Nicosia is the capital of the Republic of Cyprus. It is the island’s administrative centre but also its commercial, educational and cultural centre. Nicosia is a divided city, the last divided capital in Europe. The division line that runs from east to west through the historic centre of Nicosia has turned the centre of the city into an urban frontier. Approximately 70% of the area of Nicosia Municipality lies in the UN controlled buffer zone and in the area of the Cyprus Republic occupied by the Turkish military forces since 1974. Division has created constant threats to the competitiveness, vibrancy and sustainability of the capital city of Cyprus. Its wide ranging adverse impacts have been affecting spatial development, demographic and economic activity trends. Nicosia Municipality has been investing heavily resources in arresting and reversing these trends through policies, investment projects and other initiatives targeting the integrated regeneration of several areas bordering on the buffer zone and in particular of the historic and the modern city centre.
Cyprus boasts the highest ratio of university graduates per resident in Europe. This is more than reflected in the population of Nicosia and its wider area and in the labour force that is economically active in the city. A significant concentration of Academic and Research Establishments (7 in total) situated in the urban area of Nicosia, cover a wide range of courses and disciplines through on site and distance learning programmes, at undergraduate, post graduate and doctoral level, including social sciences, positive and applied sciences, economics and management, architecture and engineering, medicine. Nicosia Municipality views the University of Cyprus, the Cyprus University of Technology and the Open University of Cyprus as strategic partners in turning these comparative advantages into competitive advantages, promoting an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship in the city and the whole of Cyprus and developing state–of-the-art infrastructure and tools. Furthermore, during the last years, a new community of young scientists and professionals has emerged, who already engage in developing their own business activity or who are strongly oriented to do so. The adoption of a new, entrepreneurial culture and the pursuit of new career paths led to the formation of several big and smaller groups and initiatives aiming to encourage their members along this path or providing support to emerging start ups.
Nicosia Municipality has been investing heavily resources in arresting and reversing the trends of decline in activity and investment and the deterioration of the built environment through policies, investment projects and other initiatives targeting the regeneration of areas bordering on the buffer zone and in particular of the historic centre. A range of projects financed by the European Structural Funds or by the nationally funded Programme for the Revitalization of Areas Bordering on the Buffer Zone have been implemented by Nicosia Municipality. However, city centre regeneration continues to be the greatest challenge Nicosia is facing and the driver of a wider urban regeneration.
Boosting innovation and entrepreneurship as a means to enhancing and diversifying the economic base of the city and the employment offer with high quality, competitive activities and jobs, improving its overall competitiveness and securing its sustainability holds a central place in the integrated strategy for the sustainable regeneration of the city centre with considerable spin off benefits for the entire Municipality, the greater city and Cyprus. At the same time, technological, social, resource efficiency and other innovation is strongly embedded in different sector-specific policies and projects of Nicosia’s city centre regeneration strategy.
The strategy for the city centre links the above also to the creation of a Creative Industries Quarter, the provision of shared incubating facilities and the creation of co-working spaces that will provide accessible accommodation to start ups of the creative and cultural sector and packages of services adapted to the needs of individual businesses. A system of public open spaces of special character, equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, will provide the opportunity for special promotional, cultural and recreation events. The operation of a Centre for the Development of the Creative Industry in connection with the above facilities will support the development of quality products, enable the sharing of costly equipment, provide information on international trends, assist in the promotion of the product of the creative hub in Cyprus and abroad, and facilitate the development of valuable B2B links. There are significant synergies between the above and the strategic aim of promoting the walled city of Nicosia as a cultural tourism destination.
The Creative Industry Quarter will be connected to the rest of the historic centre and to the central area outside the walls by a new, frequent and user friendly mini bus service. The provision of the fleet for this service and its operation are respectively funded by national funds for the revitalization of areas bordering the buffer zone and the public transport enhancement programme of the Ministry of Transport, Communication and Works.
The city centre of Nicosia has been designated as an eligible area in which an integrated programme of projects, selected by the Municipality, to serve the implementation of the strategy for the integrated development and regeneration of the city centre, will receive co-financing from the European Investment and Structural Funds 2014-2020.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
This project has received funding from the Government of the Republic of Cyprus through the Directorate General for the European Programmes, Coordination and Development.