Speech of Chief Scientist for Research and Innovation of the Republic of Cyprus, Dr. Nikolas Mastroyiannopoulos – Reflect Festival | 09 October 2020

Dear participants, speakers and guests, 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you here today at the Reflect Festival, tackling topics related to the future of society, the economy and the post-covid environment for business.  

As the Chief Scientist for Research and Innovation of the Republic of Cyprus and the Chairman of the Research and Innovation Foundation, we proudly support Reflect as the Platinum Sponsor, a call for all stakeholders to come together to shape the future.  

The Government of Cyprusrecognizing the importance of Research and Innovation, has implemented a series of breakthrough reforms, including the 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 growth model, capable of expanding the productive base of the Cyprus economy.  

Under its role as the executive arm of the Research, Technological Development and Innovation System in Cyprus, RIF has an important purpose: to develop the necessary conditions that will allow Research & Innovation to flourish in our country. Creating a dynamic and vibrant ecosystem of startups and innovative enterprises is one of our main priorities, driven by their real impact in the economy. In fact, RIF has allocated €24 million budget to its Innovation Programs, of which nearly €12m in the first call to over 60 companies, leading in the creation of 89 jobs and a 3x impact in the economy 

Furthermore, we recently launched the Innovation Factory, a new initiative aiming to promote and support innovation in the business community. The Innovation Factory includes activities such as mentoring, coaching and training to support the ecosystem while facilitating networking with investors. 

At EU level, RIF actively supports the participation of Cypriot entities in Horizon 2020, and soon in Horizon Europe building on impressive results. 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. 

Synergies are essentially the driving force for the creation of a productive R&I environment that will lead to the development of worldclass 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. 

To this end, RIF is setting up a national Knowledge Transfer Office aiming to convey results stemming from scientific and technological research to the market and thus to the wider society. This in fact is one of our top priorities, it’s our obligation! We need to establish this channel which will allow our investment in research and development to transform into a real benefit for the economy and society, through innovative technologies, products and services. 

Dear guests, 

Utilizing these tools and services and above all, by working together, we can create a robust and internationally competitive national Research and Innovation ecosystem  

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 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. 

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

Along the path to reach new heights through continuous learning and restless spirit of innovation, one main challenge remains: to nurture a culture of Research and Innovation, pursued through a number of activities, including competitions targeting the younger generations. The world around us is evolving rapidly and it is now more vital than ever to embrace result-driven creativity in order to fuel cutting-edge ideas across all levels of education, society and industry. 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

The highlight of this year’s festival is of course the “Reflect Impact Awards”. A unique startup competition held for the very first time with the support of the Research and Innovation Foundation and Invest Cyprus. 

We are very proud of this initiative that promotes our island worldwide as an ideal place for business activity, giving the opportunity to startups around the globe to participate and present their ideas. Ideas thatindeed, have a noble purpose to help humanity and strong potential of direct impact in the near-future 

So, moving on, I invite you all to watch the pitching competition that follows between the startups and organizations that ranked in the top 10, following a highly competitive selection processwould like to wish good luck to all the contestants and to congratulate them for their hard work. I truly hope that we will have the opportunity to see some very innovative products and services with potentially an impressive impact. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

I am convinced that we all share a common vision for the future and the prospects that research, innovation and technology can offer. All of our actions demonstrate the commitment to fostering a vibrant ecosystem and as the Chief Scientist I look forward to welcoming new startups from abroad into the ecosystemin order to divide the task, create new opportunities and multiply the success.   

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate, once again the organizers for this unique event. We are proud to have contributed to the realization of this initiative and I sincerely hope that the discussions and presentations will prove to be valuable and beneficial for everyone’s future endeavors.  

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 and I look forward to welcoming you to Cyprus next year.