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Humboldt Foundation expands research cooperation with Bulgaria

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updated on 22 September 2020

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Bulgarian National Science Fund have agreed upon a joint return programme to support Bulgarian scientists.

puzzle with the national flag of bulgaria and germany

In future, Humboldt fellows who return to their native country Bulgaria following a research stay in Germany may receive up to €800 a month for up to 24 months. As a prerequisite, the young researchers must apply to the Humboldt Foundation for a Return Fellowship as well as to the Bulgarian National Science Fund (BNSF). In addition to providing its monthly fellowship, the Humboldt Foundation also offers subsidies of up to €20,000 for laboratory equipment and materials. Returnees receive two payments of 10,000 leva each from the Bulgarian side. In return, the recipient is obligated to organise during the duration of their fellowship two international conferences involving the German host/hosts and researchers from Bulgaria, Germany and other countries.

Strengthening cooperation

“There has been a fruitful scientific cooperation and exchange of ideas between scholars from our countries dating back to 19th century, which was intensified after 1964 when the first Bulgarian fellows were awarded Humboldt Fellowships. We will continue to encourage our young researchers to apply for a Humboldt Research Fellowship in future. We greatly value our connections with German universities and other research institutions and are confident that our collaboration with the Humboldt Foundation will help strengthen and further internationalise the Bulgarian science and return talented Bulgarian researchers in the country”, said Georgi N. Vayssilov, Manager of the Bulgarian National Science Fund, greeting the recently adopted Memorandum of Understanding.

Research builds bridges

“One of the highlights of my tenure as Secretary General was in 2017 when I had the honour of accepting the highest Bulgarian institutional distinction – the honorary badge of the President – for the contribution of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to the development of the Bulgarian-German scientific relations and the Bulgarian scientific potential. Now we are pleased that we can continue to expand our research cooperation with Bulgaria. We hope to have even more researchers from Bulgaria as guests in Germany in the future. However, we don’t want to contribute to brain drain in Bulgaria where the material conditions for research are challenging. Which is why I am pleased that we, together with the BNSF, can foster the return of Bulgarian Humboldtians to their native country”, said Enno Aufderheide, Secretary General of the Humboldt Foundation.

“Research builds bridges. This has also been shown time and again in German-Bulgarian relations. An investment in research is always an investment in the future”, said Jörg Schenk, head of the science and higher education department of the German Embassy in Sofia, which supports connections between the two partners and regularly supports the activities of Humboldtians in Bulgaria who have joined together in the alumni association “Humboldt Union”.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in August 2020 and will initially be effective for six years.

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