Project Official Launch
Limassol Cyprus, 23rd April 2010. The successful official launch of the SmartEN ITN programme, coordinated by Prof. Toula Onoufriou Head of the Department of Civil Engineering and Geomatics at the Cyprus University of Technology, took place today in the presence of His Excellency The President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr Demetris Christofias, the former President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr Giorgos Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Mrs Androulla Vassiliou, the Minister of Education and Culture Prof. Andreas Demetriou, the Minister of Interior Mr Neoclis Silikiotis, Mr Georges Bingen, Head of People Unit, Marie Curie Actions, and other personalities from the university, the State, and the industry.
In his welcome address, The President of the Republic of Cyprus underlined the support from the State in conducting high level research and in utilizing research results by industry for improving the standard of living and creating wealth for our country. The President stressed that the assessment of the SmartEN ITN programme as one of the top out of hundreds of proposals submitted from the rest of the EU and its funding by the EU constitutes a landmark in the course of the Cyprus University of Technology and the department of Civil Engineering and Geomatics, expressed his gratification for the significant and innovative research activity currently conducted, and pointed out that the State supports pioneer research and development actions. The President concluded that the State is currently at the final stage of developing a strategic plan for research and innovation for the next decade and invited all people involved to intensify their valuable and significant actions and assured them that they have the full support of the State.
The European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Ms Androulla Vassiliou in her welcome address said “I must admit that I am delighted to have the Marie Curie ITN programme within my field of responsibility as Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth”. The Commissioner continued, “SmartEN is a substantial project and a real success story. It showcases what is best about European research cooperation. This project will reach directly into the gaps that Europe must fill, if we are to become a truly innovative, smart and sustainable society”. Ms Vassiliou congratulated her compatriots in taking the lead in this initiative and stressed that Prof. Onoufriou and her team have everything to gain from this programme, and Europe will gain from its success. With Europe 2020, we want to build an 'Innovation Union'. Your project will be a solid building block, Commissioner concluded.
In her welcome address the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Cyprus University of Technology, Prof. Elpida Keravnou congratulated the department of Civil Engineering and Geomatics for the big success of the SmartEN programme. Prof. Keravnou stressed the emphasis placed by the University in conducting high level research, and underlined the significant research activity that has already been established at the University.
The welcome address of Prof. John Pollak from Imperial College, a world leading researcher in the field of transportation, on behalf of the SmartEN consortium, was delivered by Prof. Sakellarios from National Technical University of Athens. Prof. Pollak pointed out that without Prof. Onoufriou’s vision in conceiving the idea of the project and her enormous energy and determination in overcoming the many hurdles that inevitably beset a large and complex European-wide bid, “we would not be in the happy position of launching the project today”.
A short presentation by the programme coordinator Prof. Onoufriou underlined that the SmartEN programme was won on the face of very stiff competition from 900 other submissions from the rest of the EU having been assessed as one of the top proposals. SmartEN focuses its activities on the Smart Management for Sustainable Built and Natural Environment, through the interdisciplinary exploitation of high-end technologies from Civil Engineering, Wireless Sensor Networks, and Sensor Signal Processing. Prof. Onoufriou continued that research will focus on the development of integrated pioneer technologies that will have applications in the smart proactive infrastructure design and management of Structural systems, Heritage and infrastructure, Transportation infrastructure systems, and Urban microclimate.
Programme coordinator Prof. Onoufriou said that fifteen leading universities, research institutes and enterprises from industry from seven European countries, and distinguished scientists from leading universities in the USA, Japan, China, Australia and Honk Kong participate in the SmartEN programme. The duration of the 3.7 million Euros SmartEN Marie Curie programme is four years and more than 70 researchers will work within the framework of the programme. In concluding, the programme coordinator highlighted the importance of implementing a model of coexistence and collaboration between universities, research centers and industry and the mobility and training of young researchers within this integrated interdisciplinary network which takes place within the SmartEN programme. The programme, Prof. Onoufriou said, provides Cyprus with a unique opportunity to lead a pioneer research field and industry with opportunities to develop innovative products based on the research results of SmartEN programme, placing Cyprus in a leading and competitive position worldwide in the field of Smart Management of the Human Environment. Experience and the integrated model of the SmartEN programme which is encapsulated in the trifold of training, research and industry, have the potential to become a paradigm model and a nucleus for establishing proper mechanisms for the development of research, training and collaboration with industry, aiming at better exploitation of research results for creating technological wealth and improving the standard of living.