The Athena RIC was founded in 2003 as the “IRIS – Integrated Research for the Information Society”, in order to consolidate and further expand the Greek R&D activities and initiatives in the area of ICT.

The new Center initially comprised of the following existing institutes: the Institute for Language and Speech Processing (ILSP), the Cultural and Educational Technology Institute (CETI) and the Industrial Systems Institute (ISI). The founding act provided for the creation of new institutes that would cover vibrant areas of digital technology as well as of units that would incubate knowhow development activities that may lead to new major development directions.

In 2006 IRIS was renamed to “Research and Innovation Center in Information, Communication and Knowledge Technologies”, with the name designation “Athena”.