The importance of science, research and innovation, as key drivers of sustainable economic growth and social prosperity is, at the present time, more evident and greater than ever. The results of recently published studies indicate that we are at the beginning of a new era that will be defined by a new wave of deeper and transformational innovations, as well as by the integration of digital technologies into societies. In view of these increasingly complex challenges and opportunities ahead, we must ensure significant input from science and research, in order to address them fully and appropriately.
Cyprus has a proven record in generating high-quality scientific knowledge. Centres of scientific excellence, gradually being developed within our academic and research institutions, conduct groundbreaking research at the international level. At the same time, a small but substantial number of companies compete, on equal terms, with multi-million companies, establishing collaborations with global giants in technology. Nevertheless, our country’s innovation performance remains low compared to Europe’s average, and well below our true potential.
Transforming new knowledge into tangible benefit for the local market, the economy and the society is one of the key challenges for our national research and innovation system. At the same time, innovative entrepreneurship and a vibrant startup pulse is being created, triggered by trends in the international startup scene, as well as by new needs created by the financial crisis of the past years, creating an excellent opportunity for our national innovation ecosystem.
At this critical time, it is of outmost importance that the key stakeholders of our national research and innovation ecosystem, including government, the academic and research community and the private sector, come together and work collectively and effectively, setting common objectives and mobilizing the necessary resources. Choosing appropriate fields of action through a renewed national strategy for research and innovation will be crucial for our national innovation ecosystem in the medium- and long term.
By significantly enhancing our national investment in research and development, aiming at more ambitious national goals to reach 1,5% of GDP by 2023 and giving a strong boost to private sector investment, we will significantly expand our scientific base and strengthen the potential of our businesses to innovate. Focusing on specific, strategically selected areas, we will direct our research into fields of greater value to the local community and enhanced potential for economic benefits.
By strengthening our system’s extroversion through strategic partnerships with neighboring and successfully innovative countries, we will broaden the cooperation networks of our scientists and entrepreneurs, and we will benefit from the exchange of knowledge and experience accumulated by these countries. At the same time, by helping our businesses to “think global” from day one, we will encourage them to aim high, while eliminating structural weaknesses of our system, such as the small size of the local market and critical mass of resources.
By targeting our education system, from early childhood to university, we can nurture the desired culture for creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation. By creating our own first success stories, we will be able to inspire the younger generation and pave the way for their own, greater successes.
Political decisions taken at the end of last year to reform the national governance system for research and innovation are of crucial importance and reflect the commitment of the higher political level to adopt research and innovation as a fundamental pillar of a new national model for growth.
Within this new governance system, the National Board for Research and Innovation (NBRI) has assumed the role of the principal advisory body of the government of the Republic of Cyprus for defining research and innovation strategy, and for supporting evidence-based policy design and implementation. The members of NBRI have undertaken this role with a strong sense of responsibility, but also with willingness to share their own knowledge and experiences to create impact for our economy and society. We look forward to work closely with the government and the stakeholders to ensure the creation of an efficient national innovation ecosystem and a bright future for Cyprus in the fields of science, research and innovation.
Prof. Philippos Patsalis
National Board for Research and Innovation