EPFL Strikes a Partnership with Bulgaria’s INSAIT to Advance Artificial Intelligence

The Institute for Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology (INSAIT) has recently launched in Sofia, Bulgaria. INSAIT was established in collaboration with EPF Lausanne and ETH Zurich.

EPFL Strikes a Partnership with Bulgaria’s INSAIT to Advance Artificial Intelligence.
Martin Vetterli was in Sofia for the launch of the INSAIT institute. Image Credit: © EPFL 2022

INSAIT is focused on becoming a top global scientific organization for artificial intelligence (AI), computer science and computational technology, and to develop a top-notch research center that aims to draw technological and scientific talent from the country and beyond. New talent can offer fresh motivation for digital transformations and a competitive economy in Eastern Europe and Bulgaria.

The First Institute of its Kind in Eastern Europe

All through its conception, INSAIT’s foundation has profited from the guidance and support of relevant EPF Lausanne and ETH Zurich professors who will carry on assisting the institute with their scientific know-how.

Besides professors from Switzerland’s two leading technical universities, INSAIT is also directed and counseled by world-famous researchers from other top research institutions such as the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA), Princeton, UC Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Yale and the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology.

INSAIT is truly the first institute of its kind in Eastern Europe, and for this reason, it has the potential to become a very disruptive initiative.

Martin Vechev, Professor of Computer Science, ETH Zurich

 Vechev is also a member of the ETH AI Center.

Vechev's scientific experience was perfect to assist this initiative from the start. INSAIT also fits well into the establishment of European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS) units.

"I have been driving this initiative for the last three years, but I have been interested in this idea for nearly 20 years. Now, I am extremely pleased that Eastern Europe will finally have an institute of this calibre,” he says. He adds that by including professors from ETH and EPFL to advise on teaching and research, INSAIT may become an outstanding center for science.

Distinguished Guests at the Inauguration

INSAIT is to be situated in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. The institute was officially inaugurated in the presence of renowned guests from business, politics and science. Among the participants from Switzerland were Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, President of EPFL Martin Vetterli, and President of ETH Zurich Joël Mesot.

Also attending the ceremony were Rumen Radev and Kiril Petkov, the President and Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Maria Leptin, President of the European Research Council ERC, and Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Education and Youth.

Global cooperation and open exchange spanning various disciplines and cultures are vital drivers of scientific advancement. ETH Zurich and its scientists nurture them in numerous world regions and in various formats—from individual partnerships to institutional collaboration.

Science builds cultural bridges—something the world needs now more than ever. I am delighted that ETH Zurich, through our professors’ partnerships with the INSAIT, can contribute to strengthening scientific ties with Bulgaria and Europe.

Joël Mesot, President, ETH

For Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), this partnership underlines Switzerland's guarantee to support the European Research Area as an active and dependable partner (cf. Press information of the EAER).

With the financial backing of the Government of Bulgaria and technology companies like Google, Amazon Web Services, and DeepMind, INSAIT will be able to develop global research and educational programs covering the foundations and applications of AI and computer science.

It starts with a capital amount of approximately USD 100 million spanning the next 10 years. The tech company, SiteGround, along with several Bulgarian entrepreneurs, is providing over USD 7 million in financial assistance.

The focus areas of the new institute include machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, information security, formal methods, quantum computing, programming languages, computer architecture and other technology-related areas.

Contributing as Mentors

In these areas of study, EPFL and ETH Zurich professors have a globally recognized, first-class proficiency to contribute via the collaboration.

The research topics at INSAIT will be spanning all fields of artificial intelligence and computer science. We anticipate establishing an INSAIT master's program in which professors from ETH and EPFL can contribute.

Martin Vechev, Professor of Computer Science, ETH Zurich

As mentors for technological and scientific talent, EPFL and ETH scientists also look forward to adding to INSAIT's effort to offer appealing career opportunities for the next generation of scientists and deep-tech entrepreneurs in an area where the most highly-skilled technology experts have thus far emigrated.

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