Hemus 2024 - Research and innovation for security, defense and space

6 - 8 June 2024 Plovdiv


The first day of HEMUS 2024 – RESEARCH AND INNOVATION FOR SECURITY, DEFENCE AND SPACE, took place on June 6, 2024 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The Research and Innovation Week was jointly organised by the Bulgarian Defence Institute and the Center for National Security and Defence Research-BAS (CNSDR-BAS), under the auspices of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The RESEARCH AND INNOVATION week was part of the International Defence Equipment and Services Exhibition “HEMUS-2024” in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and marked the 155th anniversary of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and 15th anniversary of the Bulgarian Defence Institute.

The main focus of the first day was on the topic “Space for security & defence”. The event gathered significant Bulgarian and international specialists in the field and was officially opened by Col. Borislav Genov, Assoc. Prof. D.Sc. – Director of the Bulgarian Defence Institute “Professor Tsvetan Lazarov”. Keynote addresses were given by the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Bulgaria – Mr. Atanas Zapryanov (Ret. G), who emphasized the strategic importance of research and innovation and the contribution of space technologies to guaranteeing security and defence; HE Mr. Frédéric Meurice, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to the Republic of Bulgaria, who reviewed the priorities of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU for the implementation of European policies in the field; Cor. Member Stefan Hadzhitodorov, Vice-President of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS), who emphasized the role of the BAS as a leading national institution in the space sector, whose vocation is to support the development of science and innovation for the benefit of security, defence and space; and Honorary Senator Ms. Dominique Tillmans , president of EURISY, who presented the role of space as an instrument of geopolitics.

The opening was followed by a Plenary session: “Enhancing the use of space for security and defence”, in which experts and representatives of key organizations took part. Mr. Rodrigo da Costa, Executive Director of the European Space Programme Agency (EUSPA), participated in a discussion related to enhancing the use of space for security, defence and economic purposes. The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence – Mr. Hristo Gadzhev, overviewed the strategic challenges facing Bulgaria and Europe in the context of the “Security-Defence-Space” ecosystem. Representatives of the Directorate General “Defence Industry and Space” (DG DEFIS) of the European Commission, Mr. Krastio Preslavsky and Ms. Dinka Dinkova, presented the programmes and initiatives of the EU in support of innovation and development of the space industry.

The first day of the event concluded with the workshop “Satellite Based Applications for Disaster Risk Management”, jointly organized by EUSPA and EURISY, focusing on EU space capabilities and their application at national level throughout the disaster risk management cycle. The session was opened by Mr. Mathieu Bataille from the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI), who presented the EU framework for space, security and defence. Ms. Christina Giannopapa, Head of the Office of the  Executive Director, EUSPA, shared updates on the Galileo Search and Rescue (SAR) operations and the GOVSATCOM programme, highlighting their critical functions; Mr. Gabriel Lazazzara – ALSO Space, who reviewed the Copernicus Emergency Management Office and its role in assisting disaster responses; as well as Ms. Dinka Dinkova from DG DEFIS, who presented the CASSINI initiative and the opportunities to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in the European space sector.

The workshop “Space for a sustainable future” on June 7, 2024 was opened by the mayor of the Municipality of Plovdiv – Mr. Kostadin Dimitrov, who emphasized the importance of space information for dealing with the impact of climate change on regional development. The Civil Security from Space session began with Dr. Christopher Topping from the European Space Agency (ESA) – Head of the Civil Security from Space Programme, who presented the role of the programme in addressing civil security challenges and supporting the rapid response to disasters. Mr. Martin Taslakov – project officer at the European Innovation Council (EIC) also took part – he reviewed the portfolio of space projects and activities of the EIC, as well as the “EU factory of unicorns” initiative.

