Greece: European backing to create new Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation to strengthen research
15 July 2016
The European Investment Bank has agreed to provide EUR 180 million to support the creation and first operations of the new Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (ELIDEK). This reflects the crucial need to harness Greek strengths in fundamental research and innovation and represents the first dedicated backing for fundamental research in Greece by Europe’s long-term lending institution.
Once operational the Foundation will manage the evaluation and financing of research projects, academic positons and investment in scientific equipment. This will strengthen financing of research in Greece and ensure that research jobs can be created for young scientists and doctorial students who might otherwise leave the country to seek opportunities elsewhere.
This key step in the creation of the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation was formally announced at a signature ceremony in Athens attended by representatives from across the Greek research community. Contracts confirming the new European Investment Bank backing were signed by Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs Nikos Filis, Alternate Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, Costas Fotakis and European Investment Bank Vice President, Jonathan Taylor.
Euclid Tsakalotos, Minister of Finance stated: Greece is putting conditions in place to move on from the vicious circle of recession to the virtuous circle of inclusive development that focuses on the needs of society. Recapitalization of banks, completion of the first evaluation, followed by the disbursement of EUR 7.5 billion and the reintroduction of the waiver, as well as agreement on debt, are key pillars of the government’s roadmap to restore confidence in the Greek economy and provide a path to attract long-term investment. We are confident that given country’s new direction the European Investment Bank will continue to play an important role by investing in priority sectors for the government, including energy, health and education, as well as research and innovation. The EIB’s investment initiatives demonstrate a vote of confidence on the growth prospects of the Greek economy.”
Nikos Filis, Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs said “The agreement signed today between the European Investment Bank and the Greek State once again demonstrates the current government’s recognition of the importance of research and innovation. This includes financing of the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation and the proposed legislation to create the new foundation which will shortly be put before Parliament. ELIDEK is a new, flexible and merit-based Foundation that will focus on supporting research and innovative entrepreneurship. The first phase of the operation will be financed by the European Investment Bank, which is providing EUR 180 million over 3 years and the Public Investment Programme, providing EUR 60 million over 3 years. The new foundation will focus on financing research projects following evaluation. The Foundation will cover the entire academic and research ecosystem, target support for young pre and post-doc researchers, address the exodus of young scientists going abroad and strengthen research infrastructure. Through the new Foundation we aim to achieve our ambition of providing a basis for effective development of research and education, and facilitate development of a knowledge economy that contributes to strengthened productivity and social reconstruction.”
Costas Fotakis, Alternative Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs highlighted that “Support of research and expanding research activity taking place in universities and research centres across the country, seeks to both strengthen valuable human resources and create opportunities for conducting high-quality research. In this context, creation of the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation represents a key step, especially given the crisis being experienced by the country. The first objective of this initiative is to take immediate measures to address the current situation. The second objective is to create an efficient and merit-based mechanism for optimal financing of research in the long term. This project’s success will contribute to strengthening the knowledge economy in the country, as a new development pillar for the benefit of society."
“Investment in research is essential to nurture research talent and contribute towards a knowledge-intensive, innovative and entrepreneurial economy. The European Investment Bank is pleased to expand our firm engagement in Greece through EUR 180 million backing for the new Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation. This is the first time that the EIB has backed research activity at a national level in Greece. Our significant support reflects the Foundation’s potential to strengthen Greek excellence in science and innovation and ensure a future in Greece for young Greek researchers.” said Jonathan Taylor, European Investment Bank Vice President responsible for lending operations in Greece.
The new Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation is a public science council that will be established in accordance with best practice from across Europe and around the world. The Foundation will be supported by EUR 240 million provided by the Greek state and the European Investment Bank and will support the national strategy for research and innovation and contribute to Greece’s National Growth Strategy. This backing is in addition to grant funding from the EU National Strategic Reference Framework and the EU Horizon 2020 research programme.
The Foundation will provide funding for fundamental research by universities, higher technology institutes and public science institutions to support the national strategy for research and innovation, itself aligned with the National Growth Strategy. This is expected to represent around 15% of public research investment in Greece.
The new Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation is expected to support development of new technologies and products across a range of sectors that can contribute to long-term economic growth.
Since 2010 the European Investment Bank has provided more than EUR 9 billion to ensure continued investment in crucial infrastructure including education, energy, waste and water and by companies across Greece.
The EIB has provided its biggest research, development and innovation (RDI) loan to date to support science in Spain. The EUR 1.2bn in funds will finance the activities of public research centres and institutions in the country until 2020. The loan will help to support investments in several areas of science and technology, especially those more closely linked with Spanish industry, with the aim of promoting the development of patents and new areas of research.
The EIB today confirmed its support for the EUR 48 million expansion and modernisation of the National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos”, the largest public research centre in Greece. The project has also benefited from the support of InnovFin Advisory, one of the InnovFin tools, which provided Demokritos with advice to improve its access to finance.