The Project

EXCELSIOR

ERATOSTHENES: EXcellence Research Centre for Earth SurveiLlance and
Space-Based MonItoring Of the EnviRonment

The ‘EXCELSIOR’ TEAMING project is built on the existing ERATOSTHENES Research Centre capacities. The aim of the proposed TEAMING project is to further promote the existing ERATOSTHENES Research Centre (ERC), established within the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) into a sustainable, viable and autonomous Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Earth Surveillance and Space-Based Monitoring of the Environment, which will provide the highest quality of related services on the National, European and International levels. The ‘EXCELSIOR’ Teaming project addresses a specific challenge defined by the work program – namely, the reduction of substantial disparities in the European Union by supporting research and innovation activities and systems in low performing countries. It also aims at establishing long-term and strategic partnerships between the Teaming partners, thus reducing internal research and innovation disparities within European Research and Innovation landscape.

The EXCELSIOR project aims also of creating an inspiring environment for conducting basic and applied research and innovation in the areas of the integrated use of remote sensing and space-based techniques for monitoring the environment. Environment has been recognized by the Smart Specialization Strategy of Cyprus as the first horizontal priority for future growth of the island.

Earth Observation technologies are a must when it comes to providing reliable up-to-date information needed to better observe, understand, protect, monitor, and predict environmental parameters that regard land, water and air. Such valuable inputs are crucial for more informed decision-making oriented towards the protection and management of environment and resources. Earth observation includes, among others, technological solutions including satellite observation, navigation and positioning systems. Satellite observation and remote sensing are the major focal points of the ERC and are used in an integrated manner with other techniques and geospatial tools. Earth observation data are the key factors in Earth environmental programs in order to assess the current information of the environment, inform models, understand relationships among Earth processes, support decision making e.g., toward sustainability and involving stakeholders more effectively in environment decision-making. Earth observation has, so far, made sustainability a reality and it will continue to do so as more research is continuously done and technology improves. Climate change, air and water quality, natural hazards, floods, earthquakes, fires, erosion, landslides and other phenomena are some of the factors that need to be taken into consideration in several environmental studies, both at a national as well as at a regional level. Indeed, Cyprus with its unique geographical position, can support satellite Earth Observation programmes in these areas, as well as their respective calibration and validation aspects.

The project is fully aligned with the Smart Specialization Strategy of Cyprus (S3Cy) in many areas, significantly enhancing the impact of the targeted regional and national investments, namely, Environment and ICT.

The ERATOSTHENES CoE – with its expertise and infrastructure could be a hub for the earth observation activities in the eastern Mediterranean area due to the key geostrategic position of Cyprus.

Five partners have united to develop a business plan for upgrading the existing ERATOSTHENES Research Centre  into a CoE, with the common vision to become a world-class innovation, research and education centre, actively contributing to the European Research Area (ERA). More specifically, the project is a team effort between the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT, acting as the coordinator), the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), the National Observatory of Athens (NOA), the German Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) and the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works(MTCW) of Republic of Cyprus, through the Department of Electronic Communications (DEC).

The Excelsior Teaming proposal was ranked 1st (attaining full marks 15/15, “Excellent”) on a pan-European scale, among 208 proposals submitted to Programme “Teaming for Excellence” Phase 1, part of European Union’s (EU) Horizon 2020 framework for Research and Innovation. The programme “Teaming for Excellence” (Teaming) aims at connecting, via the creation of new or the major upgrade of existing Centers of Excellence, renowned research institutions from countries with a strong tradition in Research and Innovation with institutions from countries with developing research activity, so that the latter countries become more competitive in securing research funds. The Excelsior proposal was awarded 0.4 million euros for a period of one year (Phase 1 of the Programme) in order to develop a business plan for promoting further the existing ERATOSTHENES Research Centre to a ‘EXcellence Research Centre for Earth SurveiLlance and Space-Based MonItoring Of the EnviRonment’. The business plan will be submitted for evaluation to the EU Horizon 2020 framework for Research and Innovation during Phase 2 of the Teaming Programme, seeking funding of 15 million euros for a period of 5-7 years, with the possibility of an additional equal amount of national co-funding for a period of 15 years.

Phase I Objective

For Phase 1, the ultimate objective of the proposed one-year EXCELSIOR project is the development of a detailed and robust Business Plan. Such a Business Plan will target the long term vision to transform ERATOSTHENES itself into an EXcellence Research Centre for Earth SurveiLlance and Space-Based MonItoring Of the EnviRonment. This is a vision that is shared by all the existing staff, the Coordinator and the researchers of the ERC but also widely embraced by the Cyprus University of Technology. The Development of the Business Plan is key to ensure the sustainability of the CoE and will also provide the necessary guarantees for long-term self-sustained operations. The Business Plan will establish the foundations for the development of a competitive and high competence profile to expand the Centre’s visibility beyond the national level and develop transnational regional cooperation.

Horizon 2020
Widespread-04-2017: Teaming Phase 1
Coordination and support action
Grant agreement no: 763643
Proposal acronym: EXCELSIOR

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