Speech of the Chief Scientist for Research and Innovation, Dr. Nikolas Mastroyiannopoulos at the 3rd BLUE DEAL Transferring LAB – CYPRUS | 16 June 2021

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I am addressing you at today’s workshop, which aims to highlight the development of the Blue Energy industry in Cyprus and the possibilities arising for both our country and the European Union, through the EU’s “BLUE DEAL” project.

The BLUE DEAL project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance Fund, and seeks to increase the transnational activity of innovative clusters and networks of the Blue Energy sector, establish alliances, and develop links and synergies between Small-Medium Enterprises, public authorities, educational institutions and civil society.

Today, the need to respond to climate change and promote independence from fossil fuels as an energy source, is perhaps more crucial than ever. Equally important, is the need to address the increasing demand for renewable energy. To this end, our seas and oceans are undoubtedly a prime source of life and offer vast resources, including wave energy, which has the potential to make a huge contribution towards our clean energy needs for the future, while helping us shift towards a sustainable development model.

Particularly for our island, whose western coastline is considered suitable for producing energy harnessed from sea waves, the cooperation with other Mediterranean countries and the formation of regional Blue Deal alliances are of the utmost importance. By helping each other, we can create a favourable environment for Blue Energy investments and sustainable economic development and growth.

I am confident that the cooperation links created between the Blue Deal partners will be fruitful, not only for their members but for their countries as well. Establishing such partnerships is essential if we are to effectively address these new circumstances and enhance our potential impact and mutual benefit, while seizing the opportunity for open access to scientific knowledge, expertise and data-sharing, thus turning challenges into thriving results.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A competitive environment for Cyprus, one that is based on research, innovation and technological development, along with cultivating green consciousness, is vital in order to ensure growth and social prosperity. Fostering such an environment, will allow us to embrace result-driven creativity and fuel cutting edge innovation, across all levels of society and industry.

To this end, the Cypriot government has implemented a series of ground-breaking reforms that reflect its strong commitment to establish Research and Innovation as a fundamental base of its new growth model; one which is capable of expanding the productive base of the economy and creating multiple socio-economic benefits, including new employment opportunities, added value and investment potentials.

Our various capacities, such as being part of the Cyprus National Research and Innovation Governance System, and our collaborations with all involved stakeholders, allow us to remain committed to implementing the government’s strategy to build a strong and extroverted Research and Innovation ecosystem, one which focuses on supporting our country’s younger generation. Having this in mind, the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, along with the Research and Innovation Foundation, have already expressed their eagerness to implement the country’s strategic goals.

Specifically, the Foundation has allocated a budget of over €20 million to start-ups and pioneering companies through its Innovation Programmes, for the creation and development of innovative products and services with international potential. The Programme has had a very significant impact on both the economy and the society, with 85 companies receiving funding which has led to the creation of 188 new jobs. These numbers are tangible proof that if you plant and nurture seed, it can yield fruitful rewards for everyone to enjoy.

Within this context, RIF launched its Bridge Funding programmes in April with a total budget of €15 million, aiming to provide incentives for private and publicly-funded academic and research organisations to collaborate, while strengthening the competitiveness of the entire local ecosystem and increasing the critical mass of research activity in Cyprus.

Furthermore, through the Recovery and Resilience Plan and the introduction of new programmes for the period 2021-2027, RIF looks forward to supporting the government’s targeted reforms and investment, aiming to establish a new growth model which, among others, fosters innovative entrepreneurship, accelerates the transition to a green economy and increases efficiency through digitalisation.

Major opportunities also arise from Europe’s new and most ambitious funding programme for Research and Innovation, “Horizon Europe”. Offering a total budget of €95.5 billion, the Programme opens the way for real actions and progress, assembling the world’s best minds to work together and deliver cutting-edge solutions to the key issues of our times, making the continent a force to be reckoned with in a digital age that respects and protects our planet.

Distinguished guests,

Different synergies and the cultivation of a culture to host creativity and innovation are essential in order to create a productive R&I environment, one which will strengthen the local ecosystem and lead to the development and commercialisation of value-added innovative products and services. Indeed, a future-proof and efficient ecosystem, capable of adding value horizontally across all sectors of the economy. Therefore, broadening the academia-industry cooperation networks and drawing the best talents in our research community closer to industry and businesses, is our top priority.

Acknowledging this, RIF is setting up a national Knowledge Transfer Office and has formed a collaboration with Knowledge Transfer consultant Mr Tom Hockaday, a leading figure in the world of university technology transfer and university-business interactions, aiming to convey results stemming from scientific and technological research into the market, and thus, the wider society. It is our strong belief that through the establishment of these channels, the fresh and innovative thinking found in our academic institutions will yield timely and efficient results that will boost our economy and set the scene for a resilient future.

Utilising these tools and above all, by working together, we can fortify the extroversion of our growing system in order to attract investors from abroad and create links with international VCs, facilitating access to high-risk capital. Our goal is clear: to reinforce Cyprus’ position in the global market and enhance our relations with other countries, with emphasis on the dynamic field of research, innovation and technology. Furthermore, we are stepping up our efforts to internationalise Cypriot businesses, promoting our country as a regional Research and Innovation hub, whilst providing our scientists and entrepreneurs with access to a plethora of available networks and opportunities, to help them promote their work on an international level.

Dear BLUE DEAL participants,

To paraphrase Bill Gates, “during the past two centuries, innovation has more than doubled our life span and given us cheap energy. If we project what the world will be like 10 years from now, without ongoing innovation in energy and health, the picture is dark”.

Embarking on this new era, this quote is now more relevant than ever. Now is the time to leverage our strengths, learn from our shortcomings and build on our mistakes, in order to seize opportunities and materialise our common mission; to create a dynamic and competitive economy driven by renewable energy, research, scientific excellence, innovation, entrepreneurship and technological development.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you once again for the invitation and congratulate all the participants, wishing you every success moving forward. Your hard work is paving the path towards a bright future. A path that I am sure we will walk together, driven by a restless spirit of curiosity and passion about new and exciting opportunities.