EVRIKA FOUNDATION ACTIVITY REPORT 2023

 

With this report, we take stock of the activities carried out and the results achieved in the thirty-fourth year since the establishment of the Evrika Foundation and the realization of the goals set upon its creation, as well as the updated tasks in accordance with the changes over time.

The organizing mechanism for the implementation of our activity in the last year was the programs of the foundation. They took into account both our main goals and our specified priorities. In their implementation, the gained experience and good practices in our own work and in other related organizations in the country and abroad were used. Operational management was carried out by the Executive Bureau, and in the case of individual projects and programs, the individuals appointed were personally responsible. The projects were accepted within the framework of the competitions announced with the programs and were considered in accordance with an established and public calendar plan. After an expert evaluation and depending on the expected results and the capacity of the organizers, decisions were made, taking into account the financial limits regulated with the approved budget.

This report contains the main results achieved during the year for the realization of our goals and visions for future changes, that we have to discuss in order to align our activities with the needs of young people and society and achieve better efficiency in spending of funds.

 

І. To implement the foundation’s ideal goals

 Traditionally, the main focus of the foundation’s activity was the realization of our mission to discover and support talented young people and give them our help for their development. What we have done is in line with the implemented policy, namely that the development of the country largely depends on what is achieved in the form of knowledge and skills among specialists as a result of training and qualification throughout life, but mostly in school and university.

 

  1. For the acquisition of natural scientific, technical and economic knowledge, skills and culture in the younger generation, supporting the training and qualification of young people with outstanding capabilities in the field of natural sciences, technology and management.

It is the Talents program that sets the foundation for a series of activities that create the basis for the implementation of the main task of mastering new knowledge, to create the belief that our future will be based on continuous learning and professional growth throughout conscious life of each person and of all together.

The Evrika Foundation’s scholarship program is one of its most significant activities. It brings great prestige to the foundation and the largest financial amount of our budget is allocated to it. There are well-established traditions and tested mechanisms for selecting scholarship students. This makes it respected and sought after among graduates of higher education institutions and university management. Some of the best scientists and specialists, people with great experience who have proven their principles in their work with young people, objectivity in evaluations and transparency in determining the best ones in a real competitive environment, are engaged to help the foundation.

We consider the selection of Evrika Foundation scholarship students as a great battle in the interest of the whole society, because we are sure of the great effect that these scholarships have not only on their specific holders, but also on the overall process of conducting the scholarship campaigns of the foundation and especially on scholarships promotion among a very large circle of students throughout the country. It is a joyful event that our collaboration has developed and grown, which began four years ago on the initiative of Georgi Balanski – a member of the Foundation’s Executive Bureau and Todor Stanchev – a member of the specialized jury for determining the holders of the scholarships “John Atanasov”, “Acad. Nikola Obreshkov”, “Acad. Blagovest Sendov” and “Acad. Georgi Nadzhakov” for a new special scholarship “Acad. Alexander Teodorov – Balan”. As a result of the very good preliminary work of publicizing this special scholarship and securing many and valuable applicants, and thanks to the information campaign we started very early on, we have attracted additional interest of many citizens with an active position in society. In the new academic year, the amount of this scholarship is already BGN 3,000, as are the remaining eleven named scholarships. The new named scholarship students of the foundation and the holder of the scholarship “Acad. Alexander Teodorov-Balan” were determined after conducting an open and public competition, following the principles of equality and transparency and in accordance with the Basic Rules of the Evrika Foundation for awarding scholarships to schoolchildren and students. The Career and Resource Centers at the universities gave us great help in the campaign, as well as a large part of the Student Councils, with whom we have been constantly improving the interaction in recent years.

In 2023, by decision of the Board of the Foundation, the amount of the scholarships was increased by right for the winners of medals at the international Olympiads in mathematics, informatics, physics, chemistry and biology, namely for the winners of gold medals at the Olympiads – BGN 2,000, for silver medals – BGN 1,700 and for bronze medals – BGN 1,600.

In 2023, the tradition of winning many medals and honors was followed once again by the high school teams in mathematics, informatics, physics, chemistry and biology. From the beginning of 2023 until September, Bulgarian students won 71 medals at international Olympiads in natural sciences. Of these, 11 are gold, 28 are silver and 32 are bronze. Six medals – 1 gold, 1 silver and 4 bronze – were won by Bulgarian students at the 64th International Mathematics Olympiad. In the most important competition of the year held in Japan, all of our Olympians made it to the top in the competition of over 670 participants from 112 countries. The gold medal was won by the scholarship holder of the foundation Marin Hristov from Sofia high school of mathematics “P. Hilendarski”, who won the silver award a year ago. Our former scholarship holder and already a student at the Sorbonne, Ivan Tagarev, repeated his last year’s achievement by winning the silver medal. Bronze awards were won by the new scholarship holders of the Evrika Foundation, Angel Hristov from the high school of mathematics and natural sciences “N. Obreshkov” – Burgas and Veselin Markovich from the high school of mathematics “Dr. Petar Beron” – Varna. Bronze medal was won by the former scholarship holder Iliyas Noman, now a student abroad, and by Bozhidar Dimitrov, now a student at Sofia University “St. Kl. Ohridski”, who repeated his achievement from a year ago. The best Bulgarian high school students in mathematics won 6 medals at the Romanian Master of Mathematics international tournament. They competed with 90 competitors from 15 countries and achieved a brilliant result – 1 gold and 5 bronze medals. Bulgaria won 4 medals at the European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad – EGMO. All four of our competitors won honors in competition with over 200 participants from 55 countries. Four bronze medals were won by the best Bulgarian students in informatics at the 35th International Olympiad, which was held in Szeged, Hungary. Three medals – two gold and one silver – were won by Bulgarian students at the 30th edition of the Balkan Informatics Olympiad, which was held in Maribor, Slovenia. Over 50 participants from the region participated in it. The gold medals were won by Daniel Koinov from the high school of mathematics and natural sciences – town of Shumen and Boris Mihov from Sofia high school of mathematics. The silver one went to Veselin Markovic from the high school of mathematics “Dr. Petar Beron” – Varna city. And we are proud that the team leaders were our scholarship holders Iliyan Yordanov and Rumen Mihov. Four medals were won by the Bulgarian team at one of the most prestigious tournaments – the European Junior Olympiad in Informatics (EJOI). Two silver and one bronze medal were won by Bulgarian schoolgirls at the third edition of the European Girls’ Olympiad in Informatics. In Sweden, they competed with more than 180 female participants from over 50 countries. The scholarship holder of the Evrika Foundation Rumen Mihov – a student at Sofia University “St. Kl. Ohridski” was one of the leaders of the Bulgarian team. Four bronze medals and a honorable mention were won by the best Bulgarian physics students at the 53rd edition of the International Physics Olympiad. In Japan, our talents competed with 394 students from 82 countries. Bulgarian students made an impressive performance and won 1 silver, 1 bronze medal and 2 honorable mentions at the Balkan Physics Olympiad, which was held in Albania in the competition of junior students from 14 countries. One silver and three bronze medals were won by young Bulgarian physicists at the seventh edition of the European Olympiad held in Hanover, Germany. More than 170 participants from 38 countries took part in the competition, 28 of them from Europe. Three medals and two honorable mentions were won by the Bulgarian students at the prestigious international tournament Romanian Master of Physics in Bucharest, Romania. Five awards – one gold, three silver and one bronze – were won by Bulgarian students at the International Olympiad in Astrophysics, which was held in Poland in competition with 260 competitors from 52 countries. After an impressive performance, the best Bulgarian astronomy students won 8 medals at the International Astronomy Olympiad. Our high school students won 1 gold, 1 silver and 6 bronze awards. This year the Olympiad was held in China and brought together students from all over the world who were divided into three age groups. Two gold and two silver medals were won by the best Bulgarian students in chemistry at the 55th International Olympiad. It was held in Switzerland and 340 students from 86 countries competed. The debutante and new scholarship holder of the foundation – Victor Lilov from Sofia high school of mathematics and Krum Alexandrov – also a scholarship holder of the Evrika Foundation and currently a student at Sofia University “St. Kl. Ohridski”, won the gold medals. Our new scholarship holders Preslav Georgiev and Yavor Hristov from the Sofia high school of mathematics earned the silver medals. The Bulgarian team won third place in the unofficial ranking, and all of the team won silver medals at the 57th International Mendeleev Chemistry Olympiad. It was held in person from April 30 to May 6, 2023 in Kazakhstan with the participation of 114 competitors from 21 countries. The Bulgarian students won a full set of medals at the 34th International Biology Olympiad. In this most prestigious tournament of the year, held in the United Arab Emirates, Bulgarian biologists competed with 320 students from 80 countries. For an unprecedented third year in a row, our former scholarship holder, currently a student in England, Petar Zhotev, won the golden award. The silver medal went to Viktor Lilov, who also won a gold medal at the International Chemistry Olympiad. The bronze medal was taken by our new scholarship holder Viktoria Ivanova – already a student at Sofia University “St. Kl. Ohridski”. Team silver and bronze medals were won by some of the best Bulgarian students in physics, chemistry and biology at the International Young Naturalists’ Tournament. In Almaty, Kazakhstan, they competed with more than 100 participants from over 10 countries in the 11th edition of the tournament. Silver and bronze team medals were won by the two Bulgarian teams that represented our country at the European Olympiad of Experimental Sciences (EOES’2023), which was held in Riga, Latvia. They tested their knowledge in physics, chemistry and biology in competition with 45 teams from 22 countries.

