The technology giants Google, DeepMind, and Amazon Web Services are entering with serious investments of 7 million dollars in total in the first of its kind Bulgarian Institute of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence INSAIT. The institute was officially opened on April 11, 2022, at a special event at the National Palace of Culture.
Not only that but the institute was established and will work in partnership with the two largest technological universities in Switzerland – the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) and the Polytechnic University of Lausanne (EPFL) and will be led by world-renowned scientists – Bulgarians and foreigners of the best universities in the United States and Israel.
The goals of INSAIT are for Bulgaria to become the best place in the world in the field of computer science and artificial intelligence. The aim is Bulgaria to attract the largest companies in the world and open their research centers in the country, according to the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Kiril Petkov. In addition to the first foreign investments announced so far by the American technology giants, the state and Bulgarian businesses are involved in the long-term financing of the institute in unprecedented cooperation. Bulgaria will invest 10 million in INSAIT in each of the coming years and Bulgarian technology companies, led by SiteGround, are also involved with a $ 6m investment.
INSAIT has the ambition and potential to establish itself as one of the world’s leading research and education centers, providing for the first time working conditions comparable to those in Western universities. The institute will develop its activity under the auspices of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski.” Behind the creation of this center is the great idea of promoting economic growth through education. INSAIT has the potential not only to attract world-class scientists to Bulgaria but also to keep its valuable young minds in the country.
The realization of the first high-tech research center of its kind in Bulgaria was a dream of more than a decade ago by a graduate student at that time in Cambridge. Subsequently, he became one of the most successful and award-winning Bulgarian scientists in the field of computer science and artificial intelligence, and at the opening, he was presented as the ideological architect of INSAIT – Prof. Martin Vechev.
“When I started my postgraduate studies in Cambridge years ago and applied for a scholarship, there was a question on the form: ‘What do you want to achieve in 20-30 years?,’ said Prof. Vechev. “I wrote that I dream of creating a world-class research center like Cambridge. This dream is already a fact and when you leave this opening ceremony and you are asked what happened at this event, say that for the first time in Bulgaria there is a place that allows anyone who wants to change the world to do so from here.”
The opening of the Institute for Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology (INSAIT) in Sofia is a memorable event. INSAIT has the potential to become the factory for “unicorns” not only in Bulgaria but throughout Eastern Europe, as added by the EU Commissioner Maria Gabriel who shared the desire to make the institute a platform for future Nobel laureates.
“There are events that change the course of human history and today we have the privilege of being part of such an event. Behind them are always people with knowledge, vision, and energy,” said President Rumen Radev. “The establishment of this institute managed to achieve the impossible for the Bulgarian political reality – to unite the efforts of four successive governments.”
INSAIT’s mission is to turn Bulgaria into a global destination for research and innovation, as well as a center of a new ecosystem with a direct impact on the country’s development. This is a turning point in efforts to create a high-tech and competitive economy based on high value-added products and intellectual property and to overcome negative trends such as depopulation and the so-called brain drain.
Eastern Europe has an incredible array of talents in computer science and engineering. Jeff Dean, Google AI’s director, shared their desire to help INSAIT become a world-class hub that attracts the best researchers from the region and the world. Google will invest $ 3 million in computing resources, and will also establish special scholarships for women to develop high expertise in computer science.