Despite strong indications that Cyprus is now in stable economic recovery, and that the island boasts one of the highest rates of tertiary educational attainment in Europe, the picture painted regarding the level of digital skills among citizens is a dismal one. In the 2017 Digital Economy and Society Index, Cyprus ranked 22nd within the EU, and belongs to the cluster of low performing countries. These findings are particularly worrying in light of the rapid changes taking place in the information landscape, such as the global consolidation of networked information services, and the rise of proprietary algorithmic processes that mediate citizens’ access to information and opportunities. The project will establish a network of researchers with key expertise in the areas of informatics and algorithmic biases, enhancing the Cyprus Center for Algorithmic Transparency, a research center at the Open University of Cyprus (OUC). CyCAT will become the regional expert in issues of information access in light of algorithmic gatekeeping, working with local authorities, librarians and educators to promote algorithmic transparency and enhanced digital literacy skills. Expected outcomes are 1) raising the international profile of the OUC researchers as evidenced by invitations to serve on committees, editorial boards, invited talks; 2) increased output in terms of number and quality of publications of OUC researchers; 3) attraction of additional external research funds to sustain CyCAT. Expected broader impacts include: 1) creation of digital artifacts through showcase projects that are relevant to Cypriots’ information needs and that can help raise awareness of algorithmic bias in the systems they routinely use; 2) educational materials based on CyCAT scientific outputs, that can be used by librarians and teachers; 3) increased opportunities for young researchers engaged with CyCAT; 4) increased dialogue on the importance of digital skills.
In line with WIDESPREAD-2014-1 TEAMING, this proposal puts forward the vision for establishing a “Research centre on Interactive media, Smart systems and Emerging technologies” (RISE). RISE aims to become a Centre of Excellence and a hub across the three continents bordering Cyprus, facilitating thus the local scientific, technological, and economic growth of the region. The proposal identifies the potential of Interactive Media to bring together several scientific areas, yielding applications in the priority areas of the Smart Specialisation Strategy of Cyprus. Therefore, research in RISE integrates the Visual Sciences, Human Factors and Design, and Communications and Artificial Intelligence, in a tight synergy that provides a unique interdisciplinary research perspective that emphasizes an “Inspired by Humans, Designed for Humans” philosophy. To support the implementation of the research and innovation agenda of RISE, the proposal puts forward the a consortium coordinated by the Nicosia Municipality, the largest regional authority of Cyprus with extensive experience in managing large projects and commitment in establishing and supporting an innovation ecosystem in Nicosia, along with all three public universities of Cyprus. The four local partners will contribute their research, infrastructure, and financial potential for the establishment of RISE and with guidance by two Experienced Partners (MPI and UCL) with unequivocal scientific excellence and demonstrated success in running Centres of Excellence, aim to establish a sustainable Centre of Excellence in Cyprus. With the long-term sustainable growth of RISE in mind, the proposal designates an administrative structure for the Centre to facilitate its interdisciplinary view of research, its outreach perspective towards human users and businesses, and its multi-institutional composition.
Innovation activities targeting the Smart Specialisation Strategy of Cyprus-S3Cy require a solid scientific and research basis. Despite having the highest ratio of tertiary education among adults in Europe and well performing academic institutions research is currently confined in academia. To reverse this detrimental relation between research and innovation, Cyprus is in dire need of a catalyst to help the country RISE out of its RTDI slumber. This proposal seeks the European Commission’s support to establish, for the first time in Cyprus, a Centre of Excellence that fosters world-class research activities and serves as a paradigm for bridging scientific research with innovation. RISE (Research centre on Interactive media, Smart systems and Emerging technologies), seeks to play a key role in the country’s RTDI reform, by bringing together an unparalleled team. The initiative is led by Nicosia Municipality, collaborating with all state universities of Cyprus (UCY, CUT, Open University of Cyprus), and is backed by the expertise and long-term commitment of two world-leading science and innovation institutions (UCL, MPG). With a spacious building already committed by Nicosia Municipality to host RISE at the centre of Nicosia, RISE will kick-start the Municipality’s set out strategy to foster the development of an inclusive innovation and creativity ecosystem at Nicosia’s Quarter of Creative Industries (QCI). QCI will host infrastructures and entrepreneurship initiatives in close spatial proximity to each other, within the historic city centre, helping focus and integrate existing fragmented activities creating a cluster of research and innovation. RISE will spearhead acting as a catalyst. RISE has already secured 35.5m in financial commitments in addition to the TEAMING grant and support from many sources for its first seven years of operation. RISE is geared to succeed in establishing itself as a regional centre of excellence, advancing RTDI performance to attain a competitive position in the global value chain.
Gypsum soils occur worldwide and represent natural laboratories of evolution and ecology. The unusual mineral content of gypsum soils is a significant barrier to the growth of most plants, and yet these soils host highly diverse endemic floras that have evolved independently on five continents. Nevertheless, these ecosystems are poorly understood compared to those of other unusual substrates. Little is known about the conservation status of gypsum floras, the potential impact of climate change on them, and their responses to mitigation and restoration. We propose an integrated global study of the ecology and evolution of plant and lichen life on gypsum, including eight gypsum-rich regions from four continents that differ in geological origin, climate, and flora. We will 1) assess the plant and lichen diversity of gypsum; 2) investigate the evolutionary origins and assembly of these floras; 3) evaluate potential adaptive mechanisms on gypsum, the functional structure of gypsum plant and lichen communities, and the processes regulating gypsum ecosystem function; 4) analyse the responses of gypsum communities to global change drivers and explore how gypsum ecosystem restoration/conservation may help mitigate the effects of global change; 5) promote the study of gypsum ecosystems; and 6) communicate the ecological and conservation value of these ecosystems to the public. With the involvement of gypsum experts from 18 academic and non-academic organizations from 11 countries, this project provides an innovative, integrative, and interdisciplinary approach to address key questions in gypsum ecosystem ecology, evolution, and management. The project thus strengthens existing international collaborative networks and consolidates Europe’s leadership in gypsum ecosystem research, including management and conservation plans and the identification of traits for crop improvement on gypsum soils, enhancing its attractiveness as a leading destination for related R&D
The PULCHRA* project will explore the open schooling concept in the theme "Cities as urban ecosystems”, in view of creating new partnerships in local communities to foster science education for all citizens. Schools, in cooperation with other stakeholders will become agent of community well-being, taken that the theme to be explored encompasses the natural environment, the built environment and the socio-economic environment in cities. This is of great importance, taken that the urgency of cities to be approached as urban ecosystems is underestimated and limitedly linked to science education for all citizens. The methodology is based on pilot themes (termed as City Challenges) which create know-how, built trust in the science approach based on own experience, facilitate skilled use of tools and support community building as they are based upon the identity of the communities in which they take place. A City Challenges (technological) Platform is developed to bridge partners, schools and stakeholders; mixed Science Teams and students acting as City Reporters will explore and disseminate the City Challenges respectively. Our approach is situated in the own living environment. Engaging in environmental education has a direct impact upon the community and the personal lives of the participants. The benefit of international cooperation of the EU member states becomes obvious at the community level. The consortium is coherent and brings complementary expertise, whereas the project is supported by a wide variety of stakeholders in the participating countries, a fact which is considered an asset of the project and shows its replication potential. Finally the pilot themes to be explored within the project exhibit richness in science as they take note of several scientific fields as related to cities as urban ecosystems, they are supported by technology, bring in innovation and are directly linked to SDGs and the European policies for cities. *beautiful in Latin