Periodic Reporting for period 1 - KIOS (KIOS Research Center of Excellence for Intelligent Systems and Networks)
Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-05-31
The long term vision of the Teaming project is to build a Centre of Excellence in Cyprus, a small country without a long and strong tradition in research and innovation that can compete at an international level and have high impact on the local knowledge-based economy. The academic and innovation excellence, complementarity and long-term commitment of Imperial (one of the leading academic and research institutions in the world - ranked no. 2 worldwide according to the QS World University Rankings for 2014-15) are key components in helping to create and sustain the proposed KIOS CoE.
The aim of this one year project was to pursue excellence through the development of an operation plan (business plan) for the KIOS Centre of Excellence (CoE) in the area of Intelligent Systems and Networks and specifically in the area of monitoring, control, management and security of critical infrastructure systems. The vision for the KIOS CoE is to house multidisciplinary research teams that will develop smart tools to make Critical Infrastructure Systems (CIS) more reliable and efficient, resulting in improved performance and safety of the crucial services society and the economy depend upon.
Research and technology developed at KIOS result in tangible benefits to society, the environment and the economy - achieving, for example, big reductions in operational costs, energy, natural resources consumed, and greenhouse gases emitted.
The principal objective and outcome of this Coordination and Support Action (CSA) funded project, was to prepare the KIOS CoE Business Plan. The Business Plan is intended to serves as a strategic guide for various research and innovation activities, and establishes the vision and orientation for the KIOS Research Centre to transform itself into a Centre of Excellence. It also cements a long-term and sustainable partnership between the advanced institution, Imperial College London, and the University of Cyprus.
Towards the development of a robust and comprehensive Business Plan for the KIOS CoE, several complementary activities have been undertaken to support the development of innovative ideas, processes, and implementation of best practices. These activities included: (a) communicating and establishing numerous collaboration agreements with different stakeholders, (b) the strengthening of the long-term partnership with Imperial, (c) raising the visibility of the KIOS Research Centre, (d) performing multiple detailed studies on aspects of the business plan such as market analysis, technology road maps, and sustainability analysis.
The direct impacts from the development of the KIOS CoE Business Plan are both scientific and economic and positively affect both KIOS and Imperial, as well as the research and technological performance of Cyprus. In the long-term, the foreseen impacts are to strengthen KIOS’s scientific and innovation abilities, and enable KIOS to improve its chances to seek and secure further research funding, through international and EU programs, or direct investment by government organisations and industry in research and technology, as well as innovation.
The project has provided a unique opportunity for establishing a sustainable research and innovation centre of excellence —the first such Centre of Excellence in Cyprus― which will stimulate the creation and growth of a regional industrial ecosystem with major economic and societal benefits. The project has identified key approaches for enabling the KIOS CoE, should it proceed, to address not only the technical dimension of key research and technology challenges in a key globally expanding research area, but also to ensure the thorough and relevant application of solutions that bring about substantial social, economic, and environmental benefits. On a local level, the creation of the KIOS CoE will also support directly a key priority area identified by the Cyprus Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3Cy), thus bringing about strong complementarity with other initiatives and actions in Cyprus.
Specifically, the proposed KIOS CoE will have a high impact in four dimensions: (i) societal impact in terms of improving the research culture through its planned activities during this project and beyond, and improving quality of life through its research output; (ii) economic impact in terms of job creation and new opportunities for young highly-motivated people as well as in terms of the more efficient and effective operation of the CIS through its research output; (iii) environmental impact in terms of the more efficient and effective use of natural resources through its research output; and (iv) technical impact, in terms of the development of new knowledge in a key technological area.
In order to identify the key objectives of the Business Plan and determine the mechanisms for enabling their implementation, the following activities were introduced:
• Worked on a plan for long-term collaboration between the KIOS and the Imperial Teams, which included: (i) joint research collaborations among young and senior researchers of the teams; (ii) training of researchers; and (iii) transfer of knowledge between academia and industry.
• Explored collaborations between the KIOS/Imperial teams and industry, as well as collaborations with other centres and research groups.
• Carried out a market analysis and explored various options for expansion of the Centre as well as the levels of required funding.
• Established best-practices and identified measure to be implemented for the pursuit of excellence within the Center and beyond (scientific, organisational, local, and regional).
• Created a pool of international experts by forming an International Experts Committee comprised of world-renowned experts who were able to channel their expertise for the development of the KIOS CoE and helped widen the impact of the KIOS CoE activities within Cyprus, the EU, and the MENA region.