In summary, for the 2023/2024 academic year, the Evrika Foundation has 43 scholarship holders, of which: 17 holders of named scholarships; 1 winner of the scholarship “Acad. Alexander Teodorov – Balan” according to targeted donation; 6 students and high school students, winners of gold medals at international high school Olympiads; 5 students and high school students, winners of silver medals at international high school Olympiads; 14 students and high school students, winners of bronze medals at international high school Olympiads. The distribution of the scholarships by universities and schools is as follows: 14 of them are representatives of Sofia University “St. Kl. Ohridski”; 7 of the Medical University – Sofia; 2 of the National Military University “V. Levski”, Faculty of Artillery, Air Defense and communication and information systems – town of Shumen and 1 each of: Bulgarian Air Force Academy “Georgi Benkovski” – Dolna Mitropolia, Plovdiv University “Paisiy Hilendarski”, Technical University – Sofia, University of National and World Economy – Sofia, Technical University – Varna, Shumen University “Ep. Konstantin Preslavski”, Ruse University “Angel Kanchev”, Agricultural University – Plovdiv, University of Forestry – Sofia. Scholars of the foundation are also students, laureates of international Olympiads, who study at Sofia high school of mathematics “Paisii Hilendarski”, high school of mathematics “Dr. Petar Beron” – Varna, high school of mathematics and natural sciences “Acad. Nikola Obreshkov” – Burgas.

For twenty-three years now, the High School Student Institute of Mathematics and Informatics /HSSIMI/ has been discovering and supporting the development of young talents in the field of mathematics, informatics and information technologies. In 2023, HSSIMI successfully held its traditional sessions – Student Conference and Student Section at the Spring Conference of the Union of Bulgarian Mathematicians, as well as a summer research school with international participation. HSSIMI was created by the Evrika Foundation, together with the Institute of Mathematics and Informatics at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, International foundation “St. St. Cyril and Methodius” and the Union of Bulgarian Mathematicians /UBM/ as a long-term program for the work of famous Bulgarian scientists with students from secondary schools with outstanding capabilities in the field of mathematics and informatics. Since its incorporation, it has established itself as a prestigious and desirable center on a national scale. This is a model for other fields of science as well, where efforts can be combined to support the first steps in science of future researchers.

The twenty-third student conference (SC’23) of HSSIMI was held from January 13 to 15, 2023 in the Rostov Hotel, Pleven. It was attended by 40 students – graduates of mathematical and vocational high schools, secondary schools from all over the country, as well as their academic supervisors. The students presented 25 authors projects in the field of mathematics, informatics and information technologies. The authors of the highly ranked projects received an invitation to participate in the Student Section of the 52nd Spring Conference of the Union of Bulgarian Mathematicians, and the creators of the awarded projects, who are in the 9th and 10th grade, received an invitation to participate in the interview to determine the Bulgarian participants in RSI’23.

The student section /SS’23/ of HSSIMI was held from April 10 to 13, 2023 in Borovets within the 52nd Spring Conference of the UBM. The forum was dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the UBM and the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development. The host was the section of the UBM in Plovdiv, and the co-organizer was the “Paisii Hilendarski” Plovdiv University. Students from 8th to 12th grade participated with projects /papers/ in mathematics, informatics and information technologies on topics chosen by them, individually or in co-authorship, independently or under the guidance of a scientific supervisor or consultant. Five special prizes were awarded to Bulgarian students at the world’s largest science and engineering competition for high school students, the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair 2023, which took place in mid-May in Dallas, Texas. More than 1,600 young scientists participated in this competition, and Bulgaria was represented by four participants. With developments in the field of mathematics, Stefan Gaidarov from high school of mathematics “Acad. Kiril Popov” – Plovdiv and Delyan Boychev from high school of mathematics and natural sciences “Vasil Drumev” – Veliko Tarnovo, in the field of artificial intelligence Nikola Gyulev and Radostin Cholakov from high school of mathematics “Acad. Kiril Popov” – Plovdiv.

Great success was achieved by Radostin Cholakov from the high school of mathematics “Acad. Kiril Boyanov” – Plovdiv at the international summer research program for students (RSI) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA. He ranked among the top five in both the written and oral presentations of his project, which happens for the first time with a Bulgarian participant. His work is also the only one awarded in the field of informatics. The presentation of the other Bulgarian participant, Deyan Hadzhi-Manich from the high school of mathematics “Dr. Petar Beron” – Varna, was also excellent.

The 23rd Summer Research School /SRS’23/ was held from July 23 to August 12, 2023 at the Creative House of the BAS in the city of Varna. 49 students with great interest in the field of mathematics, informatics and information technologies took part in it. The school already has a traditional international participation. SRS’23 welcomed participants from Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Germany, India, Qatar, Pakistan, USA, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan and Turkey.

The example of HSSIMI is impactful and is undergoing development. Ten years ago, the BAS created a Student Institute to support children with interests in all fields of science and arts /SI-BAS/. A central place in its activity is the holding of the annual Student Scientific Session, at which the results of student research are presented, which were obtained independently or in co-authorship with other students under the scientific guidance of a specialist in the relevant field and possibly with the assistance of one or more consultants. At the Student Session, held on December 2 and 3, 2023, 72 educational and research projects were presented by 109 students from 29 schools in 17 cities in the country. The thematic diversity in each of the five thematic sections was impressive.

