Prime Minister Denkov: Bulgaria is the first Eastern European country to participate in the strategic European network for artificial intelligence ELLIS 

Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov announced the official accession of the INSAIT Institute and Sofia University to the most elite European network for the development of artificial intelligence – ELLIS.

Sofia, 04.09.2023. 

Bulgaria is the first country from Eastern Europe to receive an invitation to join the strategic European network for the development of artificial intelligence – ELLIS. Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov together with the Rector of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” prof. Anastas Gerdzhikov and the architect of INSAIT prof. Martin Vechev today officially launched the partnership of the INSAIT Institute and Sofia University with the European ELLIS network, which aims to establish Europe as a world leader in the field of AI in the growing global competition with the US and China.

Prime Minister of Bulgaria Acad. Nikolay Denkov, Sofia University Rector Prof. Anastas Gerdjikov, Architect of INSAIT Prof. MArtin Vechev and Executive director of INSAIT Borislav Petrov announcing ELLIS Unit Sofia

The ELLIS invitation is extremely difficult to obtain, as the Bulgarian application has been under consideration for more than a year. ELLIS is the most prestigious organisation of its kind on the Old Continent. It includes only research organisations that have demonstrated world-class results in the field of Artificial Intelligence and which employ scientists with proven contributions. Currently, only 39 European participants from 14 countries are included in ELLIS. Today, the Bulgarian INSAIT Institute ranks among the leaders in the field such as Oxford, Cambridge, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), EPFL (Lausanne), ETH (Zurich), Max-Planck (Tübingen), Technion (Tel Aviv), TU Munich (Munich), Sorbonne (Paris) and others. In addition to a network of the strongest research centres on the continent, ELLIS provides links with leading companies and industry leaders. ELLIS is supported by Facebook AI, Porsche AG, Amazon, Google AI, Siemens, Audi and others.

Key to INSAIT’s success are the Swiss partners in the face of the government through the Bulgarian-Swiss Research Programme, as well as two of the world’s leading universities – the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) and the École Polytechnique de Lausanne (EPFL). “Without their strong support and expertise, we would probably not have succeeded,” said Acad. Denkov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria.

“With INSAIT joining ELLIS, Bulgaria becomes part of the Artificial Intelligence Champions League. Bulgaria is making it clear to the world that it will be a place where future technologies are invented and created, not just applied or used.” Martin Vechev, architect of INSAIT.

We are delighted that INSAIT and Sofia University have become the first officially accepted ELLIS institution from Eastern Europe. INSAIT is a newly established institute at Sofia University, but is already impressing with the results it is achieving. “This gives us confidence and faith that the next big news about a new breakthrough in the field of artificial intelligence in the world could come from Bulgaria. Together we can achieve it” – said prof. Anastas Gerdzhikov, Rector of Sofia University “St. Prof. Prof. Gerdzhikov, Prof. of the University of St. Kliment Ohridski. 

Through INSAIT and the University of Sofia, the “ELLIS Unit Sofia” is established in our country. This is not only the first point of the network in Eastern Europe, but by joining ELLIS our country is given recognition for Bulgaria’s leading role in the strategic development of artificial intelligence in the whole region. ELLIS membership will enable the development of deep partnerships with leading European technology centres, the exchange of leading researchers and topics, and the development of strategic projects in machine self-learning, robotics, computer vision, large language models (such as ChatGPT), etc. The director of ELLIS Unit Sofia is prof. Luke Van Gool, one of the world’s most renowned scientists in the field of artificial intelligence and computer vision, who joined INSAIT in 2022 with the support of the Bulgarian company SiteGround.

This is the second major European recognition for INSAIT in the field of artificial intelligence in less than two months. We remind you that in July the Bulgarian institute received a leading participation in the European project dAIEDGE – the strategic initiative of the European Union for the development and deployment of artificial intelligence with a focus on edge and peripheral devices (Edge AI).