Speech of the Chief Scientist for Research and Innovation of the Cyprus Republic, Dr. Nikolas Mastroyiannopoulos at the “1st European Teaming Conference” | 21 October 2022

Your Excellency Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth of the European Commission,

Esteemed Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy of the Republic of Cyprus,

Your excellency Mayor of Nicosia Municipality,

Distinguished Speakers and Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a privilege to address the first European Teaming Conference; An event that highlights the tremendous development of the Teaming for Excellence Program over the past few years, bringing together brilliant minds from all over Europe.

If we had to use only three words to describe the progress of the Program, I believe that would be: Success, Progress and of course, Excellence. Aiming to transfer experience from Europe’s top research centers to encourage the emergence of regional innovation clusters in widening EU member states, the Teaming Program, funded a total of 24 projects in 11 widening countries.

The results of the Teaming effort are already evident and tangible.  According to the latest impact report of the European Commission, the ongoing Teaming for Excellence Program had a positive effect on scientific excellence in the participant countries, linked to new international activities and R&I collaborations. Establishing such partnerships is essential to effectively address increasing challenges and enhance our impact and advantages. Sharing scientific knowledge, know-how, infrastructure, and data will serve as the key to unlock our true potential.

Therefore, allow me to congratulate all Centers of Excellence for their dedication and relentless efforts to boost scientific brilliance and innovation across Europe.

I would also like to congratulate the Deputy Ministry for Research, Innovation and Digital Policy for today’s initiative,  giving us the opportunity to interact with representatives from all 24  European Projects funded under the Horizon 2020, the European Commission, and the Research Executive Agency, as well as policymakers, stakeholders and decision-makers from the Cyprus’ Research and Innovation ecosystem.

Let me also extend my greetings to all the participants and esteemed fellow speakers, particularly those coming from abroad exclusively for the event; Being here today, we pave, together, the way towards a brighter future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Cyprus is considered as one of the most successful widening countries, ever since the launch of Horizon 2020, the 8th consecutive EU Framework Program for Research & Innovation.

In fact, according to the interim evaluation of Cyprus’ participation in Horizon 2020 commissioned by the Research and Innovation Foundation and carried out by the Technopolis Group, “Cyprus’ particularly strong performance in regards  to its success rates is partly due to the strong focus of its proposals on the Widening area”, proving that the distinct emphasis on widening opportunities was a catalyst for the country’s overall success.

Cyprus’ achievement in securing funding through a rigorous, competitive process, is verifiable proof of the high level of research work carried out in our country. Out of the €320m secured under Horizon 2020, €90m were allocated to the “Teaming for Excellence” Program, putting Cyprus on the R&I map as the country with the highest number of Centers of Excellence.

This showcases the substantial contribution of the Program to augmenting national research and innovation capabilities. Furthermore, the fact that six Centers of Excellence have been established in the country has attracted international talent, enhancing the incoming flow of high-caliber talent to the island, and contributing to the “European Research Area’s” policies on mobility and the development of new ideas, proposals, and prospects.

Dear members of KIOS, EMME-CARE, MaRITeC-X, ERATOSTHENES, RISE and CY-Biobank, considering the above, allow me to congratulate you on your success. YOUR contribution to the society and economy of Cyprus and the EU, is vital and significant. Thank you for strengthening the local Research and Innovation ecosystem, for unlocking new opportunities for economic development and offering groundbreaking solutions and tools during difficult and challenging times like the Covid-19 pandemic. The evolution we are seeing is substantial and we are proud of you.

Recognizing the significance of the teaming efforts, the government demonstrated its committment and support, by pledging to match `European funding for each successful Teaming Proposal with national funds. In addition, in order for  the Centers to become sustainable in the long-term, the government plans to allocate the matching funds for a longer period than the EU grant. More specifically, Horizon 2020 Teaming grants run for a 7-year period, whereas the Cyprus governments’ matching funds will run for 15 years, ensuring the longevity and viability of the Centers.

It’s worth noting that a significant number of successful Teaming applicants from Cyprus emerged from the National Framework Programs managed by the Cyprus Research and Innovation Foundation. To be more precise, the RIF funded the creation of Strategic Infrastructure Units and encouraged the coordination of Horizon 2020 Proposals through a funding instrument designed for this purpose. Particularly, 2 out of the 6 Centers of Excellence were funded initially by the RIF as Strategic Infrastructure Units, while one Unit received funding up to the first Phase of Teaming Calls.

Taking the above into consideration, with R&D activity growing significantly over the past few years, it’s now evident that Cyprus offers great prospects, high-quality services and a variety of comparative advantages that can transform the country into a research, innovation, and technology hub in the region.

This great progress is reflected in this year’s European Innovation Scoreboard results. Cyprus is now in  the group of strong innovators, 10th overall in Europe, with performance improving by 38% since 2015; the highest in Europe. The huge efforts made in recent years by the entire ecosystem – among them from hubs established through Teaming activities – and the stakeholders of the National Research and Innovation Governance System, are paying off.

Distinguished Guests,

For Cyprus to become more resilient and prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the green and digital transitions, the Government has set high standards through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, “Cyprus Tomorrow”.

Fully in line with the Government’s reform efforts and as part of its commitment to support and further develop the local ecosystem, the Research and Innovation Foundation launched its new framework of research and innovation funding programs a few months ago.

With a €150m budget of targeted investments, our main goal is to strengthen a fit-for-the-future ecosystem – of high competitiveness, adding value horizontally across all sectors of the economy leading to further development and commercialization of value-added innovative products and services.

Moreover, the RIF’s Central Knowledge Transfer Office began operations a few days ago, aiming to enhance links between our research community and businesses and transfer the results of scientific and technological research to the economy as well as to society.

All the above, reflect the Government’s strong commitment to establish research, innovation, and technology as a fundamental pillar of the country’s new growth model, which will in turn expand the productive base of the economy, foster innovative entrepreneurship, and accelerate the green and digital transitions. A priority that I deeply aspire to as the Chief Scientist of Research and Innovation.

Dear members of the Centers of Excellence,

 If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.  Considering this phrase – which underlines the importance of teamwork and cooperation towards a brighter and more resilient future – I would like to assure you that you will always have our full support. Your research results fill us with confidence.

Now is the time to leverage our strengths and intensify our efforts to create a dynamic and competitive economy driven by research, scientific excellence, innovation, entrepreneurship, and technological development. Let’s seize the opportunities and pave the path to success!

Once again, I would like to congratulate the organizers of this event. I am sure that the discussions will prove valuable and beneficial for everyone.

Thank you.