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“Research and Technological Development: the Vision for Cyprus”

The Government of Cyprus attaches great importance to Research and Technological Development (RTD), as it recognises its contribution towards the attainment of the development objectives in the fields of productivity and competitiveness, towards the acquirement of new knowledge and the adoption of advanced technology, across the whole spectrum of the productive process.

Evolution of RTD activities in Cyprus
Up until the early nineties, the level of RTD activities in Cyprus was low, not only by international comparison, but also given the relatively high level of development of the economy of Cyprus. Most of the research activities, were undertaken by the public sector. Since financing of these activities was provided directly through the annual Development Budget of the Republic, there was little incentive for competition to secure the required funding.

During the last few years, however, RTD activities in Cyprus have been significantly expanding, mainly as a result of the establishment of the University of Cyprus and the increase of research activities undertaken by a number of research organisations, in the public as well as in the private sector. The establishment of the Research Promotion Foundation - an institute responsible for the co-ordination and support of research activities - has also been an important step towards the promotion of RTD in Cyprus. Moreover, the participation of Cyprus in the Fifth Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities of the European Union, is considered of utmost importance, as it pays a catalytic role to the expansion of research activities and enables Cypriot scientists to create networks of co-operation and interact with their European colleagues.

Comparative advantages
Cyprus is substantially favoured by its scientific manpower and has the opportunity to utilise the pool of its distinguished expatriate scientists. Moreover, the infrastructure it has developed in telecommunications, which enables the easy access to international research networks, together with the high standard of living in Cyprus, could also attract foreign scientists, in general.

Constraining factors
However, the efforts for the development of RTD activities are constrained by the small size of the Cyprus economy and its enterprises (often family run), which do not favour the development of industrial research, the inadequate, as yet, development of research skills within the educational system and the rather insufficient, as yet, research infrastructure.

Strategy of the Government of Cyprus – measures
With these in mind, and taking into consideration the importance of RTD in today’s socio-economic conditions, the Government has developed its strategy.

The main aim of this, is the correlation of RTD activities with the specific needs of the Cyprus economy. In order to identify the main priorities of Cyprus as far as RTD is concerned, a survey is being carried out under the supervision of the Cyprus Development Bank, the Planning Bureau and the Research Promotion Foundation.

It is, further, evident that the efforts for the promotion of RTD activities should start and pass through the educational system. The discussion of specific measures in order to achieve this, has already commenced, through a substantial dialogue between the Research Promotion Foundation and the Ministry of Education and Culture.

The strengthening of the relevant infrastructure is considered as the cornerstone for the support of RTD activities in Cyprus and constitutes one of the main priorities of the Government. We are, at present, in the process of examining the organisational structure and operation of selected Centres of Excellence abroad, in order to promote the establishment of similar centres in Cyprus. Moreover, within the framework of the “New Industrial Policy of the Government, for the Development of High Technology Industry in Cyprus” the concept of incubators for high technology companies and centres for carrying applied research and development in high technology fields, is promoted.

Furthermore, in its attempt to upgrade the research infrastructure in Cyprus, the Government supported the connection of Cyprus with the European Research and Academic Network QUANTUM/QMED. The main benefit from this, is the development of the infrastructure, necessary for the easy access of the Cypriot scientists to the international scientific information, and the communication with the European research and academic community.

Finally, the upgrading of research infrastructure will be further promoted through specific programs of the Research Promotion Foundation, which will start finance proposals, selected on a competitive basis, aiming specifically at strengthening the research infrastructure.

As it has been mentioned already, one of the strong comparative advantages of Cyprus in the field of RTD, is the large community of distinguished Cypriot expatriate scientists. Several measures are being promoted in order to utilise this advantage, the most important of them being: the creation of data bases of the Cypriot expatriate scientists, which will assist in the establishment of communication channels, the inclusion of Cypriot expatriates in the lists of the Expert Advisory Groups of the Fifth Framework Programme, and the encouragement of the participation of Cypriot expatriates in the annual programmes for financing research projects, of the Research Promotion Foundation.

Recognising the importance of networking for the promotion of RTD activities, the Government of Cyprus supports the creation of co-operation networks amongst the Cypriot and the international research community, and the participation of Cypriots, in European research programmes.

As a candidate country, Cyprus encourages and promotes the participation of Cypriot research institutions in Community programmes offered within the framework of the Redirected Mediterranean Policy.

Special emphasis has been put on the promotion of the participation of Cypriot scientists in the Fifth Framework Programme of the European Union for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities. The Government, in co-operation with the Research Promotion Foundation, has taken several steps in order to encourage and improve the participation of Cypriot researchers in the Programme. It has set up a network of National Contact Points to the Fifth Framework Programme. The main responsibilities of the National Contact Points are the dissemination of information relating to the Programme, to the research community of Cyprus, and the support to researchers in order to prepare competitive proposals. Furthermore, an agreement of co-operation has been signed between the Research Promotion Foundation and the Innovation Relay Centre PRAXIS of Greece. Among others, the agreement covers the provision of specific help and advice to researchers submitting proposals and the assistance in partner search. So far, the results regarding the participation of Cyprus in the Programme are very encouraging, even though there is room for further improvement.

Networking is also promoted through the COST Programme, which has developed into one of the largest frameworks for research co-operation in Europe. The Government has constructed the necessary organisational structures and mechanisms for the promotion of the participation of Cypriot scientists in the Programme.

Within the Government’s policy to promote networking, initiatives such as the present one are also being supported.

Last but not least, scientific and technological research in Cyprus, is promoted through the annual Programme of the Research Promotion Foundation for financing of research projects. Within the framework of the first three calls, the programme supported a number of topics defined in advance, which attracted a total of 259 proposals. On the basis of the evaluation of the proposals, 50 of them are currently being financed. The available amount for financing proposals in 1998, 1999 and 2000 was 270.000, 450.000 and 700.000 CYP, respectively. The Foundation, which is an independent organisation supported entirely by the Government, is also responsible for the management of the European research Programmes.

It is evident that the Government of Cyprus, having realised the importance of Research and Technological Development, is already taking a number of steps towards the right direction. We recognise, nevertheless, that the level of RTD activities in Cyprus is still not high enough, and that the upgrading of such activities needs long term planning, as well as consistent efforts and co-operation of all the stakeholders: the Government, the Research Promotion Foundation and the research community of Cyprus. It is envisaged that in the foreseeable future the gap in the level of RTD between Cyprus and developed countries in this area will be gradually eliminated.                            [Home] [Top]

From the speech of the Permanent Secretary of the Planning Bureau and Director of the Research Promotion Foundation, Mr Panikos Pouros, at the 2nd meeting of the “Thematic Network on Foresight in the Enlargement Countries”(Nicosia, Forum Intercontinental Hotel, April 8 2000)

Subject: “Research and Technological Development: the Vision for Cyprus”