• Performed visits to established research centres/institutes and to industry for possible research collaborations, in order to identify potential best–practices for the KIOS CoE and forge mutually beneficial collaborations that can help develop the research capacity of KIOS and Cyprus in general, by leveraging world-class capabilities in research and technology whilst at the same time ensuring the active participation of Cyprus researchers to help solve global challenges.
The ultimate aim of these objectives/activities is to bring about:
• The establishment of a CoE that can bring about widespread benefits to Cyprus (improve the research intensity, innovation performance, values and attitudes towards research and innovation in Cyprus).
• The development of a series of measures to boost human capacity including increasing the availability and quality of researchers and industry practitioners, thus ultimately raising excellence and multidisciplinary collaboration in science and technology.
• The definition of a set of measures that can in the medium to long term bring about measurable and significant improvements in the research and innovation culture. This includes identifying and developing sustainable partnerships with a number of organisations, authorities and companies. In the long term this will help to improve the number of organisations in Cyprus involved and benefiting from research and technology as well as innovation practices.
• The development of a strategy for improving the values and attitudes towards research and innovation among different target groups (students, researchers, private companies, government agencies).
The action was completely successful in all its set objectives. It has successfully prepared and submitted a comprehensive business plan for the KIOS CoE and in the process it has successfully completed the rest of the complementary activities/objectives outlined above.
• Development of a comprehensive Business Plan which was prepared and submitted as a deliverable. The business plan helped guide the submission of a proposal for the second Phase of the project, which involves the implementation of the plan.
• Implementation of a plan for long-term collaboration between the KIOS and the Imperial Teams including the development of formal mechanisms for this collaboration. There are now measures in place to facilitate long–term sustainable collaboration.
• Establishment of formal collaboration agreements between the KIOS/Imperial teams, the industry, and other organisations across Europe and the Middle East. Several agreements, MoUs, and projects have been established. The ultimate goal of these collaborations is to produce products and services that can bring about significant societal, environmental, and economic benefits for Cyprus.
• Carried out a market/competitor analysis to determine the possibilities available and the viable paths towards establishing a sustainable upgrade into the KIOS CoE. The outcome is a focus in an area of high-growth potential and addresses the key technological challenges of monitoring, control, management, and security of Critical Infrastructure Systems. Moreover, the exercise has resulted in a focus on responding to significant global challenges affecting the Critical Infrastructures which are vital to people’s quality of life, safety, and economic growth.
• Organised consortium meetings to initiate collaboration activities between the two teams, to discuss the key features of the KIOS CoE, and to ensure that the preparation of the comprehensive Business Plan was progressing smoothly and timely. The meetings also helped to leverage Imperial’s expertise as one of the leading universities worldwide in successfully combining research excellence and innovation, with many years of expertise in all aspects of industry partnering, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship.
• Created an International Experts Committee tasked to advise and steer the scientific, innovation, and administrative progress of the project and ultimately leveraged world renowned experts for the development of the Center and the facilitation of tangible socio-economic benefits for Cyprus and the EU.
• Visited, met, and established links with research centres and industry to identify mutually beneficial collaboration and leverage industrial know-how.
• Performed the first KIOS IP Audit and organised an IP training workshop in collaboration with the IPR Helpdesk.
• Prepared a Data Management Plan (DMP), ensuring a commitment to implementing best practices in data management.
• Submitted five ethics deliverables and established an Ethics Advisory Committee to consider the project’s ethics requirements, ensuring a commitment to implementing best practices in ethics in future activities of the KIOS CoE.
• New skills and competences on IP protection, entrepreneurship, technology transfer, capacity building, etc., were developed by the KIOS staff as a result of working on the project and on the development of the business plan.
Efforts to achieve the project’s objectives have also resulted in additional outcomes not foreseen in the DoA, which added value to the project and introduced new best practice features. These included:
• The development of an open access framework for KIOS, which aims to promote open access within the wider research communities and the public, thus contributing to better and more efficient science, and helping to drive innovation in the public and private sectors.
• The design of a framework for the development and implementation of testbeds within the CoE, helping to raise the TRL levels of activities by providing the means of testing and validating new solutions and methodologies in realistic settings and significantly improving the scientific skills of the KIOS personnel.
In order to maximise the impact of the activities undertaken in this action, specific dissemination tools were employed that supported efforts to raise the profile of the Centre and accommodate strong collaborations. These included:
• Tailored Presentations, Outreach & Technical Meetings: A number of communication approaches and tools were prepared and utilised to support measures to engage collaborating institutions, administrative bodies, and other potential stakeholders, including information leaflets, tailored presentations, and infographics.
• Demonstrations: Special demos were set up to demonstrate the capabilities and potential use of research to high-profile visitors, policy makers, and relevant stakeholders. Wherever possible and relevant, demonstrations were also undertaken within real-life settings at end-user sites.
