Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin receives Bulgarian deputy prime minister and minister for education and science

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The topics of discussion at the working meeting on 21 April in Bern were cooperation between the two countries in the fields of education, research and innovation, the second Swiss contribution to selected EU states and the Institute for Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology (INSAIT), which was opened in Sofia in 2022 with support from Switzerland.

Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), and State Secretary Martina Hirayama welcomed Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister for EU Funds Management Atanas Pekanov and Minister for Education and Science Sasho Penov to Bern on 21 April for a working meeting.

The discussion focused on the current situation and the prospects for Switzerland and Bulgaria in the European Research Area (ERA). Since 2013, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) has supported some 70 research projects in which Bulgarian researchers have been involved. Together with Switzerland, Bulgaria is a member of CERN and ITER. In addition, 100 Bulgarian researchers and artists have received a Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship since 1964.

The second Swiss contribution to selected EU countries was also discussed. As a beneficiary, Bulgaria receives financial support for research and vocational training programmes, among other things. Various programme agreements are currently being drafted.

Deputy Prime Minister Pekanov and Minister for Education and Science Penov reported on INSAIT’s successful launch and ongoing development. Federal Councillor Parmelin was present at its opening on 11 April 2022 in Sofia. INSAIT is the result of Swiss-Bulgarian cooperation between Sofia University, ETH Zurich and EPF Lausanne. This cooperation is part of Switzerland’s contribution to strengthening ERA and demonstrates its role as an active and reliable partner. ETH Zurich and EPF Lausanne continue to support INSAIT with their scientific expertise as globally recognised centres of excellence for artificial intelligence and computer science, and are prominently represented on its board of directors. In this context, Joël Mesot, ETH Zurich president, and Katharina Füglister, EPF Lausanne’s head of International Relations, also took part in the talks with the Bulgarian ministers.