Welcome Address by the Mayor of Nicosia

NEWS / Welcome Address by the Mayor of Nicosia

22 Jun., 15
Dear Friends,

Mayor of Nicosia RISE press conferenceIt is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to the opening of the kick-off meeting of RISE, the proposed Research centre on Interactive media, Smart systems and Emerging technologies, for the creation of which the Capital of Cyprus has joined forces with Max Planck Institute, University College London and the three state universities of Cyprus. I am honoured to have the opportunity to address such a distinguished audience from the central government and the wider public sector, the academic and research community, commerce and industry institutions, the growing innovation business and start-up community and cultural institutions.

I address a special warm welcome to our distinguished guests and project partners from abroad, who have joined us for the project’s kick-off meeting. Collaboration with our world class partners inspires all the local members of our Consortium and gives immense impetus to our endeavours for the creation of RISE.

Both the Max Planck Institute for Computer Science and its Computer Science Partner Institutes at Saarland University, and the Department of Computer Science of University College London, and more specifically its Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics group, are celebrated international leaders in their field. The scope of their knowledge and experience extends from cutting edge computer science research to academia and industry collaboration and fostering business innovation; all of these lie at the heart of the proposed Centre in Nicosia. I hope their presentations this morning and the presentation of the vision and prospects of RISE, by the scientific coordinator of the project from the University of Cyprus, will also inspire and encourage you to share our vision.
A particular strength of the RISE project is that it brings together, alongside our advanced partners, the University of Cyprus, the Technical University of Cyprus and the Open University of Cyprus in a unified collaborative effort. It, therefore, avoids the weaknesses of fragmentation of human and other resources we all too often perceive in Cyprus. Significant synergies, multiplied capacity and strengthened prospects of long term sustainability are evident advantages of this collaboration.

Moreover, it guarantees that RISE, will serve the advancement of a wide range of areas of strategic interest to the island as a whole, such as areas set out in the Smart Specialization Strategy of Cyprus; it also promises that it will foster technology transfer and will support business innovation initiatives across Cyprus.
Our plan is to host RISE, a Centre of Excellence aspiring to wider regional and international visibility, in the heart of Nicosia, as part of the strategy of the city to foster the development of an innovation and creativity ecosystem, with a core in its central area; a core that will provide significant thrust to the growth of a competitive, extrovert knowledge economy, and to the emergence of wider Nicosia as a regional hub of creativity, technological advance and business innovation.

We believe that RISE will be catalytic in this respect; by complementing other infrastructures and services in this area; by mobilizing significant knowledge networks and social capital; by providing a solid scientific base that will encourage the development and application of new technologies and innovative entrepreneurship; by offering support to the start up community and established innovation companies; ultimately, by turning significant comparative advantages of Nicosia into competitive advantages, with immense benefits for our city and Cyprus.

The establishment and operation of RISE in the historic core of Nicosia, at the heart of the designated Quarter of Creative Industries, allows specifically the materialization of these synergies. The facilities will offer home to laboratory and demonstration activities of RISE, but at the same time they will provide spaces and other facilities to start ups, in accord with the vision of openness of the Centre and its linkage with the most creative part of the research and entrepreneurial community.

The area borders the buffer zone that currently divides our city and its historic centre. There are, however, marked advantages and benefits from the location of RISE there.
In the first place, it is already developing into a hub of creative and artistic businesses and a preferred location for the activities of the energetic start up community in the government controlled area south of the buffer zone.

Second, a similar approach is being adopted for the area bordering the north side of the buffer zone, largely as a result of longstanding bi-communal cooperation for the revitalization of the historic centre in the context of the joint Nicosia Master Plan. There is immense potential to create links across the buffer zone between the two areas, when conditions permit it, allowing direct interaction and fostering cooperation initiatives between research, innovation and creative actors from the two sides. Nicosia is the natural meeting place of active and pioneering youth of the two communities. The Nicosia Master Plan envisages the area of the buffer zone in the historic centre as a “gluing” area: with functions that enable scientists, entrepreneurs and cultural or creative sector actors to meet and work together. RISE can be a pioneer accelerating institution in this respect. Acknowledging this potential, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the two communities have recently proposed the creation of acceleration and incubation facilities in the area.

Third, there are significant opportunities for the reuse of abandoned infrastructure of great potential with great regeneration added value, especially if dedicated to high caliber activities offering opportunities to a greatly qualified, talented section of the human capital of Cyprus.

The proposal of our Consortium for the creation of the RISE has been selected amongst a group of 169 proposals to receive funding support from phase 1 of the TEAMING ACTION of HORIZON 2020 programme for research and innovation. But this was just the beginning. Today’s meeting marks the start of a phase of intense work, on which our Consortium has embarked, for the production of a comprehensive business plan that will set out in detail the shape of the proposed Centre of Excellence, ensuring its scientific feasibility, innovation dynamism, financial viability and technology transfer potential.

In the framework of its mission and holistic approach the proposed centre will cooperate with a wide range of science, technology, business and investment partners. The support of the public and private sector at different levels is required. Our goal is to foster the development of a widely shared vision and ‘ownership’, for the development of RISE. This session is an introduction to a process of involvement of consultation to which you are all invited.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Directorate General of European Programmes, Coordination and Development, for the enlightened decision to allocate support from the European Regional Development Fund to successful proposals in phase 2 of the TEAMING Action of Horizon 2020 with a Cypriot agency as coordinator. I would also like to thank all our partners in the RISE project, for their hard work, commitment and spirit of collaboration and the organizing team of the kick-off meeting.
I wish you a successful and fruitful session and thank you for being with us today.

Constantinos Yiorkadjis
Mayor of Nicosia
22nd June 2015

Call: H2020-WIDESPREAD-01-2016-2017 (Teaming Phase 2)
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 739578

This project has received funding from the Government of the Republic of Cyprus through the Directorate General for the European Programmes, Coordination and Development.