Speech by Chief Scientist for Research and Innovation, Dr. Nikolas Mastroyiannopoulos at the second virtual international workshop “Atmospheric & Climate Research in EMMENA” | 8 June 2021

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you today to the second Virtual International Workshop of the Excelsior Project, with a view to tackle Atmospheric & Climate Research in the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa region.

It truly is an honour to be here and I would like to congratulate the organisers of this event, the Excelsior Project and the Eratosthenes Centre of Excellence, for their dedication and relentless efforts to boost research and innovation in our country. Organising such initiatives, with the participation of representatives of pioneering and world-leading organisations from abroad, such as NASA and the European Space Agency, as well as prestigious academic and research institutions, is vital in order to discuss the latest developments in topics that can address a wide range of challenges and to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and expertise.

The field of space-based technologies was once considered to be too advanced for a small country like Cyprus. Α possibility that not many would have dared to consider twenty years ago. To this end, we are particularly proud of the establishment of Eratosthenes, with Excelsior Project being in fact one of the most ambitious in the Research and Innovation history of Cyprus, aiming to establish our country in the sector of space technology.

Focusing on the area of earth observation, space applications and geospatial information and analysis, Eratosthenes aspires to become a fully functional Innovation Hub and a Research Excellence Centre in the EMMENA region, whilst creating an ecosystem where state-of-the-art sensing equipment, cutting-edge research, targeted education services and entrepreneurship, come together.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In a rapidly evolving world, where humanity is facing increasing challenges, such as the global spread of infectious diseases and of course, climate change which poses large-scale hazards to human health and has both a direct and indirect impact on species and ecosystems, it is now even more essential than ever to embrace result-driven creativity. This is the reason why fuelling cutting-edge ideas across all levels of education, society and industry, facilitating research, innovation and technology, along with cultivating green consciousness, stand as our top priority.

To this end, the direction of the Cypriot Government is clear: Formulate a new sustainable growth model which fosters research, innovation and technology, accelerate the transition to a green economy and increase efficiency through digitalisation, being capable of expanding the productive base of the economy.

Having this in mind, the Research and Innovation Foundation launched the Bridge Funding programmes in April, with a total budget of €15 million, aiming 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.

Big opportunities also arise from Europe’s new and most ambitious funding programme for Research and Innovation, “Horizon Europe”. The Programme opens the way for real actions and progress, assembling the world’s best minds to work together and deliver revolutionary smart solutions to the key issues of our times. With a total budget of €95.5 billion, “Horizon Europe” looks ahead in making the continent a strong force in a digital age that respects and protects our planet.

Distinguished guests,

For us, through our different capacities under the umbrella of the Cyprus National Research and Innovation Governance System, but also for me personally, 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, which will strengthen the local ecosystem and lead to the development and commercialisation of value-added innovative products and services. An ecosystem that is fit-for-the-future and efficient, adding value horizontally across all sectors of the economy.

Acknowledging the high importance of broadening the academia-industry cooperation networks, 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 knowledge transfer and university-business interactions, targeting to convey results stemming from scientific and technological research to the market and thus the wider society.

Dear members of Eratosthenes,

I would like to congratulate you once again and reiterate our full support towards your aspirations to transform Cyprus into a national and regional hub for earth surveillance and space-based monitoring of the environment.

I am confident that the discussions that follow will prove to be thought-provoking and beneficial for our joint efforts for a better future driven by research, scientific excellence and innovation.

Thank you.