INSAIT’s first PhD students include all-time ranked international olympiad winners and top talent from some of world’s best universities

The young researchers were announced today at an event hosted by the President of Bulgaria Rumen Radev with a special welcoming message delivered by the Vice President of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager. The students come from some of the world’s top universities including Carnegie Mellon, Toronto, Oxford, Edinburgh, University College London, École Normale Supérieure, and Imperial College.

Sofia, 18.11.2022 Just a few months after its announcement, INSAIT announced the first PhD students starting in its doctoral program. The program is the first of its kind in Eastern Europe and is modelled after those found in top universities across Switzerland, Israel, and the U.S. The event was also attended by Prof. Luc Van Gool, one of world’s leading AI scientists who joined INSAIT this year in Bulgaria as well as prof. Martin Vechev, architect of INSAIT. The research topics the PhD students will work on include programming languages, quantum computing, applied and foundational aspects of machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, and others. 8 out of over 250 candidates were accepted, including four Bulgarian and four foreign students:

  • Hristo Venev (B.Sc. and M.Sc. from Oxford University), the most decorated Olympian in Bulgarian history, third in the all-time ranking of the International Olympiad in Informatics with 4 gold medals. 
  • Kamen Brestnicki (B.Sc. from Edinburgh and M.Sc. from University College London, both graduated with honours). He has already published two papers in top machine learning conferences. 
  • Kostadin Garov (B.Sc. from Sofia University), a medalist from a number of international mathematics competitions. 
  • Asen Nachkov (B.Sc. from Bocconi University and M.Sc. from Imperial College London, both graduated with honours). 
  • Saman Motamed (B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the University of Toronto, graduated with honours, researcher at Carnegie Mellon). He has already published a paper in a top machine learning conference. 
  • Nikita Tsoy (B.Sc. and M.Sc. from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) with honours), medalist of the Russian and Belarusian Mathematics Olympiads. 
  • Mykyta Holubakha (B.Sc and M.Sc. from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, both graduated with honours). 
  • Nikita Kapchenko (MA from École Normale Supérieure, France), recipient of several prestigious international scholarships and awards.

“In just 6 months, INSAIT achieved something that had never happened before – it managed to attract outstanding doctoral students to Bulgaria from one of the strongest universities in the world, as well as leading scientists such as Prof. Luc Van Gool, an unprecedented event not only for Bulgaria but also for Eastern Europe. However, we see this as only the first step, INSAIT’s goal is to establish the institute as one of the world’s premier research institutions in the field of artificial intelligence and computer science.” – said Prof. Martin Vechev, architect of INSAIT.


INSAIT – Institute for Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology, located in Sofia, Bulgaria, is the first of its kind in Eastern Europe to offer world-class research facilities and conditions. INSAIT is created in partnership with Switzerland’s ETH Zurich and EPFL, two of the world’s best technical universities, and is closely advised and supervised by top academics from some of the most elite U.S., European, and Israeli universities and research labs.  INSAIT’s sole focus is on scientific excellence: conducting world-class research, attracting outstanding international scientists, and training the next-generation of graduate students and technology leaders.