Cyprus Marine & Maritime Institute appoints first CEO

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Mayor of Larnaca Andreas Vyras and the board of the Cyprus Marine & Maritime Institute have appointed Zacharias Siokouros as the first Chief Executive Officer of the newly established research centre.

Naval architect Siokouros will be steering the CMMI, an international, scientific and business Centre of Excellence for Marine and Maritime Research, Innovation and Technological Development that will be driven by the needs of the Industry.

The appointment of Siokouros essentially marks the launching of the Institute which was set up by MaRITeC-X the consortium, spearheaded by Larnaca municipality that includes local universities, as well as international maritime institutions.

The project of setting the institute received €15 mln in co-financing from the Cyprus government, as part of being selected for funding by the European Commission’s Horizon2020 research and innovation programme, while being funded with another €15 mln from the Cyprus government.

The project is expected to give a boost to the quiet town of Larnaca which is currently lingering in the shadow of the island’s commercial development, by creating hundreds of jobs for scientists.

Half of the €30 mln budget will go towards building brand new premises with 20,000 sq.m. of space on municipal land in the Mackenzie area, with construction expected to be completed in just over three years.

The other half will go towards recruitment with plans to host as many as 200 to 300 researchers, including graduate students working towards their post-doctoral research.

The CMMI will focus on the ‘blue economy’ and cover a broad range of subjects, as long as it falls within the remit of “an independent, international, scientific and business centre of excellence in marine and maritime activities” and will include technology, and product development, innovation and entrepreneurship, training and education, start-ups and beta country development.

MaRITeC-X cites in its mission statement said “the research and innovation activities of the centre will be aligned with the Smart Specialisation Strategy of Cyprus (S3Cy), as well as with European Union and global priorities in blue economy sectors.

EU and government funding will be for the initial seven-year period, with the CMMI eligible for further grants after that.

For the time being, the municipality will provide temporary facilities to the CMMI, while plans also include setting up a satellite facility in Limassol and a smaller office in Nicosia.

Local universities have signed commitment letters to cooperate with the CMMI, whose remaining partners include the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (UK), the Marine Institute (Ireland) and SmartBay (Ireland).

Siokouros was born in Cyprus and graduated from the National Technical University of Athens as a Naval Architect and Marine Engineer and worked for Lloyd’s Register and DNV-GL.