Convinced of the importance and significance of the contribution, we put in a lot of effort and together with the Milen Grigorov Foundation, the Federation of the scientific engineering unions, Bulgarian industrial capital association and the Municipality of Gorna Oryahovitsa, we organized and held the seventh edition of the Competition-exhibition of youth technical creativity. 47 teams with over 170 young scientists from all over the country presented themselves – from Varna, Sofia, Gabrovo, Chepelare, Gotse Delchev, etc. The exhibition provides an opportunity to popularize and express the creative searches, innovations and good practices in the field of technology, created by young people in Bulgaria, and its purpose is to strengthen the connection between professional education and business. A retro exhibition with Bulgarian achievements in the field of electronic engineering in the 90s was also presented. The special award at the exhibition was won by Stoyan Ganchev, a student from the high school of mathematics “Acad. Kiril Popov” – Plovdiv, who was also one of the representatives of Bulgaria and the Evrika Foundation at the World Science Expo under MILSET in Mexico. He greatly impressed the jury and organizers with his development of medical software to detect and analyze flu symptoms with real-time feedback hardware.

In 2023, our joint work with the “Zarya-1858” national community center – Haskovo continued, where we created the VALEGOTECH club and for the second year in a row we successfully implement the “To be capable, I must know” project. An information partnership model has been created between Vale Computer School and primary schools in the region, with the aim of new technologies providing children with skills and motivation to turn learning into a lifelong activity. Again, together with the “Zarya-1858” national community center and the “Vale” Computer School, we held the Fourteenth International Competition for Computer Drawing and Collage “Creativity Without Borders”, Haskovo’2023. The competition was dedicated to the 165th anniversary of the founding of the community center and the 25th anniversary of the Vale Computer School. The performance was once again included in the National calendar of Ministry of Education and Science for contributions by interests. 427 computer drawings, 512 collages and 120 works of young people from abroad were presented and evaluated.

We started the implementation of a new joint project with the National Polytechnic Museum on the topic “RoBo – LeGoTech – past and future in one”. It is a continuation of the successful joint activity for the benefit of children, by building on the effectiveness of the already implemented programs – “LeGotech”, “From the children’s constructor to professions with new technologies” and ” Robotics Academy – Legotech”.

One of the directions of the Talents program provides the opportunity to support individual projects of students and young scientists for participation in international scientific events or short-term specializations. For a long time, we did not receive any projects on it, which was due to the Covid crisis and the reduced opportunities to participate in international scientific events. Last year we supported Yanislav Danchovski for his participation in the 26th International Workshop on Quantum Systems in Chemistry, Physics and Biology (QSCP – XXVI) in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. He is an outstanding young man with serious knowledge and achievements in the field of chemistry. He was a long-time scholarship holder of ours, having won a bronze medal at the International high school chemistry Olympiad. The international participation in India was a continuation of a renowned series of conferences covering a wide range of topics, bringing together researchers from around the world with cutting-edge contributions to the description of a wide range of quantum systems and phenomena. The poster presentation by Yanislav Danchovski was evaluated by the scientific jury and won the “Best poster award”.

In the report, we have presented information on a number of good examples of long-term and effective joint work with universities, non-governmental organizations, business organizations and other institutions for the benefit of talented and inquisitive young people.

 

  1. To stimulate youth scientifictechnical research, invention and other innovative activities.

 In fulfillment of this main goal of the foundation’s activity, we have created traditions and strive to expand the scale of the achieved results. We make efforts and expand the work with families and children from an early age in order to develop their interest in technical and natural – mathematical sciences – including through the support of extracurricular study groups and the like.

On the National Enlighteners Day at the National Polytechnic Museum in Sofia, at an official ceremony, the Evrika Foundation gave the awards to the laureates at the XXV National Competition “Cosmos – Present and Future of Humanity”. In 2023, 2,186 students aged 8 to 18 participated in it with 2,174 projects in five thematic areas. Krasimir Stoyanov – double of the second Bulgarian cosmonaut welcomed the participants in the celebration and presented the awards to the laureates and their scientific supervisors. Academician Kiril Boyanov – chairman of the Board of the Evrika Foundation, welcomed the participants in the celebration. The winners in the category of ideas for scientific and technical experiments Beloslava Georgieva Valeva, Vasil Katev Ivanov and Elena Borisova Kerezieva from the high school of mathematics “Acad. Kiril Popov”, Plovdiv city, made a presentation and introduced their development on the topic “Development of a device for close exploration of planets Planet Explorer X01”. The chairman of the specialized jury, Prof. Tanya Ivanova, spoke on the topic “Mars – the dream of man”. The hosts of the celebration from the National Polytechnic Museum displayed a special exhibition with drawings and models of the participants in the XXV National Competition “Cosmos – Present and Future of Humanity”.

14 students from Plovdiv, Kazanlak, Sofia and Sliven participated in the category “Ideas for scientific and technical experiments” in 2023.

In the “Models and designs of space objects” category, a record for all editions of the competition so far was reached, namely 78 designs and models were presented by 92 students.

The category for graphic works created with the help of a computer has already eighteen years of history. The jury had the opportunity to examine and evaluate many interesting and well-made projects, such as websites, computer games, mobile phone games, presentations, web-based works with a deep and very substantial exploratory character about the vast Cosmos. The participation with computer drawings and collages was predominant. 273 participants presented their designs and works at the national competition.

124 young authors with 136 works participated in the literary works category.

The majority of participants were young artists in the past year as well. 1,683 young representatives from 124 schools and other extracurricular units took part in it. Last year, we increased the amount of the prizes, which were unchanged from the first edition of the competition, which was met with satisfaction by the participants and their scientific supervisors.

For many years now, our extremely successful joint activity with the National Palace of Children has been going on for the realization of joint projects related to scientific and technical performances with talented students from the personal development support centers and all types of schools in the country. The National school competition “The nature – our home” in 2023 was attended by 76 students from 1st to 12th grade from the National Palace of Children, Center for Support of Personal Development and schools in the country from the following areas: Sofia-city; Kyustendil; Pazardzhik; Vratsa; Lovech; Shumen; Varna; Pernik.

The national competition for student projects in ecology and environmental protection was held in June 2023 within the “Srebarna” International Ecology Forum. It was attended by 61 students in 27 teams from 21 cities in the country and 2 from Calarasi, Romania.

The national scientific and technical performances with students from 5th to 7th grade took place from June 15 to 20, 2023 in the village of Kranevo. In the natural sciences, ecology and technology competitions participated more than 80 students from: “Ivan Vazov” Elementary School, Debnevo village; secondary school “St. Kl. Ohridski”, town of Troyan; “Vasil Levski” Secondary School, town of Troyan; Center for Support of Personal Development – town of Troyan; 2nd secondary school – Sofia; Center for Support of Personal Development, Municipal Children Complex – Plovdiv; National Palace of Children; 7th secondary school – Sofia; National school for ancient languages and culture – Sofia; Center for Support of Personal Development – Kyustendil; Center for Support of Personal Development – Sliven; Center for Support of Personal Development – Krumovgrad; Center for Support of Personal Development – Kazanlak; Center for Support of Personal Development – Veliko Tarnovo; Center for Support of Personal Development – Varna; Center for Support of Personal Development – Blagoevgrad.

83 participants from Sevlievo, Sliven, Plovdiv, Sofia, Krumovgrad, Varna, Troyan, Ruse, Pernik, Vratsa and Pleven were admitted, after preliminary selection to public defense, to the National Science, Engineering and Technology Competitions with students from 8th to 12th grade. In parallel with the holding of the scientific and technical competitions, an exhibition with demonstrations of student creativity took place.

