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Larnaca at forefront of maritime research with EU-funded centre

The quiet town of Larnaca, lingering in the shadow of the island’s commercial development, is expected to leap ahead of the other towns and make great strides in the maritime sector, securing €15 mln in EU funds to establish Cyprus’ first dedicated research centre.

MaRITeC-X the consortium spearheaded by Larnaca municipality that includes local universities, as well as international maritime institutions, will receive a further €15 mln in co-financing from the Cyprus government, as part of being selected for funding by the European Commission’s Horizon2020 research and innovation programme to establish the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute (CMMI).

Andrea’s Karakatsanis, Larnaca’s municipal chief engineer and project leader, told the Financial Mirror that the next step will be the establishment of the 25-member council, that in turn will choose its first chief executive and continue with initial recruitment to the end of the year.

“Half of the €30 mln budget will go towards building brand new premises with 20,000 sq.m. of space on municipal land in the Mackenzie area, with the project construction expected to be completed in just over three years. The other half will go towards recruitment, as we ultimately plan to host as many as 200 to 300 researchers, including graduate students working towards their post-doctoral research,” he said.

The CMMI will focus on the ‘blue economy’ and cover a broad range of subjects, as long as it falls within the remit of “an independent, international, scientific and business centre of excellence in marine and maritime activities” and will include technology, and product development, innovation and entrepreneurship, training and education, start-ups and beta country development.

Research will also look into the multiple issues within the five Global Challenges Clusters (GCC) of maritime trade and transport, marine bioresources, energy and subsea resources, climate and the environment, and society and governance.

MaRITeC-X cites in its mission statement that “the research and innovation activities of the centre will be aligned with the Smart Specialisation Strategy of Cyprus (S3Cy), as well as with European Union and global priorities in blue economy sectors.

CMMI will promote partnerships, globally, among top academic and research institutions and businesses, helping to address the needs of businesses, countries, and regions in blue economy activities.”

Karakatsanis said that EU and government funding will be for the initial seven-year period, with the CMMI eligible for further grants after that.

For the time being, the municipality will provide temporary facilities to the CMMI, while plans also include setting up a satellite facility in Limassol and a smaller office in Nicosia, all housed within their partners’ facilities.

Local universities have signed commitment letters to cooperate with the CMMI, whose remaining partners include the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (UK), the Marine Institute (Ireland), SmartBay Ireland, the Limassol Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Geoimaging Ltd (Cyprus), SignalGeneriX Ltd (Cyprus) and the Maritime Institute of Eastern Mediterranean (MarInEM).

MaRITeC-X was selected among 14 finalists seeking Horizon2020 funding, ranking among the top three of all applicants, prompting Shipping Deputy Minister Natasa Pilides to congratulate the consortium and pledge to “support the CMMI in achieving its aims.”
Source: Financial Mirror

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