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Google Donates $1M for AI PhD Fellowships at INSAIT in Bulgaria to Elevate Eastern Europe’s AI Research

The founder of INSAIT prof. Martin Vechev; image by Andrey Andonov;
Image credit: The founder of INSAIT prof. Martin Vechev; image by Andrey Andonov;
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In a nutshell

  • Google is donating $1M for AI PhD fellowships at INSAIT (Institute for Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology), based in Sofia, Bulgaria.
  • Google’s Vice President of Research, Dr. Slav Petrov, announced the donation at the opening of Google Cloud Day event in Sofia yesterday, together with Boris Georgiev, Director of Google Cloud for Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Minister of Education and Science Prof. Galin Tsokov, and INSAIT founder and scientific director Prof. Martin Vechev.
  • This contribution will provide INSAIT doctoral students with the opportunity to be co-mentored by Google DeepMind researchers, in addition to their local advisers in Sofia.


Get the details

Within the allocated scholarships, the accepted doctoral students will have the opportunity to work in Bulgaria with research supervisors from INSAIT and Google Research on topics of mutual interest. The funding will aim to strengthen the focus of the Bulgarian Institute in key areas of AI such as large language models, computer vision, natural language processing, machine learning, and others. Alongside the funding, Google also provides exclusive and free access to its specific powerful computing resources (latest-generation tensor processors) to INSAIT.

The Bulgarian scientific organization is one of the few worldwide with access to Google’s specialized computing resources for developing generative artificial intelligence.

Google’s resources provided to INSAIT have an initial value of $2M and could reach up to $40M annually. This is one of Google’s largest donations for PhD fellowships to date in the world in 2024. 


Their background story

The Institute for Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology (INSAIT) was established 2 years ago in partnership with two of the world’s leading technology universities ETH Zurich and EPFL Lausanne, structured as a special unit of the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”.

INSAIT is the first research institute in Eastern Europe, based on the model of the world’s leading research institutions. It is financed by the Bulgarian government with an amount of $100M over 10 years and is supported with $15M by Amazon Web Services, Google, DeepMind, and SiteGround.

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In March this year, the institute launched the first Bulgarian language model, BgGPT. This is a strategic project for Bulgaria, aiming to enhance the adoption of AI in various institutions, especially in education. 


In their own words

“Eastern Europe holds incredible potential for contributing to the field of AI – yet today the region is significantly underrepresented in the research field. Making efforts to overcome this challenge is crucial if we want AI to be a technology that benefits everyone. We hope that this collaboration will not only contribute to building a more diverse and inclusive global AI ecosystem but will also enable new breakthroughs in the field, directly benefiting the region,” said Dr. Slav Petrov, Google’s Vice President of Research.

“We highly value Google’s trust in INSAIT’s mission. This additional support means a lot to us as it confirms that INSAIT is on the right path in building a world-class institute for artificial intelligence and informatics. INSAIT continues to grow rapidly, and we look forward to expanding and strengthening our partnership with Google in the years to come,” said Prof. Martin Vechev, founder and scientific director of INSAIT.

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Teodora Atanasova is a News Editor at The Recursive. She covers everything around funding rounds, exits, startups expanding to international markets, big tech opening R&D in CEE, meaningful for the ecosystem partnerships.