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MGR: The Cyprus Research and Innovation Foundation (RIF) is the national funding agency responsible for the support and promotion of research, technological development and innovation in Cyprus. How does the RIF support and promote research and innovation (R&I) in Cyprus and how does R&I advance economic growth and societal development in Cyprus?

Loukaidis: The RIF funds from basic research to innovation. We design and announce a wide range of funding programmes with specific targets and objectives, in line with the National Strategy for R&I. Since 2016, we have allocated more than €145 million to the R&I ecosystem in order to strengthen its extroversion and internationalization, enhance research excellence and produce knowledge that will act as a driver for the development of innovation. This investment has resulted in the creation of 1.455 new jobs in areas of high growth, led to the development of state-of-the-art research infrastructures, strengthened linkages between academia and industry and resulted in products and services that have penetrated the international market. The progress made is reflected in the European Innovation Scoreboard 2022 where, for example, our country’s performance in terms of international scientific co-publications is 153.6% above the EU average and linkages are 128% above average.  

In addition to the funding programmes, through RIF’s Central Knowledge Transfer Office as well as through the Innovation Factory initiative, the RIF now provides a comprehensive portfolio of knowledge transfer and innovation services. These services are available to the entire national R&I ecosystem and are offered free of charge. Finally, in order to enhance participation in Horizon Europe, the RIF also provides a wide range of customized services such as support for finding partners, preparing proposals and resolving queries through its National Contact Points. 

MGR: With the United Kingdom being a major player in R&I, does Cyprus collaborate with UK-based organizations and institutions to foster the exchange of knowledge and promote scientific cooperation?

Loukaidis: Strategic collaborations with countries such as the UK – a world leader in the field of R&I – are of the utmost importance to us, in order to form synergies and establish new collaboration links. This is reflected in the participation of Cyprus and the UK in the EU’s Horizon Europe Programme, in the frame of which there are currently 258 collaborative links between Cypriot and UK organisations participating in funded projects. More importantly, three out of six Centres of Excellence in Cyprus that managed to secure funding through the Teaming for Excellence actions of EU’s previous Framework Programme, Horizon 2020, have partnered up with UK institutions. In addition, it is important to mention that research organisations from the UK can in fact participate in a significant number of RIF’s national funding programmes under a specific status.

MGR: What are RIF’s plans in terms of supporting R&I in Cyprus and contributing to the advancement of the knowledge economy?

Cyprus-report-business-research-innovation-foundation-Theodoros-Loukaidis
 Theodoros Loukaidis, Director General

Loukaidis: We have €150 million for a number of different funding schemes to support R&I activities. Our programme portfolio consists of long-standing programmes but also new additions such as the DISRUPT programme, offering companies that have a Minimum Viable Product in the market the opportunity to secure up to €1.5 million in the form of a grant, provided they have a legally binding agreement for a direct investment in equity of €1 million and also the CO-DEVELOP programme that facilitates collaboration between research organizations and enterprises to address challenges faced by the industry. There is also a plethora of programmes supporting the internationalization of our national ecosystem.

Even more, the RIF’s Central Knowledge Transfer Office and the Innovation Factory, provide value add services on knowledge transfer and commercial exploitation of research results, as well as training programmes to develop and further enhance entrepreneurial and commercial skills. 

Last but not least, we continue to support through customized services of the National Contact Points the participation of local entities in Horizon Europe.

Our vision is to maximize our country’s innovation capabilities and make the most of the investments made in the previous years, by turning our excellent science into products, services and processes that have the potential to compete in international markets and contribute to the advancement of a knowledge-based economy in Cyprus.

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Cyprus 2023 as published online on economist.com