A new computer science and AI institution, supported by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, and DeepMind, is in the works. It is intended to nurture the next generation of deeptech firms and entrepreneurs.
In September 2022, Bulgaria’s Sofia University will launch the Institute for Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology (INSAIT). It was developed in collaboration with two of Europe’s leading deeptech research institutions, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL).
AWS has contributed $3.75 million to the institution, while Google has contributed $3 million, and DeepMind has contributed $285,000.
Bulgaria can do it too
There’s also $6.5 million from Bulgarian internet company SiteGround, $600,000 from Bulgarian entrepreneurs, and a $100 million endowment from the Bulgarian government over ten years.
This is the first time in Eastern Europe that taxpayer funding and support for computer science research has been provided, and Martin Vetterli, president of EPFL in Lausanne, believes it demonstrates that countries like Bulgaria can become significant players in the computer science and artificial intelligence disciplines.
Payhawk, a finance platform, became Bulgaria’s first unicorn earlier this year. Meanwhile, the startup boom in Eastern Europe is projected to intensify in 2022, emphasizing deeptech.
But everything isn’t perfect.
According to Professor Martin Vechev, the creator of INSAIT and a top computer scientist at ETH Zurich, around thirty thousand Bulgarians leave the nation each year to pursue better opportunities, a systemic problem that discourages creativity.
He added that Eastern Europe is full of bright individuals with aspirations that often hit a ceiling due to a lack of support, funding, and facilities.
INSAIT, which is modeled after some of the leading computer science departments in institutions like UC Berkley, MIT, and ETH, is an effort to encourage the talent to stay and stop the brain drain. The institute will employ a tenure-track system that involves hiring Ph.D. students and promising them permanent jobs down the lane. While this is a new system for eastern Europe, it is billed as a successful academic system in most countries.