Cyprus ramps up innovation drive with AI and startup focus and AI finds applications in financial services to prevent fraud and enhance customer experience, while the education sector explores robotics and generative AI for innovative teaching methods.

“Cyprus is making significant strides in integrating AI and machine learning across various sectors, from public services and healthcare to maritime and cultural heritage. With a focus on enhancing digital skills, fostering innovation through startups, and leveraging research excellence, the country is poised to boost its digital and green transition. The government’s commitment to AI adoption, alongside initiatives like the Business Digital Upgrade Plan and targeted training, positions Cyprus as an emerging tech hub with a bright future.”

How is Cyprus leveraging AI and machine learning technologies to promote innovation within startups and established industries?

The government aspires, through targeted measures and incentives, to accelerate the development and adoption of AI in the public and private sectors, but also to integrate AI applications into its structures and services in a way that substantially improves the services it provides to citizens (e.g. through the Smart Cities project).

To that extent, the Deputy Ministry for Research, Innovation and Digital Policy is currently in the process of reviewing the national AI strategy.

According to the DESI index for Cyprus, a mere 2.6 per cent of enterprises have adopted AI solutions and just 6.2 per cent have adopted Big Data technology solutions. There are also shortages in skilled personnel that we are addressing through a wide range of training initiatives some of which have already been announced. The acquisition of digital skills from a young age is also part of our agenda. In addition, we are participating in the processes to develop a regulation for the safe and reliable use of AI at the European level (AI Act), the first comprehensive legislation to regulate AI globally, the adoption of which is expected to stimulate investment and innovation in the AI sector, while ensuring respect for Europe’s fundamental rights and values.

At the same time, the Business Digital Upgrade Plan by the Ministry of Energy, Trade, and Industry includes – as eligible expenses – the integration and utilisation of AI and other advanced digital technologies by enterprises. This scheme is expected to accelerate the adoption of such technologies by the private sector.

Last but not least, as a country we have significant capabilities in ICT-related research, including AI. This is something we intend to make good use of in our digital transformation efforts. We continuously invest in developing skills related to artificial intelligence through HRDA courses where employees can access the latest cloud and AI fundamentals training.

Several Centres of Excellence, such as Kios and CYENS, BioBank, and CMMI, are also leveraging AI, and machine learning (ML) in diverse applications. For instance, KIOS is developing multi-modal kits for traffic assessment and crowd detection and localisation, while CYENS employs AI and virtual reality in cultural heritage preservation.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are also used extensively in the health industry. For example, Biobank utilises AI and ML to analyse the Cypriot genome and classify patient severity based on polygenic risk score. Meanwhile, institutes such as CING use AI from a research perspective in projects tackling Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease codenamed; AIPrognosis and ComfortAge.

Various institutions and startups are also leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to take on the battle against cancer.  Additionally, the CMMI Centre of Excellence also utilised artificial intelligence extensively in use-cases such as; predictive models for ships, for optimising fuel consumption, predicting port congestion and improving estimated arrival times, improving efficiency and situational awareness of marine robots and autonomous sensing units through target tracking and robotic asset coordination.

Furthermore, AI finds applications in financial services to prevent fraud and enhance customer experience, while the education sector explores robotics and generative AI for innovative teaching methods.

We aim to bridge the gap between research and market by facilitating the commercialisation of research outcomes. The Research and Innovation Foundation offers an array of funding programmes to support this objective, fostering a vibrant innovation ecosystem.

How does Cyprus plan to use AI and robotics in advancing its green transition and sustainability goals?

Both the Digital and Green Transition are strategic priorities for the European Commission and Cyprus. In line with its long-term strategy of “Vision 2035” the government is implementing reforms and investments within the framework of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and Programme “THALIA 2021-2027.” These reforms are supported by an action plan for 2023-2024, with a focus on digital transformation initiatives backed by a budget of €230 million.

We want to build a stronger a stronger and greener economy through digitisation and innovation, leveraging advanced technologies to establish a new model for sustainable growth. We seek to foster a thriving and resilient economy with high levels of productivity, and enhanced competitiveness at the international level, positioning Cyprus as a preferred destination for living, working, and conducting business.

To realise these ambitions, Cyprus is currently undertaking a series of projects aimed at mitigating the adverse effects of climate change and creating more sustainable living conditions.

Notable initiatives include the KIOS and CMMI Centres of Excellence, co-funded by the European Commission. The KIOS Centre of Excellence is already making strides in the fields of supervision, control and security of critical infrastructures, pioneering the conduct of multidisciplinary research that touches upon climate change issues.

KIOS is an integral member of the SOLAR-ERA.NET European network of national and regional funding organisations and RTD and innovation programmes in the field of solar electricity generation. Similarly, the CMMI/MaRITeC-X project aims to develop innovative solutions in the maritime sector, utilising smart meters and infrastructure.

The project’s objective is to develop a scientific and business centre of excellence in marine and maritime activities, with a focus on climate and environmental concerns, among others. The use of AI will be a key tool in research projects funded by this centre.

How are startups in Cyprus leveraging AI technologies to drive innovation and enhance their products or services?

Unlocking the full potential of our research system is crucial for driving future growth and seamlessly integrating it into our national economy. Our national Research and Innovation (R&I) strategy plays a vital role in this endeavour by supporting the creation and growth of startups capable of making significant strides in international markets.

The main goal of our Research and Innovation Strategy 2024-2026 is to strengthen the startup ecosystem, among other important objectives.

The potential of our ecosystem in digital technologies is evident, especially with the increased participation in programmes offered by the Research and Innovation Foundation.

We’ve seen a notable rise in proposals focused on artificial intelligence-based solutions, highlighting the transformative capabilities of this technology across different industries.

Many startups we’ve backed have embraced these cutting-edge technologies, showing how they can reshape traditional business models. Additionally, the Horizon Europe programme provides significant opportunities for local enterprises to compete at a European and even global level. We closely monitor the progress of local enterprises in international competitions and eagerly support them in leveraging the resources available through Horizon Europe to drive further innovation and competitiveness.

Meanwhile, several Cyprus-based companies, have been able to break into the international market. One such example is Omilia, a machine-learning company that has been able to secure millions of dollars in venture capital funding to expand its AI technology for the customer care needs of global enterprises. Other startups have used AI as the primary feature of their internationally acclaimed products.

For example, iQ3Solar; a startup that received funding through the “Pre-Seed” programme, designed by the Research and Innovation Foundation. Catalink is another bright example, a small-medium enterprise that has been able to streamline its production of innovative, data-driven & data-intensive, ICT-based products and solutions using AI. Cellock is yet another small-medium business whose operations revolve around data analysis and AI to serve clients such as advertising agencies, telecommunication operators, airlines and shipping companies.

All these examples, along with the fact that the local ecosystem is home to more than 400 start-ups and scale-ups, more than 140 tech companies, 2,500+ researchers and more than 4,000 entrepreneurs, prove that Cyprus has taken major steps towards becoming a regional tech hub and a standout destination for doing business, offering great growth prospects.

It possesses all the necessary attributes to advance further, and I am confident that the strategies employed, coupled with the country’s talent and tech-savvy workforce, will empower the economy, enhance social welfare, and create new opportunities for the younger generations of Cyprus, contributing to a bright and sustainable future.


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