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Describe, briefly, the activities of the Center or Institute and the interdisciplinary nature of it

ICCS was established in 1989 by the Ministry for Education, Lifelong Learning and Religion Affairs. It is a non-profit, private legal entity which is linked to the National Technical University of Athens and is the research host of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (SECE). The aim of the Institute is to promote the Research and Development in all different research disciplines of SECE. The research themes mainly include:

– Hardware and Software Technology
– Computer Network Technology
– Mobile technologies
-Digital Communications Technologies
– Control and Automation Technologies
– Energy and Power Production Technologies
– Biomedical and Biomechanics Technologies
– Information Systems and Management Decision Technologies
– Photonic Technologies for Communications

ICCS is very active in programmes financed by the European Commission with substantial participation in competitive research programs. For example, the last five years it has participated in 110 projects of 6th Framework Program and in about 75 projects of 7th Framework Program

In addition, ICCS was or is the co-ordinator of projects for several European programmes (eg EC, ISIS, RACE II, ESPRIT, IES, ACTS, INFOSEC, BRITE-EURAM, STRIDE, MIP-Informatics, Telematic Applications, GROWTH, QoL, JOULE, ENERGIE ) and parallel to this it participates in various Greek programmes. Specifically, in 2009 there were 104 active programs.

Last but not least applied Research is provided by ICCS to the following Hellenic public bodies: Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs • Ministry of National Defence • Ministry of Culture • Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs • Ministry of Health and Welfair • Ministry of Transportation and Communications • Ministry for the Environment Physical Planning and Public Works • Hellenic Organization of Telecommunications • Public Power Corporation •Hellenic Aerospace Industry.

Total research personnel [by type of contract]

Permanent or long term Researchers: 12

Collaborating Faculty Members: 47

Total administrative staff

Permanent or long term Administrative Personnel: 10


Mission Statement

The Institute of Communications and Computer Systems (ICCS/NTUA) is the research host of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens (SECE-NTUA). ICCS builds on the quality of the students and faculty of SECE-NTUA to consistently pursue the following objectives:

-To reinforce research activities in Greece in the disciplines of ECE, to keep abreast with developments in the global scene and to perform cutting-edge fundamental and applied research in information technologies, micro-electronics, communications, power, medicine, logistics, decision support etc.

– To breed innovation in Greece through collaboration with industry and academia worldwide.

– To support the scientific and professional career development of young researchers by exposing them to a high-tech research environment, while securing research stipends for pre- and post-doctoral researchers.

– To provide a protective and supporting environment that can help innovative ideas of its researchers to mature before being launched as spinoff companies.

– To gain visibility worldwide and to build a brand name as a top tier research institute.

What evidence exists to show the extent to which the mission statement is being fulfilled?

During its 22 years of operation ICCS/NTUA has been consistently working towards its vision to enhance research and innovation in Greece as summarized in the institute’s mission statement. It is clearly a challenging task to increase competitiveness in a globalized research arena, and ICCS/NTUA has been particularly successful despite the lack of public funding. Hard evidence proving the success of ICCS/NTUA in meeting its objectives exists:

– To reinforce research in ECE in Greece and to gain worldwide visibility: ICCS/NTUA is the research arm of the SECE-NTUA and to a significant extent its performance reflects that of the SECE-NTUA faculty. A study was recently conducted by SECE-NTUA (July 2009) to compare the publication output and citations of faculty members of very well-known ECE schools of several universities from Europe and the USA, using the Scopus publication database tools. This study used as start the university database ranking of the “Times Higher Education Supplement” (prepared in 2008). The ranking order of the schools compared in the ECE-NTUA study was as in Table 1. The average number of publications and citations of the faculty members in ECE department of the universities considered in the study is displayed on the table for comparison.

Table1.University ranking as appearing in the 2008,TimesHigherEducationSupplementfor the ECE schools compared. Average number of publications and citations for faculty members of ECE department is indicated for each university.

The average number of publications for the collaborating with ICCS faculty members of ECE-NTUA is 63 and the average citations are 230. The publications figure place it near the average value (66) of the universities compared, also taking into account ECE departments of leading institutes in the field such as MIT, Imperial College, ETH Zurich etc. The scene remains similar in terms of citations, where ICCS/NTUA is ranked well with respect to DanmarksTekniskeUniversitet (DTU), the Universidade do Porto, the Technical University of Eindhoven (TUE) and the University of Bristol (UoB).

