Speech by Chief Scientist for Research and Innovation, Dr. Nikolas Mastroyiannopoulos at the Polish-Cypriot Seminar on New Technologies | 25 May 2021

Your Excellency, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Cyprus,

Esteemed Deputy Minister for Research, Innovation and Digital Policy,

Dear Rector of the University of Cyprus,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honor to address you at today’s seminar, organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Cyprus, aiming to highlight the role of female experts in innovation and economic diplomacy, as well as tackle the threats and challenges of the new reality in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Research and innovation is an equal playing field for all genders, where ground-breaking minds are celebrated. Novel thinking, risk-taking, confidence, motivation, inspiration, these are all qualities which are essential for researchers, for innovators, for entrepreneurs and they are also qualities which are innate in women. The contribution of women in the Research and Innovation field is far beyond significant, both in Cyprus and the EU. Embracing gender equality maximizes collective knowledge, has a positive social impact and ensures scientific excellence. Gender equality initiatives which are put into place today, across the entire spectrum of our society will yield results for generations to come, where gender bias will no longer exist in any industry.

I would like to express my gratitude to Ms. Irena Lichnerowicz-Augustyn, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, for the invitation to be a part of this significant event. Organising such initiatives, especially during this period, is perhaps more important than ever before, for exchanging knowledge with countries with advanced innovation ecosystems. National collaborations through academia are amongst the greatest investments that we can make for future generations. In addition, last February, our two countries signed the Declaration of Intent to celebrate the 60th anniversary since establishing our diplomatic relations. Together, we are paving the way for progress in our economies and our societies.

Establishing these cooperation links is vital in order to tackle the new circumstances that have arisen and to enhance potential impact and mutual benefit, while grasping the opportunity to have open access to scientific knowledge, and know-how, turning the challenges into fruitful results.

To achieve this, it is necessary to recognise the importance of research, innovation and technology towards the creation of growth and social prosperity. The development of a competitive Research and Innovation environment for technological development and innovative entrepreneurship is fundamental and a high strategic priority of the Cyprus Government, geared to formulating a new sustainable economic model based on the threefold strategy encompassing research, innovation and technological development to create multiple socio-economic benefits, including new employment openings, added value and investment opportunities.

In collaboration with all involved stakeholders, we remain committed to implementing the government’s strategy to build a strong, extroverted Research and Innovation ecosystem, with particular focus on supporting young entrepreneurs and 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 demonstrated their strong eagerness to implement the country’s strategic goals. With a clear strategy in place, we are addressing vital areas of growth by giving attention, skills and investment to those who have a vision and the motivation to transform that vision into reality.

The Research and Innovation Foundation has allocated a budget of over €20 million through its Innovation Programs to startups and innovative companies, exclusively for the creation and the development of innovative products and services with international potential. The impact of the Programs on the economy and society was significant; 85 companies received funding, leading to the creation of 188 new jobs. It is evident that if you plant a seed and nurture it, it will bloom and give back far more than you could imagine.

We believe that Startups are the seeds of our economy, therefore, during this particularly difficult period for the national economy, the RIF launched new funding programs in April, with a total budget of €15 million, aiming to strengthen the research and business community of Cyprus.

The Bridge Funding programs are strategically focused and aim to provide incentives for collaborations between private and publicly funded academic and research organisations, while strengthening the competitiveness of the entire local ecosystem and increasing the critical mass of research activity in Cyprus. Also, we aim to support the new generation of scientists and researchers, by providing them with the opportunity to lead research projects.   Empowering young scientists is an investment which we believe will give them not only the motivation to exceed their own expectations but also to feel responsible for their contribution to their science and to society. Furthermore, through the Recovery and Resilience Plan and the design of new Programs for the period 2021-2027, the RIF looks forward to supporting the Government’s targeted reforms and investments in order to establish a new growth model which, among others, fosters innovative entrepreneurship, accelerates the transition to a green economy and increases efficiency through digitalisation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Synergies, along with the development of a culture of creativity and innovation, are essentially the driving force behind the creation of a productive R&I environment, that will strengthen the local ecosystem and lead to the development and commercialisation of value-added innovative products and services. An ecosystem that is efficient and fit-for-the-future, adding value horizontally across all sectors of the economy. To this end, it is essential to broaden the academia-industry cooperation networks, bringing the best talents of our research community closer to industry and businesses. The fresh, innovative thinking found in our academic institutions, coupled with the know-how and experience of industry, will yield timely, efficient results which will boost our economy and set the scene for a vibrant and resilient future.

With this in mind, the RIF is establishing a national Knowledge Transfer Office, formed through 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 to the market and thus the wider society. This is in fact one of our top priorities; to establish a channel that will allow our investment in research and development to transform into a real benefit for the economy and society. We are committed to delivering tangible results through each and every action within our strategy.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, has established the Economic Diplomacy Strategic Framework, aiming to reinforce Cyprus’ position in the global market and enhance our relations with other countries.  Through this Framework, we aim to place particular emphasis on the dynamic field of research, innovation and technology. Our main goal is to support the internationalization of Cypriot business, promote Cyprus as a regional Research and Innovation hub and provide our scientists and entrepreneurs with access to the plethora of networks and opportunities available to advance their work on an international level.

Paraphrasing the great Polish Nobelist Marie Sklodowska Curie, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less”.

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

Concluding, I would like to thank you once again for the invitation. I believe that the strong bonds and common goals of our countries will go from strength to strength and I am certain that the cooperation between Cyprus and Poland will continue, in an effort to build a prosperous future together. I believe that innovation is often found in simplicity and the most simple idea is that we all do better when we work together and invest in the future.