Stavri Nikolov is a researcher and entrepreneur. He is the Founding Director of the Digital Spaces Living Lab (DSLL) in Sofia, Bulgaria. DSLL is a Living Lab (member of the European Network of Living Labs) which develops and tests new technologies, services and apps for digital media, wearables, lifelogging, museums, and smart cities.
In 2013 Stavri co-founded Smart Fablab, the first fab lab in Bulgaria and was its founding director. He is also co-founder and Research Director of Imagga Technologies Ltd, and co-founder and Head of Research of Attentive Displays Ltd. Imagga is one of leading Image Recognition Platform-as-a-Service companies in the world, providing Image Tagging and Classification APIs for developers and businesses to build scalable, image-intensive apps in the cloud. Attentive Displays is a provider of consultancy, system integration and software development services in the field of attentive and interactive displays, eye-tracking based systems, and data and information visualisation solutions.
In the past, Stavri was also a Senior Scientist (Digital Identity and Information Search) at the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies of the European Commission in Seville, Spain, and a Senior Research Fellow in Image Processing at the University of Bristol, UK (1998-2007).
Stavri’s research interests, projects and businesses over the years have spanned many areas including image analysis, image fusion, image search, new methods for data visualisation and navigation, gaze-tracking, wearables, HCI, lifelogging, the construction of attentive and interactive information displays, video surveillance, digital identity and biometrics, and location-based services.
How did you end up joining the #maker movement?
Smart Fab Lab (http://www.smartfablab.org/en) was founded in 2013 by Digital Spaces Living Lab (http://www.digitalspaces.info), Transformatori Association (http://transformatori.net/en) and private investors and partners.
At the time we all felt it was fine time to have a fab lab in Bulgaria, where local makers can design and prototype, so we rolled our sleeves and created Smart Fab Lab (SFL). SFL has close collaborations with several fab labs and makerspaces in Europe and with NextFab (http://www.nextfab.com) in the USA.
My personal interest in using the fab lab is to create smart objects, devices and games for museums and art galleries and help other people design and make great new board games and toys for kids.
What do you most value in the innovation/maker environment?
The ability to change your world and make the things you want the way you want them to be - here and now.
What’s the maker movement outlook in your country?
The maker movement in Bulgaria is still in its early days but this is changing fast. Young people have amazing ideas and they are not afraid to try to design and prototype them.
In your opinion, what features in your city/destination/country is more appealing to an innovation-oriented crowd?
In the last 3-4 years Sofia has become one of the most startup-friendly cities in Europe and it is a great place to test and experiment with new technologies and products.
You seem to have been able to create such a nurturing environment around your FabLab/makerspace/hackerspace in (your country). What does your audience look like? Who do you mainly target – students, inventors, or… ?
Since 2013, SFL has become the place in Sofia where an active and fast growing community of makers, architects, designers, engineers, students, and kids, meet to make prototypes, objects, and products such as board games, toys, furniture, models, lamps, exhibition stands, drone parts, 3D printers, wearables, smart museum gadgets and sensors, smart beehives, interactive installations, etc. Being currently based in the backyard of the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Sofia, Smart Fab Lab attracts many young architects and urbanists and students from this and other universities in the city.
What do you consider your greatest goal as EMW’s Ambassador?
To showcase some of the best achievements of makers in Bulgaria and demonstrate to everyone what they can create in fab labs and makerspaces.
To build bridges and new collaborations with other fab labs, makerspaces, designers and makers in Europe and especially in South Eastern Europe.
What kind of events are you planning to organize during the EMW?
To be announced very soon.