The Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH), founded in 1983, is a top-level research institution with worldwide reputation, based in the island of Crete. Equipped with well-organized facilities and highly qualified personnel, FORTH is conducting specialized scientific research in strategic high-added value sectors focusing on interdisciplinary research and development (R&D) activities in a variety of fields from biotechnology, computer sciences, astrophysics and petroleum research to human and social sciences focused on the Mediterranean history and culture.

Recently, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation Prof. Nektarios Tavernarakis became the first Greek to be elected Vice-President of the European Research Council, the EU funding body of scientific and technological research. Many other distinguished members of the research staff have also obtained remarkable distinctions and awards highlighting the prominence of FORTH which is cooperating with many EU and international research institutions.

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The Chairman of the Board of Directors of FORTH and Vice-President of the European Research Council, Prof. Nektarios Tavernarakis (Source: FORTH FB Page)

The main objectives of the Foundation are to conduct high-added value research, while enhancing the education and training in sciences trying at the same time to make full use of innovation and research findings to benefit the public and drive the economy. As the director of FORTH Prof. Tavernarakis mentioned in a web conference organized by the European Commission’s Representation in Greece about the scientific research in the country (#EUandU 18.1.2021), FORTH is putting particular emphasis on inspiring young people to engage in science and research as well as on developing academic entrepreneurship so as to contribute to the economic growth of the country.

The creation of a portable device that can accurately detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus on the spot in less than 30 minutes, the participation to the Precision Medicine Unit expected to provide effective targeted therapy to cancer patients, or the creation of a new software to identify and mitigate cyberattacks in seconds saving millions of euro every year in repairs and lost business are only a few examples of research achievements of FORTH that can ameliorate our everyday lives. Pioneer labs such as the Ancient DNA Lab, the only archaeogenetics laboratory in Greece and one of the most modern in Europe, which analyzes DNA from archaeological biological residues, are also among FORTH’s research activities.

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The Research Institutes of FORTH

FORTH headquarters and central administration are based in Heraklion, Crete whereas the Foundation comprises 8 Research Institutes based also in Rethymno and Chania, but also in Patras, in the Peloponnese.

Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser (IESL)
Thirty years after its establishment, IESL aims at performing high quality both fundamental and applied research in specific target areas in the fields of laser science and applications, micro/nano-electronics, polymers and soft matter, materials science and astrophysics. IESL has established its strong international presence in these areas occupying a distinct position in the international scientific map.

Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (IMBB)
IMBB is one of the most prominent life science research institutions in Greece, with an outstanding record of scientific achievements, state of the art infrastructure and a broad range of research, innovation and educational activities. The wide-range of research activities of the Institute aim at understanding the basic principles of the biological processes operating in living organism. IMBB also hosts the Ancient DNA Lab while it has a Biomedical Research Division in Ioannina.

Institute of Computer Science (ICS)
The mission of FORTH-ICS is to perform high quality basic and applied research, to promote education and training, and to contribute to the development of the Information Society, at a regional, national, and European level. Since its establishment in 1983, FORTH-ICS has had a long history and recognized tradition in conducting basic and applied research, and playing a leading role, in Greece and internationally, in the field of Information and Communication Technologies.

Institute of Applied and Computational Mathematics (IACM)
IACM’s mission is to promote research excellence in Mathematical Sciences and to address interdisciplinary challenges. As a modern Institute on Applied Mathematics, IACM seeks to highlight the role of Mathematics in various applications, aims at creating synergies with other disciplines in order to solve complex problems as well as to advance mathematical knowledge through collaboration, to broaden participation in the mathematical endeavour, and to increase the awareness of the contributions of the mathematical sciences to society.

Institute of Astrophysics (IA)
The Institute of Astrophysics (IA) commenced its operations at FORTH in 2019 and it is the only research Institute in Greece dedicated exclusively to the field of Astrophysics. The Institute was founded in order to facilitate and further enhance the very successful research activities of the astrophysics group, which has been operating for nearly 30 years, within the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser (IESL) of FORTH and the Department of Physics of the University of Crete.

Institute for Mediterranean Studies (IMS)
The Institute for Mediterranean Studies (IMS) – based in Rethymno, Crete – was founded in 1985. IMS’s purpose is to promote research in the humanities, social sciences, as well as the application of science and technology on cultural heritage and the environment. The IMS research programs focus on the history and culture of Greece and other countries of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea in various historical periods, from prehistory to modern times. To date, its research focuses on three research axes, 1) Mediterranean History, 2) Mediterranean culture, 3) Geoinformatics technology for Culture and Environment, and is undertaken by ten teams of researchers based in the Institution’s research sections, centers, and labs.

