Karoll Knowledge Foundation seeks projects benefiting environment and society

Entering the competition is free; participants will be able to meet inspiring lecturers and have exciting opportunities

The Karoll Knowledge Foundation’s pre-accelerator programme for young scientists, Entrepreneurs in Science, has a new focus this year under the motto Impact Investing – searching for projects that would have a positive impact on the environment or society as a whole, the foundation announced.

The training will take place from 29 September until 8 December, while the competition, the winner of which receives a financial reward of BGN 30,000, will be held on 15 December. The jury entrusted with selecting the winning project is made up of the lecturers scheduled to speak at the format. They will present their lectures virtually from locations in Sofia, London, Frankfurt, Milan and Barcelona. Participation is free of charge and those interested have until 6 September to apply.

Topics such as social innovation, sustainable development and green development are extremely popular and students are eager to participate in such projects, according to Viliana Dzhartova, a social entrepreneur and social impact consultant who will participate in the programme as a lecturer from Barcelona. She believes that those fields are where the careers of the future lie and that they infuse the years spent in university with more meaning. As a student, she joined the team of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The experience opened her eyes and heart to some of the planet’s largest problems – poverty, discrimination, rapid increase in population, climate change. Her time in Bangladesh determined the direction of her career and life. The programme welcomes this exact type of highly motivated students and post-graduate students with impactful projects striving to generate measurable positive social and ecological effect through providing solutions to socially and environmentally significant problems, according to Milena Petkova, executive director of the Karoll Knowledge Foundation, who adds that the programme will allow students to meet inspiring lecturers and have exciting opportunities.

The first two spots in the Entrepreneurs in Science programme have already been reserved for the female students who created Career Hub. The project they presented at the Academy for Innovations in June earned them the Karoll Knowledge Foundation award thanks to its ideas on how to solve a significant youth issue – landing one’s first ever job when most employers require prior experience. Career Hub is a platform for job opportunities for people with zero or up to three years of experience.

Now in its fourth edition, the Entrepreneurs in Science programme will accept projects from students for the first time ever. The online format also allows entrepreneurial members of the academia to undergo training and participate in the Entrepreneur in Science competition. Aside from the opportunity to win financial backing to the tune of BGN 30,000, they will get knowledge and skills that can translate well to developing and improving their projects, as well as to finding new chances for collaboration and meetings with investors. They will also become part of the Entrepreneurs in Science community, which was concentrated in Sofia during the previous, in-person editions. There have been four winners of the Entrepreneur in Science Award so far, since in 2020 two scientists shared the honour. The latest laureate, Rosen Ivanov, senior assistant professor at the University of Mining and Geology, will be among this year’s lecturers. He used his prize money to launch the construction of a pilot project – waste water treatment installation for a single-family home in the village of Ivanyane.

Funds accompanying the Entrepreneur in Science Award also helped start the construction of the Andromeda Planetarium by the Photonics Experimental Design Studio. This is also the first start-up inspired by the programme. Its creator is Nedislav Veselinov, a post-graduate student at the Faculty of Physics with the Sofia University “St Kliment Ohridski”. This year, the programme has four universities as partners. The Sofia University “St Kliment Ohridski”, the Technical University of Sofia, the University of National and World Economy, and the University of Mining and Geology will all reward teams of their with participation in the Entrepreneurs in Science programme. Rumyana Mishonova, PhD – a lecturer in the programme and an expert in the fields of circular economy, sustainable development and technology transfer – says she expects enthusiastic, brave participants with a circular vision for doing business.

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