For another year, due to the extremely high interest, together with the Ministry of Education, National Palace of Children, the Bulgarian Federation of Auto-Model Sports, the Bulgarian Federation of Ship Modeling and the Bulgarian Aeromodelling Federation, we organized and held the National Student Competitions in aeromodelling, car modelling, ship modelling, and rocket modelling. The aeromodelling and rocket modelling competitions were held in the month of May 2023 in the town of Lovech. More than 142 children and students participated, namely from the modelling club – Lovech, Sports club “Modelist” – Kaspichan, Sports club “Modelist” – Sevlievo, Sports club “Modelist” – Gorna Oryahovitsa, Central aeromodelling club – Sofia, Sports Model Club “Prista” – Ruse, Sports Club “Ikar 2010” – Sevlievo, Elementary school “Stefan Peshev” – Sevlievo, Rocket modelling club “Condor” – Peshtera, Sports Model Club – Kazanlak, Car modelling club – Levski town, Modelling club – Plovdiv, Center for student technical and scientific creativity – Targovishte, Sports and technical club “Strela” – Dolna Mitropolia, Center for student technical and scientific creativity – Razgrad, SCA – Pazardzhik and Secondary School “A. Zlatarev” – Shabla.

At the beginning of June 2023, the National Student Competitions in car modeling and ship modeling were held in the town of Pazardzhik. More than 108 children and students participated, namely from: AC – town of Levski; SCA – Pazardzhik; SMC “Vl. Zaimov” – town of Sopot; Sports and technical club – Vratsa; modelling club “Kinetic” – Ruse; modelling club – Veliko Tarnovo; Sports Club “Modelismi” – Kazanlak; OP “Children and Youth Center” – Dimitrovgrad; SMC – Harmanli; SCCS Ognyan Marinov – Ruse; Modelling club – Gabrovo; Model yacht club – Pazardzhik; Modelling club – Varna; Modelling club “Dobrotiza” – Dobrich; National Palace of Children.

Together with the United Children’s Complex – Kyustendil, we organized and held another Competition for non-standard aircraft made by students “IKAR ‘2023” within the OSOGOVO airshow – Kyustendil. More than 30 students from 1st to 12th grade from Kyustendil, Zemen, Pernik, Sofia and Sevlievo took part in the competition. The accompanying demonstrations of amateur rockets, airplanes and gliders, as well as the children’s workshop, which included the assembly of airplanes from blanks and demonstration flights, were of great interest.

The joint work of the Evrika Foundation and the Union of Physicists in Bulgaria is very effective and constantly developing. For another year, we were one of the co-organizers of the youth scientific session on “Physics for a better world”. Traditionally, it was held within the 51st National Conference on Physics Education on the topic “Physics education and scientific research – a factor for sustainable development”. 67 students from 5th to 12th grade from 24 secondary schools participated in the session. In 41 projects, they showed the connection of physics to sustainable development. Within the framework of the forum, a national essay competition was held /for schoolchildren and students/ on the topic “Through physics we discover and change the world”. 124 schoolchildren and students from 43 secondary and higher schools took part in it. A National photo contest for schoolchildren and students “The Beauty in Physics” was also held. 143 photographs were received from 32 schools across the country.

Together with the Union of Physicists in Bulgaria and under the hosting of secondary school “Vasil Levski” – Sevlievo, we organized and held the ninth edition of the national festival “Science on Stage”. It is a selection round of the European Science on Stage festival, which will take place in August 2024 in Turku, Finland. Teachers, children and students from 12 cities from 9 regions participated in the event. The total number of teachers with projects was 36, and of children and students – 70.

Striving to expand our support for talented young Bulgarians, in 2023, for the first time, we participated in the organization and holding of the 19th edition of the National astro party on the beautiful banks of the Danube River near the village of Baykal. The event was under the patronage of the Minister of Education and Science and the mayor of the municipality of Dolna Mitropolia. Partners of the project were the Bulgarian Astronomical Society, the Astronomy department of the faculty of physics of Sofia University “St. Kl. Ohridski”, Institute of Astronomy of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Union of Physicists in Bulgaria and Astronomical Association – Sofia. The main theme of Astro party Baykal’2023 was “Journey in the universe – new discoveries and observations”. Dr. Georgi Latev from the Institute of Astronomy of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences introduced the participants in an exciting way with two lectures on the topics “The Star BG Tri”: A Bulgarian Woman” and “Time and Astronomy”. At a round table “From teachers for teachers”, Tsetsa Tsolova, SCIENTIX ambassador and teacher at high school of mathematics and natural sciences – Botevgrad and Ivo Dzhokin presented educational resources on astronomy. At the Astro workshop, participants worked on the Search for micrometeor project, a NASE and IAU project, and conducted experiments with impact craters. The observation program was organized by the representatives of the Astronomical association – Sofia with observation of the sun during the day and a globular cluster in the constellation Hercules and other objects in the evening. The laser astro show with the visible constellations and their mythology and legends caused great interest. Observation of water birds along the Danube River was also carried out. The participants and students received a certificate for Amateur astronomer and astronomical awards from the Evrika Foundation and Astronomical association – Sofia.

Again, together with the Union of Physicists in Bulgaria and Sofia Vocational High School of Electronics “John Atanasov”, we organized and held the First National Youth Ecoforum. It was dedicated to World Environment Day – June 5 and is part of the national program to mark the international year of fundamental sciences for sustainable development. Teachers and students from a total of 15 schools from Sofia and the country took part in this forum.

In recent years, the inclusion of the Evrika Foundation in the organization and conduct of the national youth forum “Science, technology, innovation, business” together with the Association “Territorial organization of scientific and technological unions with the House of science and technology – Plovdiv” gave an additional impetus to the process for further development and validation of this youth contribution in the name of the noble goal of the inclusion of young people in science and technology. Over 100 young people took part in the two sessions of this youth forum in 2023 – schoolchildren, students, doctoral students, young lecturers from higher schools and young specialists from practice, as well as their scientific supervisors. Scientific developments in the fields of aviation, engineering, computer technology, agriculture, food technology, business and entrepreneurship were presented. A total of 109 reports were presented and 29 works were awarded.

After a three-year break due to the pandemic, we have resumed the holding of the National scientific conference “Physics – Engineering – Technologies” with international participation. 24 oral presentations and 11 poster papers were presented in the sections “Engineering, Communication and Electronics”, “Educational technology”, “Physics and physical technology”. The conference was attended by 36 participants from 11 different educational establishments and institutes in the country and abroad – Plovdiv University “P. Hilendarski”, Technical University – Sofia, Technical University – Sofia – Plovdiv Branch, Sofia University “St. Kl. Ohridski”, University of Craiova in Romania, Institute for nuclear research and nuclear energy at BAS, Institute of Electronics at BAS, Institute of Solid State Physics at BAS, National institute of geophysics, geodesy and geography at BAS, private school “Druzhba” – Plovdiv, secondary school “Evlogi Georgiev” – Trastenik. Within this event, a competition was held for young scientists, students and doctoral students on the topic “Best scientific achievement”. Striving to upgrade and provide a field for creative expression of students with an interest in physics, engineering and technology, together with the Faculty of Physics and Technology of Plovdiv University “P. Hilendarski”, as a continuation of the big scientific conference, we organized and held a national student conference “Physics – Engineering – Technologies”. 45 students from various schools in Plovdiv and the region participated in it. They presented and demonstrated models, simulations, computer games, etc. developed by them. Within the framework of the conference, a visit was made to the educational and scientific laboratories of the faculty of physics and technology, and in some of the laboratories real experiments were carried out with the participation of students and their supervisors.

In 2023, together with the Scientific and Technical Union for Construction in Bulgaria, we organized and held the second youth conference with international participation “Design and construction of buildings and facilities” DCB’2023. In total, 12 students, 18 doctoral students, 8 young scientists and 2 students from the University of architecture, civil engineering and geodesy, higher school of higher engineering “L. Karavelov”, Varna free university “Chernorizets Hrabar”, higher school of transport “Todor Kableshkov” and Vocational high school of architecture, civil engineering and geodesy. The evaluation committee in the “Best Report” competition selected four winners in the respective categories.

