The Digital Transformation Journey Has Begun
The digital transformation journey has begun said Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, Kyriacos Kokkinos. Speaking during the presentation of the work of the Deputy Ministry, in Nicosia, Kokkinos referred to the establishment and development of gov.cy as a single point of contact for citizens with the public sector and the implementation of a fully digital management system during the pandemic.
He also said that "we are building the Gigabit society" and that "we have supported the expansion and development of the Research and Innovation ecosystem."
"We put the citizen at the heart of the matter since we collaborate in the design of the websites with citizens who are potential users of the services that will be digitised. The work is done by the citizens for the citizens," he pointed out.
The Deputy Minister spoke of Cyprus rising by 4 places in the DESI index in 2022, adding that it is now in 20th place, having started from 25th place. The greatest weakness of Cyprus, he indicated, is in human capital, that is to say, he explained, we do not have enough specialised professionals in the field. "This challenge must be seen positively as a career opportunity for our young people who want to enter this field," he noted.
He also said that on the European Innovation Scoreboard, "miracles have been achieved", since Cyprus is in the first 10 positions as the only country from Southern Europe and the first in terms of progress, which is a "tremendous achievement."
Kokkinos also referred to the new government portal www.gov.cy, which includes more than 350 digital services and was created based on the standards and procedures of the Digital Services Factory. "This reform in 2-3 years will have a huge impact on our society," he underlined, adding that www.gov.cy is "easy to use and friendly".
"The journey of digital transformation has begun. This journey has no end, but intermediate goals and we are moving forward", the Deputy Minister pointed out.
He also spoke about the National Research and Innovation System, which consists of more than 400 start-ups and innovative companies, more than 2,000 researchers, 8 research institutes, 10 universities and 7 centres of excellence. He made special reference to the PHAETHON centre of excellence, which concerns innovation in the field of energy. "Of the 35 centres of excellence in Europe, 7 are from Cyprus," he said, noting that each centre employs around 100 people.
The National Programme Framework amounts to €150 million for the years 2021-2027, Kokkinos said. Innovation accounts for €34 million, internationalisation €35 million, research €30 million, structure and capacity building €17 million, and cooperation & knowledge transfer €34 million.
In total, in the last 3 years, the Deputy Minister emphasised, €30 million were given to start-ups and scale-ups through the financing programmes of the Research and Innovation Foundation, resulting in €15 million that came from leveraging private capital, more than 240 new job positions, as well as 104 companies that received funding.
This year's budget of the Deputy Ministry of Research amounts to approximately €120 million, while next year it will be around €157 million, said Kokkinos. He also noted that in the "Cyprus Tomorrow" plan, 23% of the Recovery and Resilience Plan is dedicated to digital transformation projects, i.e. approximately €282 million plus another €150 million from national resources, plus €80 million for business innovation.
Asked about the lack of human capital in the field, the Deputy Minister replied that based on European indicators, the country is below the European average "by a lot". While in Europe 3.9% of university graduates are active in the field of sciences, in Cyprus the percentage is 2.7%, he explained.
Replying to another question, Kokkinos expressed the desire for Cyprus to rise by 3-4 places in the DESI index this year, i.e. to be in places 15-16. "We know where we are going, it just takes persistence and patience," he pointed out.