Speech of the Chief Scientist for Research and Innovation of the Republic of Cyprus, Dr. Nikolas Mastroyiannopoulos Nicosia Risk Forum | 26 November 2020

Esteemed Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus,

Esteemed Deputy Ministers of Research and Technology, AND Civil Protection and Crisis Management, of the Hellenic Republic,

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I address you today at the virtual Nicosia Risk Forum 2020.

I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers for bringing together academic, industrial, governmental, policy, and other stakeholders with a significant interest in societal safety.

A country’s level of response to any crisis and especially a pandemic is also holistically interconnected with the status and actions of its Research and Innovation ecosystem. The readiness of the R&I ecosystem to provide solutions, innovative products and services for crisis situations is key. The effectiveness of this depends on a well-structured, comprehensive governance system, and a clear strategy to support our set goals and objectives.

During my presentation I will present the structure of the R&I governance in Cyprus and the national strategic framework 2020-2023. In addition, I will talk about the challenges and opportunities of the Cyprus ecosystem and the importance of building regional collaborations.

The Government, recognizing the importance of Research and Innovation, has implemented a series of breakthrough reforms, including the recent establishment of the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy and the Office of the Chief Scientist. These reflect the strong commitment of the Government to establish Research and Innovation as a fundamental base of a new sustainable, innovation-driven growth model, contributing to expanding the productive base of the Cyprus economy.

In order to meet our objectives, the national R&I strategy aims at the technological, social and economic development of Cyprus, based on the strategic pillars of research excellence, innovative entrepreneurship and knowledge transfer and commercial exploitation. The strategy is enabled by culture change, internationalization and digital and green transition.

In this path, Cyprus currently ranks as a “moderate innovator” in the European Union according to the innovation scoreboard. On the other hand, our research and scientific community generates high quality results, according to the international standards.

Moreover, Cyprus ranks first in absorption of funds on a per capita basis, with more than €263 million secured so far. And while these results make us proud, we acknowledge that we still have a long way to go in our quest to establish Cyprus as a Research and Innovation hub in the region.

The COVID-19 outbreak highlighted the role of R&I as a lever for ensuring sustainable growth and social prosperity, while boosting our country’s competitiveness.

Fortunately, our R&I ecosystem is multidimensional and can provide Cyprus with new dynamics that will lead to the development of world class products and services. To this end, it is important to establish a triple helix model of innovation, interconnecting academia, industry and government. This triple helix model is based on the interactions between the three, acknowledging their distinguished functions.

As interactions increase within this framework, each component evolves to adopt some characteristics of the other which then gives rise to a hybrid system; in other words, a viable and sustainable R&I ecosystem. An ecosystem that is efficient, sustainable and fit-for-the-future, horizontally adding value across all sectors of the economy. An ecosystem, where research and innovation thrive and build opportunities for economic and social prosperity. In order to achieve the abovementioned, we must always aim for sustainable and green development.

With these in mind, it is necessary to work closely with all stakeholders to strengthen the cooperation between the public and the private sector, connect the best talents of our research community with businesses and facilitate strategic partnerships and collaborations that will broaden the academia-business cooperation networks and lead to the commercialization of research results.

We are committed to work hard to achieve strategic partnerships and collaborations that will broaden the cooperation networks for the benefit of our scientists and entrepreneurs, and to establish channels for internationalization and knowledge transfer that will provide our local ecosystem with access to the latest scientific and technological breakthroughs.

In fact, strengthening the extroversion of our growing system to attract researchers and investors from abroad, creating linkages with international VCs and facilitating access to high-risk capital is vital.

We have already established targeted strategic collaborations with countries that have advanced innovation ecosystems, in order to build on synergies and enhance potential impact and mutual benefit. Within this context, we continuously strengthen our cooperation with various countries, encouraging joint projects and the exchange of knowledge.

Through our national R&I strategy and an ambitious vision, I truly believe that Cyprus can become a hub in these fundamental areas in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean as well as in Europe.

As the Chief Scientist and Chairman of the Research and Innovation Foundation, I strongly believe that shaping a new knowledge-based society will serve as a starting point, where national and international synergies will yield results faster. The local ecosystem has already laid the foundations for a promising future ahead. The path is mapped out and the aim is clear.

In a similar fashion and under the same vision and strategy, we should all collaborate closely in order to validate risks in a scientific and multidisciplinary way, deliver efficient, and most importantly, secure solutions and services, with the aim to regain social trust and be acknowledged for these achievements.

It is my firm belief that by joining forces, a new era will emerge, leading to exciting opportunities for our country. As a result, I strongly believe that we can all clearly acknowledge the fact that synergies between the various stakeholders is the only way forward.

Stay safe and always keep in mind that innovation is not born from just a dream, innovation is born from the struggle and our passion to make things better.

Thank you!