5 October 2016 | 17:05

The 2016 Laureates of the John Atanasoff Outstanding Young Digital Scientists and Entrepreneurs Awards Mark New Horizons

JA Award Ceremony 2016

This year, for the first time the John Atanasoff Scientific Award has three laureates. On October 4th the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, H.E. Mr. Rosen Plevneliev, presented Dr. Elica Kyoseva, Dr. Zortnitsa Kozareva and Dr. Veselin Raychev with the John Atanasoff Scientific Award for their outstanding achievements in three very different areas:

•    Dr. Kyoseva – for her research in the field of quantum optics with application to quantum information technologies.

•    Dr. Kozareva – for her research in Web-based knowledge acquisition, semantics, ontology population, multilingual information extraction and sentiment analysis.

•    Dr. Raychev – for his work in the fields of program analysis, algorithms and machine learning.

The ceremony took place at the Business Incubator of Sofia Tech Park.

This year marked another first – for the first time since its inception in 2003, the award was won by a woman. On October 5th, the laureates presented the highlights of their work at a dedicated open-access lecture at the Cosmos co-working camp in Sofia.

The “John Atanasoff – for projects with social value-added” category for 2016 was claimed by Darin Madjarov and Nikolay Jeynov for their project Ucha.se – an educational platform with video lessons covering all subjects in elementary and secondary schools. The website hosts over 7000 video lessons and exercises, which were viewed over 16 600 000 times collectively by 450 000 registered users. Ucha.se is also used by Bulgarians in over 68 countries.

The “Grajdanite” platform was also distinguished in this category. This mobile app created by Todor Lilkov, Ivan Mitov, Stoyan Mitov and Hristo Borisov, aims to improve peoples’ conduct while driving. It relies on encouraging responsible citizenship to prevent violations of traffic rules. For one year, the app has attracted over 41 000 users who generated over 4000 reports for incidents and 750 apologies by fellow citizens.

The 2016 winners in the “First steps in computer sciences” category are Dimitar Karev, Dona-Maria Ivanova and Martin Kuvandzhiev. This specific category is oriented towards students aged 12 to 22, whose participating projects in international and national science contests was outstanding.  

The winners of this year’s “John Atanasoff  -  students and their teachers” category are Ivan Danielov Ivanov, and his mentor Dr. Emil Kelevedjiev, as well as Viktor Dakov and his teacher Mrs. Darina Brancheva. The youngsters achieved outstanding results at some of the most competitive international computer sciences olympiads.

The 2016 John Atanasoff Awards submission campaign was the most successful one in the contest’s history. A total of 57 exceedingly high profile applications were submitted in the four categories, from Bulgarian computer scientists and digital entrepreneurs working on four continents.

“Today it is no longer a major headline to learn of Bulgarian startups achieving sustainable growth with an international portfolio of clients, opening new vacancies, scoring deals with some of the world’s most experienced investors and winning high accolades at prestigious competitions. In 2013 Bulgaria became the first country in the EU that utilized an cohesion fund operational program to fuel early stage ventures. Eased access to capital helped make Bulgaria a regional center that drew young entrepreneurs with excellent computer science skills.” – added President Plevneliev at the ceremony.

The President emphasized the success of the Bulgarian IT industry which has grown steadily in the last few years. “The latest available data show that in 2015 the IT industry accounted for 1.86% of Bulgaria’s GDP and employed over 17 500 highly qualified specialist, a  number growing by 6-10% on year-to-year basis. Exactly two years ago we witnessed a landmark moment when a Bulgarian company was acquired in the biggest deal of its kind for the CEE region for all of 2014.” – said the President.

“Nowadays, the future of both our country and Europe is not determined on the battlefield. It is decided in classrooms, R&D centers and business incubators. The future of Bulgaria does not depend on who our opponents are, or with whom we engage in hybrid, propaganda or for that matter any type of wars. It solely depends on who we are, what we want to achieve and how ambitions we are to achieve success and build on it” – said President Plevneliev in his remarks at the official ceremony in Sofia Tech Park.  

This is the second consecutive year in which all John Atanasoff laurates received additional prizes brought by our partners to encourage the laureates to push their careers further and find a wider audience where they can present their achievements. The laureates of the 2016 John Atanasoff Outstanding Young Digital Scientists and Entrepreneurs Awards received received the support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, SAP, Lenovo and LAUNCHub:

•    A 10,000 leva prize, split in equal parts, by the three joint laurates of the John Atanasoff Science Award, provided since 2015 by the America for Bulgaria Foundation.
•    Participation and pitching at the BDL Accelerate 2016” tech conference scheduled to take place in Beirut, Lebanon in November of 2016 for the team behind the “Grajdanite” project, provided by LAUNCHub.
•    Mobile productivity devices for the winners in the two categories “First steps in computer sciences”  and “John Atanasoff - students and their teachers” by Lenovo.
•    Ticket, stay and pass to the SAP TechEd bootcamp in Barcelona, in November 2016 for the Technical University Sofia student Martin Kuvandzhiev by SAP.