applied science for the industry.
Sustainable development is also visible in the industry, where a large part of medium and large enterprises develop and expand their own RnD centers in support of their manufacturing activities.
Logistics and trade
As a crossroad of three Pan-European corridors (IV, VIII, and X), two highways and many key railway lines, Plovdiv is becoming an extremely attractive destination for trade and logistics. Plovdiv shows huge potential for development in these sectors. The newly built and first of its kind for the country intermodal terminal, where cargo is transferred from road to rail transport, contributes to this. In addition to the intermodal terminal, Plovdiv has a customs terminal and a duty-free zone.
Plovdiv Airport, which is a center for cargo flights, is located near the city. In addition, two highways connect the city under the hills with the airport in Istanbul, while a direct railway connection and highways connect it to the largest ports in the country – in Varna and Burgas, as well as to those in Thessaloniki and Alexandroupolis.
Several large and internationally established companies operate on the territory of the city itself, such as the Bulgarian transport company PIMK, which is a leader in Bulgaria and one of the largest and most preferred transport companies in Europe, as well as the companies Alfa Trans, Petko Angelov, Schenker, Rail Cargo Group and others.
In the region of Plovdiv is the largest in Bulgaria logistics complex of the German company “Kaufland”, which serves all hypermarkets in the country, and annually transports over 1 million pallets. The Logistics Park “Rodopi” is also located here – in close proximity to the Plovdiv-Asenovgrad ring road, which provides quick access to Plovdiv Airport, the Plovdiv customs and the highways. In its final phase, the park will have a total area of 163,000 square meters, with the possibility of building additional 37,000 square meters, if investors show interest. The network of logistics facilities is complemented by other similar entities located in different parts of the city, with connectivity and access to important transport links and networks, providing efficient processes for the logistics industry.