To breed innovation through worldwide collaborations: The prime source of funding for ICCS/NTUA has been the European Commission (EC). As statistics reveal, ICCS/NTUA has been very competent at attracting EC funding consistently: Over the period 2000-2009 participation of ICCS/NTUA teams in funded EC projects continues consistently through framework programs, sustaining significant presence in its prime subject areas. For example, in processing/information systems ICCS/NTUA has participated in 2.57% of all EC funded projects, for telecommunications in 3.42%, for electronics/micro-electronics in 2.09%, while for areas that it has had less activity as for example for environmental protection in 0,48% of all projects. The significance of these figures becomes clearer if the total number of participants is taken into account in the projects in each subject area. The average number of projects that correspond to each participant for processing/information systems is about 12, for telecommunications 13 and for electronics/micro-electronics 10.3. Equivalently ICCS/NTUA has participated in 141 projects in processing/information systems projects, 91 projects in telecommunications and 58 projects in electronics/micro-electronics and therefore its participation is almost 12 times, 7 times and 5 times higher than these average values. These figures have been obtained from the Cordis website of the EC.
Table 2 shows in more detail the number of new, EC funded collaborative starting per year, to which ICCS/NTUA has participated/coordinated with one of its teams for the period 2000-2009 against framework programs as well as the total number of new projects, funded per year. The projects to which ICCS/NTUA has participated are in a broad area of subjects. Figure 1 shows the number of projects per subject areas as they appear in Cordis that ICCS/NTUA has participated. It shows that ICCS/NTUA has participated in a broad area of subjects that essentially reflects the multi-disciplinary nature of electrical and computer engineering. Figure 1 also shows the prime areas of activity of ICCS/NTUA. Please note however that as subject areas overlap, projects are entered more than once (and on average about 3 times in this figure).

Table 2.ICCS/NTUA participation in European Projects for the period 2000-2009.

Figure 1. ICCS/NTUA project participation per subject area as it appears in Cordis for the period 2000-2009.

To support the scientific and professional career development of young researchers and to provide a protective and supporting environment that can help innovative ideas to flourish: The research personnel of ICCS/NTUA is composed of a core of about 50 collaborating ECE-NTUA faculty members and 12 appointed ICCS/NTUA researchers and approximately 800 researchers at the pre-doctoral and postdoctoral level. It is organized on independent, discrete research teams. At present there are approximately 50 such research teams and they cover all aspects of the ECE discipline. These research teams are headed by faculty members of ECE-NTUA or appointed ICCS/NTUA researchers and they are typically of relatively small size of up to 10 members that include PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and possibly support personnel. Through its participation in EC research projects ICCS/NTUA not only provides financial support to their efforts, but also offers them the opportunity to work in a competitive, European-scale research environment and build up their scientific and professional profile. Upon completion of their studies, these competent young researchers have the necessary skills to start their own high-tech enterprises. Several examples of successful start-up companies have had their seed sown at ICCS/NTUA. To name just a few: inAccess, intelen, Teleiasis, Synthesites, Constelex and ViSS. For researchers that wish to remain in a strictly research environment, ICCS/NTUA offers the possibility to continue as scientific personnel. The number of years of association of young researchers with ICCS/NTUA once they have started collaboration is clearly important when developing technical skills. This average length of stay at the pre-doctoral level is 3.8 years and following this at the post-doctoral level is 6.6 years.

What internal processes exist to monitor the extent to which the mission statement is being fulfilled?

ICCS/NTUA follows an internal self-assessment process to monitor key metrics associated to the institute’s scientific and technical output as well as administrative and financial status. The process recurs on an annual basis and its findings are presented to the ICCS/NTUA governing board and serves as an input for fine-tuning the institute’s activities and policies and creating roadmaps for the forthcoming years. The main metrics addressed in this process are:

1. Externally attracted research funds per category
2. Number and type of collaborations
3. Collaborating institutions
4. Number and status of running projects
5. Number of active research teams within ICCS/NTUA
6. Number of personnel per category
7. Number of students supported towards their PhD
8. Number of students supported that have received their PhD
9. Number of publications and presentations per category
10. Number of citations
11. Awards and distinctions


Greater Achievements in the last 5 years

ICCS/NTUA is a large institute and over a 5 year period achievements are plentiful and of varying character. The following discussion focuses to the main objectives of ICCS/NTUA as described in the first section of this self-evaluation.

