1ST OFFICIAL VISIT TO GREECE AND FORTH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN RESEARCH COUNCIL, PROFESSOR JEAN-PIERRE BOURGUIGNON
The President of the European Research Council (ERC), Prof. Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, paid his first official visit to Greece and the Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH), in the context of a series of scheduled meetings with ERC Grantees. During his three-day stay at Heraklion, Prof. Bourguignon also met with FORTH’s Chairman and, Member of the ERC Scientific Council, Professor Nektarios Tavernarakis and Members of the Board of Directors of FORTH, as well as with and the Rector of the University of Crete, Professor Odysseas Zoras. In addition, he had the opportunity to visit research laboratories in both Institutions.
In addition, the ERC President met with the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Alexis Tsipras, the Alternate Minister for Research and Innovation, Professor Costas Fotakis and the General Secretary for Research and Innovation, Dr. Matrona Kyprianidou, who were also visiting FORTH. They had the opportunity to discuss national and European policy matters with respect to the support of research and innovation, and potential common actions towards funding Greek Researchers.
The ERC President was impressed by the Research conducted at FORTH, the infrastructure and the facilities, and noted that Crete enjoys important comparative advantages due to the co-existence of top academic and research institutions on the island. The Chairman of FORTH, Prof. Nektarios Tavernarakis, highlighted the fact that the FORTH has received over 28.5 million € from ERC and related Grants. He pointed out that research funding and investing in highly skilled human potential bears important positive impact, directly related to regional development and economic growth. He also noted that in addition to conducting internationally competitive research, FORTH also focuses in the social dimension of science, through initiatives, such as the establishment of a Genomics Centre with applications in Personalized Medicine, as well as, in the AgroFood and Cultural sectors. In addition, together with the Medical School of the University of Crete and the University Hospital of Heraklion FORTH is setting up an advanced Biomedical Imaging Unit, which includes, for the first time in Crete, a PET/CT system.
ERC, with a budget of over 13 billion € for the period 2014 – 2010, supports cutting-edge research, solely on the basis of scientific excellence, in all areas of science and technology. It encourages multidisciplinarity and finances frontier research, essential for the development of applications pertinent to societal challenges and the quality of life. Until now, ERC has funded 46 projects in Greece, of which 24 are hosted at FORTH (over 28.5 million Euro total budget).