A number of outreach activities were also introduced as part of the normal activities of the Centre aiming to: promote research at KIOS CoE as a career option; show the added value of the EU-funded research and the impact it can have on daily lives; cultivate a research and innovation culture for young students. Measures included game-centered presentations to a variety of audiences at science festivals and school visits. Also, a number of visits to the KIOS Research Centre from high-profile senior Commission and Cyprus Government officials to discuss the opportunities of the Teaming project have helped to raise the profile of the Centre as well the wider concept of the Teaming Programme amongst key policy makers.
In addition to the short-term impacts delivered through the implementation of Teaming Phase 1, a number of medium-to-long term impacts are also expected to be delivered through the implementation of Teaming Phase 2 (including dimensions such as e.g. Human resources, Open excellent research systems, etc.). Specifically the progress beyond the state of the art and the impacts of this project are as follows:
• The outcome of the business plan is a focus in an area of high-growth potential and addresses the key technological challenges of monitoring, control, management, and security of Critical Infrastructure Systems. Moreover, the exercise has resulted in a focus on responding to significant global challenges affecting the Critical Infrastructures, which are vital to people’s quality of life, safety, and economic growth. Further, through the market/competitor analysis, several niche research areas have been identified and technology roadmaps have been developed for different application areas where the Centre can have significant scientific contributions. These areas can also achieve big reductions in operational costs, energy, natural resources consumed, and greenhouse gases emitted. Thus, research and technology developed at KIOS results in tangible benefits to society, the environment, and the economy.
• An expected result from the collaboration agreements obtained from a number of national and international stakeholders is that KIOS' research and technology translation capabilities will be boosted. Moreover, these mutually beneficial partnerships will help develop a culture of research and innovation in Cyprus. The ultimate long-term result will be the development of products and services that can bring about significant societal, environmental, and economic benefits for Cyprus. The scale of this outcome and the approaches adopted are novel to Cyprus and will contribute significantly to the promotion and the development of regional innovative clusters and hubs that serve as local innovation ecosystems, and which are also capable of connecting to global value chains. Taking into account that Cyprus, at the time of this report, is still in the early stages of the creation of such ecosystems, these collaborations can bring added value to a number of new initiatives currently being pursued by the Cyprus Government.
• A number of agreements were established with innovation and entrepreneurial organizations to boost the innovation and entrepreneurship culture of KIOS and Cyprus in general. As a result, the innovation and entrepreneurship culture of the KIOS personnel was improved, helping to bridge the gap between research and innovation, and enabling the development of SME’s, products, and services. Supporting activity that is new to the research culture in KIOS was also the first IP Audit conducted and a comprehensive IP policy that was created, enhancing KIOS’ innovation and entrepreneurship culture.
• A framework was developed for the creation and implementation of testbeds related to CIS that can help boost excellence, advance the state-of-the-art in CIS technologies, and allow researchers and other collaborators to address specific challenges such as CIS control, management and security, CIS interdependencies, CIS cyber-security, etc. No facility of this kind currently exists and will therefore be a unique facility available to the KIOS CoE and its collaborators. This framework is expected to advance excellent research and innovation at KIOS, will increase the Center’s visibility, and could contribute significantly in developing a culture of research and innovation in Cyprus.
• A number of sustainable educational and training activities have been designed in collaboration with Imperial, facilitating best-practice exchanges for students, researchers, academic staff, as well as support staff, and thus increasing the capabilities of the KIOS researchers. These activities will facilitate research excellence and the translation of best-practices in a Cyprus setting.
• An open access framework was also developed, introducing new open access methods in Cyprus, thus contributing to better and more efficient open science culture which involves the wider research communities, end-users, and the public. These measures can also help to drive innovation and exploitation in the public and private sectors.
• A framework was also designed for the KIOS organization that deals with the significant expansion of the KIOS CoE in terms of human resources, scope of activities, processes, procedures, and sustainability. This again is a novel outcome and provides a model in Cyprus for the advancement of the Center’s capability for advancing research and cultivating innovation.
• KIOS has considerably strengthened its ties with Imperial (its partner institution) and a large number of other national and international organizations and has received increased visibility in Cyprus, Europe, and the MENA region, via the large number of visits and the signing of collaboration agreements. The KIOS Research Center has benefited from the project by leveraging Imperial’s expertise as one of the leading universities worldwide in successfully combining research excellence and innovation, with many years of expertise in all aspects of industry partnering, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship. For both UCY and Imperial this type of collaboration is the first of its kind and has established a model that can be transposed to other such types of collaborations between the two institutions and other organisations. The ultimate outcome will be increased exchange of best-practices between the developing and the advanced institution.