• Participation in EC funded research projects
The main funding source for the research activities of ICCS/NTUA has continued to be the EC framework programmes. Table 3 shows the ICCS/NTUA participation in new projects starting per year, within the same selected subject areas that have been discussed in the previous section and within the period the 5-year period 2005-2009. As before please note that as subject areas overlap, the same projects are entered more than once. Besides the obvious variation of absolute numbers on a year-to-year basis that is related to the number of projects started by the EC, on the 5 year average ICCS/NTUA continues to perform in roughly the same way as on the previous 5-year average 2000-2004 and by far outstrips the average number of projects that correspond to each participant in these subject areas.

Table 3. ICCS/NTUA participation in European Projects for the period 2005-2009.

International cooperation agreements: list all formal agreements that exist, identifying partner institutions (and location), purpose of agreement, period agreement operates, budget associated with the agreement (where relevant)

Through its massive participation in European competitive programmes of cooperative nature (consortia), ICCS has a large number of partners from Industry and the Public Sector in almost all EU Countries.

Up to ten most important publications of the Institute in the last 3 years with active link

Please see below

Name 5 of the best scientists in the Institute with their web links

ICCS/NTUA is the research arm of ECE-NTUA. As such it hosts members of the faculty of ECE-NTUA, that include top-tier, renowned scientists with substantial publication record, academic distinctions or involvement to key industrial positions in Greece. Included within the researchers of ICCS/NTUA: are a panel member of the European Research Council, the director of the national electricity generating company (DEH)…..TO BE COMPLETED (Prof. Vasileiou)
With respect to their publication track record, the five top-ranking scientists of ICCS/NTUA have a total of 1161 publications and 8362 citations and score an average h-index of 16.4. During the past 3 years (period 2008-2010) the aforementioned scientists have published a total of 211 papers and have received 3695 citations (data obtained from Scopus publications database).The next five top-ranking scientists of ICCS/NTUA have a total of 705 publications and 4271 citations and score an average h-index of 14.4. Their publication output in the period 2008-2010 counts a total of 148 publications, while in the same period they have received 1497 citations (data obtained from Scopus publications database).


Future plans

As ICCS/NTUA is composed of a large number of independent research teams specializing on their individual research subject themes, they undergo continual updating and improvement as they redefine their current research objectives. In the short and medium term the main weaknesses of ICCS/NTUA stem from the very small size of its administrative support team. Its small size limits necessary activities that are required for an institute of ICCS/NTUA size. Some domains that require strengthening via the administration of ICCS/NTUA include centrally managed (a) IP protection, (b) observation of current technology and application trends, (c) efforts on collaboration and (d) dissemination. Currently ICCS/NTUA is undergoing an extensive exercise to study means for re-organization towards the aforementioned goals.

ICCS – NTUA, apart from continuing its course of excellence in Academic research, needs and aims to place more emphasis on empowering its research teams to patent their results, and also in encouraging spin-off companies that would exploit pre-normative research and development. Over the past years IPR protection and spin-off participation were mostly off-limits to ICCS researchers, partially due to costly and cumbersome legal procedures. With the foreseen simplification and encouragement of National and European authorities, exploitation of results and Private – Public Partnerships are emerging not only as real possibilities, but as the responsibility of ICCS to protect its members IPRs and set transparent rules for a fair commercial exploitation of innovative ideas.

ICCS – NTUA is also planning to gradually become a Center Of Excellence in different fields of Informatics and Telecommunications. For example ICCS has already a leading position in Greece and is well known in Europe in the area of Transport Research and especially at the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) through its participation in all major European Research initiatives. Another area where the same target can be pursued is the area of Virtual Reality where ICCS has been the leader of the largest European Network of Excellence that was ever granted by EC (INTUITION NoE) and also the leading founding member of the succeeding nonprofit European Organization (EUROVR). Furthermore, ICCS – NTUA together with its European partners and especially the consortium of the EUROFOT IP (7th FW, ICT, Contract No FP7-ICT-223945) is discussing the possibility of creating and hosting at ICCS premises a huge database with the results and data from field operational tests of Intelligent transportation systems and especially systems related with active safety from tests involving hundreds of vehicles and drivers in naturalistic driving conditions. The above are mentioned only as illustrative examples; several other similar efforts are on-going at ICCS – NTUA in different research areas.

List other Institutes (public or private) with similar activities in Greece

– Foundation For Research and Technology – Hellas (F.O.R.T.H.)

– Research Academic Computer Technology Institute (RACTI or E.A,.I.T.Y.)

