Speech of the Chief Scientist for Research and Innovation of the Republic of Cyprus, Dr. Nikolas Mastroyiannopoulos at the 5th Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum – The Challenge of AI | Cyprus Entrepreneurship Competition CyEC2020 Award Ceremony | 18 December 2020

Esteemed Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry,

Dear Professors, Startups and Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a privilege to stand before you here today at the 5th Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum to address the Award Ceremony of the Cyprus Entrepreneurship Competition 2020.

Since 2003 the Cyprus Entrepreneurship Competition has been nurturing entrepreneurial culture among scientists, high-tech entrepreneurs and startup founders, aiming to challenge them to transform their innovative ideas into successful companies.

As such, it is with pleasure that the 2020 edition is under the auspices of the Chief Scientist of Research and Innovation of the Republic of Cyprus, the institution that I have the honor to represent.

I would like to congratulate the organizers for this initiative and express my gratitude for their dedication and relentless efforts to strengthen the local ecosystem of Research and Innovation.

I would also like to extend my congratulations to all the members of the academic, research and business world who took on the role of mentor, guiding the participants throughout the Competition. Your dedication enables tangible results for our ecosystem. In fact, this Competition has attracted over the past years, ideas from over 100 teams with more than 400 people, successfully launching 13 startups. Some of them with significant investments and revenues.

Distinguished guests,

A dynamic and vibrant ecosystem of startups and innovative enterprises is key in enhancing the sustainability and competitiveness of our economy, and it’s a top priority for us. However, for Research and Innovation to flourish in our country, it is vital to develop all the necessary conditions and infuse a strong entrepreneurial mindset. And while nurturing a culture of creativity, research and innovation at all levels across the country is a prerequisite and our concrete strategic goal, it is not panacea. It will be challenging to yield results without the necessary synergies.

With this in mind, broadening the academia-business cooperation networks and bringing the best talents of our research community together with businesses, is of utmost importance for us. Building up strong synergies will lead to the establishment of a productive R&I environment and eventually transform the best ideas into value-added world-class innovative services and products.

This will result in the creation of a robust ecosystem that is fit-for-the-future and sustainable. Adding value horizontally across all sectors of the economy and building opportunities for socioeconomic prosperity, by creating new jobs, attracting investments, offering easier and quicker access to various services and at the same time, strengthening Cyprus’ competitiveness in the international arena.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The importance of research, technological development and innovation is greater today than ever before, having reshaped in an unprecedented way how people, businesses and even states operate and interact, and ushered in a new era essentially, for humanity.

Embarking on this new era, and especially during a period of major challenges due to the pandemic, the Government of Cyprus, has implemented a series of breakthrough reforms, which reflect its strong commitment to establish Research and Innovation as a fundamental base of a new growth model, capable of expanding the productive base of the Cyprus economy.

In collaboration with all involved stakeholders, we remain committed in implementing the government’s strategy to build a strong extroverted Research and Innovation ecosystem, paying particular focus in supporting young entrepreneurs and our country’s younger generation. They are, after all, the future of Cyprus. The Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy as well as the Research and Innovation Foundation, have already demonstrated their strong eagerness and ambitious aspirations in implementing the country’s strategic goals.

To this end, the Research and Innovation Foundation has allocated a budget of over €20 million through its Innovation Programs to startups and innovative companies, exclusively for the creation and the development of innovative products and services with prospects of penetrating the international market.  The impact in the economy and society is clear: The Innovation Programs funding led to the creation of a total of 188 new jobs and the strengthening of 84 companies.

Dear guests and finalists,

I am confident that we all share the same vision and we all acknowledge what research, innovation and technology are capable of offering. Our mission is to contribute to the greatest extent to the creation of a dynamic and competitive economy driven by research, scientific excellence, innovation, entrepreneurship and technological development, establishing Cyprus as a regional hub.

It is now the time to leverage our strengths and positive results, to learn from our shortcomings and build on them, to grab the opportunities and unleash into the future to materialize our common mission for our country. A mission that I as the Chief Scientist, consider as a personal challenge.

I would like to once again congratulate the inspirers of the Cyprus Entrepreneurship Competition.

Most importantly, I congratulate the finalists. Your hard work is mapping the path towards a bright future. I welcome you all to the local Research and Innovation ecosystem, in synergy to augment the sum of the parts. I am confident that we can walk this path together, driven by a restless spirit of curiosity and passion, towards exciting new opportunities and a bright innovative future for our country.

Thank you all and I wish you every success.