Official guests of the event were Anna Panagopoulou, Director of the European Research Area and Innovation at the Research and Innovation Directorate General of the European Commission and Nikolay Denkov, Minister of Education and Science.  Prof. Anastas Gerdjikov, Rector of Sofia University, sent an official address to the forum.

On behalf of the European Commission Anna Panagopoulou highly appreciated the achievements of the GATE Institute. “The European Commission is proud to testify very good progress of the GATE project in Bulgaria. We see it as a real game-changer. The subject of the GATE project itself – Big data and Artificial intelligence – is not only relevant to the biggest societal challenges today but it is also in a field of utmost strategic relevance for the EU and for digital transformation. GATE shows that R&I investments and reforms can move the country up on the stairways to excellence. We are proud of supporting this project”, concluded Anna Panagopoulou.

The Minister of Education and Science, acad. Nikolay Denkov, was delighted to attend a GATE’s event again. “I have always been impressed by the skills and ability of prof. Ilieva and her team to make the dreams come through. Starting with something that was very allusive in the beginning – really a dream, to make it something that has not only clear idea and substance but also literally takes a shape – the shape of the building, the shape of your core priorities that you define in the discussions today and tomorrow. And all that gives the promise of the very successful development of your Institute. So, from our side, I can only state that the Ministry of Education and Science will continue to support this Institute as it has been doing in the last years.”

In his greeting, the Rector of Sofia University, prof. Anastas Gerdjikov stressed the GATE’s contribution to the transformation of the university into a research hub. He has pointed out that GATE is a new Institute but in the two years of its existence GATE has managed to significantly strengthen its research potential by hiring high-quality researchers and young researchers not only from Bulgaria but also from all over the world. It has elaborated and implemented an ambitious and visionary research agenda driven by the global technological trends and national, EU and world research and innovation priorities. “I would like to share my appreciation of the hard work and enthusiasm of the whole GATE team even in these hard pandemic times. We are proud that GATE is part of our University and we will continue to support its activities.”, said prof. Gerdjikov.

The Director of GATE, Prof. Silvia Ilieva, presented the achievements of the Institute for the past year. She noted that the Institute has worked hard in its four research areas: data management, analysis, visualization and engineering, and in the four strategic application areas: Future Cities, Digital Healthcare, Intelligent Government and Smart Industry.  GATE has been implementing three leading pilot projects – a pilot project for the city, for Alzheimer’s disease and for the detection of disinformation, as well as 7 joint projects. The number of researchers has increased by 25% and currently stands at 37 people from 8 countries. The published 19 new scientific articles represent an increase of 58% compared to the previous year. The construction of the infrastructure continues with the Institute’s building, the development of the GATE platform and the establishment of the City living laboratory.

As a national hub of the International Data Spaces Association (IDSA), GATE has started preparations for building a Bulgarian data space. It has been nominated nationally to apply for the European Digital Innovation Hub for Data and Artificial Intelligence. It continues to be even more active in the Big Data Value Association and the Open Geospatial Consortium, which contributes to maintaining high quality and relevance in research. New cooperation agreements have been signed with stakeholders.

The Institute’s future plans include completing the infrastructure and equipment of GATE laboratories. The institute will continue to implement the strategy for attracting Bulgarian scientists who have studied or worked abroad, as well as young researchers. Partnerships in collaborative projects and within IDSA will be developed and deepened, and new partnerships will be built within the GATE research and application domains.

The two visionary, high-level panels on the first day were dedicated to Data Spaces and Ethical, Explainable and Trustworthy AI.

The three insightful panels on the second day demonstrated how big data and artificial intelligence can help tackle societal and economic challenges in the GATE strategic application areas: Future Cities – City Digital Twin, Digital Health and Intelligent Government –  Disinformation. The panels were opened with keynotes by outstanding researchers and innovators, followed by talks of prominent international speakers, GATE research team leaders and discussions.

During the second day of the event, GATE researchers demonstrated their results through short video pitches presented between the panels.

More than 240 participants registered for the event. They were mainly from research institutions and technological companies.


The official opening could be seen here:

The panels could be seen here: