The event’s programme was split into the following panels: Big Data and AI; City Digital Twins: Achievements and Digital Chances; Digital Health: Opportunities and prospects; and Disinformation research and policy responses in the Balkans. Furthermore, the programme included special showcases dedicated to the European Big Data Centres of Excellence and start-ups pitches, presenting research and innovation excellence in Big Data and AI.

In the first part of the conference, the Director of the GATE Institute, Prof. Sylvia Ilieva presented the achievements of the Institute in its first year.
The GATE Institute has recruited a total of 29 researchers working on socially significant topics. Thanks to them, the institute has published 9 articles in conference proceedings and in leading scientific journals. Over the past year, the institute submitted 15 project proposals in funding competitions and won funds for 5 of them. The Institute’s team organized 8 events like “Future Cities and Their Digital Twins” and “Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in Digital Health” as part of the Biotech Atelier, seminars, information and open-door days. GATE was presented at almost 30 events such as webinars, forums, meetings, workshops and scientific conferences like AI Romanian days, Forum Real, Innovative Sofia meets innovative Tallin, Doing business with Sweden – a mutual opportunity for Bulgaria and Sweden, European Researchers’ Night.
GATE is a member of the Big Data Value Association and the International Data Spaces Association and recently signed an agreement to become IDS Hub Facilitator for Bulgaria. It is also part of the network of the European Big Data CoE.
GATE’s main goal is to create an evolving European ecosystem – a bridge between industry and the scientific community. That is why the institute strengthened its partnership with technology companies such as SAP Labs – Bulgaria, Bosch, Ontotext and Rila Solutions, which provide resources to support GATE’s research. Recently, a cooperation agreement has been signed with Sofia Municipality as part of the Sofia Digitalization Strategy.
Next year a building will be built for the institute, where its scientific activity will be accommodated along with its innovative laboratories. They will be open to students and partners for demonstration, experimentation and testing of new technologies and solutions. The project of the building is already available, and its construction is planned to begin in the spring of 2021.
In addition to the construction of the building, GATE’s plans for next year are to attract more junior and senior researchers.

“We hope that we will have the opportunity to turn this Forum on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence into a tradition and every year to exchange experiences and ideas in order to develop the research in the field of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, “said Prof. Silvia Ilieva, Director of the GATE Institute.

An address to the institute and the event was made by Karina Angelieva, Deputy Minister of Education and Science in Bulgaria. She highly appreciated the efforts of GATE and its director, prof. Sylvia Ilieva, to tackle the challenges over the past year. Ms Angelieva congratulated the GATE’s team for the results achieved and wished them “to keep the spirit”.

Peter Dröll, Director of Prosperity at DG Research and Innovation of the European Commission, stressed upon the importance of the investments in AI so that the EU could become a global hub for AI. “On the part of the European Union, we want to see the centres of excellence in the field become stronger so that we can create this Artificial Intelligence hub in Europe. That is why I hope that one day when we can travel freely again, we will have the opportunity to meet and discuss how we can work together and develop what you are doing in Bulgaria,” said Peter Dröll.

Over 300 people registered – mainly from research organizations and technology companies – to join the discussions on the four main topics of the event.


The record of the event could be seen here: