Report on the Operation of Evrika Foundation in 2011
Twenty-two years following the establishment of Evrika Foundation, we undertake an analysis of achievements over the past year 2011. In accordance with established practice, the basic documents regulating the operation are the programs approved by the Foundation Board, and we strive to adapt them to the needs and the changing working conditions. We can affirm that all initiatives and projects supported by the Executive Board are consistent with their requirements and priorities. Strictly established principles are adhered to: competitive approach with respect to providing of financial assistance; transparence and openness in the process of selection of projects, organizations, and youths; accountability of results and expenditures realized with the funds provided. This also constitutes the basic tenor of the present report, which, with the help of figures and facts, comes to illustrate this assertion of ours.
І. Attaining the non-profit objectives of the Foundation
Traditionally, the main part of the operation of the Foundation focused on the implementation of our mission of identifying and supporting skilled young people and providing assistance for development. Evrika Foundation, in its way and in accordance with its capabilities, furthers this aim.
1. Acquiring knowledge in the area of natural sciences, technical and business skills and culture among the young generation, supporting training, qualification, and retraining of young people with manifested skills in the area of natural science, technical skills, and management.
Successes in modern society are increasingly dependent on knowledge that is acquired not only in schools and universities but also in the context of individual activity of everyone. Today, it is particularly important to nurture a predilection for novelties, a drive for self-improvement and for acquiring professional skill abreast with the current development of science and technology that are pervasive in our lives. Our organization finds its place in this process. By means of the Talents Program we take part in the processes of motivating school and university students and provide incentives to those who have managed to demonstrate such knowledge and capabilities, who have achieved significant results in acquiring contemporary knowledge and skills in the various fundamental and applied areas.
Over the reported year, this program has been implemented successfully. The program allocates considerable resources for scholarships and a significantly lower portion for individual projects for participation in international science fora. Clear rules exist for these activities allowing for an objective and impartial selection of candidates. The committees observe rigorously the established mechanisms and engage in objective selection.
36 students were shortlisted for an interview in the closing round of the competitions for the 10 individual and personalized scholarships. In addition to high academic achievements, the students have also scored significant results in national and international competitions, contests, science conferences etc.
The second group of the Foundation’s scholarship beneficiaries won medals in international contests in the area of mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, and biology. Three winners of gold medals, nine winners of silver medals, and eighteen winners of bronze medals in international secondary education contests are among the scholarship awardees of the Foundation for the 2011/2012 school year.
In the implementation of the Basic Rules for granting of scholarships, for the 2011/2012 school/academic year we have 40 scholarships awardees, of whom 28 university and 12 school students. Various social groups support the achievements of our foundation in connection with providing support to talented university and school students.
In the framework of the Talents Program, for twelve years already, an important initiative has been implemented. It is called Students’ Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science. This project has been created in partnership with the Bulgarian Academy of Science, St. Cyril and St. Methodius International Foundation, and the Union of Mathematicians in Bulgaria. It is a long-term program under which prominent Bulgarian scientists work with secondary school students who have demonstrated aptitude in the area of mathematics and computer science. Over the twelve years of existence, the initiative has witnessed over two thousand students and several hundred teachers of mathematics, computer science, and information technologies. In 2011, over 100 students and 20 teachers took part in the mathematics and computer science sections. 64 projects were presented in total, of which 31 in the area of mathematics and 33 – in the area of computer science and information technologies. The Eleventh National Youth Summer Research School took place in two stages: Computer Science and Information Technologies School /July and August 2011/ and Mathematics School (August 2011). 49 students from grades 8 through 11 from nineteen mathematics and vocational training high schools attended it.
We continue to provide methodological support to science and technical student clubs established in the framework of a project of ours. They transformed into sustainable structures for work with students with interests in various scientific and technical fields. These clubs were among the most active participants in the framework of the European Day of Science that took place on April 28, in promoting science and technology at school, in the preparation of and participation in school and national competitions and contests.
One of the activity areas of the program is the capacity to provide funding for individual projects of young scientists, specialists and students in international events, two individual projects having been supported there over the past year.
2. Stimulating activities of young people in the fields of science, technics, inventions, and innovation.
Age specifics account for the choice of appropriate forms of incentives to creativity. The largest group we work with comprises school students. They find competitions to be the most exciting form of activity. Competitions cover the largest base of participants and can reach everyone. This warrants our approaches for arousing interests and channeling creative participation in initiatives through competitions and contests. The prevailing part of these competitions is carried out in partnership with the National Palace of Children and some other organizations. Others are a territory reserved for us alone. An example is the traditional competition „The Cosmos – The Present and Future of Humankind.” Over the year, we held its ХІІІ edition under the auspices of the first Bulgarian cosmonaut Georgi Ivanov and we dedicated it to the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight. Inspired by the cosmos, children competed in five areas, in order to demonstrate how their knowledge acquired at school combines with their unbounded imagination. As a result, a versatile fantastic world of space stations, rockets, and aliens emerged, created by means of a wide range of expressive instruments. The increased interest towards the latest edition of the competition is worth noting. The number of settlements from which we receive applications for participation is constantly going up. In 2011, 1,197 students aged between 8 and 18, took part in the national edition of the competition. The trend of increased activity on the part of the clubs of science and technics established three years earlier under a Foundation’s project was sustained. The results the clubs scored in this competition make us go on seeking funding from external donors for the purpose of establishing a network encompassing all clubs and facilitating exchange of information and ideas among students and teachers.
We successfully perform our role of a national coordinator in the organization of the participation of Bulgarian students in the competitions announced by international organizations of which we are a member, as well as competitions of other partnership organizations. We provide information and consultations in connection with those; we establish connections when awards are given. The largest number of such competitions was organized by МILSET, and it is only natural that the majority of awards come from there. We took active participation in an international scientific photography competition. Our three contestants in the World Expo of Sciences in Bratislava and our representatives in the International Congress of Young Researchers in Zaragoza were awarded diplomas of distinction.
We organize many of the national competitions in conjunction with the National Palace of Children. Among these are the scientific and technical events that have gained renown over the years, the national competition of scale aircraft, ship, and rocket modeling; the national competition of student projects in the area of environmental sciences and preservation of the environment; the national competition “Nature – Our Home.” Following a preliminary selection during national events for students of the higher secondary school grades, 63 secondary school contestants reached the final. They presented and convincingly defended their projects in the areas of: electronic appliances; devices and communication instruments; software products; business projects; chemistry; food industry; biology; environmental science; physics and astronomy; farming; energy efficiency. With respect to younger students, 65 contestants took part in the fields of natural sciences, environmental science, and technology. In parallel, multimedia presentations, exhibitions of prize-winning art works at national competitions, posters exhibitions, and a series of publicity campaigns with a multitude of promotion materials, posters, pictures, and boards, took place at a very good level. In 2011, we carried out for the twentieth time one of the largest student environmental events in Bulgaria – the Srebarna 2011 International Environmental Forum. To date, with the active support of the Ministry of Physical Education and Sports, the Bulgarian Federation of Automodel Sports, and the Bulgarian Federation of Scale Ship Modeling and Ship Model Sports, and as a result of the high degree of professionalism of team leaders, the number of children engaged in modeling clubs has increased. On average, contestants scoring high results are getting younger. We are convinced that we must sustain our active support to students engaging intensely in modeling and constantly improve the conditions for the functioning of their clubs.
We provided resources for and supported the organization of a Student Science Session, the topic being “The Atomic and Nuclear Power – Foundation of Understanding of the Structure of Matter.” 43 scientific projects by 68 students from 23 secondary schools and two national observatories were presented. We were active participants and organizers of events dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight. Along with the large number of science conferences, exhibitions, festivals, and films, we managed to carry out a series of competitions for children and students during which those young participants presented their papers, essays, short stories, poems, art works, and music pieces.
We continue to be a successful and sought-after partner for the traditional student conference of science and other initiatives of 164th Miguel de Cervantes Spanish Language High School.
Our experience to date suggests that the work with appropriate partnership organizations and institutions provides opportunities for identifying attractive activities consistent with the interests of children and youth.
Over the reported year, we also focused on events involving university students and young scientists. Together with the University of Insurance and Finance and the Union of Mathematicians in Bulgaria, we carried out the National University Student Mathematics Contest. More than 150 students from 30 university departments took part therein. In 2011, jointly with the Chemistry Division of the Humboldt Union in Bulgaria, the Chemistry Department of St. Climent Okhridski Sofia University, the Student Council of the Chemistry Department, and the National Center for New Materials UNION, we participated in the organization and carrying out of the Tenth National Chemistry Conference for university and PhD students. Awardees of scholarships of Evrika Foundation and a number of young scientists covered by projects of the foundation were among the most active participants in the Festival of Science.
Guided by the understanding of the importance of industrial ownership and the transfer of innovative products, in 2011 we supported the organization of the Third National Exhibition of Inventions, Technology, and Innovation. The event provided an opportunity for establishing of useful business contacts in favor of practical implementation of presented new solutions and proposed innovations. The exhibition turned into a competition of inventors and innovators, and, most importantly, into a market for their intellectual products.
A representative of Evrika Foundation, for the ninth consecutive time took part in the Nomination Committee for the John Atanassov Award of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, intended for achievements of young people in the area of computer and information technologies and the development of the information society in Bulgaria. We took part in the designing of the concept of a John Atanassov portal.
Our competitions for the Evrika Award for achievements in sciences, for most successful young manager, inventor, and farmer, for a long time have been a trademark of ours. Some of these contests took place for the twenty-second time – such as the most successful young manager competition, whereas the youngest one – for achievements in sciences – has already a sixteen-year record.
Yulia Ruslanova Romanova got the 2011 Evrika Award. She has taken part in scientific projects at university, national, and international levels, including: 6 national projects with international attendance, 4 university projects; projects for a short-term scientific work by a young scientist under DAAD and COST. Yulia Romanova has 8 scientific publications. She has participated with papers and poster presentations in 9 national and international science fora. She received the joint award of Evrika Foundation and the Union of Scientists in Bulgaria for defending excellently a thesis on “Impact of the Medium on the Geometry, Electronic Structure, and Magnetic Properties of Polyaniline.” For this achievement she received a PhD degree. The subject of the research in the dissertation is conductive polymers, polyaniline in particular. This contribution is at the basis of the patent registration.
Rayna Mladencheva, Marin Dimitrov, and Teodora Stoycheva were granted diplomas of honor for their excellent achievements in the 2011 Young Inventor Competition.
The 2011 Young Manager Evrika Award went to Petar Donchev. He is Executive Director of RESB. He participates directly and actively in the Sofia Mall, Plovdiv Mall, and Rousse Mall projects. He is the young manager with the skills and qualities for managing his company and performs the professional duties attendant upon his position in a convincing and competent way.
The 2011 Young Farmer Evrika Award was granted to Nedyalko Statev. He cultivates a total of 4,250 decares, 700 decares of which being his own and the rest being leased on a long-term basis. His farming equipment is highly productive, economic, and environmentally compliant. The way in which he cultivates the land has become a model to follow by other farmers in the region. As a result of successfully implemented projects under European programs, he managed to create modern and functional storage facilities for farming equipment. Nedyalko Statev’s holding is one of the national champions in terms of sales rate growth. The per-decare yields for the past year are as follows: wheat – 450 kg; maize – 891 kg; sunflower – 170 kg; rape seed – 267 kg; barley – 477 kg.
Our objectives include the acquisition of professional knowledge and skills. Our consultation offices in the area of intellectual property rights protection, in the area of the legal aspects of the organization and operation of for-profit and non-governmental organizations continue to operate. Consultants continue to help the young and their organizations. These services are in big demand and are highly appreciated. The annual report of the Office for Protection of Intellectual Property Rights comes to testify this. At this office alone, over 250 free consultations on issues related to protection of intellectual property rights were provided to young people over the reported year. Consequently, four applications for utility models, four applications for European industrial designs, six applications for Bulgarian trademarks, and five applications for European trademarks were prepared and filed. This probably has contributed to the rise of applications by young people and the protection of their intellectual products obtained.
We have not stopped looking for opportunities and contributing our share for increasing the awareness of the young on topics related to contemporary technics and technology. Last year we made available the 30 copies of the latest book in the area of nuclear physics by Professor Slavcho Ushev, donated to us, to our scholarship awardees, competition winners, and other school and university students with high achievements. Professor Ushev has been for many years member of the specialized jury with the Foundation. Some of the books went to the clubs we support. In 2011, we provided as an additional prize for the winners in The Cosmos Competition copies of the donated book by Professor Garo Mardirossyan “From Space against Environmental Disasters,” as well as books of the editors of Az Bouki newspaper.
Our presence on the Internet is good. Reference shows that our name comes up 39,600 times, which deserves acclaim. One part of the information is provided on purpose by us, in order to promote the terms and conditions for participation in our competitions and initiatives, while at the same time other people promote what we have done.
We took advantage of additional avenues for promotion of the activity of the Foundation in terms of programs and interviews in the Bulgarian National Television, the Bulgarian National Radio, other electronic media, newspapers, and periodicals. There are sections reserved for us permanently in some of those media. We appreciate the support of journalists who are immensely helpful in promoting the success of our scholarship awardees and prize winners.
3. Disseminating knowledge and information in the area of natural sciences, technics, and economics
Sometimes it is a very difficult task to separate the activities related to providing information from those related to promotion of science and technics. These constitute a set of activities with which we try to influence the interests of the young so that we have them open their eyes and take in the nature surrounding them, the phenomena that take place there, and get answers to the endless questions of “what, why, and how.” We try to use unconventional ways, in order to add something more, yet at the same time connected to the Bulgarian science and technics. Thus we managed to have close interactions with the National Polytechnic Museum. Every time something new can be found there to capture the attention of children and youths and to allow them to discover new, previously unknown facts, of the history of national sciences and technics, development of crafts, and industrial production. We are received well, and this is a sign that our common objectives deliver more opportunities for the promotion needed. We, in our turn, support the implementation of their educational programs. For eighteen years now we have been jointly releasing the Technitarche newspaper. It is unique in terms of promoting science and technics among the young generation. Some of the copies of the newspaper are provided for free to schools and non-governmental organizations operating in various fields of science and technics.
We keep up our cooperation with the periodical of the Union of Scientists in Bulgaria – Nauka. For years now we have been supporting the Tribune for the Young section. It made possible the publication of articles of young scientists participating in our traditional competitions.
Another edition that is very close to and furthers the development of the young in the area of science and technics, in relation to our activities, is the Az Bouki newspaper. It features all of our significant projects and guarantees an information shortcut to schools and universities that host our target groups. We are grateful to them, because this is valuable help dedicated to the objective of involving the young in meaningful and purposeful activities.
As per our capabilities, we also try to support the only university student newspaper – New Technical Avant-garde (issued by the Technical University – Sofia). With their help we reach out to the numerous audience of students. Upon the initiative of the editors, the little newsletter is circulated to school student clubs with which we work, thus building a bridge for communication with university-students-to-be.
4. Participation in international educational, natural science, and technical programs and projects and in international youth cooperation in the area of science and technics
Our participation in international youth science cooperation has become increasingly important over the recent years. The reasons stem from the ever-growing influence of the membership of our country in the European Union and the activities attendant upon that focusing on enhancing the interests of the young for involvement in international projects, events, and competitions. Therefore not only did we not relinquish our good old partners in other countries, but looked for new ones. As usual, the most significant opportunities for this were in the framework of the International Movement for Leisure Activities in Science and Technology (MILSET), and particularly of its European chapter – MILSET Europe. We have been a member of the organization for 22 years. Since Evrika Foundation is the only Bulgarian participant therein, we have been tasked with the functions of a national coordinator with respect to events organized by MILSET.
The Seventh European Day of Science for the Young took place on April 14, 2011 and was dedicated to chemistry. According to the requirements for the celebration of this day, the activities were concentrated in schools and science and technics clubs. In some schools and in many clubs with which we work, thematic lectures and competitions took place. The website of the event features pictures of the achievements. Thus, many Bulgarian students were involved in the Europe’s International Chemistry Year Program. In the capacity of national coordinator, we organized the Bulgarian participation in the Fifth Science Photo Contest of MILSET Europe, which focuses on a synthesis of science and art. During the reported year, we sent participants to the World Science Expo that was held in Bratislava, Slovakia. This was a forum of more than 450 young authors from five continents. Our country was represented by three winners of the Young Talents National Contest. The good results scored over the past years and the established lasting contacts provide a basis that more than warrants continuation of our efforts for securing Bulgarian participation in the next Ninth European Science Expo.
Thanks to our contacts in the context of the MILSET events, we were invited to participate in a network of organizations on the territory of 23 European countries for the implementation of youth initiatives under a European Youth Information Campaign project. The invitation was extended by the Together International Organization based in Luxembourg. Over the reported year we were active mediators and facilitated the inception of cooperation between the Public Health College of the University of Nebraska, USA, and the Public Health Department at the Medical University of Sofia. We work on the development of projects for submission directly to the European Commission in Brussels. Together with the German Hope Foundation we prepare the participation in two programs – Grundtvig and Europe Aid Global Learning Program. This will help expand the partnership network already in place and will set the foundations for a more lasting cooperation yet.
We keep up our long-standing partnership with the Science and Research Institute of Aragon, Zaragoza, Spain. For the tenth consecutive year, Evrika Foundation has been administering the Bulgarian participation in the traditional international congress. The congress takes place under the auspices of the Mayor of Zaragoza and attracts the attention of prominent institutions, banks, and companies of the Aragon region. In order to guarantee relevant and matching Bulgarian attendance, we have been working closely with 164th Miguel de Cervantes Spanish Language High School. It hosts a program allowing students to work on research projects all the year round. A student science conference was held on 13 May, 2011. Students from grades 9, 10, and 11 presented their projects. The jury selected three projects to be subsequently presented at the congress in Zaragoza.
We keep our associate membership at the International Federation of Inventors’ Association. We believe we can use more actively our contacts in this organization in order to open the doors to representatives of this country for participation in organized exhibitions and halls of inventions in the world.
The international contacts of the Foundation are beneficial not only for the development of the capacity of the organization itself but also for the young people. We are convinced that we need to sustain what we have begun and to seek further expansion and deepening. Our intentions are to get broader involvement of our scholarship awardees, in order to enrich the ideas and translate them eventually into successful projects.
5. Promotion of and support to business initiatives and business activity among the young
The program remained open due to lack of demand on the part of the young and of quality competing projects. If the need arises and in case of business initiatives with proven efficiency of young people and their companies, we may consider reopening of the program for the support of the business activity of this group of entrepreneurs.
6. Some activities related to our non-profit objectives and the place and role of our organization in the development of cooperation with other organizations and institutions in this country
Over the recent years it has become tough to implement large-scale and significant programs and projects on one’s own. This stems from the fact that it is difficult for a single organization to raise the resources required for programs and projects alone, while at the same time external financing is subject to mandatory partnership. We seek such partnership in several directions – partnership with other non-governmental organizations, with the business, and with governmental agencies. Very often it is a combination of all these.
Traditionally, the most active relations are associated with the non-governmental organizations. Examples of beneficial cooperation are the interactions with the Union of Scientists in Bulgaria, the Union of Mathematicians in Bulgaria, the Union of Physicists in Bulgaria, the St. Cyril and St. Methodius International Foundation, the Association of Agricultural Producers in Bulgaria etc. With these organizations we carry out a range of activities: trainings, conferences, competitions etc.
During the present year, we have to note activation of contacts with the Union of Scientists in Bulgaria. Together we will be seeking opportunities for work among the young scientists, in order to change the conditions for their professional development in this country.
The good traditions with the Unions of Mathematicians and of Physicists in Bulgaria are sustained. We engage in cooperation with other non-governmental organizations for advocacy in favor of common causes. These include initiatives in support of the development of the third sector and of enhancing its role in the regulation of public processes. We participate in the operation and administration of the Bulgarian Charities Aid Foundation – an organization that proved to be a success. Sixteen years ago we became its founder. Through the initiatives of the Bulgarian Donors’ Forum, we took part in the European Year of Volunteering. A number of measures to improve the environment for giving and interactions in the implementation of national campaigns were undertaken.
Over the recent years it has become a tradition to participate as a partner in the prestigious Beekeeping International Exhibition. For yet another time, in Pleven we held the Most Prosperous Young Beekeeper competition. The winner of last year subsequently got a prize in our Most Successful Young Farmer of the Year competition.
For two years already we have been a full member of the National Network of Children in Bulgaria and of the specialized network of corporate social responsibility CSR Bulgaria. In this capacity we actively participated in the debates on the mechanisms of state subsidies for civic organizations and the bill on volunteering. We attended a series of events organized by these entities such as the First Regional Conference on Volunteering for Promotion of an Active Civil Position; the European tour in connection with the European Year of Volunteering 2011etc.
We try to develop and sustain working partnerships with state institutions and agencies. Our aims coincide with the objectives of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Science and its units in the area of extracurricular and extramural activities. This explains why we primarily seek contacts with them. Our closest and most lasting relations and joint activities have been with the National Palace of Children. We have more than one joint project and have achieved very good results.
All that has been reported as a result of cooperation with other non-governmental organizations, institutions, and agencies comes to illustrate that we enjoy a solid base for development of joint strategies, programs, and projects. We must exploit these contacts much more intensely. There are reserves out there and we must therefore take steps with specific proposals for them.
We assess our work with the representatives of the business as not efficient enough. And it is from business that we expect to get acts of giving in favor of our causes. We made attempts to incentivize them for such acts. It is obvious that the only way is through personal contacts with owners and top managers of successful business associations and companies. We are ready to propose on our part involvement in preparation of projects related to professional development and the capacity of teams there, and subsequently in the implementation of such projects. We are confident that we will get help and support on the part of representatives of universities and institutes with whom we have long-standing fruitful contacts.
In taking inventory of and analyzing results and our visions of the future development with the various representatives of the public, we must not leave out the interactions with the media. We can safely say that we enjoy the support of specialized media with whom we have been working effectively over the recent years. They provide competent and well-meant coverage of our initiatives, they promoted our competitions, they portrayed our successful scholarship awardees and contest winners. It is with gratefulness that we must mention the attitude towards our work on the part of the Bulgarian National Radio. The approach of the Az Bouki newspaper, a periodical of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science, is extremely positive. They help us reach out to all schools and universities because these schools and universities are recipients of the newsletter. The long-lasting partnership with Nauka magazine is an element of the beneficial cooperation with the Union of Scientists in Bulgaria. The publications in the Tribune for the Young section have many a time served as a jumping ground for young people.
Partnership-based activities are the backbone of the achievements over the reported period. They allow us to enhance the capabilities and to mobilize more substantial public support.
The content of the present report shows that in 2011 we sustained the good traditions from previous years and that there is a determination in place to further seek new opportunities for development. In the tough working conditions, we managed to assist young people with manifested aptitude in the scientific and technological areas, and this needs to be expanded in terms of volume, activities, and quality of work to guarantee yet more significant results.