“A consortium including all research centers of the island is created (Foundation for Research and Technology – University of Crete – School of Polytechnics – Technological Educational Institute- Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania – HCMR (Greek Center of Marine Life) – Hellenic Agricultural Organization – Dimitra) so as to exploit research results. It should be noted that similar initiatives could be expanded and taken to other regions with Research Centers”, illustrated in an interview to “In-On” magazine the Deputy Minister for Research and Innovation Mr. Costas Fotakis.
Question: What is the strategic planning of the new Ministry for the development of Research and Technology?
Answer: Under the present conditions of the social and economic crisis that our country is facing, it is not an exaggeration to say that research and knowledge can halt the spiritual, moral and material poverty as well as the devaluation of the society which is a consequence of the crisis. Research and Knowledge can support not only the present but also the future of the country in order to create perspective, to give hope to the most important capital that a country possesses: its people, young scientists and researchers.
The government, despite the emergency situation, recognizes the fundamental contribution of Research and proves that by establishing for the first time the post of Deputy Minister of Research and Innovation. Obviously, then, we proclaim our belief that “Expenditure for research does not constitute a cost but an investment”. The policy we formulate will be reflected in a series of legislative initiatives aiming at the promotion of three main objectives:
Scientific research can provide support for Education and Culture.
The high-quality scientific research can become an ambassador for the promotion of the country in the international arena, something which is so necessary under today’s conditions. And, finally, through innovation that derives from research results, scientific research can function as a key factor towards the country’s development.
Achieving the latter objective is a great challenge for the country’s future. With serious and targeted interventions throughout the innovation chain, starting from the basic and applying research to wealth production through the development of innovative products and techniques, wealth will return to the society. Of primary importance for the development and exploitation of the research results is the drastic reduction of bureaucracy and the introduction of simple rules adapted to the flexibility required by research activity.
Additionally, the exploitation of resources that can come from the right mixture of public and private investment as well as the utilization of financial tools that reduce the cost of money is crucial. Of course, transparency and accountability will always be the core of this effort so as to ensure public interest. Among many other things, the formation of a healthy business culture free from the obsessions of the past and the mobilization of the society that benefits from this wealth, constitute the priority in our planning.
Finally, the pursuit of scientific quality and excellence as an axis that runs horizontally the three above objectives is both a legacy and a condition to ensure long-range results, however, with legislative interventions.
Question: Tell us about the relationship between technology and culture and the design of the two divisions of the Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs: Ministry of Research and Innovation – Ministry of Culture
Answer: The relationship between art and technology is real. For instance, the purification of works of art with laser is a technique which does not destroy the artwork and also can verify its authenticity. Moreover. we can mention the laser techniques have enhanced the Parthenon sculptures in the Acropolis Museum, or an El Greco’s painting which came to Heraklion in order its authenticity to be identified.
The cooperation between the two Deputy Ministers of Research and Innovation and Culture on “Cultural Heritage and Technology” is a top priority initiative under NSRF ( National Strategic Reference Framework). The above initiative would promote the cooperation of leading research centers, with private companies, with cultural institutions, museums, archaeological excavations etc. This complex culture-technology will work with specific low-cost projects,however, with significant added value, scientific and economic.
It should be mentioned that 2015 has been declared as the “Year of Light” and in this context we are planning new initiatives.
Undoubtedly, supporting research will create new jobs for young scientists while it can help the return of Greek scientists who were driven abroad due to the crisis.
Question: How will the research help the country’s industrial development?
Answer: We will start from Crete with an innovative initiative that has already proceeded. It is about a consortium that includes all the research centers of the island (Foundation for Research and Technology – University of Crete -School of Polytechnics – Technological Educational Institute- Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania – HCMR (Greek Center of Marine Life) – Hellenic Agricultural Organization – Dimitra) aiming to exploit research results. It should be noted that similar initiatives could be expanded and taken to other regions that have research centers.
Research results will be utilized according to the following points:
– A great base for research and development of entrepreneurship in Crete (Small and Medium Enterprises)
– Support youth entrepreneurship initiatives until the idea becomes a reality
– The quality of scientific research in the institutions of Crete is already an attraction for companies abroad
We also aim to create a single fund for Research and Innovation using public and private resources. This fund will function with simple and clear rules that respond to the flexibility needed in order to carry out research programs and infrastructures, while at the same time the public interest will be ensured with transparency and control. For example, such a fund could include similar resources from the NSRF (National Strategic Reference Framework) as well as private funds linked to R & I Electronics investments in Greece related to Jan-Claude Juncker fund. The investment plan of Juncker fund provides loans amounting to 315 billion euro for all countries of Europe through the European Investment Bank. It also provides guarantees from the European Commission Budget.
Costas Fotakis Deputy Minister for Research and Innovation is the President of the Foundation for Research and Technology since 2011. He has also served as Director of the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser in the Foundation for Research and Technology (1997-2013). He is a Professor of Physics at the University of Crete. He has also served as a Coordinator at the Conference of Presidents of Research Centers from July 2012 until December 2013.
Since 1990, he directs the European Installation of Lasers operating in the Foundation for Research and Technology which includes 28 selected Laser laboratories from EU member states. He has served as Chairman of the Scientific Council of NCSR (National Center for Scientific Research) “Demokritos” (1994-1997) and he is a member of National and European Committees of Experts regarding science policy issues such as the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). Since 2010, he participates in the European Union Group (high level group of experts) which evaluates overall the Framework Program for Research and Technology and shapes the priorities for Europe 2020. He is also Chairman of the Advisory Group of the European Union related to Research Infrastructures. He has chaired the Experts Group so as to determine the role of Universities and Research Organizations regarding the strategy of “smart specialization” for Regional Development.
His research interests are in the fields of Photonics and Laser Spectroscopy emphasizing on laser applications for the processing and diagnosis of materials and Biophotonics. He has organized or co-organized many international scientific conferences and he is a member of several international scientific committees in conferences. He has over 300 publications and more than 6,000 references, mainly in the field of Photonics and related applications. He is an editor or participates in the publishing group of various international scientific journals and he is the co-author or the co-editor of four scientific global marketing books. In 2004. he received the “Leadership Award’’ from the Optical Society of America (OSA ) for his ten-year leadership and personal research contribution in the field of laser applications as far as art restoration is concerned and additionally for his leading role in the establishment and guidance of scientific excellence in the scientific programs of lasers in IESL (Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser) – Foundation for Research and Technology”. During 2005-6, he was chosen as Springer Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He has also been elected as a life member and Fellow of OSA and has been a member of the Fellows Selection Committee of the European Optical Society – EOS). In 2010, he became Honorary Doctor at the University of Marseilles.