OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE KIOS RESEARCH AND INNOVATION CENTER OF EXCELLENCE
The KIOS Research and Innovation Center of Excellence (KIOS CoE) was officially launched on the 16th of March 2017 in the presence of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Nicos Anastasiades. The event was high-profile with representation from the European Commission by the Director General for Research and Innovation Mr Robert-Jan Smits. The Minister of Finance, Mr Harris Georgiades was also present to support the launch of the project. Imperial College London, the partner institution in this project, was represented by the Vice-President (Innovation), Professor David Gann, and by the Vice-Provost (Research), Professor Nick Jennings.
The event marked the start of the largest and most competitive funding to be secured for research and innovation in Cyprus. The aim of this EU funding programme is to bridge the gap between countries in Europe in terms of research and innovation capabilities, by establishing world-class Centers of Excellence which can facilitate access to new scientific networks and unlock new opportunities for economic development. Through the Teaming project, the KIOS Research Center will receive total funding in excess of € 40 million. This includes €15 million funding by the European Commission and €15 million from the Government of the Republic of Cyprus through the Directorate General for European Programmes, Coordination and Development.
The vision of the Center of Excellence is to develop excellent interdisciplinary research on a global scale, as well as to produce new knowledge and important tools that can be applied to solve real-life problems in these applications. In the next few years, the KIOS Center of Excellence will employ 150-200 researchers, will develop significant infrastructure, new research activities, collaborations with companies and governmental organizations and will capture new opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship. KIOS Center will conduct multidisciplinary research and innovation in the area of intelligent systems and networks with emphasis on monitoring, control, management and security of critical infrastructures such as electric power systems, water distribution networks, telecommunication networks and transportation systems.
The KIOS Research Center was selected to receive funding from the European Union to upgrade to a Research and Innovation Center of Excellence. This success was the result of a lengthy and extremely competitive evaluation process coordinated by the European Commission as part of the EU’s strategic programme “Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation – Teaming”. This is the largest and most competitive funding to be secured for research and innovation in Cyprus. In this endeavor KIOS has as an invaluable partner Imperial College London, one of the world’s leading Universities, which will share best-practice and expertise to help with the development of the Center of Excellence.
Over 200 people attended the launch event with significant participation from the KIOS Center of Excellence collaborators. Several organizations and companies from the KIOS Innovation Hub had an active role, alongside KIOS researchers, to showcase plans for innovative collaborations to the President, DG Robert-Jan Smits and other distinguished guests. The exhibition featured the outcomes and future plans for research collaboration with: the Water Development Department and the Water Board of Limassol for matters related to water resource management; the Cyprus Electricity Authority, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, Cyprus and the Transmission Systems Operator, Cyprus (TSO), for energy; the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works for transport; Cyta, Huawei Technologies and ARX Global Ltd for telecommunications; as well as the Cyprus Police and the Ministry of Defense for security and emergency response.
During the event a high-level panel was also convened to discuss the topic “A University’s Role in Innovation and Economic Development”. The Chair of the Council of the University of Cyprus, Mr Manthos Mavrommatis facilitated the discussion from a panel of distinguished experts comprising of Mr Robert-Jan Smits, (Director-General, EC), Ms Androulla Vassiliou (Former European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth), Professor David Gann (Vice-President – Innovation) of Imperial College London), and Mr George Georghiou (Director-General for European Programmes, Coordination and Development).
The panel discussion highlighted the fact that building mutually beneficial relationships between universities, industry and local/regional government organizations can contribute to local knowledge creation and its translation into innovative products, as well as public and private services. The KIOS Center of Excellence will create one such research and innovation ecosystem in the area of information and communication technologies, which will bring together universities, technology companies end-users, government agencies, as well as enterprise support companies. The ultimate goal is for this collaborative network to bring about new employment opportunities for young people, as well as new ideas for economic growth in Cyprus.
EXTRACTS FROM SPEECHES
In his address, the President of Cyprus referred to the KIOS Center of Excellence as “a new flagship initiative that will have a positive impact on the economy of Cyprus. This is not just an excellent opportunity, it is also very timely.” The President added that “this is a commendable initiative by the University of Cyprus and one that increases the significant record of achievements of this leading University in our country”. Whilst speaking about the importance of the project, President Anastasiades commended “the European Commission for providing significant financial support to help to build strong foundations from which the KIOS Center of Excellence can flourish.”
The President concluded his speech by noting that “UCY for a second consecutive year been ranked amongst the top 400 universities worldwide in the latest University rankings, demonstrating a commitment to excellence. This is a huge achievement considering that the institution is ranked along with universities of a longer life span and greater financial resources.”
Speaking immediately after the President, the Director General for DG Research and Innovation at the European Commission, Mr Robert-Jan Smits noted that the selection of KIOS as a Center of Excellence is great news for Cyprus and for Europe as a whole. “If one lesson can be learned today from the KIOS team is that success does not happen overnight, it needs commitment, continuity and hard work. Congratulations!”
The Rector of the University of Cyprus, Prof. Constantinos Christofides, congratulated the KIOS Center of Excellence team from the University of Cyprus and Imperial College London. The Rector pointed to the existing research collaboration as a significant factor which strengthens the strategic partnership between the two institutions. He went on to thank the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and the European Commission for their support, pointing out that “KIOS represents a major ’scientific window’ for our country leading to the rest of the world. We want to establish an organization that becomes a model of excellence, capable of harnessing the creativity and resourcefulness of its members”.
The Director of the KIOS Center for Excellence, Professor Marios Polycarpou characterized the launch as a very special and historic day, not only for the KIOS Center and the University of Cyprus, but also for Cyprus as a whole. Professor Polycarpou explained that KIOS can be used as an example by the European Commission to show “how a highly dedicated team from a small country without tradition in research and innovation, can build a Center of Excellence that can compete at an international level and have high impact on the local economy.”
During his speech Professor Nick Jennings, Vice Provost (Research) at Imperial College London, said that “this Teaming partnership is the first of its kind for Imperial. The University of Cyprus and Imperial are natural collaborators. Our ambitions are high – but also achievable. We want to create the leading research center for the monitoring, control and security of critical infrastructure in the region. We will build this cluster into a critical mass of knowledge and innovation which can be applied.”
On behalf of Imperial College London, Professor David Gann, Vice President (Innovation) also stated that “Together we will create strong research and innovation capabilities and nurture the talent to develop new ideas for infrastructure industries, resulting in new jobs and safer, better ways of living.”
The Chair of the KIOS Center of Excellence Advisory Board, Professor Jan Η. van Schuppen from Delft University of Technology, whilst speaking on the benefits of this initiative noted that “ companies and government agencies in Cyprus and in other European Union countries are expected to benefit substantially from the expertise and the knowledge of the KIOS Center of Excellence”.