A pioneer in computer vision joins INSAIT

Prof. Luc Van Gool, a world-renowned scientist in the field of machine learning and computer vision, joins INSAIT – Institute for Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology as a faculty member in Sofia, Bulgaria.  The arrival of Prof. Van Gool will help INSAIT establish itself as a world-class destination for machine learning and computer vision research. INSAIT was launched on April 11 this year in Sofia – it is financed by the Bulgarian government with an amount of 100 million USD over 10 years and is supported with 15 million USD by Amazon Web Services, Google, DeepMind, and SiteGround. INSAIT is the first institute of its kind in Eastern Europe, structured similarly to top western institutions and offering comparable research and salary opportunities. Its long-term goal is to become a world-class research center in the field of computer science and artificial intelligence. INSAIT announced its world-class PhD program a month ago with PhD advisers from ETH, EPFL, MIT, CMU, and Yale.

Prof. Luc Van Gool has been a professor at ETH Zurich since 1998, heading its Computer Vision Laboratory, while also leading the Computer Vision Research Group at KU Leuven, Belgium. Prof. Van Gool’s research has been recognized with many prestigious awards, including the David Marr Prize, the Koenderink Award, the Helava Prize, the Tsuji Award and an ERC Advanced Grant. Further, he has co-founded 12 start-up companies (assaia, Endosat, eSaturnus, Eyetronics, Fashwell, GeoAutomation, kooaba, Parquery, Procedural, segments.ai, Sensifai, upicto). Technology giants such as Nvidia, Apple, and Facebook have opened offices in Zurich as a result of these and other successful ETH start ups.  Professor Van Gool is one of the world’s most cited scientists in computer science, particularly in computer vision and machine learning, with over 160,000 citations.

“I am extremely excited to join INSAIT and help establish it as a world-class center in computer vision and machine learning research. It’s high time to turn a longstanding brain drain into an invigorating brain gain, and to also in this part of Europe turn into fruition our high hopes for deep learning.” – commented Prof. Luc Van Gool.

“Attracting a computer scientist of this rank is an unprecedented event in Eastern Europe and marks a new page in the development of the tech and scientific ecosystems in the region. With Prof. Van Gool,  INSAIT becomes a world-recognized destination for computer vision and machine learning research with the potential to generate a massive domino effect – from attracting top local and international students and faculty, to creating deep-tech startups, to facilitating a more favorable environment for high-tech investments, and beyond. It is incredibly exciting!” – said the architect of INSAIT and Chair of its Supervisory Board Prof. Martin Vechev.

Prof. Luc Van Gool joins INSAIT thanks to the generous financial support provided by SiteGround, a leading Bulgarian IT company. The assistance is part of SiteGround’s total investment of 6 million EUR in the development of INSAIT, announced on April 11th. SiteGround is setting a precedent with this support, as it is the first time in Eastern Europe that a business organization is investing millions in attracting world-renowned scientists.

“The main engine of developed modern societies is education. SiteGround has been steadily investing in this area for years. We believe that this has a direct impact on building world-class talent in the ecosystem and keeping it in the country. The investment in INSAIT builds on our efforts in this direction”, commented Tenko Nikolov, Managing Partner at SiteGround. 

“Hosting an institute like INSAIT and attracting world-class professors like Luc Van Gool is a huge step forward for Bulgaria, for our society and overall ecosystem. This is a chance not only to get on the world map, but also to be the driving force for the next technological revolution”, said Ivo Tsenov, co-founder of SiteGround.

You can reach INSAIT at: [email protected]


INSAIT – Institute for Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology, located in Sofia, Bulgaria, is the first of its kind in Eastern Europe to offer world-class research facilities and conditions. INSAIT is created in partnership with Switzerland’s ETH Zurich and EPFL, two of the world’s best technical universities, and is closely advised and supervised by top academics from some of the most elite U.S., European, and Israeli universities and research labs. INSAIT’s sole focus is on scientific excellence: conducting world-class research, attracting outstanding international scientists, and training the next-generation of graduate students and technology leaders.