For another year, together with the Union of Inventors in Bulgaria, we organized and held the Exhibition “Inventions, Technologies, Innovations – ITI’2023”. The Evrika Foundation traditionally supports this annual event, because the exhibition is a very useful meeting of scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, innovation agents, selectionists, manufacturers, schoolchildren, students and patent specialists, with interests in the development and prosperity of their activities based on creativity, innovation and effective use of intellectual property. The exhibition is also a competition of inventors, selectionists and innovators, as well as an attempt to market their intellectual products.

One of the highlights of the foundation’s activities remains the traditional competitions for the “Evrika” awards for achievements in science, for young managers, inventors and farmers. They have been held for many years – for the thirty-fourth time for a manager, for the thirty-third time for an inventor and farmer, and for achievements in science for the twenty-eighth consecutive year. They have public recognition and are well received by state and public organizations and institutions. The contests are recognizable in the society and have their popularity obtained thanks to the valuable young people who have been honored with this award over the years.

For the second time, we have combined the Evrika Awards and Scholarship Awards this past year. This is an expression of our policy for the discovery and development of young people with outstanding abilities in science, engineering and technology, their preparation and realization. Representatives of state and public organizations, university leaders, members of the Foundation Board, members of specialized juries, scientists, laureates of the Evrika Prize in previous years, former and current scholarship holders attended in order to pay well-deserved respect to what was achieved. The Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Iliana Yotova, gave the awards to the laureates and thanked the team of the Evrika Foundation for their ambition and perseverance, stressing: “The Evrika Awards are a guarantee of quality. You prove that when there is a team of people who think in the same direction and for the benefit, success is a must. You have our support.” She also emphasized the support of universities, scientific circles, businesses for the foundation’s mission.

For the year 2023, the Evrika award for achievements in science was awarded to Dr. Desislava Gerginova. She received the joint award of the Evrika Foundation and the Union of Scientists in Bulgaria for the excellent defense of her dissertation on “NMR metabolomics of honey and wine”.

The results of the dissertation were published in 4 articles – 2 in a journal with Q1, 1 with Q4 and one in a BAS journal. Two of the journals have a high impact factor. So far, 39 citations of the published articles in foreign sources have been found. The dissertation materials have been presented at 9 conferences in the country and abroad. Three of the posters won awards at the respective conferences. The contribution of the articles not only enriches the scientific community with knowledge of the complex composition of food products, but provides reliable tools and methods for industry and regulatory authorities to monitor the quality and authenticity of a range of honey, wine, mead and jam.

The winner of the Evrika award for a young inventor of 2023 is Martin Ralchev.

He has 30 publications referenced in Scopus and WoS and 62 citations. He is the recipient of: award at the XVIII national youth scientific and practical conference of the Federation of the scientific and technical unions in 2021; award at the “Science entrepreneurs’ 2021” competition; the “Ivan Evstatiev Geshov” award in 2023 for the youngest scientists under 30 years of age.

The Evrika Award was awarded to Martin Ralchev as a co-author in three protected patents for inventions as follows:

  1. “Biaxial magneto-sensitive sensor containing Hall elements”, registered as a patent by the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria on July 17, 2023.
  2. „ Robot for cleaning floor surfaces”, registered as a patent by the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria on August 15, 2023.
  3. „UV disinfection robot”, registered as a patent by the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria on January 16, 2023.

Martin Ralchev is the co-author of two more inventions that are in the process of registration, namely:

  • „ Device for determining the physical and mechanical condition of deformed rocks and building materials”;
  • „Device for determining the mobility of current carriers in semiconductors”.

Martin Ralchev’s share in the five inventions is 75%.

The inventions in which Martin Ralchev participated are the result of his research activities on his dissertation topic “Quantum communication, intelligent security systems and risk management” at the National competence center, which is part of the Institute of Robotics at the BAS. The registered new regularity for the generation of microparticles at high uniaxial deformations and its application in an invention, as well as the “UV disinfection robot” are included in the achievements of the BAS for 2020/2021. The registered new regularity for the generation of microparticles at high uniaxial deformations was awarded an award by the BAS General meeting in May 2023 and was presented at an international forum in the city of Lecce, Italy in September 2023.

Kostadin Nedev received the Evrika Young Manager Award for 2023. He is a military pilot by education and a social entrepreneur at heart. He has many years of experience in computer science and programming. He graduated from “Vasil Levski” vocational high school of mathematics and natural sciences – Smolyan, as well as from the higher air force school “Georgi Benkovski” – Dolna Mitropolia. He studied at the Polish Air Force Academy, and in the period 2017-2019 completed a leadership course under the US air force Silver Wings aviation leadership program at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. In 2021, he graduated with a master’s degree in “Hardware and software systems” at Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski”.

Kostadin Nedev is the founder of educational startup and technology learning platform Young Inventor. It is an innovative educational platform that aims to prepare children for the professions of the future and bring out the inventor in every child. Kostadin and his team have developed their own software kit, software that can be quickly and easily programmed by an absolute beginner and an educational methodology based on the training of fighter pilots. They are convinced that every child has a different technological talent and have directed all efforts to find and develop this technological talent in each child.

The specialized jury awarded the Evrika award for the best young manager of 2023 to Kostadin Nedev for: successful implementation of the business project “Young Inventor” – a project with a significant technological, social, instructive and educational effect. Kostadin Nedev’s team is a good example of vision and a cause aimed at the development of human capital in Bulgaria.

Simona Stiliyanova – co-founder and managing partner of the company Osnova and creator of Zero Waste Sofia – was awarded for excellent performance in the contest for a young manager with an honorary degree – for achieved results and dedication to a cause of great social importance – solving problems related to the excessive use of plastics. Simona Stilianova is a representative of a new wave of young Bulgarian entrepreneurs who are trying to deal with important global challenges.

The Evrika award for a young farmer of 2023 was given to Diana Dimitrova. She is studying part-time at the Agricultural University – Plovdiv, majoring in Plant Protection. She has completed training courses in General animal husbandry, Ecology and environmental protection” and “Agroecology”, and also holds a certificate for working with plant protection preparations. In 2019, she won an award for beekeeper at the local level from the Confederation of employers and industrialists in Bulgaria – Haskovo. In 2023, she participated in the first national student competition “Farming and Young People”, organized by the Bulgarian Farmers’ Union, where she won first place with her essay.

Diana Dimitrova’s story as a farmer began in 2012, when she registered as a farmer and successfully implemented a project under the “Young Farmer” program for perennial crops and bee colonies. After that, she successively won and successfully finalized several projects of the beekeeping equipment program. Together with her parents, they managed to raise 150 bee colonies and 40 decares of perennial crops in the farm in the village of Bryast.

In the spring of 2018, Diana Dimitrova met her husband and together they started a new stage in their farming development. At the beginning, they farmed 200 decares of land, they had 20 sheep and about 50 cows. They rented land and, having two Bulgar trucks TK80, a small baling machine, an old harrow, plough and a sprayer, using their own funds, a lot of work and credit, and finally began to make their dreams come true. At the moment, the farm in Yabalkovo village, Dimitrovgrad municipality breeds about 140 cows, heifers and calves, 85 sheep and 800 decares of land. They managed to buy about 40 decares of their own land, and the other is rented. They have their own building fund, loader, a new tractor, sprayer, harvester, cultivator. They manage to build a milking parlor and a feeding equipment. Farm work is almost entirely mechanized.

Since last year, Diana Dimitrova has been a manager and one of the partners in SDM AGRO Ltd. The company is focused entirely on grain production and cultivates lands, also on the territory of the village of Yabalkovo.

