Speech of the Chief Scientist for Research and Innovation of the Cyprus Republic, Dr. Nikolas Mastroyiannopoulos for the event on the importance of Blockchain technologies in digital governance, University of Nicosia | 18 March 2022

Esteemed Deputy Minister for Research, Innovation and Digital Policy,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I address you at this important event highlighting the vital role of Blockchain in digital governance.

I would like to take this opportunity to personally congratulate the Deputy Ministry, the inspirers of the event, and convey my appreciation for your dedication and relentless efforts to promote Distributed Ledger Technologies and Blockchain in digital governance in Cyprus.

Distinguished Guests,

Research, innovation and technology, are crucial to augment the positive impact towards growth and social prosperity and tackle arising challenges.

In this new age, leading into the metaverse era, Blockchain is expected to play an increasingly leading role across the board, capable of transforming the way we exchange information, ensuring security and transparency of transactions.

The creation of a dynamic and competitive economy, driven by research, scientific excellence, innovation, entrepreneurship and new technological developments, such as Blockchain, is among the priorities for the Cyprus government. To this end, a series of strategic reforms and investments have been implemented.

In particular, the government’s national strategy is geared to promote the development of Blockchain in Cyprus, through innovation and pilot applications as well as through close cooperation between the private and public sectors. The strategy aims to create an attractive ecosystem for the growth of companies utilizing business models based on Blockchain, and transforming the island as a regional tech and innovation hub and one of the leading international business centers, with an efficient, transparent, fit-for-purpose, regulatory framework.

The government Bill for Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) to make Cyprus’ jurisdiction friendlier, was until recently under public consultation. Final discussions are taking place with the relevant stakeholders and the Bill will be submitted to Parliament for vetting, while CySEC is currently working on launching a Regulatory Sandbox.

Furthermore, the government is in the process of creating an Equity Fund, aiming to improve the access of SMEs and more specifically startups and innovative companies to funds, which will further enhance private investments and strategic partnerships.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the past few years, R&D activity in our country has been steadily and significantly growing. Cyprus is home to world-class academic and research centers, a well-educated and highly skilled, multilingual workforce and tech-savvy talent, as well as a robust community of startups and innovative enterprises.

In fact, Cyprus had the second-best improvement in the European Union. It is among the top five countries that improved their innovation performance by over 25%, in the European Innovation Scoreboard of 2021, and the second-best innovation driven economy in the region after Israel.

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

For us, through our different capacities under the umbrella of the Cyprus National Research and Innovation Governance System, but also for me personally, as the Chief Scientist, building bridges between different actors that will lead to strategic partnerships and collaborations, which as a result will enable the amalgamation of disciplines and technologies is a top priority.

Synergies are essentially the driving force behind strengthening the local ecosystem into a fit-for-the-future R&I ecosystem, commercializing research results into value-added world-class innovative services and products, attracting investors from abroad, creating links with international VCs and facilitating access to high-risk capital, adding value horizontally across all sectors of the economy.

In order to support our R&I ecosystem and expand it even further, last week we announced our broader €150 million research and innovation funding framework for the period 2021-27. Our growth plan.

Within this frame we plan to introduce top-down funding programs for Blockchain technologies, in order to support and fund Blockchain solutions and maintain the momentum and the technology readiness of our stakeholders.

Further, our current programs while technology agnostic overall, favor cutting edge technologies. Programs, such Co-Develop that was launched yesterday with a total budget of 10.2m euros, carry particular focus and mission based allocated budget of 4.2m euros for ICT and Health, where Blockchain can be applied with highlighted benefits. In addition, our Proof of Concept, Research in Enterprises and Innovation Programs are available for the testing, development and international growth of Blockchain innovations.

Through the expression of interest, RFI, and the potential use of blockchain solutions that can be used in a public private partnership setting, we received 59 Expressions of Interest in 11 predetermined domains. The independent evaluation by internationally known experts in the field, recommends 7 specific domains based on the maturity of the domain and the value and impact of the application of Blockchain in these domains for the public sector.

Domains and use cases such as e-Invoicing, Land Registry, KYC, Customs & Taxation, Education Digital Certificates, Supply Chain, and Medical Records, are recommended for investment by the public sector. Implementing a pre-commercial procurement process, blockchain technologies can be utilized to facilitate tech transfer and innovation adoption in the public sector.

With regards to the above PCP and Innovation procurement, workshops will take place for educating all sides and hence create the necessary awareness. The European Assistance for Innovation Procurement (EAFIP) initiative supports these efforts.

Dear Friends,

Paraphrasing Michael S. Dell, “it’s through curiosity and looking at opportunities in new ways that we’ve always mapped our path.”

As we step towards a new era, this phrase resonates more than ever. The world can only thrive if everyone progresses and walks together. I invite you all to join forces to shape a bright and resilient future. A future that lays emphasis on the young generation and it’s driven by our passion for new and exciting opportunities. The pace of change and the “threat” of disruption creates tremendous opportunities!

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

Thank you.