The manufacturing industry in Bulgaria has long been one of the most successful in the local economy. With over 360, 000 people employed, this sector has brought €18.2B of production value in 2021 and has consistently accounted for 20%+ of the country’s annual GDP.
Moreover, these numbers are on a positive trend – in July 2022 the country rose to be the highest ranking in the European Union for growth of industrial production (17.6% compared to the same month last year). In 2021, foreign investments in the vertical reached €12.2B.
While traditional sub-segments like food production, metal products, medical equipment, and clothing have been traditionally strong, in Bulgaria’s industrial portfolio we can see some very future-oriented activities. For example, according to InvestBulgaria, 80% of sensors in European cars are made in Bulgaria. Melexis launched R&D facilities in Sofia to combat the effects of global chip shortage and Schneider Electric just announced a new big investment in its smart factory in Plovdiv.
So far we haven’t even mentioned the fast-growing deep tech startups operating in fields like nanosatellites, autonomous drones, biometric security, electric bikes, IoT devices, insect-based bioconversion and others.
Given all these developments, it makes sense that we start mapping the manufacturing sector in Bulgaria as well and demonstrate its achievements to a global audience.
Also, don’t forget to register for the ‘Smart Enterprise’ event The Recursive is co-organizing with Next Consult, Centillion, and SAP Bulgaria. November 24, 10:30am, Sofia Tech Park. Tickets are free but registration is mandatory.
The big players in the manufacturing industry in Bulgaria
ABB: With over 2500 employees in Bulgaria, ABB builds engineering solutions as well as medium and low voltage electrical equipment, and products for process automation. The company also provides advanced solutions for building automation, security and control and participates in projects for the national energy system and the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
Aurubis Bulgaria: Part of the global provider of non-ferrous metals and one of the largest copper recyclers worldwide, this is the biggest company in Bulgaria by revenue with 3.8 billion euro reported in 2021. It also recently completed the Copper Mark certification process for sustainable production of copper.
Centillion: An innovative manufacturing company which produces electronic devices, systems, bundled products and services in the fields of medicine, avionic and aerospace, vision, control and monitoring systems, as well as precision industrial equipment. It’s also the official representative of MED-EL-Austria in Bulgaria for active implantable hearing devices.
Fanuc Bulgaria: The company, which in 2021 celebrated 40 years on the Bulgarian market offers and integrates various industrial automation solutions such as CNC, industrial robots, and robotic machines.
Festo: The manufacturing plant in Bulgaria produces components for factory automation, flow and pressure sensors, communication modules and controllers, electric drives, servo motors, proportional valves and many others. More than 10 million products are produced on an annual basis. In 2019, Festo also opened a Technological and Engineering Center in Sofia doing R&D across all engineering specialties – hardware, software, mechanics, and lab testing.
Ficosota: A Bulgarian company specializing in fast-moving consumer goods (personal, baby, and home care, snack foods), with over 1300 employees and exports to more than 75 international markets. It currently has 12 production facilities and 100+ million euro in annual revenue.
Lavena: A worldwide known producer of essential oils and one of the leading cosmetics manufacturers in Bulgaria. The company is exporting its natural lavender oil to over 50 markets around the world.
Leoni: The company launched operations in Bulgaria in 2018 with the vision to have its plant in Pleven supply major automotive customers in Europe. Some of Leoni’s products include wires, optical fibers, standardized cables, as well as intelligent products and smart services.
Liebherr: The Liebherr group has been present on the Bulgarian market for over 20 years. The different manufacturing facilities are producing everything from high-quality refrigerators and freezers to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems for use in railway transport.
Melexis: With its very recent 75 million euro investment in Sofia, Melexis expanded its production and R&D capacity in order to support the organization’s growth strategy in fighting the global chip shortage. The local specialists will work on the development and production of integrated circuits and microelectronics solutions for international markets, including the automotive sector.