Another competition with which we are involved and which has subsequent international stages is the “Young Talents” competition of the Ministry of Education and Science, where we successfully partner in its implementation. A representative of the Evrika Foundation was again a member of the committee for the evaluation of student projects at the national level. Those ranked in the first three places received the right to represent Bulgaria at the European competition for young scientists. For another year, the Evrika Foundation organized the participation of the awardees for projects of an applied nature in the World youth scientific exhibition ESI’2023, which was held in the month of October in the city of Puebla, Mexico. The financing of the participation of the students and their supervisor at the exhibition in Mexico was fully covered by the Ministry of Education and Science.

To help young people, we also use the expertise of consulting offices for the protection of intellectual property, on some legal issues of the organization and functioning of companies and non-governmental organizations, for the opportunities for even more complete use of new equipment and computer technologies. In the last year alone, according to his report, over 150 free consultations on intellectual property protection were provided at the intellectual property protection office. With his help, nine requests for useful models were formed and submitted. In 2023, with the Patent Bureau “Dr. Emil Benatov and Partners” we tried to be as useful as possible to young entrepreneurs, scientists and inventors, assisting them through the consultation office to save funds for the protection of brands, patents, designs and services, taking advantage of European funds and in particular the recently opened Special Fund of the European Union of 20 million euros to promote the use of intellectual property by small and medium-sized enterprises. Also, the funding could be used for preliminary diagnostics to identify registrable rights. Consultants help young people, but also ourselves when we need to make expert assessments of projects. They are also in demand as professional services.

We made the most of the information technology consultants in evaluating and ranking the participants in the newest field of the national competition “Cosmos – Present and Future of Humanity” in the field of computer-aided development. The merit for the achievement of some optimally good technological solutions for the operation of the foundation’s computer equipment belongs to the greatest extent to the experts from this consulting office.

 

  1. To support the spread of natural science, technical and economic knowledge and information

Scientific and technical popularization is a step towards creating interest in science and technology. Nowadays, in terms of goals and means for its realization, it very often comes close to those of scientific and technical information. To a large extent, in recent years it has been spread primarily through the vast space of the Internet and social networks, specialized broadcasts, partly through periodicals and relatively least through books. The specialized scientific and technical publications are already few in number, and that is why we have declared our readiness to help these publications. The possibilities are not many, because this is a rather expensive pleasure. This does not mean that we have given up the opportunity to influence the interest, mainly of children, with the help of scientific and technical popularization. We are convinced that not everything is used and made. Our claim is based on the long-standing cooperation with the National Polytechnic Museum. With them, we found opportunities to discover such forms that make children’s curiosity work. We also saw it at the many events that we held there and how the children, parents and teachers stopped for a long time in front of the various exhibits and enjoyed the opportunity to touch with their hands something forgotten but interesting. There is much to be learned from the history of Bulgarian science and technology, about the contribution of Bulgarians to the development of engineering and technology in the world. The National Polytechnic Museum is a natural environment for conducting educational programs and this is the basis for our joint work on the basis of a bilateral contract. Every year we enrich the created fund of projects – drawings and models from the national contest “Cosmos – Present and Future of Humanity”. During the official awarding of the laureates at the competition, specialists from the museum display a special exhibition with drawings and models of the participants. We are making great efforts to encourage the teachers, who in many cases are also the leaders of science and technology clubs and schools, to use the museum as a natural and very convenient environment for carrying out external training according to interests. For thirty-two years now, together with the National Polytechnic Museum, we have been publishing the children’s newspaper “Technitarche”. It continues to be the only Bulgarian museum publication that promotes the history of scientific and technical achievements among young people. Children and adolescents, for whom science, technology and knowledge constantly reveal the secrets of the world around them and present the latest achievements of the human intellect, are most eager and enthusiastic readers of the newspaper. The main task of the publication is to expand their horizons and cognitive interests. Along with this, another important goal is to encourage and stimulate independent thinking, to captivate their research and discovery interest. And such are also the ideal goals of the Evrika Foundation. The newspaper is published in full color, with high quality paper, design and pre-press preparation. In its already established form, “Technitarche” to a very large extent meets the taste of the audience it is aimed at, namely – students. Due to the high technical parameters, the illustrative material accompanying the articles is readable and clear, which helps to understand and assimilate the information presented. Within the six editions issued in 2023, the most interesting and significant exhibitions and events that took place in the National Polytechnic Museum were listed. Emphasis was placed on the various temporary and visiting exhibitions, such as: “Physics school equipment and apparatus”, opened on the occasion of the 380th anniversary of the birth of Isaac Newton; “Cosmos – Present and Future of Humanity”; “145 years of Siemens in Bulgaria”; “Time Travel with Laurin and Clement”; “Skoda”, etc. Three new rubrics were introduced for the first time: “Find in the museum’s exposition”; “Photo collages”; “Did you know that….”. The fun column continues to develop with the “adventures” of the two animated characters Polly and Techno, who, in the form of children’s dialogue, tell a story about various exponents, as well as stories related to science and technology. For another year, the “Technitarche” newspaper is published on the website of the National Polytechnic Museum. In this way, the audience of its readers has also been increased. The newspaper is distributed free of charge among the visitors of the museum, a large part of whom are schoolchildren both from Sofia and from other cities in the country.

We took advantage of another targeted donation from Velev Invest and together with the National Polytechnic Museum we started the implementation of a project on the topic “RoBo – LeGoTech – past and future in one”. It is a continuation of the successful joint activity for the benefit of children, by building on the effectiveness of the already implemented programs – “LeGotech”, “From the children’s constructor to professions with new technologies” and ” Robotics Academy – Legotech”.

For many years, we promoted the achievements of young researchers, as well as the activities of the foundation through a specialized column in the magazine “Nauka” (“Science”). Unfortunately, financial difficulties led to the suspension of the magazine. We immediately redirected our efforts and in 2023 we worked very successfully to implement a joint project with the Union of Physicists in Bulgaria on the topic “Young Researchers”, including the issue of a permanent column “Young Researchers” in the printed edition of the UPB magazine “The World of Physics”. This is a new challenge for the foundation and aims to promote interest in science, in particular physics, as well as professional orientation and realization in the field of natural sciences, innovation and education of schoolchildren and students. The magazine is aimed at the Bulgarian audience and its goals include informing the readers about physical phenomena, processes, achievements from all over the world in an accessible form in the native language. Original and full-length review articles are published in all areas of the physical and natural sciences.

The other publication that most widely and competently reflects our activity is the newspaper “Az-buki”, a publication of the Ministry of Education and Science. Through their publications we reach every school and university. The newspaper continues to be our media partner in the organization and conduct of the national contest “Cosmos – Present and Future of Humanity”, and is also the official media partner of several national youth events, of which the foundation is the main co-organizer. As in previous years, journalists from the media presented the award winners at the Evrika competitions, the competition for the foundation’s scholarships and other initiatives that make the image of our organization rich and colorful.

It is also worth saying a good word about some other publications, such as the “Capital” newspaper, which also annually presents the winners of the Evrika awards and pays attention to individuals with outstanding capabilities in the field of information technologies. The newspaper “New Technical Avant-Garde”, published by the Technical University in Sofia, remains faithful to us. It very precisely and fully presents information about our projects at the university and about the graduates of the same who have been awarded for successes and achievements. They also do what is necessary to attract the interest of students to the scholarships of our foundation, and this is one of the reasons for the increase in the number of applicants from the engineering majors and their successful performance in the contests for the named scholarships.

