Speech of the Chief Scientist for Research and Innovation of the Cyprus Republic, Dr. Nikolas Mastroyiannopoulos, at the “Cyprus Seeds 2022 Innovation Showcase”, The Cyprus Institute | 1 June 2022

Distinguished Participants, Speakers and Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I address you today at the “Cyprus Seeds 2022 Innovation Showcase».

A celebration of the successful completion of the Cyprus Seeds’ Second Funding Cycle, bringing together forward-thinkers, researchers, entrepreneurs and leaders of technology-driven and cross-sectoral companies.

Since its inception, the mission of Cyprus Seeds has been to support the commercialization of innovative academic research from any discipline with market potential, help our scientists to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and at the same time slow down brain drain in our country. A vision that I deeply aspire too, as Cyprus’ Chief Scientist for Research and Innovation and the Chairman of the Research and Innovation Foundation. A vision also shared by the A. G. Leventis Foundation and more specifically by Mr. George David, the creator, the visionary leader and major supporter of the project. Mr. David, I personally thank you for your relentless efforts to help and support our Country.

I would like to congratulate the Cyprus Seeds team for all their efforts to boost research and innovative entrepreneurship in our country, as well as the grantees and their universities/research institutions, who stood out during the first and second cycle of the program.

Let me also extend my greetings to all the esteemed fellow speakers and particularly the mentors who guided the teams throughout this wonderful journey; Mrs. Karen Golmer, Mr. Jonathan Green, Mr. Paul Blackborow, Mr. George Mabry, and Mr. Leon Sandler. I would like to personally welcome you to Cyprus and thank you for sharing your views and experiences with us.

Distinguished Guests,

As we embark on a new era, research, innovation and technology are crucial to tackle the increasing challenges humanity is facing and achieve growth and social prosperity.

With this in mind, the government of Cyprus is implementing the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, called “Cyprus Tomorrow”, which is fully in line with EU objectives, implementing a new strategy towards a new growth model for the country. Furthermore, the government is setting up the Cyprus Equity Fund in collaboration with the European Investment Fund, to support Cypriot innovative companies and startups primarily seeking pre-seed and seed capital to develop their business and scale.

The above reflect the country’s strong commitment to make Research and Innovation a fundamental pillar of a new growth model, capable of expanding the productive base of the economy, fostering innovative entrepreneurship, and accelerating the green and digital transition of Cyprus.

Additionally, as part of its commitment to support and enhance the local ecosystem, the Research and Innovation Foundation launched the Bridge Funding programs in spring 2021 with a total budget of €15 million, aiming to provide incentives for partnerships to private and publicly-funded academic and research organizations.

In December 2021, the third call of RIF’s Innovation Programs was launched with €13 million for startups and innovative companies, to facilitate the transformation of innovative ideas into products and services with the prospect of penetrating the international market.

The Research and Innovation Foundation new framework of research and innovation funding programs announced a few months ago, will provide €150 million in funding via various programs for the period 2021- 2027. Our main goal is to strengthen the extroversion of our ecosystem by building on the philosophy of targeted investments, as well as to expand the competitive sectors of the economy and use new technologies that will lead to developing new sectors that will support the green, blue, and digital transition and development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 Our country is home to a young but fast-growing ecosystem of world-class academic and research centers, a dynamic community of startups and innovative businesses and a well-educated talent pool.

In fact, Cyprus is among the five countries that improved their innovation performance by over 25% in the 2021 European Innovation Scoreboard, recording the second-best improvement rate in the European Union and rising to 28th place in the 2020 Global Innovation Index.

It’s clear that we are on the right track to enhance our country’s competitiveness and growth. However, we still need to fully embrace results-driven creativity, and fuel cutting edge innovation across the board, modernize our education system, diversify the economy, and develop the proper conditions to turn challenges into realized, scalable business opportunities.

To us, through our different capacities under the umbrella of the National Research and Innovation Governance System, but also to me personally, the development of synergies and exchange of expertise with private organisations and public authorities as well as countries with advanced R&I ecosystems, is key for the creation of an advanced and extroverted R&I environment. One that will strengthen the local ecosystem, attract investors from abroad, create links with international VCs and facilitate access to high-risk capital. An ecosystem that is fit-for-the-future and efficient, adding value horizontally across all sectors of the economy.

Towards this goal, the RIF is in the process of establishing a national Knowledge Transfer Office, aiming to transfer the results of scientific and technological research to the economy, and therefore society at large. The establishment and operation of the Office has been included in the National Resilience and Recovery Plan with a €3m budget and it will be fully operational in 2022.

Dear Grantees,

 To quote Arthur C. Clarke, “the only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.”  This phrase resonates in today’s world more than ever. Now is the time to join forces and create a bright and resilient future.

Once again, I would like to congratulate the inspirers, as well as all the participants of this remarkable initiative and wish you every success in your future endeavours. I welcome all of you to the local Research and Innovation ecosystem and I am confident that we can walk this path together, driven by a spirit of curiosity and passion, towards new and exciting opportunities.

Thank you all and I wish you the best of luck in your future undertakings.