Sofia to build Big Data Centre of Excellence

The project will provide research and innovation on future cities, intelligent gov, smart industry, digital health

Photo: Oleg Konstantinov Prof. Sylvia Ilieva, GATE Project Coordinator (left) and Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, at the launch of the project.

Sofia University “St Kliment Ohridski”, in partnership with Sweden's Chalmers University of Technologies and Chalmers Industrial Technologies, has launched in Sofia, Bulgaria, the first ever “Big Data for Smart Society” Centre of Excellence (GATE CoE) in Big Data and Artificial Intelligence for Eastern Europe.

Made through funding for seven years from the EU's Horizon 2020 Widespread programme, the GATE project aims to create a unique research environment in Europe for Big Data driven innovations and to translate scientific knowledge into new and valuable governmental, scientific, industrial and societal applications, thereby strengthening European competitiveness and ability to deliver economic and societal benefits through science.

In order to achieve that, the GATE CoE will provide innovations in four areas of social importance - future cities, smart industry, intelligent government and digital health. Value will be created in these spheres through developing research excellence mainly in topics relevant to the three technology areas of data insight, data analytics and data management, and on a cross cutting area - engineering and development. Then, by fostering closer collaboration between academia, government and industry, GATE will boost Bulgarian organisations in various sectors to become, and remain, competitive, which will not only increase research capacity and reduce innovation gaps with other European regions but will also create confidence among the citizens, businesses, entrepreneurs and startups that Bulgaria can efficiently contribute to their needs for a modern, knowledge-based society and economy.

Moreover, GATE is also determined to train excellent researchers and professionals in the fields of AI and Big Data through a multidisciplinary educational programmes at European and global level, complimented by an educational lab which will support the implementation of new methods for personalised and interactive learning.

Within the services provided by the CoE, as well as most of the activities performed in the centre, the project's goals would be also achieved through the GATE platform and three state-of-the-art technology labs - City Living Lab, Interdisciplinary Collaboration with Industry (Digital Twin Lab) and Virtual Reality and Big Visualisation (Open Visualisation Lab). These laboratories will be at the heart of a vibrant ecosystem where innovative ideas will be generated, developed in projects and promoted in effective collaboration with relevant stakeholders.

“Centre of excellence means that we do not only have a tradition in the field of Information and Communication Technologies, but that we also have a potential, a very strong research community able to demonstrate more specific benefits in the field of Big Data analyses and artificial intelligence,” Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel noted at the launch of the project.

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