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Experts consider Cyprus' opportunity to transform into a leading AI hub

An expert panel at the TechIsland Summit has looked at how Cyprus can make the most of the opportunity to transform into a leading hub for Artificial Intelligence.

Following the discussion entitled, 'The key in AI: Shaping Cyprus as the center of emerging technologies,' audiences learned about the current state of play on a local, EU and global level, as well as hearing what financial and other support was available for AI-related startups.

More specifically, the panel discussion delved into how Cyprus, backed by a growing number of AI companies on the island, is offered the opportunity to transform into a leading hub for artificial intelligence and cutting-edge technology trends. The speakers elaborated on the critical need for Cyprus to sustain its forward momentum in this dynamic field, exploring strategies and collaborations that could secure its position as a global innovator in technology.

The expert speakers were Angelo Dalli, Chief Scientist at Umnai, Stavrinos Kyriakou, Startups and ISV Strategy Lead for Microsoft Southeast Europe, Theodoros Loukaidis, General Director of the Research and Innovation Foundation (RIF), Ivan Sysoev and Business Unit Chief AI Officer, Quadcode. The Moderator was Michael Tyrimos, Founder & Managing Director of Capacitor Partners.

Tyrimos began the discussion by asking the audience had used AI in some form over the past 24 hours, with most raising their hands.

Dalli went on to note that AI was not one of those technological developments that would die off, describing this as "An exciting time to be in the field."

Kyriakou concurred, noting that in his 20-year career so far, "What we are seeing now is something extraordinary."

He said that AI was changing day-to-day life as well as business, noting that eight out of ten startups approaching Microsoft talked about AI. Kyriakou also cautioned that safety and accountability always had to be kept in mind.

Loukaidis agreed, adding that social sciences and humanities had a role to play in this. He also revealed that RIF would be utilising chatbots from the coming week, something that was being announced for the first time.

Dalli, meanwhile, said that, within his capacity of advising the EU on AI, he underlined that it was the way people could use AI and not AI itself that was potentially dangerous and suggested the catalyst to innovation was access to data. This he said, would also treasure people that, "AI is very far from a point where it is 'going to kill us.'"

Kyriakou went on to note that Cyprus was not falling far behind regional partners such as Malta and Greece but their message was "clearer and more structured," including through dedicated programmes.

"This is where we could do better as Cyprus. Need to have a coherent and unified structure," he continued.

Loukaidis went on to outline the assistance, including funding, that RIF was able to provide to startups, beginning from 120,000 to anyway up to one million. He did, however, also point out at, at some point in their growth, startups would need to work with the private market, including VCs, to be able to reach the next level.

Having earlier noted that he was from one of the last generations that had gone to school and university without AI, Sysoev underlined the importance of encouraging young people to engage in technology.

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