We consider it very successful and continue our joint work with the National Radio – program “Hristo Botev” for broadcasting the rubric “Evrika! Successful Bulgarians” in the program line “Efir Znanie”. The project is aimed at schoolchildren, students, specialists, scientists, etc., who get the opportunity to talk about themselves and their scientific achievements on national air. The goal is to continue to spread information on the achievements of successful Bulgarian scientists and specialists from various fields and thus motivate students to follow their example, accumulate knowledge and develop creative thinking and ingenuity. Through this rubric, the activities of the Evrika Foundation and its contribution to the cultivation and stimulation of young Bulgarian talents are promoted. The foundation’s work with young researchers, schoolchildren and students is made known to the public, promoting their successes in the country and abroad. Last but not least, the experience of their teachers and lecturers is presented and shown.

 

  1. Participation in international educational, natural-scientific and technical programs and projects for international youth scientific-technical cooperation.

 In recent years, youth scientific and technical cooperation has been affected by the Covid crisis. It made direct contact between young people difficult. Happily, normal communication is gradually returning and our organization is making efforts to support young people to make contacts and prepare for the future of international science and industry. This especially concerns the contacts and interaction with the countries of the European Union and the youth organizations operating there, the programs supported by the European institutions and the opportunities for developing cooperation with organizations similar to ours. Over the years, we have gained experience in bilateral and multilateral partnership. More than 30 years ago, we became a full member of the largest youth formation for science and technology in free time – MILSET. We are members of it until now and we are still the only Bulgarian organization. At the last General Assembly of the organization, MILSET’s strategic plan for the period 2024 – 2029 was approved. It is dedicated to providing better conditions for all its members through continuous improvement of programs, activities, management and communication. The plan is built on several strategic priorities and six goals shaping future endeavors, namely: promoting the role of youth STEAM and MILSET in global and sustainable development, prosperity and peace; creating a global online community of regional offices, members and youth STEAM leaders; delivering excellent global and regional programs and events; expanding MILSET’s membership in national youth STEAM organizations; achieving long-term financial stability and ensuring a systematic renewal of management leadership; providing experience and training valued by members and internationally recognized.

During the reporting year, we organized the Bulgarian participation in the World Science Expo, which took place from October 21 to 27 in the city of Puebla, Mexico. The conduct of science exhibitions is always related to the creation of friendships and the enrichment of the personal culture and attitude towards different countries without distinguishing by geographical areas. Using the already established practice from past participation in similar events, the Bulgarian group was formed by laureates of the national competition “Young Talents” and included the students: Alexandra Nikolova from the high school of mathematics and natural sciences “Acad. Nikola Obreshkov”; Stoyan Ganchev from the high school of mathematics “Acad. Kiril Popov”, city of Plovdiv; Nicoleta Stoynova from American College – Sofia. They presented three projects on the topics: “Influence of different anticoagulants on the isolation of genomic DNA from blood samples”; “Disease analysis with smart device prototype”; “Research on the application of dynamic agrophotovoltaics in the ecological production of agricultural crops and their role in the optimization of natural resources”. As always, the Bulgarian participants performed at an extremely high level. In recognition of the long-term purposeful work with young people, for the first time we were invited by the leadership of MILSET to include two representatives of the Evrika Foundation in the organizing committee to organize and conduct a satellite event Young Citizens Conference (YCC) within the framework of the big event. This conference was devoted to the theme “Our Future in Space”. The Bulgarian representatives Stefan Dochev and Assoc. Prof. Vladimir Bozhilov participated not only in the organization of the event, but also presented interactive presentations about the achievements of the Bulgarian state in space research, the history, the present and the potential future of the native cosmonautics. Assoc. Prof. Vladimir Bozhilov presented lectures not only at the satellite event, but also at the Leadership Congress and at Space Conferences on the results of the Bulgarian exoplanet search and analysis group within the “EXO – RESTART” project. The event was attended by representatives of NASA, the Mexican Space Agency, the European Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency. The travelling allowances for the two representatives of the foundation were fully covered by the hosts, and we only paid for the plane tickets.

For the nineteenth consecutive time, MILSET – Europe held the European science day for youth (ESDY’2023) from March 12 to 17, 2023. It was a unique opportunity for curious and creative Bulgarian children and youth to enjoy science by organizing and sharing entertaining experiments on the “MAGNETISM” topic.

The scientific photo contest “When art meets science” was also held for the seventeenth time. Traditionally, there have always been Bulgarian participants in this competition, and in past years we have also won many awards. This contest is very specific and entirely depends on the initiative of the individual participants, as we only inform them and cannot directly influence them to participate.

We took part in an information meeting organized by the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and UNICEF to present the new Stand by me program. This program can be implemented in any school in Bulgaria, as well as through youth clubs, civil and informal organizations working with young people. The program is available to all young people between the ages of 14 and 24 who want to participate through the virtual center, where everyone has the opportunity to work with their own personal mentor.

As in the previous years, we provided informational and logistical support for the participation of Bulgarian representatives and especially teachers, schoolchildren, scholarship holders – students and the laureates of the awards for science and inventions in: international scientific conference RAD’2023 in Montenegro; IYRIC’2023 distance competition hosted by Indonesia; International scientific summer camp ISSC’2023 at Izmir University; 2nd European Summit of STEAM Educators; Yakutia International Science Fair international research project competition for secondary school students; international scientific summer camp’2023 in Izmir, Turkey; the juFORUM’2023 congress in Heidelberg.

 

  1. Promotion and support of business initiatives and the economic activity of young people.

             This year too, the “Promotion of business initiatives” program remained closed and we did not implement projects and activities under it due to limited resources and a lack of applicant projects.

 

  1. For some activities related to our ideal goals and for the place and role of our organization in the development of cooperation with other organizations and institutions in our country.

 We implement a large part of our projects together with other organizations and structures, mostly through the “Development” Program. Along with partnerships already established over the years, we strive to attract new like-minded people, both among non-governmental organizations and with schools and universities.

The Foundation maintains good business partnerships with state institutions and organizations. First among them is the Ministry of Education and Science and its units for out-of-class and extracurricular activities. Traditionally, we organize a series of very successful joint performances with the National Children’s Palace. We have plans, we are preparing new projects and we expect good results. Many of the implemented projects in 2023, which we described in this report, are included in the Calendar Plan for extracurricular activities of the Ministry of Education and Science.

In our work, we have always sought and received support from business. We are grateful to M+S Hydraulic PLC (town of Kazanlak) and to Velev Invest Ltd. for the donations in 2023 as well.

In the past year, we received a donation, which, according to the will of the donor, was used for the implementation of a joint project with the Association SOS Children’s Villages Bulgaria on the topic “Steps forward and with a view to the stars. Children discoverers in the world of digital technologies and science”. The project is intended for children and young people in SOS care aged 10-18. The activities are different and are divided by age groups, according to the level of development of the children. The main goal is for children and young people to get to know the world of modern technologies, to master specific skills, to be encouraged to think creatively and innovatively. The ultimate goal is to support them to be well-prepared, confident and active in today’s digital world. With this project, we support children in care and children from families at risk to overcome the consequences of their disadvantaged position in society by obtaining key, modern knowledge, skills and chances for development. More than 220 children, young people and parents were involved in the realization of the project. The following main activities were implemented: Inclusion of children in robotics courses; Creation of a Club for amateur astronomers “Astro Club Dren” – for the promotion of astronomy, cosmonautics and natural sciences by observing rare astronomical phenomena /solar and lunar eclipses, transits of planets, etc./. The main group is children and young people from the social services of the Association, divided into groups of up to 15 people; Making visits to the National Polytechnic Museum and Techno Park Sofia for children and their families from the services of SOS Consultation Centers, Pernik; Involvement of children and young people in a 3D printing course – course participants gained hands-on skills in 3D printing and modeling and learned to create simple 3D models. After the successful completion of the course, the participants received a certificate; Organization of workshops for the study of local clays in the village of Dren and its surroundings – the localization, study and refinement of wild clay in the village of Dren and its surroundings is of great importance for the entire Pernik region and is the main material for the products of the social enterprise of “SOS Children’s Village Dren “.

