Deputy Chief of Mission Burger’s Remarks at Balkan MindspaceTIES Finals

Friday, February 4, 2022, 4:00 p.m.

Virtual, As Prepared

Thank you, Dimitris, for inviting me to join you today for the Balkan MindspaceTIES finals.  It’s great to have this opportunity to celebrate the achievements of all of you who have participated in this terrific program. 

I would also like to thank the committee of judges for your support of this project.  I know you have had a difficult job today choosing just three winning teams out of such a talented group.

Now, I am especially honoured to announce the three winning teams of the Balkan MindspaceTIES Finals…

This years third-place team is:  Hybrid Solution – Greece

The second-place team is:  Makkari – Greece and Albania

And the first-place team is:  Fortuna – Greece

Congratulations to all the winners!  

Closing Remarks:

I want to thank our partners, The Athens University of Economics and Business, MIT, and The People’s Trust.  A special thanks to The Hellenic Volunteer Managers Center and the Ivanaj Foundations of New York and Tirana for their invaluable contributions in making today’s event possible.

I would like to also take this opportunity to commend Dimitris, an alumnus of our 2017 IVLP program, for the amazing progress Mindspace has achieved under your leadership. 

The U.S. Embassy has proudly supported Mindspace since its establishment in 2015, and we have witnessed remarkable achievements since then. 

We support educational and entrepreneurship programs like Mindspace because we view them as an investment in the future – preparing young people like you with skills that will enhance your career prospects in the future while at the same time strengthening ties with the United States and countries in the region. 

We are impressed to see how Mindspace has flourished as an incubator for new chapters in Greece and the Balkans.  It is a testament to the success and impact of the program that from 2017-2020, Mindspace’s alumni have started 18 different businesses which currently employ nearly 100 people throughout the region. 

In 2021, Mindspace forged new relationships with universities, incubators and businesses across the Balkans, which will continue to grow beyond the scope of this program. 

This year, we were especially pleased when Mindspace University hosted 123 participants from eight different Balkan countries: Greece, Serbia, Albania, Croatia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

As a result, international collaborations are emerging, and four out of the ten finalists this year included members who were participating from a variety of different countries.

As you all know, this years competition focused on energy and the environment. 

The Biden-Harris administration has placed the climate challenge and clean energy transition at the forefront of U.S. international energy policy.  These priorities are shared by Prime Minister Mitsotakis and our partners in Greece and the region. 

Ambassador Pyatt and all of us at the Embassy are working closely with our partners in Greece to advance our shared goals for energy diversification and the transition to clean energy here and throughout the region.

Our governments cannot work alone on these issues.  We need partners like you throughout the private sector, academia, and local communities. 

Its especially critical that young people like you are engaged and encouraged to participate in this great change, competing in programs like Mindspace. 

We are excited to support the young entrepreneurs who will help lead the regions energy transformation and pave the way towards a more sustainable future for us all.  Your generation will launch the next wave of innovations that transform how we live and work. 

So, thank you for working so hard on this competition.  And I wish you every success as you lead us toward the future!