EGG Accelerator (190 Syggrou Avenue)
June 26 – 7:10 to 9:30 PM
Thank you Michael, Roula, it’s a pleasure to be here this evening. I’m just off the airplane from the U.S. so I’m going to make this evening’s appearance relatively brief, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to kick-off this last stop of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship tour supported by the Hellenic Initiative. I am especially pleased to do so after last week’s breakthrough agreement on debt relief between Greece and the Eurogroup and coming on the heels of a very successful visit to Washington and New York by Minister Charitstis. The timing really could not be better to talk about Greece’s entrepreneurial future.
I want to start by thanking the team and the Hellenic initiative represented by our close partner Michael and of course a big welcome to Kurt Heiar, who I understand has become the traveler over the past few weeks and coffee drinker and has had a series of thought provoking discussions across Greece, inspiring promising entrepreneurs from Thessaloniki to Kalamata, from Patras to Chalkida, and tonight for us here in Athens.
THI’s partnership with the U.S. Embassy exemplifies the great ties between the Greek diaspora community in the U.S. and here in Greece. THI’s commitment to support entrepreneurship and humanitarian programs has benefitted thousands of people here in Greece. And for the last four years, the Embassy has been privileged to partner with THI in organizing a startup delegation to the South by Southwest festival. And we are proud to collaborate with Michael and THI on Kurt Innovation Tour.
I also want to thank our hosts here today. I’ve been hearing about your guys for nearly two years now since I arrived in Greece and this is my first visit and it’s a treat for me to be here this evening.
Since its inception EGG has been one of the most successful accelerators here in Greece, helping to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem, helping hundreds of startups and young professionals to grow their ideas into successful businesses, especially in the fields of technology and innovation. And I want to congratulate both Eurobank and the Corallia cluster for this initiative.
Greece’s entrepreneurial spirit and entrepreneurial resilience is one of its most outstanding qualities. It’s an untold success story. Each of you we hope will take away from this experience important lessons, learning techniques, and concepts that are critical to succeeding in our modern globally connected world and becoming thoughtful business leaders.
Tapping into this entrepreneurial spirit, to drive investment, is critical to Greece’s success now as the country begins to emerge from 8 years of economic crisis. THI’s work and the EGG’s efforts to develop business leaders corresponds with one of the United States key objectives here: which is to support Greece’s economic recovery and the country’s role as a pillar of regional stability.
The United States is deeply interested in Greece’s economic success. A robust economy here in Greece leads to a stronger bilateral partnership between our two countries, and greater ability to work together on shared regional goals. We believe that helping Greece access its untapped potential through innovation is one of the best way to achieve these shared goals.
The U.S. Embassy therefore has maintained relationships with many local entrepreneurship groups – such as the MIT Enterprise Forum, Mindspace, Found.ation, and THI – because we firmly believe that sharing American experiences help can spark Greek innovation successes. Over the course of my two years here in Greece, I have been inspired repeatedly by my experiences with Greek entrepreneurs, whether students and young people or business people like yourselves – the incredible work of the Greek start-up sector is one of the most hopeful things happening in the country today.
The United States is also gratified to be recognized this year as the Honored Country at the Thessaloniki International Fair in September, and the primary focus of the U.S. pavilion at TIF is going to be innovation. So the American pavilion, organized jointly with the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, is going to feature U.S. companies like Microsoft, Google, CISCO, IBM, Hewlett Packard and Facebook – examples of how our culture of entrepreneurial innovation can cultivate growth and spur economic development.
We will also have at TIF programs to further the entrepreneurial ties between our two countries. TIF will provide an opportunity to bring together creative business leaders and tech leaders from both of our countries, to learn from each other. This is also, of course, the goal of tonight’s event. Bringing together creative professionals, like you all, with entrepreneurship experts like Kurt Heiar, to showcase the potential that arises when our counties work closely together.
Ευχαριστώ πολύ Thank you very much for having me with you and I look forward to hearing about the results from tonight’s collaboration. Thank you.