The second session was devoted to the use of space technologies for the purpose of the transition to a green future. Speakers were Dr. Thanh-Tam Le from Climate-KIC at the European Institute of Innovation and Technology – EIT, who gave an overview of the NetZeroCities initiative to achieve climate neutral cities by 2030, as well as various climate services to support the transformation; Ms. Bogdana Tsonevska from ESA, who shared updates on ESA’s Earth observation programmes and their role in ensuring a green future; Prof. Ekaterina Batchvarova – director of the Climate, Atmosphere and Water Research Institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, who presented the natural and anthropogenic factors of climate change. On behalf of the “Risk-Space-Transfer” Technology Transfer Office – BAS, Katya Dimitrova presented RST-TTO’s projects related to climate adaptation and building sustainable regions to accelerate the transition to a climate-neutral and sustainable Europe: Validated Local Risk Actionable Data for Adaptation (VALORADA) and Regions4Climate. Ms. Mihaela Ivanova from Gabrovo Municipality presented the activities and projects of the Municipality aimed at achieving climate neutrality.

The second day of the HEMUS 2024 – RESEARCH AND INNOVATION FOR SECURITY, DEFENCE AND SPACE ended with a Plenary session: Space as a Key Enabler for Climate Adaptation in which Ms. Christina Giannopapa, Head of the Office of the Executive Director, EUSPA, Dr. Christopher Topping from ESA, Honorary Senator Ms. Dominique Tillmans, President of EURISY and Ms. Dinka Dinkova, Deputy Head of Unit, “Innovations and New Space – Space Defence”, DG DEFIS, EC discussed the role of space as a key factor for climate adaptation.

Following the success of the DefInSpace Hackathon at HEMUS 2022, for the second time an innovation competition was held as an accompanying event within the International Exhibition HEMUS. The HEMUS Innovation Hackathon – “Space for Green, Sustainable and Secure Europe” was held in the period June 7 – June 8, 2024 as part of the HEMUS 2024 – RESEARCH AND INNOVATION FOR SECURITY, DEFENCE AND SPACE, with the support of the National Scientific Program “Security and Defence”. The hackathon was officially opened on June 7, 2024 following the closing of the workshop “Space for a Sustainable Future”.

The teams, using digital technologies and Earth Observation data, proposed their solutions to current problems and new ideas for a more sustainable, secure and greener future for Europe. The challenges were divided into the following 3 main topics:

  • Space for Green Deal;
  • Space for Security;
  • Space for Defence.

Eight teams participated in the Hackathon, including representatives of higher military schools and universities in Bulgaria: “Student Space Society” from Nikola Vaptsarov Naval Academy; National Military University “Vasil Levski” participated with two teams – “Space Division” and “Space Vision”; Team “Rakovski” from the Rakovski National Defence College; Bulgarian Air Force Academy was represented by the “Bulgarian Space Warriors” team. Technical University – Sofia was represented by team “Aurora; Agricultural University – Plovdiv – by “AU Team”; Technical University – Sofia, branch Plovdiv also took part with a team.

In first place, the jury ranked the team “Aurora” from the Technical University – Sofiafor their project to provide quick situational awareness to decision-makers and speed up the coordination of assistance during earthquakesthe AU Team from Agricultural University – Plovdiv took the 2nd place with a project aimed at improving decision-making in agriculture and protecting biodiversity3rd place – team “Rakovski” from Rakovski National Defence College, with a project on the possibilities of detecting people injured in natural disasters and catastrophes.

Special awards were given to the teams from the Technical University – Sofia, Plovdiv branch, as well as the “Space Division” team from the National Military University “Vasil Levski”.

Over 30 speakers – representatives of the Bulgarian government, experts from leading European organisations, representatives of science, public sector and business presented the latest achievements in space research and technologies related to defence and security to an audience of over 100 participants: from the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Bulgaria, Ministry of Economy and Industry of the Republic of Bulgaria, Ministry of Innovation and Growth of the Republic of Bulgaria, higher military schools, universities, the academic community, representatives of Bulgarian and foreign companies and organizations from the defence industry.


                                    Under the auspecies of


With the support of 










Technology transfer office RISK–SPACE-TRANSFER, is registered JV between two organisations of BAS



This site was created within project grantee BG161PO003-1.2.02-0016, “Strengthening and expanding the aerospace technology transfer office for crisis management and disaster resilience”, operational programme “Development of the competitiveness of the Bulgarian economy 2007-2013” – financed by the European Fund for Regional Development.