Institute of Petroleum Research (IPR)
The Institute of Petroleum Research (IPR) based in Chanis was founded in January 2019 and is the newest Institute of FORTH. It focuses on basic and applied research related to the detection, extraction and enhanced oil recovery, as well as, oil recovery with simultaneous CO2 storage and exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits. The creation of IPR will act as a catalyst for strengthening oil research in the country, developing synergies with all relevant structures in Universities and Research Institutions, and enhancing cooperation among FORTH Institutes. The Institute of Petroleum Research operates under the aegis of "Hellenic Petroleum".

Institute of Chemical Engineering Sciences (ICE-HT)
The Institute of Chemical Engineering Sciences (ICE-HT), established in 1984, is based in Patras in the Peloponnese and it has been developed into a world-leading centre for the advancement of high quality scientific knowledge in the fields of chemical engineering sciences. ICE-HT has participated in numerous RTD projects in cooperation with industrial enterprises, universities and research centers from Greece, as well as from other EU-member countries, USA, Japan, etc, with funding from national and EU competitive R&D programs, or directly from industry.

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Technology transfer from lab to the market

With a view to help the transfer of new technologies from the laboratory to the commercial marketplace, FORTH created in 1993 the Science and Technology Park of Crete (STEP-C) to act as an incubator. To this end, STEP-C aims to contribute to the commercial exploitation of mature research outcomes and the promotion of innovative entrepreneurship hosting and supporting innovative start-ups and spin-off companies, while offering training to their staff in management and intellectual properties issues. The Park also collaborates with local and regional authorities and business associations. Since 1995, over 60 start-up companies have been supported to grow and develop their own business ideas in the Incubator.

Apart from the STEP-C incubator, innovative entrepreneurship is also supported by PRAXI Network, created in 1991 to serve as a bridge between Research and Industry in Greece, offering Technology Transfer brokerage services to Greek companies and Research Institutions. PRAXI Network also provides information about funding opportunities and technological needs in the market, while it contributes to partnership searching. The Network is also cooperating with the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) and the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (FING).

FORTH’s spin-off companies

Here are some examples of spin-off companies that were created leveraging patented technology developed at the Institutes of FORTH:

- "FORTHnet SA" is a spin-off company of the Institute of Computer Science of FORTH established in 1995, by the Institute of Computer Science of FORTH. FORTHnet was the first company to introduce the Internet in Greece and is one of the most dynamically developing Greek companies in the Telecommunications and Internet sector.
- "Biopix-T" founded in 2019 is operating in the field of molecular diagnostics offering portable low cost and easy to use diagnostic devices that can accurately detect several viruses including the SARS-CoV-2 virus, on the spot, in less than 30 minutes.
- "ORamaVR" founded in 2016 is a company operating in the medical education field offering experiential medical training through virtual reality simulation for surgical operations.
- "DYSIS Medical" is a medical device company that designs, develops, manufactures and markets imaging systems focusing on the non-invasive, in-vivo detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous lesions. The company uses a patented technology developed at FORTH for the early detection and diagnosis of cervical cancer.
- "PCN Materials" (Photo-Catalytic Nano Materials), is a company, founded in 2019, designed to leverage the research results of the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser, and in particular a series of patents on innovative photocatalytic (PC) nano-materials that degrade gaseous and liquid pollutants, purify waste, disrupt non-polluting and non-toxic odors and degrade pathogenic organisms.
- “Biomimetic” is a new spin-off company establishes in 2020 using a patented technology aiming to decrease the light reflection or glare of transparent surfaces or screens, which is of high importance for practically any optical system and consumer electronics device, by utilizing laser irradiation. Biomimetic offers a simple, low-cost and environmentally friendly alternative as it is inspired by nature’s wisdom reproducing the anti-reflective nanostructures of the wings of several species of Cicadas and Butterflies. The name “Biomimetic” is shaped by the Greek words "bios" and "mimesis” meaning “life” and “imitate”.

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Read more via GNA

Research Policy | Nektarios Tavernarakis on Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas and Greece's Research potential (Interview on GNA)
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