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Eastern Mediterranean Science and Technology Center of Excellence for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MedSTACH (Eastern Mediterranean Science and Technology Center of Excellence for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2017-09-01 al 2018-08-31

Teaming Phase 1 project MedSTACH aims to lay the groundwork towards establishing a Cyprus-based leading CoE for archaeology and cultural heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean region, capitalising on multidisciplinary research and technological innovation. MedSTACH’s mission is the development of the necessary scientific and technological environment for the advancement of the state-of-the-art in archaeology and cultural heritage research in Cyprus, the Eastern Mediterranean region, and beyond; this will be accomplished by strengthening regional well-springs of scientific and technological expertise, capacity for innovation, and synergies among related Science, Engineering and Technology disciplines. MedSTACH’s mission is fully aligned with the Smart Specialisation Strategy for Cyprus, as it responds to the need for the study, protection, promotion and valorisation of Cyprus’s unique archaeological wealth, as well as the promotion of alternative forms of thematic tourism based on cultural heritage.

The MedSTACH consortium is coordinated by the Cyprus University of Technology, and includes as key partners the University of Cyprus, the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus -- the national stakeholder for heritage management on the island, and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation -- the national stakeholder for the promotion of Cyprus’s touristic product. Being a Teaming project proposal, the consortium includes as advanced partners the University College London (UCL) and the Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH), conveying expertise in R&I from leading, internationally acclaimed, European institutions.

MedSTACH’s design offers a modern interdisciplinary-technological approach to addressing research themes of world-wide significance, such as the study of ancient monuments, archaeo-landscapes, archaeo-economy and resource management, past human mobility over land and water, as well as the protection of cultural heritage from human and natural hazards, in conjunction with its wider and more effective promotion. The MedSTACH proposal was ranked 1st (score of 15/15) on a pan-European scale, among 208 proposals, and constitutes the only Phase 2 project proposal focusing exclusively on cultural heritage.

Capitalising on the unique opportunities furnished by the Teaming framework, the envisioned CoE is expected to play a leading role towards understanding, protecting, promoting, and ultimately valorising the unique cultural heritage capital of Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean region, promote smart specialisation and new job creation, enrich touristic product while fostering sustainable local and regional development, attract scientists and engineers from the region and the rest of the world, spread excellence in relevant research and technology fields across multiple countries, strengthen collaborations between Europe and countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, and improve people’s quality of life in the region.
The work carried-out during Phase 1 included a variety of actions, with the central scope of developing a Business Plan for the envisioned Centre of Excellence (CoE). Therefore, all actions were linked to this ultimate scope, while particular effort was made towards the integration of the various disciplines involved into the design of such an interdisciplinary CoE.

In order to develop a rigorous Business Plan responding to the current needs of the region and of the proposed scientific domains, a series of qualitative and quantitative analyses were undertaken. Those included mission and context analysis, gap analysis and capacity assessment, market analysis and other relevant tools for understanding the environment and actors involved in the CoE creation. A central theme of activities during Phase 1 was the refinement of the conceptual design of the proposed CoE, a task that provided important information for the Business Plan and the financial projections (and vice versa) of the CoE.

Among the various actions performed during the aforementioned analyses, of great significance have been a series of meetings (both physical and virtual) with stakeholders, who directly or indirectly could possibly benefit and/or contribute to the CoE. The selection of the contacted stakeholders was based on the four different components (quadruple helix) of the Smart Specialisation Strategy for Cyprus (S3Cy), namely: 1. Academia and Research Institutions; 2. Policy makers; 3. Private/business sector and 4. End-users/Society. Emphasis was also given to the regional character of the proposed CoE, mainly by exploiting the MedSTACH consortium’s network.

Apart from design and planning activities, a critical task was the strengthening of the collaborations among consortium members. A key component of those collaborations included collaborations between local and external consortium partners, and in particular the alignment of UCL’s and FORTH’s regional and global strategies with the vision and mission of the proposed CoE. The strong engagement of the advanced partner institutions with the CoE is also evidenced by the commitment of the former to participate in various actions and on the CoE board of directors of the CoE.

The Phase 1 project has been primarily disseminated through its continuously updated website, and also by the presentation of the project in various scientific conferences and related events. The milestone for the exploitation and dissemination of the results has been the final Symposium organised by the consortium at the end of the project. During that Symposium the work performed during Phase 1 and its results have been presented to a multidisciplinary audience of stakeholders from Cyprus,and the Eastern Mediterranean region, while floor was given to other institutions to present their work and thoughts on possible future collaborations with the CoE.
The multifaceted scientific and outreach activities of the MedSTACH project during Phase 1 created a favourable image for the proposed CoE amongst academics, strategic partners, professional and institutional bodies and foreign universities and institutions; all those embraced the idea and highlighted the need of such a CoEin Cyprus, the easternmost frontier of the European Union. The potential impact of the envisioned CoE is therefore also reflected in the numerous endorsement letters provided from interested parties towards the Phase 2 project proposal, as well as in the readiness of those institutions to commence collaborations with the CoE, in the event of a successful Phase 2 evaluation and subsequent funding.

The project proposal was built upon four (4) Work Packages (WPs) aiming to provide MedSTACH partners all necessary input and to maximise their understanding with respect to research, innovation, education and societal requisites, towards the establishment of the proposed CoE. The four WPs have been designed as follows: WP1: Project Management; WP2: Centre Design; WP3: Business Plan acting as the core WP of the Phase I of the project, and WP4: Project dissemination and exploitation.

Last, the Phase 1 project has been awarded the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 (EYCH) label. All the dissemination actions of the project bore the EYCH logo, which has in turn maximised the visibility of the project. Many of these actions have been also linked to cultural heritage initiatives of the DoA, bringing thus the project directly to people and the local society.
MedSTACH logo and European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 (EYCH) label awarded to the project
Engaging with the society: kick-off meeting at Kastelliotissa Hall
Interim meeting at Archaeological Research Unit, Nicosia
Interim meeting at the library of the Archaeological Research Unit, Nicosia
Photo from the symposium -Designing a cross-institutional science, engineering and technology centre