By Angelos Anastasiou
THE possibilities for stimulating the Cyprus economy through research and innovation were the focus in the formal presentation of the EU’s new funding research and innovation programme ‘Horizon 2020’ in Nicosia on Thursday.
The programme will allocate €80 billion in research grants during the period 2014-2020.
During a news conference on Thursday, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, who visited Cyprus specifically for the presentation, said that Horizon 2020 offers the country enormous opportunities.
Research and innovation, she said, can become an instrument to fight the economic crisis through the development of innovative products and services and job creation. According to the Commissioner, the key is in the collaboration between businesses and academic institutions.
In Horizon 2020 procedures have been greatly simplified, offering opportunities to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Commissioner Quinn called for researchers, universities, and businesses, including the media, to participate in the programme, taking advantage of Cyprus’ available infrastructure.
In welcoming Quinn to Cyprus, labour and social insurance minister Zeta Emilianidou noted that Horizon 2020 could make a significant contribution to improving the European economy’s competitiveness and provide an immediate revitalising boost to development. The government, Emilianidou said, is “currently reviewing its overall strategy and policy on research and innovation.”
Director general for European Programmes Coordination and Development (EPCD) and chairman of the Research Promotion Foundation (RPF) Giorgos Georgiou said that “European programmes offer wonderful opportunities for absorbing research funds since funding opportunities at the national level are limited, especially at this time, and the state budget cannot sustain such levels of funding.”
RPF director general Vasileios Tsakalos called for the research and business communities in Cyprus to utilise the services offered by the foundation to support their participation in Horizon 2020. He noted that “Cyprus has a proven track record of successfully participating in European competitive programmes of research and innovation.”
The aim of the conference was to inform interested parties of the programme’s goals, areas covered and relevant procedures, participation and funding rules, actions of particular interest to the Cypriot research community, and the support provided by the RPF to Cyprus institutions.
Horizon 2020 is the EU’s mechanism of funding research and innovation activity. It focuses on innovation, the social challenges presenting Europe (health, clean energy, transport, etc) and the effort to simplify access to EU funding to all organizations (businesses, academic institutions, etc), both within and without the EU.
As part of its mandate in coordinating Cyprus’s participation activities in Horizon 2020, the RPF hosts Cyprus’s National Contact Points (NCPs), offering free support services to researchers in all programme activities.