Dear students, colleagues, friends, collaborators and supporters of the Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Cyprus:
Last semester, I informed the Council for Entrepreneurship of the University of Cyprus of my intention not to seek re-election at the end of 2020 and to step down as Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship (C4E). For the last 6 years I have had the great privilege of serving as the Centre’s founding director, leading the efforts to establish C4E and to nurture a culture of and the skills for Innovative Entrepreneurship, within the University’s community and beyond, according to the University’s strategic plan. These years have been very fulfilling for me, and I will always be grateful for your trust and friendship.
When we embarked on the journey to launch C4E, in 2015, we reached out to the University community seeking to identify needs, expectations, and opportunities regarding innovation and entrepreneurship. We explored prior activities, relevant efforts, and existing capacities within our University. We also searched for best practices from established centres abroad, which we could adapt to our environment’s needs and means. C4E’s motto, “Educating, Innovating, Networking,” emerged out of this effort. This triptych epitomizes C4E’s mission, activities, and aspirations. The Centre’s aim, first and foremost, has been the empowerment of University of Cyprus’ students, researchers, faculty, and staff with the skills and the knowledge required to engage in creative, innovative, entrepreneurial activities leading to new ventures or fostering the development of innovative practices and solutions inside existing organizations. Innovation has been the second focal point of C4E’s mission. Widening the university’s innovation output and impact requires an agile environment that is truly supportive to provide world-class services ranging from ideation, innovation design, and rapid prototyping to business analysis, legal, accounting, and intellectual property issues, to seeking international partnerships and attracting investment. However, innovative entrepreneurship is an endeavor that rarely thrives in isolation. It requires continuous interaction and exchanges with numerous stakeholders within and outside the institution and the country. Hence, the third pillar of C4E’s mission: networking. Networking requires a consistent, coherent, and multifaceted effort in communicating the activities, the results and the experiences of C4E and the University’s research units. Networking is necessary for expanding the educational and innovation support role of the Centre, and for building bridges with national and international stakeholders that lead to practical and sustained synergies. This requires the creation of content of high quality in various media formats and its dissemination through multiple channels. Building bridges, however, requires trust, and trust is not a matter of mere words, but of actions consistent with communication, shared values, common priorities, and converging aspirations.
In its first six years of operation, C4E has designed, established, and operated numerous initiatives and processes to advance the three pillars of its mission, including the establishment of the certificate program in entrepreneurship, semester-long and short courses, hands-on training seminars, mentoring programs, distinguished lectures, nation-wide surveys and analyses, student missions abroad, entrepreneurship competitions (SINN and CyEC), business acceleration programs, matchmaking events, and our annual Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum. In total, in the first 6 years of operation, we organized more than 110 events and activities with over 5500 participants, featuring distinguished entrepreneurs, prominent innovators, experienced trainers from major innovation hubs in the USA, Israel, China, and Europe. We established collaborations with top innovation centers and major stakeholders internationally, regionally, and locally. Most of these activities have been recorded and produced as videos that were posted on our YouTube channel attracting thousands of viewers, or were published in reports and proceedings, online and in hard copy.
Taking the opportunity of this letter, I wish to thank the many individuals who contributed in so many ways to the Centre’s progress. To the C4E staff, who so often work behind the scenes, I am truly amazed by your relentless efforts, professionalism, and enduring loyalty in good times but especially in the challenging times of the Covid-19 period; it has been a great privilege to work with you. To the past and present members of the Council for Entrepreneurship, I have benefited from your passionate devotion, sustained support, and wisdom in establishing and steering the Centre’s course. To the previous and present University Council and Rectorate, no one could have asked for better colleagues, whose good judgment, good nature and effectiveness guaranteed that our efforts would bear results. To our sponsors and partners, including PwC Cyprus and the Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry, I am grateful for your trust and continuous support. To the numerous individuals from Cyprus, the Hellenic diaspora and abroad, who volunteered hundreds of hours of their time and expertise — entrepreneurs, innovators, mentors, speakers, trainers, academics — I am indebted by your unwavering support and amazing service. And, to our students and young researchers, you have inspired and motivated all of us at every turn of C4E’s course. What you do in the years ahead will define the true measure of the Centre’s achievement; you are our hope for the future.
As for myself, I intend to focus on my scholarly activities, and hopefully take a sabbatical leave later in 2021, but I shall always be available to help the Centre in any way I can.
Marios D. Dikaiakos