8 May 2017
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are here today in a special event, the first award ceremony for innovative, productive efforts made by young people.
People whose ideas and initiatives are both a great challenge and a strong asset for the future of our homeland.
We would like to thank them, with these awards, which are a small contribution to entrepreneurship, such a huge undertaking for our country. Indeed, it is an undertaking that crystallizes several vulnerabilities in both public and private sectors, having led the country to an impasse and having driven the national economy into the ground.
For, let me remind you that there have been countless speeches about entrepreneurship over the past several decades. However, these have been delivered by politicians who had been swearing by entrepreneurship, yet, in practice had been adopting policies affecting the backbone of the Greek economy, i.e. small and medium-sized enterprises, thus leading them inexorably to a structural deadlock. This was a predictable course of a distorted model of growth, and indeed, well before the outbreak of the debt crisis and the country’s bankruptcy.
Today, however, ladies and gentlemen, we must not lapse into fine speeches nor must we miss a challenge that bodies such as the Region of Attica, the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Enterprise Greece and others hope to win today, providing a firm foundation for growth. This foundation relies on start-ups, through innovation centres, such as, for example, the one we are financing in Piraeus and is geared towards the blue economy.
These are initiatives that, on the one hand, support the SMEs and prevent them from closure, and, on the other hand, create conditions for youth entrepreneurship initiatives towards sustainable and socially inclusive growth.
Initiatives by people like you that we honour today.
Initiatives with regard to innovative extrovert entrepreneurship which can contribute to changing the economy of Attica and of the country in general. Indeed, these initiatives are to change the entrepreneurship model. Because, in principle, this is the only way to stem and eventually stop the current brain drain, the emigration of our young people, young scientists and young entrepreneurs.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the Region of Attica, we have chosen to create this new model of regional development on the basis of synergies with public and private entrepreneurship.
Today’s synergy with the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) must be seen in this context.
“ATHENS STARTUP AWARDS 2017” is thus one more link in the chain of entrepreneurship, innovation, extroversion and specialisation.
Therefore, it is not by chance that the most innovative business teams hosted by the Athens Startup Business Incubator (Th.E.A.) with the support of the Regional Development Fund of Attica present their business idea, with products and services by potential new entrepreneurs in a specifically designed operating area of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).
In parallel, we have chosen, through mutual beneficial synergies among federations, chambers and other partners/associates, to be present by supporting entrepreneurship and young start-uppers in leading international forums such as the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Slush festival in Helsinki, DLD Innovation Festival in Tel Aviv, and Web Summit in Lisbon.
However, ladies and gentlemen, in order for entrepreneurship to acquire a developmental dimension, it must be linked to society, all the more so to meet society’s needs.
To this end, we have already put out the general directions of the programme “Entrepreneurship: society, development, innovation", under the Regional Operational Programme “Attica 2014-2020” for public consultation. On the basis of these guidelines, we design actions to support entrepreneurship, with a focus on the areas highlighted by the Smart Specialisation Strategy of the Region of Attica.
The aim of this public consultation that is addressed to the entire business community is to collect views, ideas and proposals, in order for our action plan for entrepreneurship to meet the actual needs and the potential of this “entrepreneurial ecosystem”, as technocratically put, of Attica. I am referring to the needs of all those currently insisting on remaining within the walls rather than opting for emigration.
In this consultation, it is of great importance to make the voice of young entrepreneurs heard; the voice of you who you are here today as well as of all those who are absent yet they constitute our most critical and most important capital: our human capital, our young entrepreneurs, for the sake of those we have to create the optimal conditions for effective “doing business”, i.e. entrepreneurship that aims at improving the quality of life, as well as social cohesion and job creation.
For, as Robert Kennedy had observed quite pertinently while commenting on the value of work — “We need jobs, dignified employment at decent pay.” The type of work that allows a human to say (…) ‘I helped to (...) build this country. I took part in its great course’. This is a challenge that we cannot miss. Hence, the common fight, along with the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and its President, Mr Michalos to whom I should like to extend my thanks. This common struggle of ours will either be jointly won or it will be lost by our country.