Did you know that there is a place in Athens that gathers scientists and researchers from sectors not so popular yetextremely important for our daily life, such us nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, telecommunications, nuclear physics etc? Meet “Demokritos”, the research Centre that Greece is proud of.

Founded in 1961 and named after the ancient Greek philosopher Democritus, Greece’s biggest research centre can boast of being the country’s most competitive public institute. “Demokritos” employs over 1000 staff members and may claim to be the alternative of what has become known as the ‘Greek brain drain’, given that many talented Greek scientists come to work for the institute on account of its attractive grant programmes, such as the Industrial Research Fellowship Programme sponsored by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

Located inthe most inspiring environment at the bottom of mount Ymittos, “Demokritos” covers its expenses through funding by the state, the European Union, private industries and foreign Institutions, setting an example of how private and public sector can cooperate for the promotion of innovation and research. It is worth noting that “Demokritos” receives 60% of the European Union’s research contracts due to its competitive research proposals.

“Demokritos”’ main activity is research that is conducted by its five independent Institutes:

1) The Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications (IIT), which focuses on research and development in the areas of Telecommunications, Networks, Web Technologies and Intelligent Systems.

2) The Institute of Biosciences and Applications (IBA), which focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and therapy of age-related diseases, environment and biotechnology and structural and computational biology.

3) The Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics (INPP), with its unique research infrastructure that participatesin CERN’s experiments and focuses on High-Energy Physics, Nuclear Physics and Astro-Particle Physics.

4) The Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (INN), which aims at the country’s innovation and competitiveness development in Key Enabling Technologies such as nanotechnology, micro-and nanoelectronics, advanced materials, biotechnology and photonics.

5) The Institute of Nuclear & Radiological Sciences and Technology, Energy & Safety (INRASTES) that focuses on nuclear technology, energy, environmental technologies, safety & security, radiological sciences and radio-pharmaceutics and Biodiagnostics.

demokritos collage1Through the Technology Park of Attica “Lefkippos”, “Demokritos” hopes to contribute to Greece’s efforts to promote human capital and to bring market innovation. Hosting more than 30 companies from sectors that vary from information technologies and nanotechnology to construction and the environment, “Lefkippos” Park aims at connecting research with production and commercialising innovative technologies and research products. Additionally, “Demokritos” holds a solid portfolio of national and international patents, as irrefutable proof that innovation and technology-driven entrepreneurship is the future. Among the companies hosted at “Lefkippos” Park is Tesla, the renowned US electric vehicle manufacturing company that decided to trust Greek engineers to set up one of its foremost research departments in order to further develop electric motor technology.

In parallel with the research programmes, “Demokritos” opens its doors to young students of primary and secondary education through educational programmes and exhibition events in order to raise their interest in science and technology.

It is always inspiring to see one of the top innovative companies of the world, such as Tesla, choose Greece to invest due to the country’s scientific human capital. The impressive work of “Demokritos” and its people wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Greek State but also due to the private sector. What is indeed promising is that in recent years Greek industry and commercial companies have recognised the importance of innovation and research and decided to set risks aside by investing money on scientific research programmes.

Read also via Greek News Agenda: Dr. Androula Nassiopoulou on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in GreeceTesla opens R&D office in Greece to tap into local engineering talent

Christina Fiorentzi  (photos taken from Demokritos facebook account)