News
Cyprus & World News

Research and innovation important to restart Cypriot economy

15 January, 2014

The importance of research and innovation in the efforts to restart the Cypriot economy is underlined by Director General of the Research Promotion Foundation, Dr Vassilis Tsakalos, in an interview he gave to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

In his interview with CNA, Tsakalos said that Cyprus needs to develop a new pillar for economic growth, which will be based on research and innovation but added that given the nature of the research, the benefits to the real economy will come over time and therefore require long-term planning and commitment.

Founded in 1996, the Research Promotion Foundation (RPF) was established at the initiative of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, to promote the development of scientific and technological research in Cyprus due to the fundamental importance of research in contemporary societies.

Tsakalos told CNA that the Research Promotion Foundation is the main supporter of the development of domestic research activity over the last 15 years.
The Foundation has signed contracts for 1200 grant projects, half of which were signed within the last five years, while it has spent more than €90 million.

Tsakalos also said that on January 16th the National Launch event of the European program Horizon 2020 will take place in Nicosia, in the presence of European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan- Quinn.

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

In his interview with CNA, Tsakalos called upon the research and business community in Cyprus to make the best possible use of the services of the Foundation, particularly those associated with the "Horizon 2020", saying that if we improve our performance in this area , we will be able to maintain or even increase jobs of highly trained scientists.

Asked how the Foundation can contribute to the restart of the Cyprus economy, he said that during this crucial period we have to seriously consider the need to develop a new pillar of economic growth, which will be based on research and innovation .

But he warned that given the nature of the research, the benefits to the real economy will come over time and therefore require long-term planning and commitment.

Tsakalos told CNA that measures to promote innovation and development, like new products and services, by SMEs, have a more direct impact on the real economy.

What is needed, he added, is a mixture of strategic goals and consequent programs that would offer a balance between the short-term impact on the economic growth and the creation of conditions for the sustainable development based on knowledge.

He pointed out that the Foundation is in a position to draft those programs that would achieve the objectives of the Strategy for Research and Innovation which is expected to be adopted soon by the competent authorities of Cyprus.

In his statements to CNA, Tsakalos called upon the Cypriot research and business community to make the best possible use of the services of the Foundation, particularly those associated with the " Horizon 2020 ".

“If we improve our performance in this area, we will be able to maintain or even increase the valuable jobs of the highly trained scientific workforce”, he stressed.

Referring to the research activity in Cyprus, he said that it is internationally competitive adding that this is demonstrated by the very satisfactory number and impact of scientific publications produced by Cypriot researchers and the amount of funds attracted by Cypriot organizations, particularly in the framework of the very competitive conditions for European Commission programs.

However, he pointed out that the small size of the research activity, the limited industrial activity and the low involvement of the private sector further restricts the growth of the sector.

Tsakalos told CNA that a series of interventions is needed including institutional changes and the gradual increase of resources available for research and innovation in order to highlight Cyprus’ competitive advantages.

Throughout its presence in the research area in Cyprus, the Foundation has developed a wide range of activities. These fall into two main categories. The first category is Financing Research Projects through the Development and Monitoring of Competitive Programmes. This first category aims primarily at enhancing research, technological development and innovation activities in Cyprus and moreover at increasing the critical mass of researchers and research projects undertaken in Cyprus.

The main instruments for achieving these goals involve competitive programs developed and monitored by RPF and the related funds come from the Cyprus government budget and, as from 2007, also from the Structural Funds of the European Union.

The second category is Managing European Research and Innovation Projects and Promotion of International Cooperation in Research and Innovation.

This category encompasses the development of several activities to facilitate the creation of networks between Cypriot and foreign scientists. Most of these activities relate to the involvement of Cypriot scientists in European research and innovation programs, the cooperation with international organisations supporting research and innovation activities and the preparation and implementation of bilateral agreements between Cyprus and other countries in the field of research and technological development.