– The Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH or EKETA)

– Athena Research and Innovation Center in Information and Knowledge Technologies

Add any other information that you consider as useful

The following text describes the rationale for the creation of ICCS/NTUA and highlights its structure. The ICCS/NTUA structure is uncommon but some of its features provide key and lasting survivability attributes. This is explained below.

The Institute of Communications and Computer Systems (ICCS/NTUA) of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) was founded in 1989. It was founded at the time that the program of postgraduate studies was being systematically organized at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens (SECE-NTUA). Its purpose was to help set research priorities and to attract funding to pay for the cost of equipment and research personnel needed, as there was no provision of systematic public funding for this. More importantly the institute was the host through which postgraduate students could receive research stipends and postdoctoral researchers could be employed. To serve this purpose was (and still is) necessary as there was no (and largely still is no) provision in the Greek law governing university affairs. Since then ICCS/NTUA has evolved to exploit the strengths of the discipline of electrical and computer engineering, the quality of the students and faculty of SECE-NTUA. Also it has continued to evolve so as to minimize the impact of the still very low, to non-existent public funding to universities for research.

The discipline of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) rests on the applied side of the physical and mathematical sciences and applies to very broad knowledge areas, such as micro-electronics, communications, power, medicine, logistics, decision support etc, to name just a few. Also ECE being precisely on the application side, it is continuously able to exploit scientific breakthroughs in practical manner as they happen and remains relevant as time passes, even though the specific ‘hot’ areas change. Twenty years ago, the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) was a key research area for young engineers, dreaming of high bandwidth digital connectivity. Twenty years on, broad-band residential connectivity is here and the goal has now shifted to the design of ultra high bandwidth networks that will extend capacity to the limit of Shannon’s law. Now a softer and more ecologically-orientated application of technologies has intensified efforts in greener power generation and communication networks and of course application to the medical sciences.

Twenty years after its foundation ICCS/NTUA has followed closely the shifts in applied research of the ECE discipline. The main reason for keeping abreast with developments has been the quality of the students and faculty of SECE-NTUA. SECE-NTUA has consistently been the top choice for school leavers and ranked as the first or second, hardest university school to enter through the system of national university entrance exams. SECE-NTUA faculty, have equally impressive scientific profiles, having had graduate tuition in having served in top US, Canadian and European universities as Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, Imperial College, etc or research organizations as AT&T Bell Laboratories, that have given the breakthroughs forming the technological world as we know it around us today. In recognition as technology innovators several of the faculty members of SECE-NTUA have been appointed to key national and European posts.

It should be obvious that ICCS/NTUA is not a bricks and mortar research organization, featuring gleaming research laboratories, the latest clean room facilities, supercomputer clusters or investing on equipment races against other research organizations. This may be a direct result of the lack level public funding, but it has been effectively offset by the quality of researchers young and senior at ICCS/NTUA and the organizational structure that it has adopted. Centrally-funded research institutes are commonly top-down organized and directed, with strictly-defined research areas identified as ‘research units’, ‘research departments’ each directed by a ‘head’. Overall they are centrally governed in the simpler form by a ‘director’ in association with a council of ‘research unit heads’, while bigger institutes employ more complex forms that may include several in-between managerial layers.

ICCS/NTUA has a very lean structure. It is administratively directed by its director who is assisted by a 5-member council and that is supported by a small (10 member) administration team. On the research/technical side there is a single layer hierarchy that includes individual, independent research teams (within ICCS/NTUA termed ‘laboratories’ or ‘research units’). Presently there are approximately 50 such research teams within ICCS/NTUA covering all aspects of the ECE discipline. These research teams are headed by faculty members of ECE-NTUA or appointed ICCS/NTUA researchers and they are typically of relatively small size of up to 10 members that include PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and possibly support personnel.

The lean structure of ICCS/NTUA may be a result of the lack of central funding, but it has some very important, beneficial features. As there is no central funding, each of the research teams has to rely on its own resources and capabilities for survival. Therefore given that ‘only-the-fit-survive’, teams that do survive are very competitive. For the same reason that ‘only-the-fit-survive’, teams that do not re-orient their interests as time goes die naturally without adding a burden to the institute, while others spring-up as new fields open. This has kept over time the institute as a whole fit and up-to-date, aligned with current research trends at least as defined within Europe.

Which are the top 3 Institutes worldwide in the same scientific area?

• MIT Lincoln Laboratory, USA

• Fraunhofer Institute, Germany

• CNRS, France