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The First ENGAGE.EU Conference for Early Stage Researchers and Young Scholars took place in Sofia, Bulgaria

On the 23rd and 24th of June 2022 the University of National and World Economy in Sofia hosted the First ENGAGE.EU Conference for Early Stage Researchers & Young Scholars. It welcomed participants from various disciplines working on different research topics.

Conference participants have been warmly welcomed by prof. Dimitar Dimitrov – Rector of UNWE – and associate prof. Michael Mussov – Vice Rector of UNWE on Research and ENGAGE.EU Local Coordinator – at the opening session moderated by associate prof. Venelin Boshnakov – WP3 Local Coordinator.

Paper presentations have been organized by 3 sessions allocated in two days. Each day started with a plenary speech delivered by a keynote speaker and an ENGAGE Info-session intended to inform the participants about the range of opportunities suggested by the ENGAGE.EU Alliance.


The first keynote speaker – Dr. James Small from Tilburg University – considered a range of Alliance-relevant issues under the topic “Collaboration with and for a Purpose”. In this talk he highlighted the interconnectedness of the Sustainable Development Goals, which demands interdisciplinary research work from academics.

The first plenary speech was followed by a scheduled ENGAGE.EU Alliance Presentation on the topic “Research Networks” delivered by Rianne Strijker-van Asperen (Tilburg University) – Community Manager Research for ENGAGE.EU. With the audience we discussed the benefits of being part of the ENGAGE.EU alliance, and how this community could stimulate international, interdisciplinary collaboration.

Session 1 included the presentations of the following participants, with respective working titles:

Keller Martínez /UT1/: Green Bonds and Asymmetric Information

Silvia Kirova /UNWE/: The Role of the EU Financial Sector in the Transition to a Green Economy

T.Q.T. Nguyen and Audrey Rouzies /UT1/: Astérix and Obélix Proactive Resistance: a multi-stakeholder approach to coping with post-acquisition restructuring

Jana Herbig /UT1/: Does Practice Make Perfect? – A Systematic Literature Review On Organisational Learning From Acquisition Experience (online participation)

Antoaneta Angelova /UNWE/: Supervising Self-Efficacy During the Home Office Using Control Management Systems

Session 2 continued with the presentations of second group of conference participants:

Biljana Tomova, Diana Andreeva /UNWE/: Cultural industries and the global production networks approach: new opportunities for sustainable development

Nicolas Gibney /NHH/: Stronger together: The emergence and growth of an ecosystem in the payments industry

Ralitsa Kusheva /UNWE/: Best practices in Europe for construction and demolition waste management with integrated digital tools (online participation)

Lynn Chahine /UT1/: Micro and Meso Perspectives on Skilled Migration: Entrepreneurial Cases from the Lebanese Diaspora

Monika Moraliyska /UNWE/: The Digital Divide in the European Union as a Barrier to Social Cohesion

Day 2 started with the second keynote speaker – Prof. Svetlana Alexandrova (UNWE) who considered some state-of-art issues under on the topic “Funding for Climate Change and Sustainable Development: An Overview”. The second plenary speech was followed by ENGAGE.EU Alliance info-presentations on the topics: ENGAGE.EU Think Tank by Annika Spranz (Uni-Mannheim) and ENGAGE.EU Grant Desk by Catarina Guzzo Falci (Tilburg University).

Session 3 continued with the presentations of the last group of participants:

Ashley Metz, et al. /TU/: How the Flash Diffusion of Technologies Disrupts Social Contracts: Investigating privacy perspectives about COVID-19 track and trace technologies

Carlos Plata /UT1/: A theoretical approach to understanding the relationship between leadership and feedback in a post-Covid environment.

Orwa Al Zoubi /WU/: The Future Possible Changes in the Mechanism of firms’ work after Covid-19 Pandemic: Rethinking and Lessons Learned (online participation)

Federica Marconi /URTV/: Public intervention in the economy: the so-called “new golden power” between geopolitical competition and economic-strategic evaluations (online participation)

Ekaterina Tosheva/ UNWE/: How the economic household situation affects the quality of life of older people in the different EU-countries?

Violeta Zlatkova /UNWE/: Sustainable partnership between universities and the non-profit sector

The thematic diversity was valued by the participants, it encouraged their inspiration commencing new perspectives on their own research. Important added value also emerged due to the methodological variety presented during the Conference which provided some participants with new insights for their future research endeavors.

At the end of each day the participants have been transferred to different places for a short cultural programme. At the end of Day 1 the participants experienced a 2-hours trip and guided tour of Sofia city centre. After the Conference completion – second half of Day 2 – the group visited Boyana church (XIV-th century pre-Renaissance orthodox church) located at the skirts of Vitosha mountain as well as the National Museum of History.

The Conference intended to bring together researchers from different partner institutions in the ENGAGE.EU network, in order to stimulate future communication and collaboration. The attendants really appreciated the community-idea behind this Conference. There was a beneficial atmosphere in the group, which resulted in high quality feedback and tips for the presenting researchers. Moreover, the researchers helped each other by referring to other specialists in their fields, giving names and contacts of colleagues that could be of help. This made the Conference a good event in the overall efforts for facilitating intra-Alliance research collaborations. Time was devoted also to get impressions from the beautiful city of Sofia, which helped to strengthen the group spirit even more.