The Bulgarian Stock Exchange (BSE) has officially launched beamUp lab – a new program that aims to stimulate the business growth of startups and small and medium-sized enterprises. The program is initiated by BSE that is collaborating with several institutions, including the Fund of Funds, the Bulgarian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Bulgarian Association of Licensed Investment Intermediaries (BALII), and the Bulgarian Startup Association (BESCO).
The goal of the program is to distinguish innovative Bulgarian companies with sustainable business models, enrich their knowledge about potential funding opportunities, and make them more recognizable among potential investors. “In Bulgaria, there are very good companies that need to be visible. They have to be a good example for other businesses and to stimulate them. This is why we decided to focus on innovative companies with sustainable business models, companies with a very good growth rate in different sectors, to whom we are going to lend a helping hand,” said Manyu Moravenov, who is a Chief Executive Officer of BSE.
The Logistics behind
The duration of the program is one year, during which the 20 chosen companies will participate in strategic meetings. Over the course of these occasions, the enterprises will be familiarized with various funding opportunities in order to make better decisions that will affect their growth and development from the moment they start as a company to their IPO (initial public offering). The companies will also exchange experience on their best practices and will be mentored by experts from the partnering institutions of BSE. Progress will be monitored constantly and, at the end of the program, the BSE and their partners will publish a ranking and will award the top participants. All companies will receive a certificate for their participation and a digital sign to recognize the company’s good reputation and business achievements. According to Radoslava Maslarska, the chairman of the Bulgarian Association of Licensed Investment Intermediaries, the project is an important step towards integrating the capital market into the state economy. As noted by her, in spite of the pandemic, the Bulgarian companies have raised around BGN 381M through the Bulgarian Stock Exchange during the last couple of months.
The Pioneer Companies
Ten startups and ten small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will participate in the first edition of beamUp lab. Among the participating Bulgarian startups distinctive are EnduroSat, the nanosatellite startup that raised over €1M investment this year, and Nasekomo, the startup whose solution of upscaling organic waste streams from the agro-industry into animal feed attracted €4M investment and was distinguished as one of the bigger investments in the region for the third quarter of 2020. Kanbanize, a late-stage startup that provides Kanban software for agile project management, is also participating. Ned Dervenkov, CEO at BESCO, also has something to say: “The program is unique – it gathers private and institutional investors and gives their growth perspective. Companies will receive not only mentorship but also real investment opportunities.” The SMEs cohort includes enterprises such as Software University, the educational platform Ucha.se, and the digital grocery shop eBag.
This is another step by BSE in the direction to help smaller companies as it previously presented the BEAM market as an opportunity for SMEs to go public with a simplified procedure.
“The BEAM market, organized by the BSE is the result of a new EU regulation, which aims to provide small and medium-sized companies with facilitated financing through the capital market. The BEAM market can facilitate an IPO or admission to trading without fundraising. In case the IPO is equal to BGN 3M, it can be done under easy terms and without a prospectus. BEAM is suitable for trading with stocks, deposit receipts, obligations, and rights offerings. Not only companies can be funded through BEAM, but also projects,” comments Zhana Hristova who is the manager of BEAM at BSE.
“The companies participating in the beamUp lab program are already good examples for successful businesses in Bulgaria, and not only, and they will become more recognizable after the program, which will have a multiplicative effect for many companies in our country,” she concludes.