The Hellenic Innovation Network hosted an in-person panel discussion at the Consulate General of Greece in Boston on Greece as an innovation hub on Sunday.
More than one hundred people came to hear Kostas Fragogiannis, Greek Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of economic diplomacy; Christos Dimas, Greek Deputy Minister of Development and Investments in charge of research and technology; and Giorgos Zacharia, President of Kayak, a high-growth public company based in Boston.
Stratos Efthymiou, the Consul General of Greece in Boston, welcomed the guests noting the importance of science diplomacy and the outstanding opportunities it creates for Greece.
Greece on the way to becoming world hub of technological innovation
“We are here to send the message that Greece has changed, and this statement is backed by official data from the EU. We have already climbed the charts and are expecting to go even higher,” Deputy Minister Dimas said.
Deputy Minister Fragogiannis echoed these sentiments, adding “We are here to talk about what has happened, rather than making future promises.”
The two Deputy Ministers offered an update on the substantial developments Greece has achieved in the domains of economic diplomacy and research as well as technology innovation. They discussed the work that has already been conducted to set up the foundation to make Greece a global innovation hub for R&D, start-ups and entrepreneurial communities and the significance of “Elevate Greece” in that journey aiming to become the main hub for every start-up in Greece.
Global 500 companies have already invested and more intend to invest further in Greece due to changes created to incentivize these investments over the last two years.
The event was co-organized with MIT Enterprise Forum Greece (MITEF). Co-founder and Vice President Vasilis Papakonstantinou shared a brief overview of MITEF’s activities in Greece, including its start-up competition, which has just kicked off for this year.
Giorgos Zacharia, the President of Kayak, discussed his professional journey which started as a “math geek” in Cyprus, and ultimately landed him at MIT, where he earned his PhD.
The panel discussion about the future of technology innovation in Greece was moderated by Amazon’s Anthi Tapiri.
Zacharia noted that for Kayak, “The talent in Greece and Cyprus is very appealing to us due to the strong educational background in math and science.”
Deputy Minister Dimas stated that “Greece has the privilege to have a diaspora with so many distinguished scientists. We want to build research and innovation bridges with them making good use of their expertise and willingness to give back.”
With strong audience engagement and questions, the panel discussed recent changes in the digital advances in government, a well as tax benefits and repatriation settlements. Marina Hatsopoulos, President of the Hellenic Innovation Network, said “What has become so apparent is the appreciation by the Greek people and their government for the economic opportunities provided by technology innovation.”
“Two years (ago), people were talking about Grexit, now we are known for Gr-Owth,” Deputy Minister Fragogiannis declared. “For those of you who left during the economic crisis, we are not here to convince you to come back to Greece, but to inform you that the Greece you knew, has now changed and it is not the same.”
At the conclusion of the discussion, Antigoni Molodanof, the Executive Director of MITEF, moderated a pitch session with two Greek start-up founders presenting their companies and entrepreneurial journeys.
Manolis Kasseris presented Emvolon, a company that transforms diesel engines from conventional vehicles into mini chemical plants to utilize otherwise wasted resources like flare gas and residue biomass. Nicos Vekiarides presented Attestiv, a company that assures the authenticity of digital media utilizing artificial intelligence and blockchain technology.
Hellenic Innovation Network (HIN) has a mission to accelerate technological innovation and entrepreneurship in Greece. As an outgrowth of the MIT Enterprise Forum Greece, HIN is a US-based non-profit organization created with the support of the Consulate General of Greece in Boston to facilitate access to resources, partners, and best practices by building bridges between the diaspora in global tech hubs and the Greek tech community.
Driven by an advisory group of global innovators, the HIN disseminates startup news, broadcasts educational webcasts, organizes monthly CEO group meetings, and hosts in-person pitching and networking events.
The group hosts events twice per year to inform the Greek diaspora about Greek startup activities and to provide Greek startups the opportunity to pitch and network within the well-developed Boston startup ecosystem. More information is available at their website, hellenic.org.