In fulfillment of a condition under a targeted donation, in 2023 we were co-organizers with the University of Ruse “Angel Kanchev” for organizing and holding the 7th Innovative Youth Expo, which marked the completion of the Science holidays at the university. The event was attended by students, Erasmus students, schoolchildren, youth representatives of business and public institutions, teachers and guests. At over 50 stands, innovative products of school and student formations from Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine, France, Georgia, Spain and Malaysia were presented. The forum was supported by the Ministry of Education and Science and the National representation of the student boards in Bulgaria. In parallel, the student scientific session “Best paper Cristal Prize’23 was held. It was attended by students, doctoral students and young scientists, nominated by the relevant scientific fields by faculties.

Based on a targeted donation, we started the implementation of a new joint project with the National Polytechnic Museum on the topic “RoBo – LeGoTech – past and future in one”. It is a continuation of the successful joint activity for the benefit of children, by building on the effectiveness of the already implemented programs – “LeGotech”, “From the children’s constructor to professions with new technologies” and ” Robotics Academy – Legotech”. The National Polytechnic Museum already has the necessary material base and technical support, but with the current project we are developing the capacity even more, using the power of modern technologies. 90 children and students from 6 to 13 years of age participated in the project.

We continue our common actions and projects with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The Student Institute of the BAS is also being developed, which uses the experience gained at HSSIMI. We have provided details about it above in the report.

We are expanding cooperation and unity of action with the Federation of scientific and technical unions. Along with the joint initiatives and projects that we carry out with their territorial organizations such as the Territorial Organization in Plovdiv, with the National and technological union for construction and the union for standardization, with the Union of inventors in Bulgaria, in 2023 we jointly organized a national exhibition-competition for innovative developments “Creativity and innovation – a meeting of generations”. It included projects by schoolchildren, students and doctoral students in various engineering fields. They presented their experimental developments and exchanged experience with Bulgarian inventors. We also participated in the 34th national scientific and practical conference “Quality – for a better life”.

During the reporting year, we started a new promising collaboration with the National University Center for creativity and innovation at the “St. Kl. Ohridski”. We will work with them to develop knowledge in the field of creativity and innovation to create knowledge, skills, competences and attitudes for creative and innovative thinking and behavior, with a special emphasis on young people – pupils, schoolchildren and students.

We launched a useful joint activity with the Xiro.bg platform. It is the first online-based platform in Bulgaria that brings together both businesses and non-profit organizations in one place, giving them the opportunity to speak to the next generations in one language. Through this platform, the Foundation is able to reach a very large number of potential applicants for the named scholarship and Evrika competitions.

We continue to rely on financial support from our former scholarship holders and award laureates through the international GlobalGiving platform. In 2023, we received 26 new donations through this platform.

Driven by the conviction that civil organizations become stronger when they help each other, during the reporting period we continued our fruitful cooperation with the Bulgarian Donor Forum /BDF/, of which we are one of the founders. We regularly participate in meetings of BDF members and exchange information on current problems of the organization and management of non-governmental organizations, form and express consolidated opinions on issues of a normative nature. We use BDF platforms to promote the foundation’s annual awards and reach a larger number of potential applicants. Through the Forum, we receive up-to-date information and analyzes of donation trends, not only in Bulgaria, but also in Europe. Thanks to the BDF, we have contacts with major donors, it is easier to find partners for various projects and we participate in useful trainings. We took part in the campaign “Corporate Donor’2023”, the Career fair on the topic “Jobs for economists in the non-governmental sector”, a meeting of the series “Workshop for DONORS” ON THE TOPIC “Volunteering according to measure”, etc.

We have been actively involved in the Annual meeting of the National children’s network and in a series of events and initiatives of this socially significant network of over 120 organizations that advocates for the rights and well-being of children. We have made efforts to participate in many useful and interesting events of the National Network for Children, such as: the youth forum “Voice it 2023″; the Make Magic campaign. Give a book to a child”; LexTalks forum; round table “Civic participation of children”; training webinar “Successful campaigns for any organization” on the project “ENROLL – engaging young people and adults in civil activism in the field of the rule of law at the local level”; Golden Apple competition; the event “Bulgarian education and good practices in focus’2023”.

We continue to find useful information about what is happening in the non-governmental sector from the Information Portal for NGOs in Bulgaria.

For the successful implementation of the activities under the thematic programs of the foundation, we owe a great deal of gratitude for the long-term fruitful cooperation of the most representative organization of employers at the national level – the Bulgaria Industrial Capital Association /BICA/, which represents 3/4 of the economic activities and over 10,000 companies. They are our partners in organizing and holding the competition for a young manager. With their financial support, we were able to execute many successful projects to stimulate and popularize the achievements of young people in science, technology and the management of business organizations. In 2023, together with BICA, we worked on the realization of the projects for Legorobots with the National Polytechnic Museum and the “Vale” computer school at the “Zarya-1858” community center – Haskovo; project “Steps forward and with a view to the stars”; “Children discoverers in the world of digital technologies and science”; with Ruse University “Angel Kanchev” for organizing and holding the 7th Innovative Youth Expo; the organization and holding of the Competition-Exhibition “Youth Technical Creativity” 2023 in Gorna Oryahovitsa. Our previous cooperation with BICA is an example of a sustainable partnership with business, and we will strive to develop it in the future.

Seven years ago, the Evrika Foundation, together with 25 other companies, scientific institutes and universities, established the “Sofia – city of knowledge” Cluster. Through it, we are looking for new opportunities to proactively involve young people in joint initiatives and projects, together with scientific, development, educational and financial organizations to transform the city of Sofia from a traditional administrative capital into a city of knowledge. Through the Cluster, we provided an opportunity for young people to participate in: “Sunny cities” trade fair; “Fight climate change – Racing to net zero” international conference; Talent and competencies for the media and creative industries event; informational meeting on “Financial instruments for energy efficiency and renewable energy sources”; “DIGITAL SOFIA – THE SMART CITY, RESPONSIBLE AND SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS FOR INTELLIGENT GROWTH” conference; “Showcase of creative industries in Sofia” exhibition; Smart City Expo in Barcelona; career fair for graduating students in computer and communication engineering, earth science, administration and management; the “Virtual tour through unknown Sofia – a digital adventure” event.

            We continue to be among the participants in: competition for the Inventors award named after Dr. Emil Benatov; the initiative to create a new strategy to support the development of civil organizations; European Fusion Teachet Day’2023 at the Faculty of Physics of the Sofia University “St. Kl. Ohridski”; Space Conference – Plovdiv; the events of the international year of basic sciences for sustainable development; Webinar on “Financial instruments to support exports”; National forum for advanced space research; European night of scientists’ 2023; Olympic meeting of the competitors from the national teams in natural sciences; Spring open day of the Faculty of Physics at the Sofia University “St. Kl. Ohridski”. For another year, we participated in the campaign and nominations for the “John Atanasov” awards of President Rumen Radev, where a large number of the laureates are former and current scholarship holders of the foundation.

 

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As a result of the information presented in this report of what was done in 2023, we can draw the main conclusion that the Evrika Foundation is in a stable condition, with a good reputation in society and persistently follows its mission of being a helper and supporter of children and young people of Bulgaria with strong interests and abilities in the field of science and technology. Driven by the understanding that work can always be done better, we develop new creative plans and prepare the implementation of new projects. Difficulties do not scare us and do not demotivate us, and overcoming them gives us additional energy to continue to give due to the young people who value, protect and multiply the Promethean fire of knowledge and discoveries.