US-Cyprus STEM deal to drive innovation, jobs

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Science and technology cooperation between Cyprus and the U.S. got closer on Friday with the signing of the first ten-year bilateral agreement that aims to bolster innovation and job creation, especially in areas of public health and climate change.

The agreement was signed in Nicosia by US Ambassador Judith Garber and Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, Kyriacos Kokkinos.

The event coincided with the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, with two researchers sharing their experiences, views and expectations in the field of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Marina Prokopi-Demetriades and Vasiliki Kassianidou also discussed ways to unlock the country’s full potential as a science, innovation and technology hub, capitalising on the female dynamic.

“On this day of Women in Science, we recommit to further expanding U.S.-Cyprus bilateral cooperation in scientific research and technological innovation. Our new Science & Technology Agreement is a strong foundation for future collaboration in shared scientific values,” Ambassador Garber commented after the ceremony.

The agreement “aims to strengthen scientific and technological capabilities, broaden and expand relations between the extensive scientific and technological communities of both countries, as well as promote scientific and technological cooperation in areas of common interest and mutual benefit,” said a Deputy Ministry announcement.

Kokkinos highlighted the importance of science and technology in solving challenges such as climate change, aging population health and societal injustices.

“We deserve a greener, more sustainable, more digital and more prosperous future. And we can achieve it by working closer together”, said the junior minister.

Also present at the ceremony was Erika Olson, the State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, who stressed that “science and technology are drivers for innovation, job creation, and improving the lives of our citizens by solving from public health crises to climate change.”

She expressed her appreciation to the Republic of Cyprus for its commitment to key outcomes at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow last November, including the Global Methane Pledge and for launching the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Climate Change Initiative.

Comprehensive road map

She said the new science and technology agreement was a “new chapter in the bilateral relationship between our two nations, renewing our cooperation in scientific research and technological innovation.  It is a comprehensive road map – and commitment – to a new day of scientific cooperation.”

Both Kokkinos and Olson referred to the need to ensure equal access to the scientific and technological evolution, saying that the world stands to benefit from the fresh, unique perspectives and experiences of women, who, in view of the skills shortage in the STEM area and the ICT sector in particular, can fill these vital positions and become true drivers of innovation and transformation utilising the opportunities arising from this long-anticipated Agreement.

In earlier comments last month on bilateral cooperation, Ambassador Garber said, “new firsts are on the horizon in 2022, including the inauguration of the Cyprus Center for Land, Open Seas and Port Security – CYCLOPS, a training centre that will help the United States, Cyprus and the region face common security challenges.”

“We are partnering to increase our economic ties, and rebuild our economies on stronger, firmer, more transparent, and resilient foundations. My team will work to identify innovative and mutually beneficial ways to ensure the economic recovery benefits people here and in the United States.

“As we recover economically from COVID-19, we must also invest to build back better in a sustainable and climate-conscious way,” she added.