Start-up space? Greece is the word

GREECE • There have been few rays of hope to cling to during Greece's long crisis.

One of them has been the steady emergence of the Greek start-up eco-system. Since four European Union-backed venture capital funds started operating in early 2013, there have been notable successes, including multimillion- dollar investment rounds and buyouts by major global companies.

The four EU-backed funds completed their life-cycle last year, having invested more than €50 million (S$77 million) in new technology companies. But a new vehicle, Equifund, has been announced, with money from the Greek government, the EU and the European Investment Fund.

A critical aspect of the growth of the Greek eco-system - which, according to one estimate, is now made up of 350 to 450 firms - has been the emergence of a number of incubators, accelerators and other organisations focused on promoting entrepreneurship.

Their founders are not only individual members of the scene but also banks, foreign embassies in Athens and even a group of Greeks in London keen to reverse the effects of the brain-drain caused by the crisis.

These spaces offer mentoring and legal advice, organise events with well-known international investors and businessmen, and even run pitching contests offering seed funding to the winners.

Beyond that, what can the government do to help the start-up sector? Entrepreneur Dimitris Kalavros-Gousiou said: "We need to do more to foster an entrepreneurial culture that will mobilise private Greek money and even international start-ups and investors to start looking to Greece for opportunities."

Co-working spaces let start-ups help one another. PHOTO: KATHIMERINI

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2017, with the headline 'Start-up space? Greece is the word'. Print Edition | Subscribe