On 2 July, a working meeting on “The Future of Extreme Light Research: Opportunities and Challenges for Bulgaria within ELI-ERIC” was held at the Conference Hall of the Institute of Solid State Physics of BAS. The event was organized by the Ministry of Education and Science and the ELI-ERIC-BG consortium partners: the Institute of Electronics, the Institute of Solid State Physics of BAS and the Faculty of Physics of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”.

Guests of the forum were Acad. Nikolay Vitanov, Interim Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Education and Science, Prof. George Angelov, Interim Deputy Minister of Innovation and Growth and Mr. Allen Weeks, Director General of the “Extreme Light” European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ELI-ERIC).

Acad. Vitanov opened the working meeting, stressing in his speech that Bulgaria’s participation in ELI-ERIC would increase the opportunities for Bulgaria’s inclusion in larger European projects. Prof. Angelov congratulated the participants and emphasized the importance of this largest and most advanced laser research infrastructure in the world for the development of laser technologies in Bulgaria. Mr. Allen Weeks highlighted the capabilities of the European Extreme Light Structure built on three specialized and complementary high-power and ultrafast laser facilities based in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.

The representatives of the partner organisations in the ELI-ERIC-BG consortium presented the history of the Bulgarian union where the main scientific potential of equipment and scientists working in the field of laser physics was concentrated. Best practices, results achieved and prospects of the scientific teams for the period 2024-2027 were discussed.

Fülöp Zsolt from ELI-ERIC, Hungary, gave a detailed account of the organisation, the possibilities of using the equipment, participation in projects and the joint activities of the “Extreme Light” European Research Infrastructure Consortium with universities.

The working meeting was also attended by Ms. Milena Damyanova, Director of the Science Directorate of MES, and the focus of her presentation was on the projects funded under the National Roadmap for Research Infrastructure, Mr. Hristo Yordanov from the Ministry of Innovation and Growth who presented the Research, Innovation and Digitalisation for Smart Transformation Programme, providing opportunities to foster the link between science and representatives of business organizations.

During the forum, the key role of business partners in the transfer of technologies and innovations from academia to industry was highlighted. Industry participants discussed opportunities for collaboration with research institutes and universities that could lead to the creation of new products and services based on laser technologies.

ELI-ERIC-BG has been part of the European ELI-ERIC consortium with observer status for three years. It is expected that by October 2024 Bulgaria would become a full participant in Europe’s scientific infrastructure for laser physics and benefit from the technological expertise of the other member states.