Milara: The company was founded in 2006 in Plovdiv and it has one of the most high-tech factories in Bulgaria, specializing in the fabrication of parts for the semiconductor industry, engineering design, assembly and electric vehicle manufacturing.
Nestle Bulgaria: Nestle’s factory in Sofia is among the biggest production centers in Europe of KitKat, producing оver 15 million tons in 2021, exported all over the world. A couple of years ago, the company also invested 11.8 million euros in a robotic production line with a digital network that connects all machines to a single data system.
Odelo Bulgaria: A manufacturer of car lights for big international brands like Mercedes, BMW and Audi, Odelo recently opened its second factory in the area of Plovdiv and it’s planning a third one.
Prestige 96: One of the largest food producers in Bulgaria and a market leader in all of its categories – biscuits, wafers and mini cakes. With two plants in the area of Veliko Tarnovo, the products of Prestige 96 are distributed across 40, 000 retailers in the country.
Sensata Technologies: With two factories in Bulgaria, the company designs and produces electronic and electro-mechanical sensors for various applications in the automotive industry.
Schneider Electric: Currently, the SE smart factory near Plovdiv is producing over 40 million automatic circuit breakers a year and this capacity is expected to increase by 30% with the company’s recent announcement for a new 60 million euro investment.
Spesima: A Bulgarian-German joint venture with over 30 years of experience in the production of systems for industrial automation. It has over 25 registered patents and trademarks.
Sopharma: A leading pharmaceutical manufacturer in Bulgaria with a total of 9 production plants and over 200 medicinal products in its portfolio. It also has The R&D projects focused on the discovery and development of new formulas and compositions.
TESY: This is the largest Bulgarian producer of electric water heaters, heating appliances, and indirectly heated water tanks. Currently, the company employs over 900 people and reached annual revenue of €86M in 2021. The organization is Europe’s 3rd largest manufacturer of electric water heaters and exports its products to more than 55 markets.
Voss Automotive: The company focused on the production of pneumatic, fuel and hydraulic systems as well as exhaust solutions and new technologies for the automotive industry opened a new factory in Lovech in 2019.
Witte Automotive Bulgaria is a subsidiary of the German company WITTE Automotive GmbH, a leader in the production of locking systems for the automotive sector. Its customers feature Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Daimler, Toyota, Volvo, and others. It’s been operating in Ruse, Bulgaria since 2010.
The emerging stars in Bulgaria’s innovative manufacturing sector
Allterco Robotics: The company develops IoT solutions and products focused on two main product lines, smart GPS devices and smartwatches for children and home automation solutions. In 2021, the company got listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
Biodit: A company specialized in development and production of biometric systems for access control, security, and time attendance monitoring. It has several thousand installed devices in manufacturing facilities, office buildings, hotels, and residential buildings.
Cupffee: A producer of sustainable, edible coffee cups, an alternative to plastic and paper cups. It already has innovative manufacturing facilities in the Plovdiv area with automated production and capacity for 2.5 million cups per month.
Dronamics: A manufacturer of autonomous cargo drones, Dronamics currently prepares for its first commercial flights. Carrying 350 kg at a distance of up to 2,500 km, its Black Swan drone aims to transform supply chains by making deliveries more efficient, resulting in cost, time, and carbon emission savings.
EnduroSat: One of the fastest growing space tech companies in Europe that builds nanosatellites and offers shared satellite missions that give nations, companies, and even universities access to space.
Econic One: a Bulgarian e-mobility company that designs and produces smart electric bicycles. The startup recently raised a €6M investment after reporting a 500% increase in ARR.
Giga Automata: a company that manufactures collaborative robots for industrial and at home applications. Its robots can carry 5kg payload with 850mm working radius.
Lam’on: Lam’on offers a biodegradeable and compostable laminating film as an alternative to the traditional, polluting plastic film used in the printing industry, as well as a corn-based packaging foil.
This list doesn’t pretend to be complete, if you’d like to have your company added, please reach out to [email protected].